New book: Owning The Earth by Andro Linklater

Tony Gosling tony at
Thu Jan 16 00:59:02 GMT 2014

Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership
By Andro Linklater - Published: 16 January 2014 - £14.18
Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership
Barely two centuries ago, most of the world's 
productive land still belonged either communally 
to traditional societies or to the higher powers 
of monarch or church. But that pattern, and the 
ways of life that went with it, were consigned to 
history as a result of the most creative - and, 
at the same time, destructive - cultural force in 
the modern era: the idea of individual, exclusive 
ownership of land. This notion laid waste to 
traditional communal civilisations, displacing 
entire peoples from their homelands, and brought 
into being a unique concept of individual freedom 
and a distinct form of representative government 
and democratic institutions. Other great 
civilizations, in Russia, China, and the Islamic 
world, evolved very different structures of land 
ownership, and thus very different forms of 
government and social responsibility. The 
seventeenth-century English surveyor William 
Petty was the first man to recognise the 
connection between private property and 
free-market capitalism; the American radical Wolf 
Ladejinsky redistributed land in Japan, Taiwan 
and South Korea after the Second World War to 
make possible the emergence of Asian tiger 
economies. Through the eyes of these remarkable 
individuals and many more, including Chinese 
emperors and German peasants, Andro Linklater 
here presents the evolution of land ownership to 
offer a radically new view of mankind's place on the planet.  
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