Owning the Earth

Owning the Earth

The Transforming History of Land Ownership

Book - 2013
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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 by, Andro Linklater persuasively argues, the most creative and at the same time destructive cultural force in the modern era-the idea of individual, exclusive ownership of land.

Spreading from both shores of the north Atlantic, it laid waste to traditional communal civilizations, displacing entire peoples from their homelands, but at the same time brought into being a unique concept of individual freedom and a distinct form of representative government and democratic institutions. By contrast, as Linklater demonstrates, 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 history and evolution of landownership is a fascinating chronicle in the history of civilization, offering unexpected insights about how various forms of democracy and capitalism developed, as well as a revealing analysis of a future where the Earth must sustain nine billion lives. Seen through the eyes of remarkable individuals-Chinese emperors; German peasants; the seventeenth century English surveyor William Petty, who first saw the connection between private property and free-marketcapitalism; the American radical Wolf Ladejinsky, whose land redistribution in Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea after WWII made possible the emergence of Asian tiger economies- Owning the Earth presents a radically new view of mankind's place on the planet.

Publisher: New York :, Bloomsbury USA,, 2013
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9781620402894
Branch Call Number: 333.309 LIN NVD
Characteristics: viii, 482 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm


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Oct 03, 2014

A thoughtful and engaging read, but be sure to read this concurrently with Henry George's book, Progress and Poverty, to fully grasp the overall macro picture. Both believe that private land ownership is the ultimate, although George's take was by far the most intelligent and farsighted, whereas Linklater still doesn't quite grasph monopoly capitalism. The peruse Prof. Michael Perelman's most brilliant book, The Invention of Capitalism, to fully understand the contradiction posed by capitalism and this author's [Linklater's] book. [Finally read Kevin Cahill's book, Who Owns The World, a bit of a stretch, but a further eye-opener!] With a select group in America, China and the Soviet Union [I am too ignorant to comment on modern-day Russia] owning the majority of everything, most importantly, the land, one sees where this goes, and it isn't any form of economic democracy Linklater appears to be suggesting! FYI: What made possible the Asian tiger economies was the flow of both jobs and capital to them, and when those capital flows returned to the USA we observed that dot.com bubble.

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