I'm a classic-quote junkie. I admit it. Here's one from Ludwig von Mises, in his great book Socialism. (Truth be told, I saw this most recently in Kevin Carson's book, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy.)
Nowhere and at no time has the large scale ownership of land come into being through the working of economic forces in the market. It is the result of military and political effort. Founded by violence, it has been upheld by violence and by that alone. As soon as the latifundia are drawn into the sphere of market transactions they begin to crumble, until at last they disappear completely. Neither at their formation nor in their maintenance have economic causes operated. The great landed fortunes did not arise through the economic superiority of large scale ownership, but through violent annexation outside the area of trade. "And they covet the fields" complains the prophet Micah, "and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away." Thus comes into existence the property of those who, in the words of Isaiah, "join house to house . . . lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth".
The non-economic origin of landed fortunes is clearly revealed by the fact that, as a rule, the expropriation by which they have been created in no way alters the manner of production. The old owner remains on the soil under different legal title and continues to carry on production.
The world would look a lot different today had that conquest not taken place. Contemplating that difference makes the mind boggle.