Resurrection and the land

Malcolm Ramsay malcolm.ramsay at
Fri Aug 15 22:35:12 BST 2008

I'll wish you luck with this James, because I fully agree with you on the ill effects of corporate personhood and the iniquity of current land law - but do you really think we can arrive at a rational system by piling another absurdity on top of what we already have? 'Extending rights to dead peasants' seems an odd way to try and win recognition of the rights of the living (and I doubt you'll find much sympathy, either politically or from the courts).

Personally I think we need to find some way of getting recognition of a birthright to land - I posted a piece on this forum a few years ago suggesting an approach that the courts might find difficult to reject, which might (just) conceivably lead to a change in the law without having to sway people politically. But I didn't get much feedback on it and I'm not in a position to take it anywhere myself - it needs someone who is landless (and willing to go out on a limb legally).

I don't know whether you get many private responses to your posts, but I hope you don't get too disheartened at not getting more feedback through the group. I'd hoped, when I joined the diggers list, that there might be more of a dialogue going on about how we might effect a fundamental change, but mostly it doesn't seem to be that kind of forum [because there are very rarely any replies - ed.] and it's good to see you attempting to invigorate it in that direction; I only wish I could believe the proposals you put forward have any prospect of success, but they generally seem to need some groundswell of opinion - my feeling is we need to find some small action that will be like the dropped pebble that sets off an avalanche.

To my mind you are focusing more on the fundamental problem in this post than you often have in the past, which I'm sure is what we have to do. But there is much in the current system which has real value and I don't think it's enough just to propose sweeping changes - we have to be able to show how they can be integrated with the rest of the law.

Malcolm Ramsay

----- Original Message ----
From: james armstrong <james36army at>
To: diggers350 at
Sent: Friday, 15 August, 2008 7:16:13 AM
Subject: [diggers350] incorporating dead peasants


Think the  land law needs changing? Would you like to redistribute the 129,500 acres of the Duchy of Cornwall? Or the 60,000 of the Duke of Buccleuch?  Was your local commons unfairly enclosed two hundred years ago and do you think this needs reversing?    Don't want to pay £65,000 (and repay £214,000 on a mortgage on it) for the land underneath  that new house you want?  Don’t have any land of your own to construct your brand new architect designed house at a cost of  £55,000 because   two thirds of the land of the UK is controlled by 190,000 families who privately tax you for the privilege of building the house you need?

The doctrine of corporate personhood.
Supreme court justice Morrison Renwick Waite in  Santa Clara County v Southern Pacific Railroad. in 1886 said, 
'The court does not want to hear argument whether the provision under the fourteenth amendment to the constitution which forbids a state to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws applies to these corporations. We are alike of opinion that it does.' 
….quoted in 'the  Post Corporate World' by David Korton.
We suggest  that another apparent legal absurdity, incorporating dead peasants,  can upset the single greatest means, minority control of the land, by which  English people are exploited'

Companies have fictional identity as 'corporations'  that is they have been given fictional bodies to which are attached very real legal rights, including personal or human rights. Laws of long ago are very relevant  to-day. Fundamental to our constitutional law and particularly to our land law  are the statutes of William of Normandy. This is acknowledged by our foremost legal commentators, e.g. Prof FW Maitland who lectured in  Cambridge University in 1899. 
Ranulf Glanvill's commentary, written 1187 to 1189,  is still referred to by lawyers. 
It is a  surprising oversight by which antiquity, human rights and incorporation are conjoined  to extend to  business enterprises a privileged status which has not been extended to meet the needs of present human society especially those particularly oppressed in the realm of  housing. 
Extending rights to  dead peasants will set in train the recognition that the ancient basis of our land ownership is now invalid and needs updating and carry the prospect of  ending privilege. 

The Statute of Mortmain (i.e. 'dead hand') of 1289 recognised the danger of land being alienated in perpetuity.It limited grants of land to the church,arguing that  the church never dies and that such  land was lost to the state  for ever.
We should remember that with control of the land went control of the bodies, of the labour and of the  lives of the peasants who dwelled on it.  Still to-day, controlling land gives control over lives.
It can be argued that because it is the lot of  people to  die, but not necessarily of corporations , then people are disadvantaged re 'fictional' corporations and trusts.  This cannot be rational nor compatible with  current equal opportunities legislation. Incorporating  dead peasants is logical and less potentially harmful, in fact beneficial to present day society. 

Once their rights are posthumously recognised the injustice of the laws which oppressed them  is apparent and with it the need  to remedy the defect.. Title to land based on such laws is invalidated by the recognition that such land law (and title) is inappropriate for current social needs.  Laws needs to be scrapped or changed to bring them  up to date with modern  interpretations of equity. This is relevant to our land law which to an extraordinary degree, in UK, conserves a system of monopoly bulk landownership which acts against the interests of the majority- who are not bulk land owners yet for whom every activity requires access to land and land monopoly  runs counter to anti-monopoly legislation such as the 1998 Competition Act.   (At present this act applies only to  goods and services.) The Competition Law needs amending to extend to transactions in land.  Incorporating dead peasants  and recognising that their rights were abrogated by
inequitable land law is the first step in ending exploitation of living people by means of  current law which supports minority control of bulk land but is based on such shaky foundations.  Alternatively  we could wait for the other resurrection.   JA


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