R on L: Final Bit

Here we go, to end this mini-serial, broken up into a number of shorter paras for ease-of-reading convenience.

We may go one step farther. The property of labour, you say, overbalances the community of land: because the value of it, when compared with the value of land, is worth ninety nine parts in a hundred. Now if, by saying, that the property of labour overbalances the community of land, you only mean, that labour is worth much more than uncultivated land, we might allow it. But if you mean, that, because the value of labour is so much greater than the value of land, the labour of one man will overrule or set aside the common claim of all mankind, we must deny it.For suppose the labour of him, who cultivates the land, to be worth ninety nine parts in a hundred of the whole value of the land, after it is cultivated; all that could be due to the labourer, upon this supposition, would be no more than the produce of his own labour: the ninety nine parts, which belong to him, would not swallow up the hundreth part, which he had originally no exclusive right to. This hundreth part, that is, the land itself, must therefore still remain in common, as it was before; he might labour in it again, if he pleased, as one of the joynt commoners; but he would have no property in it.

Let us try this reasoning in another instance. The landlord, as we call him, or the owner of the soil, after property has been introduced, has an exclusive right to some certain quantity of land, suppose for instance, to an acre which bears twenty bushels of wheat: the tenant ploughs and sows this land; and besides the mere personal act of labour, he uses his own materials in cultivating the land. Now the labour of the occupyer puts the chief value upon the land, and without this labour it would be worth little; for it is to [p.61] this, that we owe all its useful production. For whatever the straw, bran, bread, &c. of that acre of wheat is worth more than the product of an acre of as good land, which lies waste, is all the effects of labour.

You see then how much the property of labour overbalances the property of land. But no one will be led to conclude from hence, that, because, according to this reckoning, in the value of an acre of land ninety nine parts in a hundred are owing to the labour of the occupyer, the property, which he has in his own labour, will swallow up the property, which the landlord has in the soil; and that the land, because he has cultivated it, will for the future become his own.

But if the right of property in the soil, which in estimating the value of land, is but one part in a hundred, is not overruled or set aside by the overbalance in the value of labour; I can see no reason why the same overbalance should be supposed to set aside the common claims of mankind to land, which was never appropriated. Let the right be what it will, whether it is a right of property, or of common claim, if an overbalance in the value of the labour, which is joyned to it, will not swallow up one of them, no good reason can be given, why it should swallow up the other.

And that’s your lot.

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