glyph 564: economics of land, history . separation of land and state, 18th & 19th centuries . Henry George, Karl Marx (Communist Manifesto), John Locke (influenced by Cicero), F.A. Harper, Spencer Heath ... social function of ownership .... productive use of land, managed multi-tenant properties ... reasons for price of land


Freedom's Ugly Duckling: A Fresh Take on Private Property in Land

Spencer H. MacCallum, 2016

Spencer H. MacCallum provides this abstract:

The writer offers historic reasons for the paucity of public and academic discussion of private property in land. He emphasizes the importance of the separation of land and state that took place in the 18th and 19th centuries, a separation that, without better understanding of the social function of property in land, is in danger of being lost. He attributes Henry George's and Karl Marx's destructive attacks on property in land to lack of such understanding and uncritical acceptance of Locke's labor theory of ownership. F. A. Harper urged the importance of new social insights and founded the Institute for Humane Studies expressly to create an intellectual environment conducive to breakthroughs in scientific thinking about society. Spencer Heath's operationalizing two basic concepts of social science, 'property' and 'capital,' was such a breakthrough. The one avoids the Lockean problem, and the other helps make sense of a little remarked but massive sea change over the past century in the United States from the administration of land by owners for their own exclusive use to administration of land for the benefit of others as productive capital in multi-tenant properties. This trend has implications for further social evolution in which we may very likely see public services provided contractually in the free market instead of by taxation.

"Freedom's Ugly Duckling: A Fresh Take on Private Property in Land":

Spencer H. MacCallum (sm at look dot net) is a social anthropologist living in Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico. This paper was presented at the Mises Austrian Economic Research Conference 2016 (AERC) At Auburn, Alabama, April 2nd. A slightly earlier version was published in Libertarian Papers 7 (2): 135-155. It is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (
September 10, 2016

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