The Right to be a Free Peasant = The Right to a Free Homestead

Recently I have discovered Distributism. This is a position defended by Hillaire Belloc in The Servile State, 1912, and by G.K Chesterton in The Outline of Sanity, 1926. And I have been listening and watching Laurie M. Johnson talking about Distributism.

Distributism is the recommendation that everyone should have a right to free subsistence land. [It abstracts from the problem of the type of government, which is addressed by anarchism.]

As I followed this discussion, three things struck me as being missed. The first, is that there were many writers who expressed the same view, but who are not known or ignored. The second is the myopic focus of the discussion to what is occurring in the United States and Great Britain. But the reality is that there are indigenous people and people without states who live off the land. Also there are all sorts of populations within states that live off the land in villages or homesteads. The third thing which is not taken account of is anthropology and the origin of the State.

(1) Here is some literature advocating a free access to subsistence land:

Thomas Spence, The Real Rights of Man, 1775.

William Ogilvie, The Right of Property in Land, 1781.

Thomas Paine, Agrarian Justice, 1795-6.

Charles Hall, The Effects of Civilization on the People in European States, 1805.

Thomas Skidmore, The Rights of Man to Property, 1829,

William Thomas Thornton, A Plea for Peasant Proprietors, 1848.

John Stuart Mill, Socialism, 1879.

Anton Menger, The Right to the Whole Produce of Labour, 1899. [See: Critical remarks on Anton Menger’s approach to Socialism]

George Cadbury (and Tom Bryan), The Land and the Landless, 1908.

(2) People all over the world live in subsistence villages. Below is an example of life in an Eastern European village:

See also: We have everything but we have no money

(3) Concerning anthropology: Marshall Sahlins (1930-2021)

Concerning the State: Franz Oppenheimer, The State, 1914.

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