Just a few centuries ago the dominant nations of the world were mostly ruled by royalty – kings whose right to power had an almost automatic legitimacy through generations of sitting at the top of the pyramid.
In America today the idea of equality between men has become a potent weapon against this presumed legitimacy. With the exception of revolutionary groups like the Soviet Bolsheviks in the 1920s who simply repossessed property from the Church and the wealthy, the land and riches of the aristocrat class have more or less remained in the same family hands.
What gives a land lord the right to charge people rent? I have heard the argument that after building houses or shops upon this land, it’s only natural to want a return on that investment. But what about those who have inherited huge swaths of land – entire cities? People who have made no investment but still can endlessly reap profits. Once the initial investment has been earned back – ownership of the land does not transfer to those who live on it and have paid rent equal to the full value of the property, instead they must forever continue paying a land lord for the privilege of using their land – paying far beyond the value of that land.
The only real justification for the charging of rent by the wealthiest of land lords is to cover the property taxes that the government imposes. If we consider beyond that, and imagine they were without that bill, then they could simply collect free money without having to work for it indefinitely. Is this not the exact same behavior the wealthy are so quick to criticize the poor for, as welfare leeches and bums? Does this not enslave the rent-payers to the ownership of the land lords?
The question: “What do you do for a living?” would be as absurd to ask a king from the 15th century as it would of one of today’s elite American land lords. They don’t have to work for a living because they already own enough to sustain themselves, and sometimes even their offspring and whole family, practically indefinitely.
Most people profit through their labor – that is the cost they pay and the sacrifice they make to gain. The Owners by contrast profit through investment, so their only sacrifice is risk, not labor. What irony that the Working class takes pride in their labor! The Owner class does not have to work to continue to profit.
For God’s sake, it has the word Lord right in the name! We are not raised in America to believe there are royalty within our nation, but that is exactly what elite land lords are, just like the owners of huge corporations and investment banks.
Property rights are written into the Constitution specifically to protect this land-owning class from the People’s democracy.
Perhaps the most fundamental problem is our cultural concept of eternal land ownership. In previous ages land was an object of competition. If your neighboring tribe’s land had more game, it was in your interest to drive them off it and claim the animals for your own tribe – just as naturally they would defend their resources from your aggression.
Today’s wealthiest elite land lords, exactly like the royalty of the past, imagine they are above competition for control of vast areas of resources. The worst they have had to deal with is progressive taxation from democracy, or outright war from other nations – rarely revolution from within. The reality is – Owners are clearly Not above competition for control of resources. To assume their ownership has automatic legitimacy is foolish.
By the same token, how could I feel secure in my own property if it is subject to competition? That is where the government comes in. The police and military exist to defend property rights. It was perhaps natural that our society evolved to have a government beholden to wealthy private interests. But will it remain this way forever? I think that depends on how our ideas about property and ownership change in the coming years…
In a purely objective sense, even the richest of rich men doesn’t really own anything. His “ownership” is only the product of those who are willing to defend his rights to the property and a lack of those willing to challenge him for control of it.