We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Collective Land Ownership: Journey and Implications Part 1

Beginning of exploration concerning certain issues on the way to global governance and international problem solving

Now that Georgism and resource based socioeconomic theory (technocracy) are having a major revival, it's time to look at the ins and out of collective land ownership.

As explained in one of my earliest articles Story of Joe the Land Baron, private land ownership is a feudal concept that capitalist/libertarian thinkers just came to defend without giving it much second thought. Their arguments on taxation being theft and coercion are much more applicable to private holding of territory (if basic history and dynamics of control over land are looked at). It is likely that in the years to come, there will be a rise in popularity of bridging theories (such as geolibertarianism) due to the desire of Internet hatched free market zealots to reconcile their socially atomizing beliefs with psychological communal longing.

The most likely focus of attack would be private land ownership (first the unrestrained corporate variety and then smaller scale slumlord variety due to severe housing shortages). Such a hallowed notion under attack is the result of educated individuals now increasingly seeing the world as one splintered country in formation and themselves as citizens within it. The globalist mentality of elites has been infiltrating the minds of middle classes for some time now as they realize that key problems are international in nature. The massive damage to the ecosystem puts large scale land owners under greater scrutiny than ever before. The realization that capitalist theory doesn't defend private land control makes this scrutiny all the stronger.

The nation's and world's environment being a collective responsibility inevitably leads to certain clarifications.

Idealist Statement: Environment belongs to all of humanity.
Realist translation of statement: The state is the ultimate landowner (practically and morally)

Working with accepted definition of the state being a monopoly on violence over a given area, it's clear that most of the land acquired throughout the world was via the state providing muscle, support, and protection. This could be anything from an absolute monarch settling a territorial dispute to the federal government engaging in Louisiana purchase.

In 2010, the ultimate defense of all the land in the world is given by statist military guarantee. At least on paper. There may be de facto areas not under state control in which case the armed individuals creating leadership in those areas become temporary micro states rather than remain private individuals. Yes, the public government may devolve power to individuals when it comes to day to day defense and maintenance of specific bit of land but you can bet that if another government lands helicopters there and puts a flag in, there would be a massive statist reaction (see Georgia 2008).

Idealist Statement: The government is people's tool and is a managerial extension of the people.
Realist translation of statement: People are indirect landowners of all the land under their state's military protection.

If people ideologically (and naively given the oligarchic reality) perceive the government as their tool and servant, then they claim ownership to the totality of territory under that government's control. This seems as a no brainer in that in many nations nativist patriots would be enraged and feel violated if a neighboring country's people invade with the goal of land acquisition. The concept of nationalism has psychologically imbedded the idea of collective ownership of land for many decades now. Statement of "our country" is amusing coming from the mouth of a pro-private land ownership libertarian. It's no less amusing if this person says "the state's country" and then proceeds to argue how he is just in some contract with the state to get contract enforcement, etc.

Whatever the socioeconomic structure and popular legitimacy of any given state is, it is evident that most people within it have had their ancestors acquire the state's land by force, kept it by force, and continually claim strong joint psychological ownership over it. The fact that the notion of private land ownership still exists in the modern world points to the continuing strength of feudal power (large landowners having incredibly larger leverage in using the government as a tool compared to masses at large). Seizure of land by the government from private interests "in the name of the people" is like a car owner seizing his glove compartment to reestablish control over it. Legality and morality of it is as absurd to discuss as legality of modern country borders. Ownership of improvements on the land (contents of the glove compartment) are a different matter to be discussed below.

Implication 1: Acceptance of collective ownership of land results in elimination of feudal middlemen as rents are now publicly collected.

The rents that land owners collect is based on the value of the land (that landlords are allowed to sit on by the state). Since the state is the ultimate landowner, these rents need to go directly to it while cutting out the feudal middlemen out of the equation. This means that private rent collection is to be eliminated as a practice. Private individuals are not allowed to collect whatever tax they like at the moment and same would apply to rents from locations they happen to occupy.

to be continued in part 2

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