Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Case for Land

by De'Von "Van" Weatherspoon

Today I started thinking about society and the many changes it has undergone since the middle Ages. What I mean to underline is the link between political elites and the landed gentry. The landed gentry serve vital functions in society, yet the very idea of a landed gentry is becoming very scarce indeed. It is very true that this class and the people in it are not the gauche Celebrity/Socialite type, nor are they likely to be profiled on some Bravo series, yet this class is the base of almost every economy in human history.

The owning of land, and not a house with less than an acre, is one of the most fundamental building blocks of any society. All one has to do is think of the United States. Our country was founded by members of the landed gentry; the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Revolutionary War are all products of the landed gentry of America. This class was ingrained with the ideals of owning physical assets (land), protecting those assets, and being able to pass those assets on to posterity. This is such a far cry from today’s fixation with non-physical assets. Sometimes I wonder will society every go back to a time where owning land was the sole respectable basis for wealth. I personally would like to think so, but I am biased. I am the descendant of this class; my ties are from France, Scotland, and England in the 1100s, add Scots-Irish in the 1400s, and Berbers in the 1700s and you practically have my entire bloodline. My ancestors were some of the first people to colonise this continent in the 1600s; in both Massachusetts and Virginia, later adding South Carolina and Georgia.

I highlight these states, and parts of my genealogy, to show that there is a sizable population of persons with a lineage like mine. In a land far ago, we would be the ones running the government and while most Americans would associate negative things with this, I don’t necessarily think of it negatively. When the Founding Fathers gathered to help found a new nation, there was a sense of community due to the fact that almost all had been raised in similar circumstances in different environments. You could count on all representatives to behave cautiously and intelligently, why? Simple, because the Fathers had their livelihoods attached to the decisions of government in a way that has not been available since.

If you are a skeptical person, you might say that American Homeownership has increased since the 1700s. While this is true, it was mostly artificial growth stimulated by various factions. To take a historical view, it would be like taking the Feudal Kingdoms of Europe and handing out land just because everyone should have a little piece of their own. Better yet, look at countries with land re-distribution programs. If you look hard enough you see that most of these countries have very serious problems.

This same person might still say that a culture based on the landed gentry wouldn’t be democratic and would create classes in society. Well I have new for you, there is no such thing as a classless society. Sure society may become less stratified socially, but classes are still there: Old Money, New Money, Upper Middle Class, the Middle Classes, and the Lower Classes. At this point, I’d like to say that if I sound a bit elitist, sorry, I am just writing my thoughts.

While I consider myself an Hamiltonian Republican, I must admit, I admire Jefferson’s thoughts on the idea of a country of landed gentry. One of you is saying that Jefferson was the common man’s man. Well he wasn’t. In fact all the Founding Fathers had a severe fear of the common man. I admit here too, while my fear is not severe, it still exists.

I am almost done writing what I am sure many of you will label me as an elitist for, but just a few more things. I have a question for you all: What would you do if there was some global crisis or event that virtually wiped out any positive incentive for urban living? Where would you get food? How would you survive? Think about it long enough and you’ll find that while living in urban cores may be fine, in the event of something substantial, one would be left with nothing to survive. What if government collapsed and your dollars were worthless?

This is where the landed gentry really had something. Owning physical assets is like having insurance for almost any event of which you can think. If your assets included enough land where you could make an earning renting out land to former suburbanites, you would come out pretty well. Think of the generations of European families that can attest to that. The physical assets need not be in America, but anywhere. I will close with this quote “Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dyin’ for, because it’s the only thing that lasts”.

- De’Von “Van” Weatherspoon is a high school student and contributor to He is from the great state of Michigan and describes himself as a “Hamiltonian-Rockefeller Republican”.

1 comment:

snjmom said...

If it came down to a collapse of the urban centers, the landed gentry would find rather quickly that they are going to need to support a warrior class to protect their land from the incoming urban horde.

Good luck with that.