Who owns the land?

Owning the land tends to equate to owning any resources in the land – minerals and water most especially. Thus the ‘right’ to control resources that everyone depends on, is not equally distributed. As Nestle push to own water, and fracking poisons water for many, the question of ownership is especially pertinent at the moment.

It’s worth thinking about how land ownership comes to exist. How do people obtain the resources to buy large tracts of land? And however many times the land has changed hands, the history of ownership comes back to violence. In Europe that tends to mean kings, feudalism, conquest, and in many parts of the world it means the violence of colonialism, the forced taking of land from its indigenous people and all that has flowed from that. Go back far enough in history and no one owned land. The idea of kingdoms, and the idea of big kingdoms and control of vast land areas, is more recent. How many people own land because their ancestors took it by force?

I wonder what it would be like if no one had the right to privately own and exploit material resources. Land, and all that is in the land, and on the land, the water, and the air held as common property in which fair access for all is the priority. Without the scope to exploit these commons for profit, we’d probably have a lot less consumerist culture, and fewer accumulation habits and would be more sustainable. If you can only exploit the land for the good of your community, the whole basis for decisions about benefit and usefulness would shift.

In such a situation, we would own the fruits of our labours. We would own our ideas, the work of our hands, our time. It would move us away from stuff, and towards doing. I suspect such a shift would create radical cultural change, because that minority of people who do nothing useful for anyone else but extract wealth and power through their ability to control the resources we all depend on, would no longer hold that power, while people doing useful things would more readily be respected.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

2 responses to “Who owns the land?

  • manonbicycle

    Shaun Chamberlain – The Law of the Land
    “Land is — or should be — invaluable, perhaps even sacred. It is not only a place to live, but also a source for food, for water, for fuel, and for sustenance of almost every kind. Land management choices have profound impacts on our ecosystems and environment, and thus on our health, well-being and collective future. Hence the politics of land access, and the laws that emerge from it, fundamentally shape our lives, our world and our legacy. Yet in Britain, something is radically wrong. As Simon Fairlie bluntly describes in The Land magazine, “nearly half the country is owned by 40,000 land millionaires, or 0.06 per cent of the population, while most of the rest of us spend half our working lives paying off the debt on a patch of land barely large enough to accommodate a dwelling and a washing line”.”

  • crychydd

    I can’t resist this quote from the Scottish poet Norman Macaig here :

    Who possesses this landscape? –
    The man who bought it or
    I who am possessed by it?

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