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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stromberg on Land Grabbing

I cannot recommend too highly Joseph Stromberg's Reason review of Fred Pearce's The Land Grabbers. Libertarians were once interested in the land question (neofeudalism) and land reform, particularly in the developing world today. Unfortunately that interest was short-lived, though left-libertarians like Kevin Carson, Gary Chartier, Roderick Long, Charles W. Johnson, and Stromberg are trying to revive it. The point is that economic theory, no matter how sound, that ignores facts on the ground will be unsatisfactory. Worse, it may leave the impression that the current world largely conforms to the "free-market" ideal. This is an especially important lesson for libertarian college students who discuss ideas with progressive-minded students and professors. If libertarians are ignorant of history and current developments, such as the wholesale corporatist land-grabbing taking place right now in the developing world, they will get slaughtered in debate. Libertarians must rediscover their old understanding that feudal landlord "rights" do not count and that the true owners of the land are those who work it. Remember John Locke?

Related reading: Ross Kenyon's "Sweatshops, Bastiat, and (Potential) Misapplications of Economic Theory" at the Center for a Stateless Society.

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