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2012 10 19

[Odel Rune]
What Makes Us Free

               Othila is land "held in absolute ownership without service or acknowledgment of any superior, as among the early Teutons," which is the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word allodium. This is the all-odel as opposed to the fee-odel (which shows the influence by the world view of southern empires that propounded a feudalism that took the concept of odel, the ancestral land that was possessed unconditionally by the free Teuton clans, to attach a fee or obligation to it, thus making it a feudal possession). The idea of fealty was deeply influenced by the ancient belief in odality that demands the free holding of land, for to hold land freely is ennobling, and the importance of freedom as a concept among the people became an essential of nobility; thus in Old English ethel it means native land or estate, patrimony; OE athel is noble, of noble descent or good family. The same word in Old Norse means family, race, ancestry.

               A bundle of rods bound together around an ax with the blade projecting, carried before ancient Roman magistrates as an emblem of authority: the fasces (illustration at right).
               The symbols of two radically differing philosophies: the concept of concentrated power that sought ever-growing empires; and that of liberty and independence that rejected authoritarian government.
"fascism accepts the individual only insofar
as his interests coincide with the state's."
~ Mussolini

               Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was born July 29, 1883 in the Italian village of Romagna. In 1919 he established the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento, taking its name from the fasces symbol, celebrating the nation or the race as an organic community transcending all other loyalties.
               An excerpt from one of several English translations of the The Doctrine of Fascism (attributed to Mussolini):
               "Granted that the XIXth century was the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy, this does not mean that the XXth century must also be the century of socialism, liberalism, democracy. Political doctrines pass; nations remain. We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right', a Fascist century. If the 19th century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the 'collective' century, and therefore the century of the State."

It has been written:
               'The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State ~ a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values ~ interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people.
               'Fascism is a religious conception in which man is seen in his immanent relationship with a superior law and with an objective will that transcends the particular individual and raises him to conscious membership of a spiritual society. Whoever has seen in the religious politics of the Fascist regime nothing but mere opportunism has not understood that Fascism besides being a system of government is also, and above all, a system of thought.'


my premise

i was born free
a condition conceded any animal but the human


INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY ~ a short dialogue by Jeremy Ashton:
"I eventually learned how to get complete freedom for myself."
"Really? What did you do with it?"
"I used it to take away everyone else's"


Law and the Characteristics of Justice

               The intellect is an immaterial power of knowledge, said to be the fundamental sense; the thinking power higher than the sense of imagination; the psychical act known as intuition. This power is greater than that of intellectual beings themselves, and is the people's only discernible link with reality ~ linking with absolute, eternal, natural law. This law cannot be delegated. People, especially rulers of,people, have postulated, and enforced the education towards the acceptance of, the recognition of eternal law in such laws and rules as instituted by family, church, and state. Divine law for the people in canon law and precepts of pope and priest. Precepts of parents, guardians and their delegates. Civil and criminal laws of sovereign states, and local ordinances and orders of military officers, including police constables. "Keep off the grass" thus becomes enforced, sometimes with heavy hand, through divine association with the eternal.
               How can justice be secured between people ~ organized as they have to be for the purposes of making a livelihood, propagating their kind, and cultivating humane arts and accomplishments? Will and Ariel Durant, upon completing their monulmental work The History of Civilization, found that "most governments have been oligarchies ~ ruled by a minority, chosen either by birth, as in aristocracies, or by a religious organization, as in theocracies, or by wealth, as in democracies." It has been maintained (by thinkers from Plato to Montesquieu and Godwin) that each type of government develops not only its own characteristic type of institution, but also its own characteristic attitudes and value judgements within the minds of its citizens.
               The principle of law provides the general rule of conduct. The primary principle of natural law is a simple, all but self-evident: "Do good, avoid evil." All other principles rule only by close and necessary connection with this primary principle. Customary law arises from human tradition and it is the duty of the state to defend it.
               "Roman law found its origin in the will of the despotic emperor and favored political absolutism. . . . Germanic law was based on the principle that law resided in the folk, that law was the custom of the community, and that the king could not change this law without the assent of the community."
               Justice has been held as simply what is advantageous to the stronger (Thrasymachus spoke of it this way in Plato's Republic). Stoic philosophy and Roman jurisprudence, however, saw a universal law of nature, equally accessible to all people through reason. A natural law exhibited not only in natural history but also in human history, which Engels also noted as "actually always governed by basic hidden laws." It is natural law, finally, that can provide a universal test of justice.
               In Utilitarianism John Stuart Mill wrote: "The powerful sentiment, and apparently clear perception, which that word [justice] recalls with a rapidity and certainty resembling an instinct, have seemed to the majority of thinkers to point to an inherent quality in things; to show that the Just must have an existence in Nature as something absolute. . . ."
               In this essay, Mill "endeavored to determine the distinctive elements which enter into the composition of the idea of justice:"
               "It is universally considered just that each person should obtain that (whether good or evil) which he deserves; and unjust that he should obtain a good, or be made to undergo an evil, which he does not deserve. This is perhaps the clearest and most emphatic form in which the idea of justice is conceived by the general mind."
               The integral parts of justice are to give rights to others and to avoid injury to others. Wuellner, in his Dictionary (1956), defined commutative justice as that "of exchange of rights between individuals or equals and measured by strict equality of the goods rightfully transferred." Distributive justive is that "of the community in dealing with its members proportionately to their capacities, merits, services, and needs, without discrimination or respect of persons." Legal justice is that "justice to the community to be paid by its members, both rulers and ruled, in obeying the laws for the sake of the common good." Social justice is that "practiced in organizing and supporting social institutions for the common good, whether these are of a semi-public, public, or international character."
               Justice is the absolute moral principle of reality applied to human actions; it is the operation of the universe; it is dynamic harmony with reality. As Disraeli said: "Justice is truth in action.
               It encompasses basic rights to life and liberty which demand no gratitude to benefactors, but give grounds for grievance when they are denied. It is a principle of freedom based on independence: not subordinate to another person, government, or thing; not depending on the authority of another, not in a position of subordination or subjection, not subject to external control or rule, self-governing, autonomous. Free.
               From such individual self-rule follows communal self-reliance. A disciplined rule from within makes possible a collective self-sufficiency ~ a flow that was shown by Mohandas Gandhi, who also revealed the connection between freedom and truth. The link between freedom and truth demands a life based on truth ~ real, existent, valid, sincere, pure, effectual ~ leading naturally to non-injury, non-violence and harmlessness, renunciation of the intent to hurt, abstention from hostile thought, word or act, and non-coercion. How this natural human objective can be realized has been the subject of speculation for many important thinkers; whether this harmony can be realized at all by people has been a source of contention for as many more.
               Erich Fromm "analyzed thirty primitive cultures from the standpoint of aggressiveness versus peacefulness. This analysis permitted the distinction of three different and clearly delineated systems, which he styled "Life-Affirmative, Nondestructive-Aggressive, and Destructive, Societies." In the life-affirmative societies "the main emphasis of ideals, customs and institutions is that they serve the preservation and growth of life in all its forms. There is a minimum of hostility, violence, or cruelty among people, no harsh pumishment, hardly any crime, and the institution of war is absent or plays an exceedingly small role. Children are treated with kindness, tnere is no severe corporal punishment; women are in general considered equal to men, or at least not exploited or humiliated; there is a generally permissive and affirmative attitude toward sex. There is little envy, covetousness, greed, and exploitativeness. There is also little competition and individualism and a great deal of cooperation; personal property is only in things that are used. There is a general attitude of trust and confidence, not only in others but particularly in nature; a general prevalence of good humor, and a relative absence of depressive moods."
               "Among the societies falling under this life-affirmative category . . . one finds . . . both hunters . . . and agriculturists-sheep owners. . . . In it are societies with relative abundant food supply and others characterized by a good deal of scarcity. This statement by no means implies, however that the characterological differences are not dependent on and largely influenced by the differences of the socioeconomic structure of these respective societies. It only indicates that the obvious economic factors, such as poverty or wealth, hunting or agrlculture, etc., are not the only critical factors for the development of character. In order to understand the connection between economy and social character one would have to study the total socioeconomic structure of each society."
               Fromm's analysis presents (as others have) historical and archeologica1, analytic evidence that not only can people aspire to a collective state of harmony with reality, but also that people can attain (and have attained) such a condition. Humanity's faith expresses itself in an ever-present aspiration to be immune from determination or compulsion. Something wider and more enduring than mere practical human needs appears to demand at least a liberty to do whatever there is no moral reason against. It is a formal principle of procedure that places the onus on justifying interference, not on showing why one should be left alone, that is satisfied in Fromm's life-affirmative societies.
               Mill wrote, in On Liberty: "The object of this essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical forece in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, is to prevent harm to others."
               It has been shown that three ultimate characteristics of justice may be estab1ished: impartia1ity, ralional benevolence, and liberty. Impartiality assures that what is 'right' for one person must be 'rignt' for all others. Rational benevolence demands that in all actions the interests of all beings in the universe must be considered. The characteritic of liberty is that one ought not to interfere, without special justification, in the chosen course of any rational being.

The Philosophy of Natural Law

               If the actual forms that human institutions have taken were varied, the ideas of them have been even more so. Although certain compelling concepts were common from the beginning, their applications to the human condition evolved but slowly through the narratives of political philosophy.
               Plato's Republic, probably composed about 365 BC, argued that justice is secured only when every member of the polis ~ the Greek city-state ~ is doing what he or she is best suited to do, And those who are best suited to do tne ruling are the philosophers. Hence, Plato's well-known philosopher-king. This is thought to represent elements not only of Plato's political thought, but also that of Socrates, who was born about 470 BC.
               Aristotle (384-322 BC), Plato's pupil, studied logic, psychology, biology, literature, economics, physics, and other subjects, but there is evidence to show that, like Plato and other Greek thinkers, Aristotle considered politics the most important subject of all. Aristotle's most conspicuous claims are those of the fundamental inequality of people. In his view, every collectivity of people comprises three classes: an upper class of aristocrats; a middle class of substantial people, mainly merchants, craftsmen, and farmers; and a lower class of labourers and peasants. Politics, according to this view, is a conflict-defining, conflict-resolving activity between the interests of these classes.
               In the course of the second period of Greek thought, the idea of the equality of people became formally recognized, at least in the region of Greek influence. Roman orator-statesman Cicero, in a work that was lost until 1820 De Republica (ca. 48 BC), wrote the classic text for the universalistic theory of natural law. The source of the concept is most often thought to be the religious-philosophic sect of tne Stoics of the fourth century BC. "True law," wrote Cicero, "is right reason in agreement with Nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting. . . ."
               The essentially anarchistic, antipolitical outlook of the bishop of Hippo in North Africa, Saint Augustine, composed between AD 410 and 423, tended to identify all collective arrangements with evil. No matter the nature of the political organization, justice could never be found in any of them. However, the idea enounced by Jesus and Saint Paul that people owe themselves to every human being became an integral part of Christian ethics, and the concept of natural law was embraced by Christianity as a doctrine. In the Middle Ages political thought succumbed to religious philosophy. Emperor and Pope ruled by divine right, which right also provided the consensus on which collective action had to rely.
               Machiavelli wrote The Prince in 1513. From its first appearance in print in 1532, this book was regarded as a textbook for tyrants and an exposition of the principles of power politics. It provided the theory of deliberate immoralism and irresponsible tyrannical government. In contrast, a scarce century later in 1625, Hugo Grotius came to write the sourcebook of all subsequent international law: The Law of War and Peace. It returned to, but secularized, the the concept of natural law by which Christian, Islamic, and Buddhist societies ~ even societies with no apparent belief in a deity, could negotiate with one another; relationships requiring the idea of universal application. Grotius stated that his principles would endure even if God did not exist.
               It was this natural law that provided for government by constitutional 'social contract' that came to be invoked. In 1680 John Locke wrote the classic statement of government by consent: Two Treatises of Government. It asserted that "all men are naturally in . . . a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions, and persons, as they think fit; within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending on the will of any other man."
               The concept of natural law since evolved toward utilitarian notions with accompanying analysis of contemporary political realities ~ from Kant, Hegel, Marx.

Natural Rights

               While philosophers were trying to formulate utopian ideals, and political thinkers were attempting to work out realistic political systems, based on the concept of natural law with its notions of liberty, political activists were translating this concept into a set of natural rights. An individual right has been described philosophically as a power of acting for what is conceived to be to the private good, secured to an individual by the community. A right has been taken as a hypothetical power of the individual in that every right rests on a relative duty of another party. Without the notion of punishment it is difficult to hold to a notion of either right or duty, but a state of freedom from moral guilt and the ethical awareness that comes from intuitive insight into what is real, prescibes justice, which is the dynamic form of the free condition, the fluid state of right and duty. Mill also believed that rights can exist without the notion of duty, for, as he wrote in Utilitarianism, "duty is a thing which may be exacted from a person, as one exacts a debt."
               Already in ancient times it was held that there existed certain rights to which all people are entitled because they are endowed with a moral and rational nature. The denial of such rights was regarded as an affront to natural law ~ those elementary principles of justice which apply to all human beings by virtue of their common possession of the capacity to reason.
               Political rights covering matters of belief, and their expression and advocacy, have become entrenched in human institutions as freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and religion, and of assembly and association. Legal rights go to the very roots of the concept of liberty of the indiviaual. Although often limited in application, and not always extended to the masses, these demanded a general security of life, liberty, and property, which was expressed in the Magna Carta of 1215. Signed by John Lackland, King of England, under duress (on the morrow he plotted to annul it), the Great Charter was a victory for feudalism, not democracy. Still, it deserves its fame as the foundation of the liberties today enjoyed by the English-speaking world:
               Article 39. No freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or disseised, or outlawed, or banished, or in any way destroyed . . . unless by the lawful judgement of his peers, or by the law of the land.
               Article 40. We will sell to no man, we will not deny to any man, either justice or right.
               Article 60. All the aforesaid customs and liberties . . . all people of our kingdom, as well clergy as laity, shall observe, as far as, they are concerned, towards their dependants.
               Egalitarian rights assert the equalness of all humanity, and guarantee against actions which would tend to distinguish certain persons or groups for different treatment on the basis of their race, origin, or other factors unrelated to the purpose for which the distinction is made. The Universal Declartion of Human Rights of 1948 included economic rights such as the right to work, the right to rest and 1eisure, the right to an adequate standard of living, as well as the right to education, and the right to participate in the cultural life of the community.

Historical Materialism

               The importance of the role of property in society has not been missed by ethical philosophers. Eckhart spoke for virtually all of the great teachers when he wrote: ". . . we should own nothing as our property. . . ." The institution of property, like that of government, raises issues of justice. Since owners have appropriated what at one time belonged to all, they have a duty to administer it for the benefit of all. Ownership (or rather stewardship as it is arguable that it is impossible to really own anything) implies a natural right to use the fruits of the earth to preserve individual human lives. Marx conceived the value of a product to be in its labor. In nature, to make the effort to own something entitles one to own it. That is, to add one's labor to a thing belonging to no one is to create title to the product. The idea of accumulated property, however, cannot be ethically justified. Within a society, a group of persons may enjoy such control over property or the means of production, or over an educational system, or the media of communication, that they are able to determine the alternatives between which their fellow citizens can choose.
               Engels pointed out that "Marx was the first thinker to take materialism seriously." Historical materialism is the development of economic processes whereby labor becomes the production of commodities for sale (in fact, labor itself becomes a commodity bought and sold in the marketplace), that Marx characterized as capitalism during his lifetime of moral, philosophical and economic writings in the nineteenth century. As he noted, the "mode of production of the material means of existence" is what determines the form of society. The very use of the word capitalism for a type of society suggests that its characteristics depend upon its economy.
               Marx's view was a theory of historical epochs. Engels noted in 1888: "Haxthausen discovered common ownership of land in Russia, Maurer Proved it to be the, social foundation from which all Teutonic races started in history, and, by and by, village communities were found to be, or to have been, the primitive form of society everywhere from India to Ireland."
               This original state of what Marx and Engels saw as primitive communism was succeeded by ancient forms of slave-owning societies. These were succeeded by feudalism, and feudalism by capitalism.
               A materialist view of history is not necessarily linked with Marxist socialism, for it is possible to recognize the historical importance of the means of production, and of economic and class interests, without concluding that a classless, communist society must emerge.
               Marx and Engel asserted, in The German Ideology (1845), a work that remained unknown for almost a century, that "the nature of individuals . . . depends on the material conditions determining their production," That is, that nature dictates the means of human production, and that the way in which people produce their means of subsistence absolutely and completely determines what they are. To Marx such eternal concepts as reason and justice were but philosophical figments of the imagination. To him the determining factors of life were to be found in the historical development of humanity: "Their material relations are the basis of all their relations," he wrote in a letter.
               David McLellan, in a 1973 book on Karl Marx, noted that "in economics, according to Marx, it is money . . . that moves men around as though they were objects instead of the reverse. The central point is that man has lost control of his own destiny and has seen this control invested in other entities." Marx argued that in capitalist society money alone gave significance to the product of their labor, and even to people's relationship to their fellows. Money is not merely the medium of exchange for material things, for since matter and spirituality are inextricably entwined so also does money become the concept of value of all natural and humen qualities. "In truly human society where man was man ~ then everything would have a definite human value and only love could be exchanged for love, and so on."
               Henry George, in Progress and Poverty (1879), wrote: "capital does not supply or advance wages, as is erroneously taught. Wages are that part of the produce of his labor obtained by the laborer. Capital does not maintain laborers during the progress of their work, as is erroneously taught. Laborers are maintained by their labor, the man who produces, in whole or in part, anything that will exchange for articles of maintenance, virtually producing that maintenance." The proposition that capital alone fuels an economy is "transparently preposterous the moment it is remembered that capital is produced by labor, and hence that there must be labor before there can be capital."
               In The Theory of Business Enterprise (1904), Thorstein Bunde Veblen saw society dominated by the machine, and economics meant production by the machine-like meshing of society as it turns out goods. Such a social machine needed technocrats to order and operate it. The capitalists, in order to generate profit, needed to sabotage this productive process by causing breakdowns in the regular flow of output so that values would fluctuate and they could capitalize on the confusion. The price of profit, in this view, is the constant disturbing, undoing, even conscious misdirecting of the efforts of society to provision itself.
               The two alternative courses for this machine-society were spelled out by Veblen in a later series of books: one is the takeover of the economic system by the technocrats, the other an increasing predatoriness degenerating into a system of naked force, and fascism. It may well be that the rise in power by the multi-national corporations is signalling not only the takeover of Veblen's technocrats, but also that of corporate capitalist fascism in a combination not foreseen by Veblen.
               The Durants "conclude that the concentration of wealth is natural and meritable, and is periodically alleviated by violent or peacable partial redistribution. In this view all economic history is a slow heartbeat of the social organism, a vast systole and diastole of concentrating wealth and compulslve recirculaton."
               Another recent writer (Heilbronner, a professor of economics) believes that "the profit motive as we know it is only as old as modern man. . . . As a ubiquitous characteristic of society, it is as modern an invention as printing. The absence of the idea of gain as a normal guide for daily life ~ in fact the positive disrepute in which the idea was held by the Church ~ constituted one enormous difference between the strange world of the tenth to sixteenth centuries and the world that began, a century or two before Adam Smith, to resemble our own."
               Capitalism is, nonetheless, an ancient economic system, recurring with surprising frequency throughout human history. So frequent, in fact, as to cause a belief that the profit motive may, indeed, be the only incentive that consistently "delivers the goods", so to speak. Unfortunately, the pursuit of the concept that production's goal is profit first ~ relegating to a position of lesser importance what should be the primary concern: the satisfaction of human needs ~ is frought with many dangers. It is interesting and helpful to study the rise and fall of a number of such systems. From these "lessons of history' it is learned that capitalism is always abused by the greediest and most base-minded individuals.
               There is an undeniable connection of capital with landed property and wage labor, from which issued a state designed to serve the interests of foreign trade in a world market.
               The self-interest of capitalism (self-ruled by the idea of free competition) is ultimately condemned because it neither follows the general will nor serves the common good.

The Land, the Soil

               Land is the people's common treasury. It is the indispensible absolutely necessary and essential factor of human existence. The earth, in its intimate relationships with all things (from solar systems outside our knowledge, to organisms beyond our senses) provides sustenance to all its life. It is drawn from the soil, either directly or indirectly. Free access to the land provides the means of producing the essentials to survival: nourishment and shelter. The animal, vegetable, and mineral (or, the fire, earth, water, air) of the planet give humans food, medicine, tools, clothing, and housing.
               In the development of new economic theory that took place in France after the carnage of the Seven Years' War, nineteenth century capitalism was shaped. It was a theory of lassez faire: "let him do" as he himself thinks best. It produced (through Jean-Claude Vincent de Gournay) the observation that land is the source from which wealth is extracted, and that wealth is not gold but produce. In 1758 Francois Quesnay advocated a single tax upon the annual net profit of each parcel of land.
               In fact this laissez faire view of economy placed its faith in "freedom, and let this be universal. By means of this liberty . . . you are guaranteed that everyone will always act for his own greatest advantage, and consequently will contribute with all the power of his particular interest to the general good . . . ," as Lemercier de la Riviere wrote (in L'Ordre naturel et essentiel des societies politiques, 1767).
               In Reflections on the formation and distribution of Wealth (1766), Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot wrote that land is the only source of wealth; all classes but cultivators of the soil live on the surplus that these produce beyond their own need; this surplus constitutes a "wages fund" from which the artisan class can be paid.
               In England the Reverend Malthus expounded his doctrine of population and produce increases in which in twenty-five year intervals population would advance geometrically:10-20-40-80, while produce multiplied arithmetically: 10-20-30-40. It was repudiated by John Stuart Mill, who spoke of it as "an unlucky attempt to give precision to things which do not admit of it." Henry George believed the theory "utterly inconsistent with all the facts."
               Following in the footsteps of Malthus (the first population "explosion" doom-prophet), David Ricardo, in his Principles of Political Economy (1817), saw that as populations expanded, it would become necessary to push the margin of cultivation out further. The new fields put into seed would not be so productive as those already in use, increasing costs in an inexorable spiral tied to the increasing number of mouths. And so the value of land would increase, followed by rising wages to enable the labourer to buy the more expensive food which might maintain him, at the very least, at subsistence level.
               Henry George wrote Progress and Poverty with such style and conviction that it became, upon its publication, a late nineteenth century best-seller. George also argued that with machinery and other improvements that multiply the productive power of labour, it is land that appreciates in value:
               "It is the general fact, observable everywhere, that as the value of land increases, so does the contrast between wealth and want appear. It is the universal fact, that where the value of land is the highest, civilization exhibits the greatest luxury side by side with the most piteous destitution. To see human beings in the most abject, the most helpless and hopeless condition, you must go, not to the unfenced prairies and the log cabins of new clearings in the backwoods, where man single-handed is commencing the struggle with nature, and land is yet worth nothing, but to the great cities, where the ownership of a little patch of ground is a fortune."
               The main source of periodical depressions. wrote George, is that "the speculative advance in land value cuts down the earnings of labor and capital and checks production leads. . . . The reason why, in spite of the increase of productive power, wages constantly tend to a minimum which will give but a bare living, is that, with increase in productive power, rent tends to an even greater increase, thus producing a constant tendency to the forcing down of wages."
               Debunking all of the remedies to the blight of increasing poverty, including greater economy in government, better education of working classes, unionized efforts of advancing wages, cooperation of labor and capital, government direction and interference, and more general distribution of land, George arrives at "The Remedy": "We must make land common property."
               George quotes M de Laveleye (Primitive Property): "Freedom, and as a consequence, the ownership of an undivided share of the common property, to which the head of every family in the clan was equally entitled, were in the German village essential rights.
               Likewise, in what became Canada's Commonwealth (and the American United States), the same principle was observed ~ as in 'The Great Law of Peace' of the Longhouse People, the Iroquois League of Six Nations, which stated: "The soil of the earth from one end to the other is the property of the people who inhabit it. . . . The same law has been held from the oldest time."
               Still according to George: "The feudal system, which was so readily adopted and so widely spread, was the result of . . . a blending and an admixture of the idea of common rights in the soil with the idea of exclusive property . . . ; but underneath, and side by side with the feudal system, a more primitive organization, based on the common rights of the cultivators, took root or revived, and has left its traces all over Europe.
               "In the feudal scheme . . . was a rude and ineffective recognition, but still unquestionably a recognition, of the fact, obvious to the natural perceptions of all men, that land is not individual but common property.
               "The very institutions under which modern civilization has developed, . . . prove the universality and long persistence of the recognition of the common right to the use of the soil.
               "Wherever we can trace the early history of society, whether in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, in America, or in Polynesia, land has been considered, as the necessary relations which human life has to is would lead to its consideration ~ as the common property, in which the rights of all who had admitted rights were equal. This is to say, that all members of the community, all citizens as we would say, had equal rights to the use and enjoyment of the land of the community.
               ". . . The division of land between the industrial units, whether families, or joint families, or individuals, went only as far as was necessary for that purpose, pasture and forest land being retained as common, and equality as to agricultural land being secured either by a periodical re-division, as among the Teutonic races, or by the prohibition of alienation, as in the law of Moses."
               These principles survived as an institution of the highest economic significance in Europe through the ages into the twentieth century. In 1912, in Germany some fifteen percent of the total forest area (over five-and-a-half-million acres) were communal property; in Switzerland, sixty-seven percent; in Italy forty-three percent; in France twenty-three percent.
               The origin of these communal forests loses itself in the earliest history of the European countries, having evolved from the ancient Teutonic 'mark', a communalistic organization, the members of which, outside of house and garden, owned in common the rest of the territory. The mark (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) is "the name applied in medieval Germany to the tract of land held in common by a village community. Hence used by many modern scholars to denote the tract of land similarly held by one of the village communities of primitive Teutonic times."

The People, the Peasant

               To return now to our starting point: To be free one must have land ~ the land that people have always owned without restrictions, before Crown or State disposessed its subjects and citizens.
               A land-based population has been called the 'peasantry'. Pea'se (or something like it) is a very old word indeed; its root is probably in the ancient Sanskrit (or its linguistic predecessor) for territory or land. With the suffix -ant it means simply one who is on the land ~ one who is land-ing (working or using the land).
               "Peasant society" was characterized by E Norbeck (in A Dictionary of Social Sciences, 1964) "by most or all of the following traits: rural residence; familial agriculture on self-owned small land-holdings or other simple rural occupations providing a modest or subsistence livelihood; the family as the centrally important social unit; low social status; economic interdependence in varying degree with urban centers; simple culture; and attachment to the soil, the local community and tradition."
               Such a peasantry is not revolutionary but usually constitute "a brake on the revolution" (as Franz Fanon observed in The Wretched of the Earth, 1961): "Generally in industrialized countries the peasantry as a whole are the least aware, the worst organized, and at the same time the most anarchical element. They show a whole range of characteristics ~ individualism, lack of discipline, liking for money, and propensities toward waves of uncontrollable rage and deep discouragement which define a line of behavior that is objectively reactionary.
               "A reasoned analysis of colonized society [shows] that the native peasantry lives against a background of tradition, where the traditional structure of society has remained intact, whereas in the industrialized countries it is just this traditional setting which has been broken up by the progress of industrialization."
               Nonetheless, it appears that the term 'New Peasantry' may best describe what is necessary to return to a state of freedom. A free, land-based, new peasant class appears as a predicate even to a middle class ~ that class of people not directly productive: trades, services, bureaucrats. Without it, as Veblen showed, that middle class itself becomes prey of the economic system.

My Polemic, or, a Peasant Litany:
               The return of humanity to its natural free state shall be accomplished. Like thunder in the bowels of the earth, it cannot be contained. But it is only upon its realization that the true nature of human independence can become apparent; like a child before birth, it cannot yet be known. Each individual striving to attain self-rule hastens the movement toward communal self-reliance; each new exertion will bring the individual closer in accord with the harmony of ultimate reality, and keep the goal of human faith visible.
               (With help from readings of the I Ching.)

               I have had the privilege of coming into contact with wise and knowing people. One of these was Wilfred Pelletier, who in 1973 wrote No Foreign Land: the biography of a North American Indian. This is how he concluded:
               ". . . Whatever happens to me I'll have lots of company, Indians and whites, because the kids are dropping out by the thousands, out of the games, out of the organizational movie, and it isn't taking them as long as it took me. They've got a lot to learn, but they aren't wasting time any longer going to school, getting educated. They're learning. They're going back to the land, more and more of them. And that's the only real seat of learning there has ever been. They'll learn from the land, all they need to know, all there is to know. If they stay there long enough, they'll learn that they are the land."