THE “LAND FOR THE (CHOSEN) PEOPLE” RACKET - first appeared serially in THE SOCIAL CREDITER between December 1942 and March 1943.
The “Land for the (Chosen) People” Racket
Clifford Hugh Douglas
“THE aristocracy of the goyim as a political force is dead—we need not take it into account; but as landed proprietors they can still be harmful to us from the fact that they are self-sufficing in the resources upon which they live. It is essential for us at whatever cost to deprive them of their land. This object will be best attained by increasing the burdens on landed property—in loading land with debts.”
(The foregoing quotation is alleged by the People to whom it is attributed, to be a “forgery,” so we will say that it is one of Grimm's Fairy Tales.)
I suppose that there never was a time when so much nonsense was talked by so many people on so many subjects, as the present. Sober judgement was once the object of respectful attention; but nowadays none is so poor as to do it reverence. The very foundations of considered opinion appear to be undermined; words, in our new “wonderland,” mean what we want them to mean, and are used, not so much to conceal our thought as to advertise our determination to dispense with it.
High up on the list of matters on which almost everyone feels competent to give a firm, not to say strident, opinion, noticeably at a time like the present, which one would have imagined to be inopportune, is the subject of “the land.” No experience is necessary; in fact, it is a serious handicap; it cramps your style. From the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is primarily a schoolmaster, through Mr. R.R. Stokes, M.P. who is a machinery manufacturer, to the shadowy backers of the Commonwealth League, all agree in their line of criticism—more laws “ought” to be passed about the land, and it “ought” to “belong” to the “people.”
Practically all of this agitation can be traced back to international politics. Before giving to this aspect of the subject the attention it requires, however, it may be desirable to emphasise that no-one with any knowledge of the situation would waste time in the defence of the system of large estates prevalent in Great Britain, say, a hundred years ago, not because that system had not many virtues, as the devastation due to its break-up shows; but simply because land-holding, by individual proprietors, has been penalised to a degree which has turned the individual holder of considerable acreage into a mere land salesman. Slowly at first, but now very swiftly, the “county” families, who were interwoven with the system, and in the main lived and died in its not unexacting service, have disappeared. They were an organic growth, and are not susceptible of mass production by Act of Parliament. But it is quite certain that to substitute for this organism a Government Department primarily concerned to collect taxes for international bondholders, is not progress but reaction.
There are many concrete facts the consideration of which is essential to an appreciation of the threat, not to that system (whose assets are being bought up with paper money at scrap prices), but to the individual Briton, which its disappearance involves. If the delusive word “ownership” can be forgotten for a moment, it will be easy to realise that it was a highly articulated system of administration, developed by trial and error over a long period.
To the agitator (though not to his hidden paymaster) “land” is homogeneous; an acre is an acre whether it is on the slag heaps of Widnes or the High-farming land of the Lothians. Agitation is moulded to justify “office-management” in place of personal responsibility.
One of the first considerations of the old system was to maintain, in the real, not the financial sense, the capital value of the land, and to do this required extraordinarily detailed knowledge of local conditions and custom. The desperate condition of much English arable, which has been “farmed-out” by tenant farmers not properly supervised, and having little anxiety as to their ability to get another of the hundreds of farms on offer, is the direct result of the sabotage of this administrative system.
Now, we are hypnotised by the propaganda of the international chemical combines into the belief that soil analysis, chemical fertilisers, and oil-driven farm machinery are far superior, and more “scientific” than the intimate farming of the older order. Not only is there not a particle of genuine evidence for this, but there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Never has there been so much “professional” farming; and never have agricultural products been so unsatisfactory in quality. Bread which has to be re-enforced with drugs; fruit which looks attractive and is both tasteless and lacking in all its old essential virtues (the Phoebe strawberry, the staple export of the Hampshire strawberry beds, looks large and delicious, and tastes like wet cotton wool); fabrics which are showy but neither warm nor durable; chemical beer, wine doctored and prohibitive in price. Progress !
But it is easy, more particularly in war-time, to look upon “the land” as though it were almost entirely an agricultural and production problem, which is the usual misdirection of emphasis fostered by international finance. It is primarily, but not principally an agricultural problem. It is, I think, a problem which can easily be misapprehended, unless it is considered in intimate relation with the character of the population, as well as its numerical magnitude. For instance, the last pursuit in which the land agitator wishes to engage, is farming, nor do farmers do much agitating.
There are many very curious circumstances surrounding the question of population statistics, and population habits, in Great Britain. William Cobbett was aware of them. They have become still more curious in the last hundred years, as anyone who will take the trouble to consider the figures available in Whitaker's Almanac can see for himself.
I do not think that it can be reiterated too often, at this time, that except as a purely legal fiction, the common ownership of the soil by 45,000,000 individuals is not a subject for debate—it is a factual impossibility. In the sense in which it is understood by the ordinary man, ownership means control. Forty-five million people never yet controlled anything. If they can't control the Post Office, or the Army, Navy, or Air Force, and can't even control their individual and collective involvement in a war they didn't want, and don't understand, how can they control sixty million acres varying from limestone rock to water meadows?
So far as the produce of the land is concerned, that is available to anyone who has the money. Has anyone suggested that “the People” should have the produce of the money-making machine?
Conversely, do the agitators for common ownership yearn to pay the taxes now borne by land? Ask most of the farmers who bought their farms during and immediately after the 1914-1918 war period how they like their bargain, from the business point of view. If the older conditions of estate management were so unfair to the tenant, how was it that farmers' sons had to wait years before they could get a vacant farm, and had to be well known to be thoroughly competent farmers, or they would never get one; while nowadays there are hundreds of once-famous farms going begging, and every day good farmers are throwing in their farms in disgust at the ever rising tide of interference without responsibility?
If the farmers are worse off, the “owners” are ruined and dispossessed, “the people” are getting worse produce at higher prices, and the land itself is impoverished and “farmed out,” quis beneficit?—who is better off?
To understand and to recognise without peradventure exactly what has caused this situation, let us consider Professor J.H. Morgan, K.C., writing in The Quarterly Review of January, 1929 (pp. 187-8): “When I once asked Lord Haldane why he persuaded his friend, Sir Ernest Cassel, to settle by his will large sums on.... the London School of Economics, he replied `Our object is to make this institution a place to raise and train the bureaucracy of the future Socialist State.' ”
It will be remembered that (a) Lord Haldane said that Germany was his spiritual home, and (b) that Sir Ernest Cassel was the alter ego of Jacob Schiff, of Kuhn, Loeb, and Company.
Now there is no room for discussion as to what has caused the disastrous state of British land and everyone connected with it. That cause is grinding and punitive taxation.
And this taxation has for the most part been concocted either directly or indirectly by the London School of Economics—a good deal of it by Sir William Beveridge who we are to entrust with the building of our New World, “half way to Moscow,” as he puts it so engagingly. An understanding of the main principles of current taxation is indispensable to anyone who claims to hold views on the future of the soil. In the first place, it is necessary to recognise three classifications of the surface— agricultural, industrial, and residential.
The question of minerals underground is closely interwoven with the surface classification, but may be left for subsequent consideration. It is a question which, if possible, is less understood by the average land agitator than that of the surface.
Now, land taxes begin with a series of recurrent capital levies at each inheritance, thinly disguised under the names of Legacy Duty, Estate Duty, and so forth. It must be borne in mind that (in spite of nearly
unworkable alternatives of recent date) these have to be paid in money, and land does not grow money. Generally, this money is borrowed on mortgage or otherwise. These “Duties” may range from 10 per cent. in the case of very small properties, to sixty or seventy per cent. in the case of very large ones.
In effect, these taxes are confiscatory, consequently whatever is the state of the land at the present time, that state is the result of a change of effective “ownership.”
Subsequently to the Capital levies paid by the legatee, but not by anyone purchasing the land, Income tax at the current rate (now 10/- in the £) is paid on the ownership of the land, not on the return it makes, but on an arbitrary assessment which goes up if the land is improved. This assessment is generally made by the local rating authority who levy their own distinct taxes, called Rates, on it; and these go up if the land is improved. But if the owner also occupies “his own” property, he pays Schedule B as well as Schedule A and Rates, also at the current rate. (The foregoing statements are subject to certain modifications in respect of Scotland, and to the vagaries of Derating Acts.) In effect, the owner-occupier of his “own” property pays, at the present time, more in rates and taxes than he would have paid in rates, taxes and rent, sixty years ago, as a tenant. It is a sound legal, as well as common-sense axiom, that a man must be presumed to have intended the logical consequences of his actions. The logical consequences of the taxation just roughly summarised can be seen to be what they have in fact been. They have made the use of land for agriculture only precariously possible by treating as soil income what is in fact soil capital; thus fostering overseas imports of easily grown food.They have made the “ownership” of land, as an administrative profession, impossible by imposing what is in fact an intolerable nationalised rent.
And they have made the improvement of real property an expensive form of altruistic philanthropy (many landowners have accelerated their ruin by persistence in it) by penalising every improvement either to site or buildings by an increased assessment, so that whoever doesn't get the rent, the tax or rate-collector does.
A short survey of the bearing on all this of what were called “Mineral Rights” will enable us to pass on to a consideration of why once-Great Britain is unique in its taxation, the objective of it, and who benefits. That will clear the ground for the possibilities of a reasonably sane system.
When the land-“owner” has paid say 25 per cent. Estate Duty, which at twenty years tenure represents (if paid at once without interest) the capitalised value of about half the income for the whole of the period of tenure, Schedule A Income Tax which represents the other half, Schedule B which probably represents about three times the genuine profits which can be made by working, as distinct from speculating in, the land, he can consider where to get the “Tithe” somewhat facetiously paid to Queen Anne's Bounty. Tithe is of course simply a Financier's tax, with only the most tenuous connection with the Church. Instead of being a tenth of the produce it is more generally about a quarter of the assessment, whether there are any earnings or no. And there is Land Tax, the incidence of which is so erratic that no one could, or is intended to, understand it. We have thus brought our “owner” to the point where he is paying about thirty shillings a year nationalised rent on property worth £1, doing his own repairs, paying his own insurance, and having no recourse to a landlord, as his own tenants have to him. That is to say, the “owner” renders service to the State, gets no return, and pays for it. We can come to his “mineral rights” which have now been acquired by the “State” at about one third of their estimated value.
Valuable minerals are not widespread, even in these islands which were unusually rich in them until we gave most of them away. The consequences of this were two fold; mineral owners were few in number, and so politically weak; and the largest of them was the Ecclesiastical Commissioners who paid no Estate Duties; and owing to the immense quantity of mineral obtainable from a small area, individual owners gave the illusion of being “rich,” more especially as most of them were abysmally ignorant of the idea that they were living on capital in the most literal and wasteful way it is possible to conceive.
Now, it is of course possible to reduce any discussion about the rules, conventions, and practices either of society, business, or even a game, to a mere brawl, by introducing the word “ought.” While I am not able to see, myself, just exactly what “the People” and more particularly the Chosen People, did to produce the coal deposits under these islands, these comments have nothing whatever to do with the word “ought.” It is not merely possible, it is easy, to raise the standard of living of the legitimate population of these islands to a point considerably exceeding that of any Socialist State; but that has nothing to do with “the minerals ought to belong to the Nation,” or the results of the expropriation of mineral owners, which, to make the matter clear at once, have been to mortgage them to the international Jew, via the various forms of Debt.
To understand the main lines of the position, if we take the pithead price of coal at a token price of £1 per ton, the miner gets about 18/6 of this sum, the colliery proprietor gets about ¼ and the royalty owner gets about twopence. It is clear at once that the royalty has no ascertainable effect whatever on either the ultimate selling price of coal, or the miner's wages.
The object of the fantastic misrepresentation in regard to taxation on minerals has been neither to benefit the public which now gets much worse coal at a much higher price, or the miner, who would scoff at an increase of twopence per ton in coal mined, in any one of the dozen mining disputes of the last ten years. The object was to destroy the principle of property in relation to individuals, centralise it, and transfer it abroad.
As I have mentioned elsewhere, it was freely stated in Washington in 1919 that a bribe of £10,000 was paid to a certain witness before one of the well-known commissions on the Coal Industry to recommend the nationalisation of coal. I feel sure the £10,000 will appear in the bill, if not recognisably.
Coal royalties while obviously and indisputably payments in respect of capital, and taxed on that basis in Death Duties, were again taxed as income. They were again taxed by coyly worded bribes to further attack, such as Mineral Rights Duty, Miners' Welfare Levy, etc. At which point, we come to the interlocking with surface “ownership,” and it may be becoming clear that whoever “owns” the land, the Big Idea in regard to it is that it shall be rented from the World Debt Holders.
The “owner” of minerals had no choice whether they should or should not be worked. He was obliged to grant a lease to a Colliery, on demand and at practically its price, but the Colliery had complete freedom as to whether or not it would work them. It is true that in many cases the Lease contained a “minimum rent” clause, usually about £1 per acre, but this so-called “rent” was afterwards deducted from the royalties together with all bad coal, “faults,” etc. In effect, for about twopence per ton, the colliery got control of all the coal without buying the surface and with the whole of the political responsibility and abuse directed against the “owner.”
Now let us see what happens to the surface. In the first place, it becomes for a lengthy period unsaleable for building purposes, because of the danger of settlement, and this unsaleability causes a money loss probably greater than the total sums received, net, for the royalties. In the second
place, miners, very good fellows as they are, are not regarded with enthusiasm by farmers.
They are inveterate trespassers and poachers; destroy fences, leave open gates, and produce an easily recognisable “ragged” air to the countryside which is accentuated by the “planned” neatness of many modern colliery villages. The sulphur smoke from the pit chimneys hurts the crops. And of course, by the almost inevitable destruction of the amenities of the district, its general residential value becomes restricted to those connected with the working of minerals.
Notice that the “owner” has nothing whatever to do with this state of affairs. He merely pays the taxes, is pilloried by the miner as battening on the virtuous worker “who produces all wealth” and hasn't sufficient experience to realise that the “wealth” he produces goes mostly, as an American manufacturer recently put it, to provide a quart of milk a day for Hottentots. That is to say, it is exported practically free, and goes to swell the thousands of millions of pounds of capital which have been lost in the last fifty years.
Anyone who will give a little unbiased consideration to the facts of Land Taxation and Legislation since, to go no further back, Mr. Lloyd George's Budget of 1908 must be driven to the conclusion that it has not been intended that “the Land” should prosper, neither has it been intended that the land should be “nationalised.” Politically, it could have been, any time this past thirty years. While destroying every real right of propertyrights without which the proper administration of land is impossible, the titular “ownership” has been left in private hands so that the international bondholders might extract in taxation all the money possible, while the results of draining the countryside of liquid capital might be used to discredit the whole system of private property. A very pretty scheme.
While fundamentally, of course, the financial aspect of the matter ceases to be of importance with the sabotage of private “ownership,” it may be noted in passing that International Bond holding is doomed on the day that “ownership” passes to the State and the State itself would hardly survive. The rent and maintenance charges which would have to be collected to pay the Bondholders, of whom individual War Loan holders form a small part, would then be so impossible that, the private “owner” having disappeared, the real malefactors would be easily recognisable— to quote that professional maker of phrases, Lord Baldwin, during the past half century, the Government, whatever we may mean by that, has “realised the ambition of the harlot throughout the ages—power without responsibility.”
There is no room at all for difference of opinion as to the relative excellence of management by private ownership or by the bureaucracy by which it is being replaced. Leaving out of comparison such outstanding instances as the Buccleuch or Stanley Estates, there are still hundreds of small properties in which ownership is maintained by extraneous funds, which are immeasurably superior to the properties of Government Departments disposing of practically unlimited funds.
Was there then, no room for complaint about the system? I think that there was. And, for the moment, there is every evidence that, so far from its defects being rectified by State Management, they will be greatly magnified.
During the past few months every considerable newspaper has printed, in its correspondence columns, a large selection of letters on the profit motive, and I do not think that it is unfair to say that this correspondence has in the main fostered two very significant ideas. The first of these is that the profit motive is both bad and is confined to a restricted class from whom all the evils of society proceed. And the second of these is that the profit motive is either another name for a system of private property, or if not that, is inseparable from it. There is not, I think, even a substratum of truth in either of these ideas. They are an evident example of systematic perversion applied to popular psychology.
One of the riddles current in our nursery days was “Why does a hen walk across the road?” to which a perfectly correct answer might have been returned “From the profit motive.”
The moment that any human being performs a single action for any reason other than that provided by the profit motive, he is a certifiable lunatic. It is simply a question of what is, in the mind of the individual, profitable to him, taking all the factors and consequences of the action into consideration. The Trades Union Movement is the biggest example of an organisation run purely for profit, for nothing else but profit, making nothing whatever and with sublime disregard for the profit of anyone not belonging to it, which this country can show. During the present war, the economic profit of every class of the community has been sacrificed to the over-riding claims of the Trades Unions, and it is an essential aspect of this situation that Trades Unionism is normally more concerned with internationalism, at least overtly, than any other allegedly national institution. And the declared policy of Trades Unionism is Socialism, which is another word for monopoly in land, labour, and capital.
One of the remarkable features of the confiscatory taxation on land and private property of every description, is the tenacity with which individuals have held on to it in the face of the heaviest financial loss. To say that, in the main, for the past seventy-five years, landowners have been actuated by the determination to make a financial profit is simply another way of saying that landowners are all fools.
It may reasonably be asked why, if only lunatics act to their own disadvantage, anyone should want to “own” land. The answer to that is probably the key to the situation. A comparatively small number of individuals do want to own land as distinguished from an income from land, but those people can do things for and to the land which no bureaucracy can ever hope to do. And those people will not do it, if they are interfered with. Hundreds of farmers, and remember farming is only one aspect of the question, are throwing in their farms although, for the first time since the last phase of the international war, they are “making money.”
What, then, was the genuine defect of the big estate system? Remember, the ruined country side is definitely the result of financial attack largely from alien sources. I think that the answer is evident to anyone who was familiar with the large estate. It was not primarily as a system of administering the land that it failed. It was that it gave too much power over the general lives of the individuals who worked on it.
Now this defect—and it was a serious defect—was not peculiar to landowning, and it is not less, but rather greater, in such large industrial settlements as those of the Ford interests in the United States, and the Port Sunlight “model villages” in this country.
Many of the American industrial organisations arrogate to themselves a right of supervision over the private lives and morals of their employees far exceeding that which would have been exercised by a British landowner at any time, or tolerated by their tenants, and this is accompanied by a close knit organisation for card-indexing every applicant for employment, and penalising by unemployment and starvation anyone daring to rebel against the rules. But we do not hear of organised attack on these things.
Paradoxically enough, the very security of tenure enjoyed by tenants on large estates tended to increase their dependence on the landlord. Many of them were rooted in the soil to at least as great an extent as the titular owner of it. They were specialists and they instinctively recognised that transplanting was a serious, perhaps a fatal thing to them. When the landlord was equally stable in his tenure, the despotism was not so much felt since tradition limited it. But when estates began to change hands by purchase, in many cases coming into the possession of men with no knowledge of, or feeling for, the land, but an exaggerated idea of their own importance, the despotism tended to change from what was in the main, a benevolent, while rather mediaeval overlordship, to an irrational tyranny. To take a simple instance, fox-hunting. I need, perhaps, hardly say that the point I should like to make has nothing to do with the ethics, or otherwise, of fox-hunting as a sport. The Meet of Foxhounds of John Peel's era was a neighbourly affair, comprising two or three squires and their families, and perhaps twice that number of yeoman and tenant farmers. All of them knew every inch of the land, rode carefully over it, and did negligible damage which was jointly repaired. But as the City men began to take to hunting by the process of sending a subscription to packs which were too expensive to be kept by one man, the whole atmosphere changed. Hundreds of strangers mounted on horses brought in by train, ridden by people who knew little of the country, and cared less, galloped over the land leaving a trail of damage which was a serious nuisance, to put it no higher, to the tenant farmer, who was no longer welcomed, or in fact able to hunt himself in the expensive company of the larger Hunt. But protest was not healthy—it didn't pay.
During the last hundred years, the position of Agent, or, in Scotland, Factor, has become of increasing importance in considering the administration of land. The Agent represents a definite step in the transition from personal to “office management.” In considering it, it is important not to overlook the fact, that, particularly in Scotland, there are certain families, exclusively connected by long association with large landowners, who are just as hereditary as the owner. There is one family, whose name will be familiar to any Scottish farmer; whose estate management is by common consent as near perfection as an imperfect world will permit.
But it should be particularly noted that the hereditary, personal touch is merely split into decision on main questions of policy, which are reserved for the attention of the proprietor, and routine administration, which is the field of the Factor. It is poles apart from Bureaucracy.
To say that an estate is managed by an Agent may mean, however, several fundamentally different systems. The resident Agent, or Factor, directly responsible to an owner who is not so mortgaged to some financial institution that he has no freedom of action, is one thing.
Management by a Firm of Estate Agents acting for several owners is quite another, and begins to approximate to bureaucratic management—so much so, that in fact it is not infrequently a branch of the business of country solicitors. Where, as in perhaps the majority of cases in Scotland, the so-called proprietor is hopelessly in debt to a bank or an insurance company, the Agent is in fact concerned neither with the interests of the land, the proprietor, nor the tenants, except in so far as they maintain the security behind the debts, and ensure the due collection of the interest.
He is frequently resident in the bank itself. To apply the term “private ownership and management” to this state of affairs, is nonsense. The essential point to grasp is, I think, this. The possession of legal title to land, and the drawing of rents from it is an entirely separate question from the merits or other wise of the control and administration of land by genuine private ownership, which does not necessarily involve residence but does imply knowledge and initiative.
In regard to the first, it is merely necessary to repeat that land does not either grow or exude money. It would be quite possible, and indeed is rapidly becoming an accomplished fact, that the legal title of the landowner is bought at bargain prices by camouflaged bank credits so that the institutions are in a position to nominate the titular owners as well as to control the administration. In itself, this solves little or nothing— certainly not the question of State versus private control.
At bottom, there is little doubt that there are two irreconcilable ideas in conflict.
The first of these is that the world in which we live is an organism and that men and animals have intricate relationships with the earth—not amorphous but specific and infinitely varied, which can only be disregarded at the peril both of men and the earth they live on. I do not mean in the least by this that a universal back to the land movement is either
necessary or even desirable, but I do think that the idea that the earth is merely something to be exploited and “lived on” is quite fatal.
The second and antithetic idea, is that the world is merely the raw material for a factory, that the nearer agriculture approximates to Mr. Ford's conveyor-belt principles, and towns emulate Stalingrad, the better we shall be. I do not think I am unduly squeamish, but I have to plead guilty to a wave of real nausea at the description, as progress, of egg factories in which hundreds or thousands of hens are kept under electric light from birth to death, confined in little boxes, never allowed out, laying eggs. I don't want to eat those eggs, and I have a strong conviction that they are not good to eat, whatever their superficial taste may be. The idea—the Encyclopaedist idea—that everything can be put into a nice watertight compartment, and card indexed, is the philosophy of a frozen Hell.
It is this unresolved antithesis which makes the Planners so dangerous. No one with ordinary intelligence would contend that, when you are quite sure that you want to go from London to Leeds, you should not “plan” your journey, within certain well defined limits. But if all you know is that you want to go from London to a health resort, you are very foolish if you allow the Leeds Association of Boarding House Keepers to say that Leeds is the only health resort, and anyway, they are going to take off all the trains to anywhere else.
Before the land question is capable of any “solution” which will not make things worse, if possible, than they have been made by the activities of the wreckers, certain sedulously propagated theories simply must be cleared out of the way. The first, of course, is that it is the business of the Government to “put the people to work.” Perhaps the shortest way in which to deal with this is to say that, if the facts of the case require that an individual must work before it is possible for him to obtain those things of which he has the need or desire, then he shall in no case be prevented from working by artificial restrictions. But if, without injury to others, he can be provided with these things without working, the fact that he has not worked for them shall be recognised as a matter of no consequence whatever.
Now I consider that this question is so important that I should regard as perhaps the most hopeful event of the last few years the obvious breakdown of what is known as the Means Test. The issue of purchasing power to a limited minimum, tout court, immediately frees nearly every social question, including the land question, from the devastating misdirection involved in claiming “the right to work,” not because you want to work, but because you must be paid. At one sweep, it clears away hundreds of thousands of people who would not know what to do with land if they really controlled it. And I think that it enables us to see dimly that the curious atmosphere of scarcity, with which, in common with everything else, the land question has been surrounded, is, or could be a delusion also. It might be useful to recall that Mr., now fittingly, Lord Keynes predicted that owing to the disappearance of Russian wheat from the European market, wheat would rise to £5 per quarter and would be wheat in Canada and the Argentine that it was burnt for fuel and the growers were financially ruined by the fall, to the lowest on record, of the price.
But we shall not get very far by the naive method of dividing the area of the land by the number of the population.
“A Servant when he Ruleth—”
If I were asked to specify the most disastrous feature with which the world in general, and this country in particular, is threatened, I should reply “The rule of the Organised Functional Expert—the engineer, the architect and the chemist, amongst others.” As I am an engineer and retain the most wholehearted affection for engineering, I may perhaps be credited with objectivity in this matter.
When a nation has declared war, it has finished with policy, because war is a function whether we consider it to be natural or a malignant disease. It is, par excellence, the rule of a function, its experts, and their organisations. Under cover of this obvious fact, a spate of other experts is being let loose on us, with their Reports—the Uthwatt Report, the Scott Report, the Cooper Report on Hydro-Electric Development in Scotland, the Report of the County and Municipal Engineers’ Institution, and so on. Every one of these Reports conflicts with the functional Rule of War, and each, without exception, deals with Land Policy without giving any indication that the very fact that their authors are reporting as experts automatically discredits them as politicians, using this word in the sense in which it ought to be, but generally is not, understood. It is curious, also, that the Henry Georgeites, the Land Taxers, are furiously active just now also.
Let us be specific. The Municipal and County Engineers' Report “assumes that the policy of high-speed motor roads with link to the Continent” will be adopted in Britain (not Great Britain). Yes? Who authorised that assumption? Not, by any chance, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders? The Report remarks, “Public control of land is essential, even though it may interfere with the full enjoyment of private ownership.” What the Municipal and County Engineers as an organisation mean by Public control of land is more and bigger staffs of Municipal and County Engineers to play about with the land to the detriment, as they boldly put it, of private, i.e., non-functional, enjoyment.
Now I hope the Municipal and County Engineers won't take it too much to heart, but my opinion of their competence to deal with matters of policy is very similar to my opinion of, say, the competence of Mr. H.G. Wells to make blueprints of a new universe. Their expression of what is desirable in regard to private enjoyment is an impertinence and I hope that large numbers of private individuals will write to them and say so.
When orders come to them from a “competent” source (not an abstraction such as “The Public“), I have no doubt that they will carry them out with ability and discretion, but at the moment they're a bit above themselves.
Immediately after the close of the 1914-18 phase of this war, one of the most expensive roads in Great Britain (no doubt authorised under cover of war) was built over the Pass of Glencoe. It is no doubt pure coincidence that this road connects Glasgow and the South with the Hydro-Electric Works of the British Aluminium Company, … .
However this may be, I have never met a private individual unconnected with aluminium who did not regard this road, built at enormous public expense, as a first-class calamity.
And we are threatened with others.
Now it should be noticed that this curious viciousness of e.g., Engineering Institutions, is not the outcome of engineering training, and is contradicted by the pronouncements and protests of many engineers everywhere. I should place the recent speeches in the House of Commons of Mr. Austin Hopkinson, M.P., who is an engineer, and comes of a family predominantly of engineers, as easily the most competent Parlia(
mentary attack on these exhibitions of the tendency of Institutions to pervert science to the politics of dialectical materialism.
That they were not reported at any length in the so-called national (really international) Press merely indicates the vested interests the national Press now exists to serve. I am pleased to know that the activities of this journal and its affiliations have given these speeches a much wider public, both in this country and the Dominions, than would normally have been the case had they been decently reported in the daily newspapers.
What we are witnessing is, of course, the manufacture of a spurious public opinion based on the well-known principle that there's nothing like leather. Give a Manufacturers' Association something upon which to report and it can be relied on to report that what is needed is manufacturing. And all these associations, with engaging simplicity, express the opinion that “public,” by which is meant “association,” ownership of land is the only way to overcome the opposition to more and more leather.
If individual, private ownership and control had no other virtues, the fact that it is felt to be an obstacle to factory building ought to make us cautious in considering attacks upon it.
In Freedom and Planning, the document issued in 1931 by Mr. Israel Moses Sieff’s organisation, P.E.P., which appears to have supplanted the Government of Great Britain, just as the “New Deal” appropriated the American Government, through what Lord Hewart called ‘administrative lawlessness,’ the following illuminating passages may be found:— The Farmer: “The development of an organised system will lead to a profound modification of the traditional individualism of outlook of the dairy farmer.”
“Whether we like it or not, the individual farmer will be forced by events [our italics] to submit to far-reaching changes of outlook and methods.”
(It may be remembered that the Russian farmer who was ‘planned’ did not like it, and was ‘liquidated’ in millions by Mr. Sieff's co-racialists.)
The Landowner: “Planned economy .... must clearly involve drastic inroads upon the rights [our italics] of individual ownership of land.”
“This is not to say that land nationalisation in the ordinary sense of the term [our italics] is either necessary or desirable. Far from it. Nothing would be gained [by whom?] by substituting the State as Landlord. What is required .... is transfer of ownership of large blocks of land, not necessarily of all the land of the country, but certainly a large part of it, into the hands of the proposed Statutory Bodies and Public Utility Bodies and of the Land Trusts.
“It would be possible further, in a number of cases [the Chosen People] to leave management undisturbed, together with the enjoyment of the amenities which at present go with ownership, subject to the transfer of title to the Corporations or Trusts.”
The full beauty of these proposals only becomes revealed as they are carefully examined and thoroughly understood.
The first point to notice is that the rights of ownership are expressly mentioned and are not abrogated, they are transferred. To anyone who has taken the small amount of trouble necessary to penetrate the conjuring trick of “Public” ownership, it is obvious that the powers will be transferred to anonymous bondholders, who will exercise them through bureaucrats, whose advancement will depend on their alacrity in anticipating the wishes of their masters.
But “nationalisation” is recognised as an awkward threat to grinding taxation, so that “Public Bodies” and “Land Trusts” (Forestry Commissions, National Trusts and out-and-out Land Companies) are to be interposed. A writer in a popular Sunday newspaper, writing of the acquisition of a large block of land by the National Trust, began the article by the words “Hundreds of thousands of people in this country do not realise that they are large landowners.” Now, isn't that odd?
It is a safe rule in assessing the true objective of the “Planners’ ” measures to examine the arrangements made in forming the thirty-seven Central Banks which have been constituted since 1918. These, of course, are an integral and primary Stage in the more open “Planning” now in progress, and were formed with a clear relationship to a resumption of hostilities which would form the cover for the consummation of the World State.
The first point to notice is that, from the Bank of International Settlements to the smallest South American Republic, these banks are granted Extra-territoriality.
Whether the Bank of “England” is de jure extra-territorial I do not know. But the answers given to questions in regard to it, in the House of Commons, make it quite plain that it is de facto extra-territorial.
The same idea can be seen in operation all the way through this “World Plan”—to organise institutions of overwhelming power, operated by officials themselves having no power of initiative, bound by Precedent and Regulation. Then you control the King's Regulations, and there you are—on paper. You have disfranchised everyone.
The subject of industrial sabotage—the destruction of valuable material, goods, and products—has received much attention during the past twenty- five years, and its place in current political economy is both well known and reasonably well understood by students of that alleged science.
But there are certain curious aspects of generalised sabotage which have an important bearing on the land question, and I am doubtful whether their nature is at all widely recognised. I refer to the mass slaughter of animals, not for food, but in accord with some prevalent, and quite probably evanescent, theory. To illustrate the peculiar characteristics of this organised life-sabotage, which runs parallel to the human sabotage of mechanised war, it is instructive to take, out of many, three instances which I have chosen consciously as presenting at first sight a good case for the saboteurs, if we accept the present civilisation as a basis of policy. These are (1) Rabbit extermination; (2) Red (Highland) Deer destruction;
(3) The slaughter of immense numbers of valuable cattle on the appearance of a small number of cases of foot-and-mouth disease. I can imagine many people whose knowledge of the country is either theoretical, or wholly financial, observing at once that anyone who will defend the wild rabbit must be merely perverse. Perhaps; there are odd features about this wild rabbit business, however. The first of these is that, like the red deer, the rabbit is indigenous to these islands. Until the Ground Game Act of 1880, which is popularly supposed to have caused the death by apoplexy of a large number of sporting squires, I do not think that the rabbit figured in history or legislation other than as game to be reserved for the landowner. The point I have in mind is that, although far fewer persons had the right to destroy rabbits and the penalties for the destruction of them by unauthorised persons were incredibly severe and barbaric (suggesting that they were highly valued), there is no record, so far as I am aware, that they were a special nuisance, or that they increased unduly—rather a remarkable fact in view of the prolific breeding rate of the rabbit.
“But, my dear fellow,” observes Mr. Pink-Geranium; O.B.E., (né Rosenblum) of Whitehall, “what has all that got to do with it? Don't you know that rabbits are destructive to crops? I have here a report (sponsored by a really international, my dear fellow, chemical combine, which makes cyanide for exterminating rabbits and human beings) which puts the matter beyond doubt.” To this the obvious reply is that all the rabbits in Christendom have not destroyed as much food in a century as Mr. Pink-Geranium and his London-School-of-Economics policies have destroyed in the last ten years, and that if these policies are to prevail, why not let the rabbits save the trouble of sowing, reaping, storing, and then burning the millions of bushels of wheat Mr. Pink-Geranium won't let anyone buy? To pretend that the rabbit eats only crops, and has no contra-account, is typical.
There is, of course, the alternative of cyaniding Mr. Pink-Geranium.
The red-deer racket is even more confusing. Most of the propaganda in connection with it seems to be emitted by the London Scottish domiciledin the wild fastnesses of St. John's Wood. For some time the public, which mostly believes that a deer-forest is an impenetrable thicket of valuable hardwoods, was sprayed with complaints as to the number of sheep which weren't grazed in Scotland because of the deer whose only excuse was to provide blood-sports for the effete rich. (The complaint of owners of deer forests for many years has been that they have to employ paid hunters, because so many people who like stalking, dislike shooting.)
Not one, but several, landowners offered to give large tracts of deer-land to nominees of the agitators, on the single condition that they would pay the taxes, and farm the land. Not a single acceptance was obtained. Then, at the expense of the general public, not of the agitators, several thousand sheep were placed by “Public Bodies” on deer forests expropriated by taxation. Most of the sheep died—at public expense. It has been demonstrated that, at high levels, even if it is only a question of weight of animal food grown, deer are more productive than sheep.
But the subject becomes more involved the further you look into it. Not only is the human population of Scotland decreasing (by nearly one per cent. in the last census decade) but it is becoming overwhelmingly an urban population, nearly a quarter of it being comprised in one city— Glasgow.
As an obvious consequence (even if no other factors were involved, which is far from being the case) there are fewer families to work even existing workable land. What is the argument, then? Are the deer on the high lands driving the population into the towns and even out of the country? Is there any evidence whatever (more especially since the spectacular failure of forced evacuation) that even if given free land, any considerable proportion of the urban population would, or could, work the high tops? If so, I have not heard of it. Can it be that the red-deer is the very symbol of freedom, and so, hateful to Mr. Pink-Geranium?
Perhaps I may disclaim, at this juncture, any intention or desire to pose as an agricultural expert, in the sense that, I have no doubt, Lord Lymington or Lord Northbourne are agricultural experts. But I am very doubtful whether the politics of land has any connection with that kind of expertise, or I should leave it with them.
So long as it is clear to anyone of ordinary common sense that the outstanding intention of the present time is not scientifically organised production, but scientifically organised destruction, nothing will convince me that much real unavoidable scarcity exists, or that any improvement of either productive process or organisation is the primary necessity.
You do not cure sabotage by more sabotage, and better technique in the employment of bad intention simply involves bigger and better sabotage. Our problem is better effective intention.
I do not believe that Mr. Pink-Geranium, O.B.E., his clan, and his Fabian friends, really care two debased kopecks about the land, but it is something with which to confuse the issues. If they did care, they would have had a land of their own, long ago. But they recognise that land, the money system, and the police are the raw material of control, and control they are determined to have. They also recognise that a majority is always ruled by a minority, and it is therefore essential that the legal title to these things shall be taken from a minority and vested in a majority— the “Public.”
The heavy-handed, crude, mass methods of a Government Department are wholly unsuited to land administration. But they can, and do, sabotage humanised management.
A few weeks ago, one of the most famous herds of Pedigree Shorthorn cattle in the world, domiciled in the South of Scotland, developed some cases of Foot-and-Mouth disease. Money values really mean very little in connection with unique specimens, but the herd was conservatively valued at about £20,000.
It had been formed by an owner who was an acknowledged authority. His whole life's work and interest was bound up with his cattle. Every possible argument was brought to bear upon the Board of Agriculture, without effect. Every animal, sick or well, was slaughtered. The owner died of a broken heart a few days later.
Although comment was stifled, it was not wholly prevented, and several disinterested persons with cognate experience obtained publicity for the expression of grave doubts as to the justification for this rigid policy.
One lady, a member of a family with a long hereditary experience of cattle breeding, but with no interest to serve but that of farmers, claimed, not only to have a cure, but to have demonstrated it beyond any possibility of refutation. The Ministry of Agriculture was not even interested, and refused reasonable facilities for a re-demonstration. It will be remembered that the Duke of Westminster expressed disbelief in the official policy some time ago, and as a large landowner in probably the most famous dairy county, Cheshire, he was doubtless drawing upon first class information.
There is in this policy evidence of that soulless crudity which many people have come to recognise in Marxian ideology. If it were justified by results, it would still be suspect as containing the seed of further trouble. But it is grossly ineffective. Information as to the number of head of cattle in the United Kingdom in 1942 is not available to me. It seems highly probable that it is far less than at the beginning of the war.
But the outbreaks of foot-and-mouth were 99 in 1939; 160 in 1940; 264 in 1941; and 670, or nearly seven times as many, in 1942. The number of cattle slaughtered under the Order was 12,029 in 1939; 19,058 in 1940; 27,128 in 1941; and 56,515 in 1942. Comment would appear to be superfluous.
Many persons who have taken up this matter do not hesitate to give their opinion on it. They say that there is some vested interest involved. In the sense in which this is usually meant, I can offer no special view, since I am not closely in touch with the problem. But I should, a priori, be much more inclined to regard it as the policy of a philosophy. Israel Zangwill, the Zionist leader, was profoundly right, and was no doubt speaking from inner information, when he said at the “Hands off Russia” Meeting at the Albert Hall on February 8, 1919:—“The British Government is only Bolshevism in embryo, and Bolshevism is only Socialism in a hurry.” It does not require much imagination to see that the type of mind which regards mass slaughter of cattle as the least troublesome way in which to deal with a curable disease is the same type of mind which regards the mass liquidation of millions of Russian farmers as the easiest way to stamp out opposition to collective farming. I hope no reader of these lines will miss the implication of them. Perhaps at this point I may be permitted to emphasise once again the evident collapse of the episodic view of events. Our sense of realities has become so perverted that we only see with difficulty the direct connection between the murder of millions of Russians in 1919, and the mass killing of unknown millions of Russians, as well as other nationalities in 1942.
The pseudo-scientists of dialectical materialism appear to be determined to distract attention from the first Law of genuine science:—Action and reaction are equal, and opposite. Still less, therefore, do we see that, in allowing these mass, collective, `remedies' to become familiarised, we are preparing a psychology which can only have appalling results.
To anyone who is not wilfully blind, it must be obvious that man's
interference with nature, if it is not to be catastrophic, must be inspired by something very different from the rigid formalism of a Government Department. The modern Government Department has its roots in the departmentalised pseudo-science of the Encyclopaedist fore-runners of the French Revolution and its lineal descendant, Russian Bolshevism.
The curious, shallow, and largely bogus generalisations of Russian intellectuals (e.g. that all human behaviour is derived from four “conditioned reflexes") have the same unhealthy phosphorescence. No sane individual would contend, I should suppose, that either genuine scientific research or its application within the sphere in which it can be controlled— inorganic—is in itself undesirable. Only megalomaniacs could claim that we have accumulated sufficient knowledge in about one hundred years to warrant us in undertaking the modest task of rectifying on a grand scale the errors of a Life Process which has evolved in untold milleniums. Nor does the initial result of our activities appear to justify the mass application of our theories. We have begun to Plan the animals; and the Big Idea is Death.
I have endeavoured to indicate in the preceding pages that the solution of the land question depends on a decision on two prior matters of intention, separate in themselves, but probably interconnected in practice: just as there is no fundamental difference between an economic monopoly relying on Finance for its sanctions and a State Monopoly relying on Police, other than the relative unpleasantness of being starved to death on the one hand, and “liquidated” by the Ogpu on the other.
The first of these matters has, I think temporarily, been decided. In order that anyone who will consider the situation with an open mind may draw his own conclusion, I would ask merely consideration of the three factors which can be easily verified:—
(1) The announcement of “the Government” that “it” will “pursue a policy of full employment for all after the war.”
(2) The fact that with considerable unemployment, the armistice years were outstandingly characterised by the fact, not of “poverty amidst plenty” which was certainly far older, but that the recognition of the fact and its source in the financial system was forced down the throats of the orthodox, or London School of Economics, Economists.
(3) That under cover of an arranged war, with its unparalleled waste, a propaganda for increased production and still more “work,” identical with that which failed in 1919-1920, and was succeeded by the slump and ruin of 1921, is under way, with “Reports” for “greater efficiency” of this, that or the other appearing, at public expense and for individual disadvantage, at short and fairly regular intervals.
All of this is implemented by the component parts of the New Order which, for some reason, awaited a World War. I have already expressed the opinion that the object of the New Order is to prevent any effective remedy of the defects of the Old Order.
The most outstanding feature of the past seventy-five years has been the extension of both economic and political insecurity. In spite of immense increase in productivity, not merely “the poor” but every section of the population, is far less secure in his station and person, and far less able to improve that condition, than he was in his father's day. The New Political Technique is to admit this, to plead repentance and a change of heart, appoint a Royal Commission and issue a Report. That is the procedure which has been followed since we came under the rule of P.E.P., and the Uthwatt Report is the Outline of Things to Come in regard to Land. It may be premised that the Chairman, from whom the Report takes its name, is an Australian, brought up to University age in Australia. He is, of course, none the worse for that. But if there is a worse administered land than Australia, except Russia, I have yet to learn of it.
I feel that I cannot do better, in indicating the advance to “security” contemplated in our New Order, than to quote at some length from an admirable letter which appeared over an initial, in the Scotsman of February 10, 1943. It is specifically written in regard to Scotland, but applies with equal force to England and Wales. For the benefit of those who are not familiar with Scottish Law and custom, it may be explained that a “feu” is practically the equivalent of an English hereditary Freehold with restrictions, the main practical difference being that an English Freehold with restrictive covenants says what you may not do, while a Scottish Feu Charter says what you may do, usually providing a simple mechanism for varying this use by consent:—
“The proposals in question are those, that (a) not only is future `feuing' to cease, terminable Crown-leases to be the sole house-tenure of the future, but also (b) that existing feus be converted into Crown-leaseholds, and all conform to the oppressive English leasehold system, under which the lessor, at the end of the `term,' acquires the tenants' buildings without compensation; (c) the yearly mulcting of the tenants on five-yearly `valuations' of alleged site-value increases, as often as not merely reflecting modern versions of the old offence of `debasing the currency.'
“As regards private leases, at least of rural subjects (as is well known), tenants after a long fight obtained ‘compensation for improvements,’ but under these new proposals not only the new ‘Crown tenants' but even the about-to-be-converted feuars are to be shorn of that long-fought-for right. Worse still, the doctrine of the English Crown-lease is apparently to be applied—that the tenant is responsible for leaving the building in order, and will be held responsible for the cost of doing that (maybe thousands of pounds) to the State's satisfaction.
“There are two aspects of the matter: the personal and the municipal or `constitutional.' As regards the former, the hundreds of thousands of small feuars (many of whom have built their houses out of savings and through the aid of building societies) seem likely to be faced with eventual forfeiture of their little heritages, and, pending that, subjected to periodical extortions, and a `stand and deliver' at the `evictable' term— when on each occasion they will have to repurchase.
“Feuars will only now begin to appreciate the tremendous social value and security of the `feu charter' and the Scottish feuing system, which was devised just to give the security of tenure of the home, which is now threatened.
“There is, of course, nothing new in the Uthwatt suggestions; on the contrary, they are a well-worn form of reactionary measures of which Scottish history shows previous examples—i.e., efforts by the Crown to get cancellation of charters and to substitute Crown-leases. Scotland resolutely opposed that policy, realising the tremendous implications of the `freehold' (to use that term in its primitive sense of permanent and independent), and particularly that of the `houseplace' or retirance, which even in England has held until now a sacred character—and even in England the oppressive ‘Crown-lease' has been comparatively limited in extent. The effect on the character and independence of the people, of a nation-wide ‘Crown-lease' system (a Sword of Damocles over the home!) can only produce an abject, timid, and servile race.”
It is, I think, essential to bear in mind that the British land and property system has not failed by reason of anything inherent in the system, although it is quite possible that certain defects in it would themselves have brought about their own remedies if artificial hindrances had not intervened.
The system of private ownership and administration has been strangled, consciously and purposely, by international finance, in order to obtain control of the land, and every land agitation, from Henry George to Lloyd George and after, has been financed by bankers—not the kind of people commonly called bankers, who are mostly technicians, but international gangsters using bond issues in place of firearms.
It ought to be observed that it is just as sensible to say, “Dr. Brown must be a bad doctor, because he was hit with a hatchet by a burglar when he was coming from his club,” as to say, in a world which was governed by money, that a land system was a failure when it was made the target for systematic attacks by the Money-Power. The distinction is of primary importance, inasmuch as it is certainly true that no system can flourish while unable to pursue its legitimate objectives save at the cost of sustained sabotage.
There is in essence not very much difference between the attempt to eliminate the small business in favour of the chain store and the so-called Co-operative Society, and the object is control, in both cases. What is remarkable is the immense vitality of the individualistic enterprise in the face of what would appear to be overwhelming odds. The defeat of the small man has been so difficult that sheer brutality has been invoked. “Only in war, or under threat of war—” can rapid progress be made.
There are two principles, however, which require attention in any attempt to deal with these matters. The first is the fetish of “efficiency.”
It is a favourite trick of conjurers to direct your attention to their coat sleeves while the rabbit and the hat are placed upon the table. Otherwise you might think the hat looked heavy. In much the same way, Big Business does not waste any time in arguing on its own merits and personal likeability. It is much slicker than that. “Under war, or threat of war—” peoples are stampeded into a centralised reorganisation, and if,
and when, it is discovered that waste, corruption, and disillusionment are rampant—well, that's just too bad, but we've done it now.
Entirely apart from the questions of social value, it is exceedingly doubtful whether such efficiencies as may in some cases attach to increased unit size, do not cancel out even in industrial synthesis. However that may be, there cannot be a more fatal error than to separate an economic system from the fact of world wars. It is the Encyclopaedist fallacy once again. Neither economic nor social systems are in water-tight compartments.
It is not an accident that it is Russia and Germany which are at death grips—it is the direct and logical consequence of their economic and social monopolistic systems, and “Socialism” is quite naturally common to both of them. Germany was, if possible, more Socialistic in the days of the Kaiser and Bismark than at present, and German Socialists were regarded by the British Trades Unionists as the model on which their own activities should be modelled.
But this abracadabra of “efficiency” goes much further. If it really is as difficult to live on this planet as Big Business would have us believe, then, if it is worth while, we must, of course, sacrifice everything to “efficiency,” by which I suppose is meant turning everything which is found in nature into something else. On the other hand, of course, we mustn't have too much efficiency, because that would cause unemployment.
You will agree, that it's all very difficult, and that we ought to have some idea as to what we are trying to do, before we re-make the country “Under war, or threat.”
Considering first the purely agricultural aspect of the land question in the light of the assumption that “we must grow more food”—an assumption which I am inclined to believe has some basis in reality—the policy decides itself. Comparatively small agricultural holdings, of the order of one hundred acres, or so, are at least 30 per cent. more productive than mechanised collective farms. Incidentally, much more information ought to be available regarding Forestry Commission farms. It is, of course, important to distinguish productivity per acre, from financial profit per acre under an arbitrary financial and wage system. Accurately costed on orthodox (and in a technical sense, correct) costing system, I doubt very much whether any English farming made a legitimate money profit on sound and properly remunerated management. That is merely an argument for better financial methods, not for a different system of administration.
At this point, and anticipating a little such tentative suggestions as it may seem expedient to make at this juncture, it appears desirable to deal with the question of trespass. The Communist idea of a terrestrial heaven is of a land in which the good comrade, for the most part, lives in a town and holds a Works Meeting to make speeches and to criticise the factory management every morning. When the weather is fine he erupts over a fenceless and defenceless countryside to emphasise the dictatorship of the proletariat.
In order to mould the mentality of the rural incumbent so that, as P.E.P. puts it so attractively, “the farmer will be forced by events to submit to far reaching changes of outlook,” various branches of the Ogpu in the new Ministries, known as Enforcement Officers, are at present going about the country with “Authorisations” to enter upon any property for practically any purpose, none of which is military, or connected with the prosecution of the war. Already the effects of this are a little unexpected from the P.E.P. standpoint. The farmer is not “being forced by events to submit to far-reaching changes of outlook.” He is merely ceasing to farm. Trespass of various kinds has more importance, I think, than is generally attached to it. In its more flagrant forms it is a nuisance out of any proportion to any possible benefit to the trespasser, but even minor trespass irritates a farmer, partly because he may have to look whether gates have been left open or stock disturbed, and it may involve the unnecessary movement of small implements.
The extraordinary feature of it is that there is an increasingly prevalent idea that anyone ought to have the right to walk anywhere at any time, in the country, and to do more or less as they please, although it would never be suggested that the farmer ought to be entitled to walk into, let us say, the works of Messrs. Rolls, Royce and to shuffle the blue-prints around.
Anyone who feels that the New Socialist Order will include unlimited right to trespass might try trespassing in that idol of the Socialists, the Bank of “England.”
I have no doubt that one of the solutions of this problem is the provision of National Parks if the hand of the Planner and his Forestry Commissions can be kept off them. I am more than doubtful whether it is a final solution. But in the meantime it is certain that to obtain the highest value on every plane, both of production and of ethical and spiritual satisfaction from the land, more, not less, individual control of it is vital. I may perhaps repeat that the day of the very large landowner is over, for reasons already to some extent explored in these notes. But amongst many debts, mostly unacknowledged, which the countryside owes to him, is its preservation, until he was dispossessed, from vandalism. Every argument, however, which can be truthfully brought against a large landowner is enhanced when the ownership is impersonal “Public Body.”
Whether it is as the result of defective education or from other causes, the power of comparison seems to have deteriorated. Few people appear to notice that, in spite of, efforts to bring hotels (as distinct from inns) in Great Britain up to something approaching the standards of civilisation, and the good surface of the roads, the tourist attractions of Great Britain have declined with the substitution of public for private control. In itself, of course, that is a matter of little consequence, but it is an indication of a decrease in the attractions of the countryside which I am confident affects everyone. I have in my possession some books, not so very old as books go, which relate to a town with a history which goes back to Domesday Book, and earlier. This town, the name of which I will suppress in consideration for the feelings of its unfortunate inhabitants, must now be well in the running for pre-eminence as a faithful similitude of Dante's Inferno. Yet two hundred years ago it was a lovely little county borough beside a sparkling salmon river, surrounded by wooded hills with hundreds of modest manor houses within an hour's canter, and half a dozen famous mansions within a radius of fifteen miles, each of them a little community in itself. There are hundreds of such districts in various parts of Great Britain. The general deterioration has been more rapid in the last fifty years than in the previous century, and a wide extension of this deterioration is threatened.
I have little doubt that there is an organic connection between this curious inability to grasp the nature and trend of events, and the failure to derive reliable information from the words we use. A cognate instance of this is contained in a sentence spoken by Lord de la Warr during the debate on agriculture in the House of Lords, which took place recently. The Editor of a well known weekly described this sentence as “the essence of the whole matter.” Whether this was enthusiasm or satire, I do not know. Lord de la Warr said, “In return for stable markets and prices, the community has a right to demand efficient farming, efficient landowning, efficient distribution, and a fair wage for the agricultural workers.”
Who is the community? Are the several hundred thousand aliens in this country part of the community? How does the community demand anything? Through a con trolled Press? or through a Parliament which cannot even control its own agenda? Just exactly what bearing have “stable prices and markets” on the community's right to demand anything?
If the word “right” has any meaning at all in this connection, the “community” either has it or it hasn't. It doesn't acquire it. How does Lord de la Warr know that stable “prices and markets” which would mean highly artificial and non-realistic prices and markets, are either desirable or practicable? What is a “fair” wage? How do you fix a “fair” wage without that wage defining prices? Who is it to be “fair” to?
I have met Lord de la Warr, who I think might fairly be described as a professional politician who has chosen Socialism as, say, fifty years ago about half the aspiring professional politicians chose Liberalism. I doubt very much whether the sentence quoted meant anything to him. But it is a type of sentence easily recognisable as having come originally from the propaganda department of the international Freemasons.
Its vague abstractions, its subtle appeal to the mob to “demand” something technical, would raise a cheer at any electioneering meeting. But although Lord de la Warr probably used it as stock-in-trade, it would be a mistake to suppose that it has no intention. Let us see what we can translate it into without in any way straining its words.
“Stable prices” mean price rings—the aim of the international financier.
“Stable markets” mean rationing in peace time. I don't know what the community means, but from the context it is something which makes a bargain, in theory, with some undisclosed and shadowy power which gives it price-rings and rationing. “Efficiency” means the ratio of the input of what you have got, to the output of what you want, so as we are told elsewhere that we want full employment, “efficient farming” must mean employing as many people as possible. It can't mean maximum production, because that would interfere with our export trade, which we are told is vital. “Efficient landowning” presumably means rack-renting to pay the international bondholders, supervised from Whitehall. Obviously it doesn't mean that the landowner as we know him is to be efficient from his point of view, because his is the only point of view which is inadmissable. Finally it will be noticed that this abstraction, the community, has a “right to demand” these things—not a prospect of getting them in the form in which individuals could use them.
In that curious document The Protocols of Zion (Protocol III, para. 5) occurs the remark “All these so-called ‘People's Rights' can exist only in idea, an idea which can never be realised in practical life.”
“A hair divides the false and true.”— OMAR KHAYYAM. Judging from personal experience in persuasive activity, there is a widespread inability to recognise the futility of making suggestions which run counter to effective policy.
Equally, it has to be realised that not for thousands of years have the people of these islands been so completely enslaved as they are at present, and the primary characteristic of the slave is not bad treatment. It is that he is without any say in his own policy.
The steps by which this situation has been produced are easy enough to enumerate. By the tricks of the money system, an obviously inequitable distribution system has been installed and perpetuated. The control of this system has given control of the Press and other reading matter, supplemented more recently by broadcasting and the cinema. Skilfully injected propaganda, always avoiding Finance, has fostered attacks on the `haves' by the `have nots' so that any economic independents, not the servants of Finance, might be stripped of their independence, under the name of Socialism. That is to say, Big Business and Socialism are the same thing, though some Socialists may not know it, and the present state of servitude could never have been brought about by Big Business alone.
We owe our present position to brains in Big Business, and votes in Socialism. Stated otherwise, the coming of Socialism is the triumph of Big Business.
I have recapitulated this somewhat wearying aspect because there are many things which could be said about land management, if it were of use to enumerate them at this juncture. They are not discoveries; there is probably little in the situation which is not known to any experienced landowner, on the one hand, and the “Planners” on the other, in the intellectual sense of the word `knowledge.' If, in the main, the land situation is being mishandled, the cause lies in the realm of policy, and the cure must also begin in that realm.
Big Business, Monopoly, Socialism, State Capitalism, call it what you like, is in control and it is the Policy of Big Business with which we have to reckon. What is that policy?
Now, it is convenient to refer to Groups as if they had a separate existence, but, if we are careful to allow for what may be called the Group Spirit, we make no mistake in looking for the men, the living forces, who activate it. And it may easily be true that we shall get more information as to the way they think, if we look for it in places where its expression is less conscious than in the Board Rooms of the Central Banks or the International Combines. For this reason let us consider the recent address to a mixed body of industrialists, bankers, and uplifters, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Temple.
He is a convenient example, because it is possible to see at once in his case the absurdity of many of the explanations given for the kind of views he holds. There are few positions in this world of which it may be said that they are the End of the Road—that the occupant can go no further; and still fewer in which that position, once attained, is secure. But the Archbishopric of Canterbury is definitely one of them, and by no means the least important. It is self-evident, therefore, that Dr. Temple does not desire to advance his fortunes or even to secure them. What it does mean, is that his views are not inconsistent with the very carefully supervised rise to that eminence. Equally, he is a man of education and culture, with considerable experience of life as viewed from outside. All this is important because it clears the ground. We can say with certainty that we are dealing with a man who is sincere in what he thinks he says; that we are dealing with a man of far more than average ability; and we are dealing with a man occupying a position so important that accident has little to do with his choice for it, and that the choosing is a prerogative of the effective power in the State. So that we can conclude that there is nothing in Dr. Temple's known and expressed opinions and actions in the past which has excited disapproval in quarters able to affect his advancement.
In fact, it is legitimate to suppose that he would be regarded as an exponent of the philosophy of which the policy is operative in the world, to-day.
Now, if I were asked to explain to someone quite unfamiliar with our institutions the function of the Archbishops of Canterbury, I should reply that they are the Chief Public Relations Officer of the dominant philosophy, which can be variously described as Judaeo-Christianity or Liberal Judaism, Big Business or Centralisation of Power, depending on the aspect of it with which one happens to be dealing. No Public Relations Officer can be effective unless he believes his brief.
In the light of this conception, Dr. Temple's insistence on the idea of control—“we need supremely the control of human purpose” are his exact words as reported—becomes intelligible and logical. It is exactly what the “Planners”—the Socialist side of Big Business—are absolutely determined to acquire. That this is, from another aspect, Judaism, can easily be confirmed by the little catechism “Is God Omnipotent?” “Of course.” “Then why doesn't God control human purpose?” “Because that would interfere with free will.” “Oh, so you know better than God what `we need supremely'? ” That is the essence of the Talmud.
I don't quite know how Dr. Temple reconciles the indisputable fact that control of human purpose is now almost absolute and world-wide. Is this the perfect world to which we look forward? Or is it just that we've elected one more wrong Führer? Because, as a well-read man, he will recall that all military, political and economic devastators, from Genghis Khan to Pierpont Morgan (who stipulated that the hymn, “For all thy Saints who from their labours rest,” which ends with the Hebrew incantation, Alleluia, should be sung at his funeral) have always stoutly asserted that they were chosen of the Lord. And, of course, there is our first controller of human purpose, Cromwell, who is said to have died screaming that the Devil had come for him.
This Public Relations business is supremely important. If you say to a large mixed audience, “We want to establish an omnipotent Bureaucracy, supported by an Ogpu-Gestapo, and punctuated by periodical `purges' of anyone who ventures to object,” some of your hearers are sure to observe, “On the whole, we think we'll sit out this one.” But if you talk of the glorious Russian victories, omitting any mention of Finland and Poland, and the Dawn of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the Rise of the Red Star of David, you can do anything with them. Or so some people think.
PREAMBLE “As in [? into] Adam [Urdu, Adme Mankind, Collectivity] all men [individuals] die, so in Christ [Individual Consciousness and responsibility] all Men [Individuals] are made Alive.”
The idea that a corporation, State or otherwise, can be held responsible has been proved to be a mere abstraction. “The Power of the Central Government has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished.” It is therefore inexpedient that land should be held other than by individuals who can sue, and be sued. Any Government Department or Public Body requiring the use of land in peace-time to acquire it through a nominated individual whose responsibility will be identical with that of any other landowner.
Central Government is merely a disguised military organisation, the power of which grows with what it feeds upon. If, as is now freely advertised in quarters which arrange the present war, a third World War is inevitable, we must have a strong Central Government. The Land question with all others need not detain us.
But if we are to escape final destruction, then the firm drastic, and early elimination of land administration from Whitehall, or through disguised Trusts, Commissions, and other Corporations interlocked with Whitehall, is primary.
Stripped of all the abstractions, “rights,” moralities, and other complications which make any problem permanently insoluble, I do not believe
that the land question is unduly difficult. I should say that the essentials of the solution are:
(1) Absolute security of tenure for life, including complete abolition of land taxation of every description. The imposition of a land tax shall be ultra vires.
(2) Abolition of land sales between individuals as of right. Registration of sale to take place five years after payment of purchase price, on petition by purchaser supported by six adjacent neighbours, who are landowners.
(3) County Council Authority to be obliged to purchase at valuation (see6 infra) all land offered for sale, and to advertise for re-sale only to approved purchasers who must obtain support of six adjacent landowners.
(4) No State or Public Body to hold land for which a properly supported application from a private individual is made at the valuation price.
(5) Where a legatee is non-resident on land which he inherits, he shall be given twelve months to take up the occupation of it. If he decides to reside, his title shall be confirmed after five years. If not, his land shall be acquired by the County Authority for re-sale as in (3) supra.
(6) All land to be classed as A, Amenity Land. B, Agricultural Land. C, Industrial Land. All land titles shall restrict the land to which title is given, to the class in which it was placed on the grant of first title. No change of Class shall be permitted without the offer of sale as in (3) supra.
(7) The initial valuation of land to be that shown in the last conveyance as consideration. Every five years, a landowner shall be entitled to make a claim, properly substantiated by accounts, in which his own activities shall be included as manager, for increased value. On the admission of this claim by a properly constituted County Authority against whose adverse decision appeal to a Committee appointed by the Land Agents Society shall lie, seventy-five per cent. of the cost of this increased value shall be refunded to the landowner in County Bonds bearing interest at three per cent., and twenty per cent. of the increased valuation shall be added to the transfer value of the land.
(8) No public official shall have any right of entry whatsoever, without a magistrate's Warrant.
Deus est demon inversus.
From Dick Eastman: firstname.lastname@example.org