Briefly stated, the argument of this chapter is--
equal right of all men to the use of land springs from the fact
of their existence in a world adapted to their needs, and into which
they are similarly born.
therefore, does not permit private property in land, since that
would involve the right of some to deny to others the use of land.
property in land, as at present existing, can show no original
title valid in justice, and such validity cannot be gained either
by sale or bequest, or by peaceable possession during any length of
is there any mode by which land can justly become private property.
Cultivation and improvement can give title only to their results,
not to the land itself.
could an equitable division of land with the consent of all, even
if it were not impossible that such a division could be made, give
valid title to private property in land. For the equal right to the
use of land would attach to all those thereafter born, irrespective
of any agreement made by their predecessors.
can be no modification of this dictate of equity. Either all men
have equal rights to the use of the land, or some men have the just
right to enslave others and deprive them of life.
a matter of fact, nobody does really believe in private property
in land. An Act of Parliament, even now, supersedes title-deeds. That
is to say, the right of private ownership in land exists only by general
consent; that being withdrawn, it ceases.
the doctrine that all men are equally entitled to the use of land
does not involve communism or socialism, and need cause no serious
change in existing arrangements. It is not necessary that the state
should manage land: it is only necessary that rent, instead of going,
as now, to individuals, should be taken by society for common purposes.
may be difficulty in justly liquidating the claims of existing
landowners, but men having got themselves into a dilemma must get
out of it as well as they can. The landed class are not alone to be
considered. So long as the treatment of land as private property continues,
the masses suffer from an injustice only inferior in wickedness to depriving
them of life or personal liberty.
10. However difficult it
may be to embody in fact the theory of the co-heirship of all men
to the soil, equity sternly demands it to be done.