The land and means of production ownership question
April 1, 2018
If we take a step backwards, private land ownership is a relatively new phenomenon even if this is a few thousand years old. Ownership of land has moved away from the churches and religious leaders of mankind towards the individual and then even further this way towards the individual in the economic sphere who has gleefully hung onto the rights that come with it.
Let’s just get it clear again in our thinking:
- The liberty sphere should be concerned with the development of the humanity in us.
- The rights sphere should confer on each of us the rights and security that we need to be human and give us each an equal say through a vote in the rights sphere.
- Finally, the economic sphere is there to provide for the material needs of humanity.
Each of the three spheres could be seen as being the equivalent of a Government today. If the one wanted more influence over another, they would meet to discuss the right way forward, in the interests of the State, which itself would be seen as a threefold entity not a unitary State.
On the land question,
- if the state has the say over who owns it, it may go to individuals connected to the state and have rights associated with the land thus obtained that do not make land ownership equally available to all.
- If the economic sphere owned all land, the land would have the effect of giving some people the opportunity to own the means of production and exclude those without access to capital.
- If land allocation was ‘owned’ by the liberty sphere , the risks seem less as there are only so many churches, museums and schools that it could go to. Humanity recognises that it needs the economic sphere for its food, clothing, travel and other needs. It also recognises the need for some form of rights sphere. So it would itself want to allocate land to people in both the economic and rights spheres.The Threefold Social Order quite clearly states that the means of production belongs in the liberty sphere. However, there are problems inherent in this unless it is made quite clear where the correct conceptual boundaries are. For example, problems arise if land ownership gives rights to individuals. In this case the liberty sphere takes over the caretaking of rights from the rights sphere through the individuals that get the rights to the land.
- So, for example, a farmer owns a piece of land and uses it to farm with in such a way that he poisons the land or allows it to be invaded by alien vegetation. He has the rights to do this in modern paradigms of allowing rights to go with land. Mineral rights are similar. They may be separated from the ownership of the land itself but they confer the rights on someone or some legal entity who then is somewhat free of the rights sphere as these rights are difficult to change, even for the rights sphere.
- If land were allocated by the liberty sphere to people competent to use it effectively as assessed by the liberty sphere in conjunction with the other two spheres, then the land would end up being in the hands of competent human beings in each case in each sphere. Their tenure would be decided upon and reviewed by the liberty, economic and rights spheres from time to time. The individual ‘owner’ would be subject to the group decisions in this regard.
- Remember, the individual, even if he sees himself in the economic sphere, would have to prove his right to manage the land and other means of production in order to be given the ‘use’ of the land.
- The rights sphere would make sure that he only has the rights that would be fair and equitable to anyone in the same situation.
- The economic sphere would know what needs the land or means of production were being used for and how effectively this particular user was being relative to others in the field of serving humanity’s material needs. They would also make sure that the rights cannot be taken away while the land or means of production are meeting the ‘allocation terms’.
- The rights and liberty spheres would also need allocations and be subject to a similar review system with all three spheres making representation at all levels of society, from grass roots to policy decisions then held by the rights sphere.In order that the above ideas do not seem like Cloud Cuckoo-land, we have to learn to see the possibilities of doing things differently. Doing things as we are is creating material poverty among a lot and material wealth among a few. These materially wealthy people are at the same time at very serious risk of falling prey to material promises of inner wellbeing being able to be bought through physical manipulation of our physical bodies – a concept abhorrent to a well-founded liberty sphere. For any real movement towards a Threefold Social Order to take place, we are going to need to see it taking place slowly and in an organised way which will involve a lot of learning. It cannot be obtained through revolution but only by evolution. Then we will also have to realise that while we may be very possessive about our earthly bodies, we are all in fact God’s creatures and on our way towards a possible existence of a more godly nature. To be part of a belief system that feels the right to step into the godly space of another is a serious question that we need to start discussing. The USA is seen as the leader of this ‘invasion’ of the rights of others before God. They seem to feel the position that they are God’s spokesperson because they are materially well off. This view needs to be not only questioned but proven wrong through other nations being more earnestly committed to their own ways rather that to being lured into competing in a losing cause.The land issue is very complex and would take more than a short article to untangle further but I have tried to give a lead into how to start looking at it with the concepts of the Threefold Social Order as given by Dr Steiner. More will follow.