The practice of “buying” land, owning it and excluding others from utilizing its resources is a relatively recent historical development that came in with capitalism. The goal, here, was to hoard a particular natural resource and then exchange it with someone who had done the same with another natural resource. Those who hoarded the most considered themselves “wealthy” and demanded others give their labor in exchange for the same resource that they took freely from the land.
To put it simply, for example, a "land pirate" would dip his jug, forcibly block you from dipping your jug, insist you exchange your labor for a different resource (gold, for example) and bring it to him in exchange for the jug of water he dipped for you. The result was that Earth’s resources were stripped to the point of near extinction. Observing the Natural Law Statements of Responsibility (view here) is a way of correcting this. And it will require humanity to think in an entirely different way.
How it happened
Prior to the 17th century, land in England was held in common by the community. Farmers cultivated dispersed segments of land during growing season which, after harvest, reverted back to the community for livestock grazing and other purposes. Of course, families had their own gardens and homesteads, but a majority of the land was always available as a supplement.
But through a series of parliamentary Enclosure Acts, which accelerated during the 18th century, the common areas were fenced off, closed for use by the locals and turned into large private farms. As enclosure proliferated, the number of displaced, landless people increased creating a “working class” whose only options were to work as tenant farmers for large landowners or get jobs in the cities. Village after village lost common rights, and the transition from feudalism to capitalism was complete. George Orwell writes in his Tribune Column entitled, “As I Please” August 18, 1944:
“In his zeal to defend private property, my correspondent does not stop to consider how the so-called owners of the land got hold of it. They simply seized it by force, afterwards hiring lawyers to provide them with title-deeds. In the case of the enclosure of the common lands, which was going on from about 1600 to 1850, the land-grabbers did not even have the excuse of being foreign conquerors; they were quite frankly taking the heritage of their own countrymen, upon no sort of pretext except that they had the power to do so.”
As British colonization spread throughtout Asia, India, Africa and the Americas, so did the enclosure of not just farmlands but forests, damns, groundwater and knowledge itself.
They did it through "corporatization"
Corporatization refers to the structuring of government and public organizations into join-stock, publicly listed companies. Most countries in the world are registered as corporations in the United States and can be found on the Securities and Exchange Commission website. The United States was corporatized during the Forty First Congress, Session III, Chapter 62 in1871 which reads:
“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all that part of the territory of the United States included within the limits of the District of Columbia be, and the same is hereby, created into a government by the name of the District of Columbia, by which name it is hereby constituted a body corporate for municipal purposes, and may contract and be contracted with, sue
and be sued, plead and be impleaded, have a seal, and exercize all other powers of a municipal corporation not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States and the provisions of this act.”
How do we correct this? While that may seem like a daunting question, the answer is simple: TAKE BACK THE LAND. We each have a duty to protect the natures dynamic life-cycles and we have been remiss in our responsibility. Many Americans have gone along with corporate practices of enclosing plots of land and charging others for using it. This is called commodifying nature and violates Statement 5 of the Natural Law Statements of Responsibility which says:
"Mother Earth is an indivisible part of all living systems, inclusive of human communities, interrelated, interdependent, and complementary, all sharing a common destiny. Where human communities interact with other aspects of nature, the integrity and natural processes that sustain regeneration is preserved.
"Mother Earth, the waters, skies, air, airwaves, minerals, forests, beaches, mountains, wildlife, and all other natural resources, human and otherwise, in, above, and below the earth are expressly protected as living systems. Natural resources are utilized in sustainable ways and may not be commercialized, commodified, nor privately “owned,” inhabitants being guardians and custodians of such. All activities such as building, farming, harvesting, and producing are done in a way that preserve nature’s dynamic balance and life- cycles, assuring regeneration and future integrity."
1. Stop being a land pirate yourself! (All landlords are land pirates.)
2. Spread the word. (Share this article with everyone you know.)
3. Refuse to do business with an industry that survives by destroying our planet.
This land is OUR land. Surely humanity can unify over that fact. Let's rise together, join hands and correct our course.
—Cindy Kay Currier