Leo Tolstoy
· The Circle of Reading
Translated by Dmitry Fadeyev

January 30

Land cannot be the object of ownership.


When Socrates was asked where he came from, he said that he was a citizen of the whole world; he considered himself to be an inhabitant and citizen of the whole universe.

— Cicero


Supposing the entire habitable globe to be so enclosed, it follows that if the landowners have a valid right to its surface, all who are not landowners, have no right at all to its surface. Hence, such can exist on the earth by sufferance only. They are all trespassers. Save by the permission of the lords of the soil, they can have no room for the soles of their feet. Nay, should the others think fit to deny them a resting-​place, these landless men might equitably be expelled from the earth altogether.

— Herbert Spencer


The ownership of land, like the ownership of slaves, differs by its very nature from the ownership of objects produced by labor.

If you were to seize money, goods or cattle from a person or a nation, your robbery would end with your departure. The passage of time will not, of course, turn your crime into a good deed, but it will destroy its consequences. It departs quickly into the distant past together with those who took part in it.

But if you were to seize land from a people, your robbery would persist into perpetuity. It would become a new robbery for every successive generation, for every new birth, for every new day.

— Henry George


We occupy an island upon which we live by the labor of our hands. A shipwrecked sailor is thrown onto our shore. What are his rights? May he say: “I too am a human being, I too have a natural right to work the land, and, for the same reason as you, I too can occupy a fraction of the land in order to feed myself with my labor”?

— Laveleye


The cause of the greatest misfortunes is the rude and monstrous assertion that land can be someone’s private property. This is as unjust and cruel as slavery.

— Newman


If there exists a human being who has no right to land, then land ownership is unlawful—mine, yours, anyone’s.

— Emerson


The Land is Mother of us all; nourishes, shelters, gladdens, lovingly enriches us all; in how many ways, from our first wakening to our last sleep on her blessed mother-bosom, does she, as with blessed mother-arms, enfold us all!

And now, in spite of this, men talk of ‘selling’ Land. Land, it is true, in such a trading world, has to be presented in the market for what it will bring, and as we say be ‘sold:’ but the notion of ‘selling,’ the Land of the World-Creator, is a ridiculous impossibility! Properly speaking, the Land belongs to these two: To the Almighty God; and to all His Children of Men that have ever worked well on it, or that shall ever work well on it. It is not the property of any generation, but that of all the past generations that have worked on it, and of all the future ones that shall work on it.

— Carlyle

No one has the right to own land.