[Diggers350] Re: concepts of land ownership

Malcolm Ramsay malcolm.ramsay at talk21.com
Thu Nov 25 22:24:15 GMT 2010

(Reply to Chris Morton)

Thanks for the comment, Chris. 

As you say I am being optimistic (I did nearly add 'in principle' to what I said about the interests of the Crown being the same as 'in the public interest') but progress always involves one step at a time and if you can put your opponents on the back foot and off-balance then you're half way to winning. At the moment there's no traction in the debate on inheritance because the idea of it being a right is so entrenched - the Establishment doesn't even have any real need to 
defend the current system. To my mind, just putting them in the position where they do have to defend it would be a major advance, and I think a legal 
precedent of the kind I suggested would be enough to do that.

At one time I would have reacted with the same scepticism as you and assumed, as you have, that it "would be fairly rapidly translated back to the interests of the big landowners, Royal and corporate". But it's worth bearing in mind that, at the moment, wealth flows towards the wealthy automatically, without them having to make it happen.

I see two principal mechanisms by which it does that. One is the fact that we have a monetary system in which the medium of exchange (in its base form) can be taken out of circulation by anybody who has a surplus - which means that the rich can charge everybody else for the use of it (I wrote something on that on another site a few months ago: In search of honest money). The other is the fact that inheritance of unlimited amounts of land is treated as a legal right .... 
which has the effect of denying the children of the landless any natural right to land, in effect making them serfs.

To achieve a genuinely just society it would be necessary to break both those mechanisms (plus one or two political changes, of course), but I think breaking one of them would be a major step, and the responsibility-or-right question that I raised in my previous post looks to me to be the weakest point as far as land goes. If that were changed then a major factor in the Establishment's ability to turn things to their own advantage simply wouldn't be there any more.

As I said previously, the question of what should happen with the land when a bequest is successfully challenged is very important, and I'm quite sure that vested interests would try to get some process which would favour the status quo. To my mind that makes it important that anyone bringing a test case should be able to offer a coherent solution which the courts could agree to. I have a fairly clear outline of what I think should happen, but still need to fill in a 
lot of detail.

But of course I will need someone with the right to bring a case to court. I've tried the only person I could think of but she hasn't replied to my e-mail, after a couple of weeks, so I don't have much hope of her helping .... and I don't think picking a solicitor at random would work for something like this.

Malcolm Ramsay

From: chris morton <crisscross at evendine.eclipse.co.uk>
To: Malcolm Ramsay <malcolm.ramsay at talk21.com>
Sent: Wednesday, 24 November, 2010 20:28:31
Subject: Re: [Diggers350] Re: concepts of land ownership

Nice idea Malcolm, except that "in the interests of the Crown (which in the 
modern world means 'in the public interest')" is somewhat optimistic

It is more likely to mean "in the government's interest" and I suspect that 
would be fairly rapidly translated back to the interests of the big landowners, 
Royal and corporate

I never succeed in posting to Diggers, but maybe it will get to you


On 24 Nov 2010, at 16:04, Malcolm Ramsay wrote:

>James Armstrong said: "The king who made the law and defined legality - took the 
>land by illegal armed invasion."
>I think there's an important point here which in fact offers an opportunity for 
>major reform.
>As I see it, William the Conqueror did indeed 'make the law' - in the sense that 
>he created laws which have lasted. The reason his system has persisted for so 
>many centuries is that (despite its flaws) it added something worthwhile to the 
>existing social structure; the system he established created a new dimension of 
>government which provided a stable foundation which allowed society to develop. 
>When he parcelled out land to his tenants-in-chief he wasn't simply rewarding 
>them, he was giving them dominion over the people on that land - and that 
>involved giving them not just rights but responsibilities as well.
>That's where the opportunity lies: over the centuries nearly all those 
>responsibilities were taken over by other institutions (leaving the rewards with 
>the landowners). One stayed with the landholders, however, because it had always 
>been treated as a right rather than a responsibility: the power to 'devise' land 
>(to designate the new holder of land when the previous one died) is not really 
>a right, it is in fact a responsibility which the Crown delegates to the 
>landowner - therefore that power should be exercised in the interests of the 
>Crown (which in the modern world means 'in the public interest'), rather than 
>being used to indulge the landowner's family.
>If the courts can be brought to recognise that fact, it would allow change to be 
>brought about on a case by case basis, with large bequests of land being open to 
>challenge as not being consistent with the landholders' duties as agents of the 
>Crown. It's taken me a long time to recognise it (and there are details that 
>need addressing, such as what should happen when a bequest is successfully 
>challenged) but I think this simple change of perspective has the potential to 
>change the whole system within a generation or so; and it's probably the only 
>way that reform can come about without significant upheaval.
>Of course, the courts can only consider it in the context of a case and I 
>suspect most lawyers would be very reluctant to initiate an action like that. 
>But if anyone in this group knows a lawyer who might be willing to do so, I'm in 
>a position to provide a test case.
>Malcolm Ramsay
From: james armstrong <james36armstrong at hotmail.com>
>To: diggers <diggers350 at yahoogroups.com>
>Sent: Tuesday, 23 November, 2010 23:39:45
>Subject: [Diggers350] RE: concepts of land ownership
>Yes , it would be  for the best in the best of all possible worlds if there was 
>a way of  "promoting  beneficial  land management "  in an ownership society, 
>but that is exactly what is impossible when 'ownership' is exclusive . The 
>recurring result of exclusive ownership is exploitation of non -owners. 
>Who on earth would advocate 'giving away land free?'  That inplies 'giving 
>away'.  After giving  land away-  you have resurrected the ownership system.  
>Selling Life time personal tenancies is compatible with common opwnership of the 
>You confuse ownership with usage.
>It is not necessarily the use of the  land that is the issue.  More its current 
>mis-use .
>The planning system would still  designate land for housing and for farming and 
>for caravan sites etc.
>But the market for land would be removed from its malign influence on the use 
>of  land.
>Reference to 'the original owners' is a hopeless dream. It also begs the 
>question. It implies that ownership to-day should be based on some hypothetical 
>ownership in the past  - but how far back are you to go?- and advocates of 'no 
>ownership to-day' would logically and vigorously demonstrate the inequity of 
>ownership however far back you could demonstrate it.
>Just one instance- 
>Duke William of Caen, and William Eu, and Henry de Ferrers and Bernard de 
>Neufmarche    ..... carved out for themselves great estates
> by the sword.  Does that give good title?  Occupation by conquest is both  
>illegal to-day and and  condemned by the church then.
>The questiion of legality you raise  is also raised  on that issue since  The 
>Normans introduced new title to land- All the land of England  was held of the  
>king - as a feu- in return for knights service.  The king who made the law and 
>defined legality - took the land by illegal armed invasion.
>Dont stop there in your essay into the past - Harold at Hastings was Danish . Go 
>furher back and you find in Bede cica 700  that 'the king  gave wilfrid land at 
>Selsey together with the slaves on it to Wilfrid.  SO  land ownership then 
>implied the now illegal practice of slave  ownership.  This was not uinusual but 
>the norm. It was tehnorm for Anglo Saxons to enslave the native Britons - the 
>indigenous populatin   So going back in history is not the way forward.
>For a More up to date approach refer to the last clause in the  title of the 
>1947 Town and Country Planning and COMPULSORY PURCHASE ACT.(where land can be c 
>p'd by the state  at less than market value.) Legal is as legal does. 
>I suggest the desirability of de commodifying land is not essentially to change  
>the  usage of the land but  to end two endemic weaknesses  of private exclusive 
>ownership as at present.
>a) End Monopolising land ownership and using the monopoly against the public 
> eg to garner CAP benefits paid for by the public which thepublic don't qualify 
>for (£3.9billion a year at present.) another example is  
>plc housebuilders cornering land with Planning permission and then not building 
>thehoises required  so that thescarcityu value drives uop the price of new 
>houses and also the  value of teh  landbanks of horded land.
>b) buying and selling land as a commodity and speculating on  it.  The systemic 
>rise in price of  farmland from  around £2,000 and acre to 
>currently anything up to £8,000  yields a staggering bonus to  land monopolists 
>(some 197,00 of them) At 70% of UK land as farmland and 60million acres in UK 
>you work out the benefit to the  exclusive 'owners' and the harm to  new 
>entrants into farming and to food prices.. 
>Maybe I'm wrong and or misguided .  Please correct me 
> gers350 at yahoogroups.com
>From: liliapatterson at hotmail.com
>Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2010 12:32:04 +0000
>Subject: [Diggers350] concepts of land ownership and protecting the biodiversity 
>of the land
>Dear Everyone,
>there seems to be some discussion about the difference between ownership and 
>responsibility of ownership and also freedom of distribution and also of 
>management practices towards different possessions that can be either owned or 
>Can I remind some people that these concepts are all different and mutually 
>exclusive and also just because someone might say that they want to own some 
>land and then give it away for free - does not necessarily mean that giving land 
>away for free is the best way for the biodiversity of the planet to be improved.
>Personally I would state that promoting beneficial land management practices is 
>a million times more beneficial than the concept of promoting for land or other 
>resources to be given away for free. 
>I would also state that it would actually be grossly criminally negligent for 
>members of TLIO to continue to promote the confused concept that giving away 
>land and resources for free is a positive ideal. It most definitely is not. 
>If one would like to consider for example - that the land and mineral resources 
>of the Palestinian people of Gaza have just been taken for 'free' by the Israeli 
>government, through use of military intervention of the Israeli navy against 
>both Palestinian and international citizens, then this would be an 'example' of 
>a collective group of people taking 'land and its resources for free' and then 
>re-distributing them as they see fit, against the consent of the original 
>This is against international laws and the acts performed by the Israeli 
>military and navy constitute war crimes. 
>Therefore I would really suggest that if TLIO wants to continue in the future as 
>a 'credible' organisation, that some people consult 'lawyers' in relation to 
>'land rights of ownership and management policies' in relation to how to 
>effectively promote better ecological systems to help more healthy lifestyles 
>for people on this planet as a credible part of the environmental movement in 
>the future, otherwise their statements are questionable and therefore 
>ridiculous, in the wider international context of the debate about how the 
>'environment' and 'biodiversity of life on this planet' should effectively be 
>managed in the future in a way that is equitable and fair for all, including 
>landowners, whose rightful access to their own land is being exploited or 


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