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Territory, Property, Sovereignty
& Democracy in Scotland

A Brief Philosophical Examination
By Ed Iglehart

Land & Democracy
Conclusion: A Betrayal?


"Like a man travelling in foggy weather,
those at some distance before him on the road he sees wrapped up in the fog,
as well as those behind him, and also the people in the fields on each side,
but near him all appears clear,
though in truth he is as much in the fog as any of them"

-- Ben Franklin

One should never pretend to be unbiased. To comprehend anything fully is beyond the best of us, but this is not to say we ought not try to get as broad a view as possible. Our assessment of any situation will always be influenced by our personal situation and history; that is: socially (including education and media intake), physically & economically (which, taken all together comes to ecologically?)

Virtually none of the ideas canvassed below are originally mine. The quotations are obviously not. Errors in text or thinking very likely are. I hope that those among whom I have chosen to settle do not feel my remarks to be out of place or to otherwise take great offence. I am, after all, living here by personal choice.


"I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me,
That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly,
and my blood is part of the sea..."

-- D H Lawrence

"When a child is born, we recognise that it has a natural right to its mother's milk, and no-one can deny that it has the same right to mother-earth."

William Ogilvie of Pittensear; Birthright in Land, 1782

The land gives birth to us. It precedes and is necessary to human consciousness and our capacity to appreciate the spiritual. We are all, from microbes to members of parliaments, expressions of the living Earth, awakened clay. That we can imagine ownership of land at all is barely credible, and proof of our prodigious mental elasticity.

Ancient peoples commonly regarded themselves as belonging to their lands, as do surviving aboriginal societies. In the activities of family or tribal groups, communal occupation, use, and/or cultivation according to need and industry was and remains the rule for defining territories.

"SOME writers have so confounded society with government,
as to leave little or no distinction between them;
whereas they are not only different, but have different origins.

Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness;
the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections,
the latter negatively by restraining our vices.
The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions.
The first is a patron, the last a punisher....

Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence;
the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise.
For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed,
man would need no other lawgiver;"

-- Thomas Paine, On the Origins of Government...1776


The conversion of territory into property would seem to have developed as a result of the shift from semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer societies towards agricultural settlement, as implied by Locke:

"But the chief matter of property being now not the fruits of the earth and the beasts that subsist on it, but the earth itself, as that which takes in and carries with it all the rest, I think it is plain that property in that too is acquired as the former. As much land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates, and can use the product of, so much is his property."

--Second Treatise on Government, 1690

This implies a certain flexibility in that as a family became larger or smaller, the boundaries of holdings would be expected to change with ability and need, and such is believed to have been the case in pre-Roman Europe. It is also clear that continuation of ownership can only be ensured through residence and labour:

"All Right of property is founded either in occupancy or labour. The earth having been given to mankind in common occupancy, each individual seems to have by nature a right to possess and cultivate an equal share. This right is little different from that which he has to the free use of the open air and running water; though not so indispensably requisite at short intervals for his actual existence, it is not less essential to the welfare and right state of his life through all its progressive stages."

William Ogilvie of Pittensear; An Essay on the Right of Property in Land, 1782

"Many nations have gained victories and made conquests as the Romans did; but none has equalled the Roman in thus making the ground he had won his own by the sweat of his brow, and in securing by the ploughshare what had been gained by the lance. That which is gained by war may be wrested from the grasp by war again, but it is not so with the conquests made by the plough;"

--Theodor Mommsen; The History of Rome, 1894

The idea of individual (or private) ownership of fixed parcels of land is thus a relatively recent phenomenon, and by no means universal. In a very real sense it can be seen as the inevitable result of the replacement of custom in earlier, more innocent societies by statute in more individualistic societies.

When property is created by a legal title, transferrable for money or other consideration, intimacy, the mutual ownership between land and occupier, gained through residence, labour and improvement can be ignored, and land can be accumulated or disposed of at will. Absentee owners, inconceivable before, can evict residents with the full support of the law.

"When god-like Odysseus returned from the wars in Troy, he hanged all on one rope a dozen slave-girls of his house-hold whom he suspected of misbehavior during his absence. This hanging involved no question of propriety. The girls were property. The disposal of property was then, as now, a matter of expediency, not of right and wrong."

Aldo Leopold; The Land Ethic 1948


"The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property"

-- John Locke; Second Treatise on Government, 1690

The origin and purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live and enjoy their property in safety and happiness. Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors. The ultimate power (sovereignty) in a society, therefore, rests in the people themselves, and they may exercise that power, either directly or through chosen representatives, in every way they are competent and that it is practicable.

This concept, the ultimate sovereignty of the people, finds one of its earliest recorded expressions in the Declaration of Arbroath, where Robert Bruce is declared king and the representative of his people:

"Him, too, divine providence, his right of succession according to our laws and customs which we shall maintain to the death, and the due consent and assent of us all have made our Prince and King. ....Yet [should he prove false,] we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King;"

Declaration of Arbroath, April 6th, 1320

and as re-stated in The American Declaration of Independence: "Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."


It is not enough that men should vote; it is not enough that they should be theoretically equal before the law. They must have liberty to avail themselves of the opportunities and means of life; they must stand on equal terms with reference to the bounty of nature.... This is the universal law. This is the lesson of the centuries.

Henry George Progress and Poverty 1879

It is probably impossible to arrive at a description of democracy which will satisfy everyone. Nevertheless, I suggest two general principles:

1. The people being sovereign, should first determine and agree in free deliberation the form of the institutions of government, what sort of governors there are to be, their duties and powers, the manner by which they are to be chosen, and how long they are to serve.
2. Representative democracy can be said to be a form of government in which the sovereignty of the people is expressed through the direct participation of the mass of the people in the election of their governors at intervals.


The present situation in Scotland, while generally satisfying the second principle above, falls somewhat short on the first:

1. The new 'constitutional settlement', while developed largely by a portion of the people of Scotland, and approved in principle by referendum, could not take effect unless allowed by the Westminster parliament, which also reserved significant powers to itself.
2. The same can be said of the system of 'local' government, which has been re-designed, curtailed, and kept in financial thrall for the imagined convenience of the centralised bureaucracy with very little 'free deliberation' possible on the part of the governed.

I will not labour this point further except to say that the ready acceptance on the part of the people (or apathy) of the idea that central government is competent (in both the legal and common sense) to determine the form of local government was and remains the largest of the surprises I have experienced here. That it should happen twice in just over two decades, and is likely to happen again when Holyrood can get round to it defies belief.

"By the union with England the middling and inferior ranks of people in Scotland gained a complete deliverance from the power of an aristocracy which had always before oppressed them. "

Adam Smith; The Wealth of Nations, 1776

Yeah, Right!


That Scotland has the most concentrated pattern of land ownership in the 'free world' is apparent to anyone who cares to look. It is also a fact that large portions of Scotland's land are owned by corporations and other absentees.

Scotland 19,068,631acres 100%
Urban 585,627 acres 3%
Rural 18,483,004 acres 97%

Of the rural land, 2, 275,768 acres are in the ownership of public bodies
and 16,207,236 are in the ownership of private bodies.
Of this privately-owned rural land (Population 5,000,000 = over 3 acres per Scot):

One quarter is owned by 66 landowners in estates of 30,700 acres and larger
One third is owned by 120 landowners in estates of 21,000 acres and larger
One half is owned by 343 landowners in estates of 7,500 acres and larger
Two thirds is owned by 1252 landowners in estates of l ,200 acres and larger

So two thirds of Scotland is owned by one four thousandth of the people!

Data from Andy Wightman; Scotland, Land and Power, 1999

"To put the bounty and the health of our land, our only commonwealth, into
the hands of people who do not live on it and share its fate will always be an error. For whatever determines the fortune of the land determines also the fortune of the people. If history teaches anything, it teaches that."

-- Wendell Berry; Conserving Forest Communities, 1995

I would like to briefly discuss the role of land tenure as it pertains to the operation of government, and whether democracy according to the principles above is feasible in a situation where participation in the development of the present laws and structures of government was a monopoly limited to landowning males, thereby excluding the bulk of the population until only a few generations ago.

"But it is not so much the absurdity as the evil of hereditary succession which concerns mankind. Did it ensure a race of good and wise men it would have the seal of divine authority, but as it opens a door to the foolish, the wicked; and the improper, it hath in it the nature of oppression. Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions."

Tom Paine, Common Sense, February 1776

The connection between the ownership of land and political power has been a feature of social theory from the classical period down the ages to Margaret Thatcher's drive to convert council tenants into owners (substituting the tyranny of the mortgager for that of the landlord) and the Blairite concept of "stakeholders," be they 'communities' or individuals. Such thinking has not been restricted to purely democratic societies:

"In the case of Rome the Servian Reform (Servius Tullius, 578-534 B.C.) shows very clearly not only that the agricultural class originally preponderated in the State but also that an effort was made to maintain the collective body of freeholders as the pith and marrow of the community. The conception that the constitution itself rested on the freehold system permeated the whole policy of Roman war and conquest. The aim of war was to increase the number of its freehold members."

Sir Albert Howard; An Agricultural Testament, (introduction), 1940

The thinking of those who founded the American revolution and the succeeding wave of revolutions throughout Europe, returning land to the peasantry and establishing the tradition of Human Rights, was developed by the philosophers of the "Enlightenment"; Montaigne, John Locke, David Hume, William Ogilvie, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, George Mason, Adam Smith, and others. (see references) It is interesting to note that not a few of these were Scottish; some found it best to operate in anonymity, and some were imprisoned or fled to exile.

"As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce."

Adam Smith; The Wealth of Nations, 1776: Book I Chapter VI

"It is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state."

Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1785

"He who is permitted by law to have no property of his own can with difficulty conceive that property is founded in anything but force."

Thomas Jefferson to Edward Bancroft, 1788

"The unequal division of property... occasions the numberless instances of wretchedness which... is to be observed all over Europe."

Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1785

"Whenever there is in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right."

Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1785

"I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. But the consequences of enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind."

Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1785

"If the overgrown wealth of an individual is deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree; and the better, as this enforces a law of nature, while extra-taxation violates it."

Thomas Jefferson: Note in Destutt de Tracy's "Political Economy," 1816

It would be foolish to suggest that we should attempt a return to some sort of imagined arcadian paradise, but the increasing separation of people from direct relation to and dependence on land has been a cause of concern to the developing environmental 'movement'.

"Perhaps the most serious obstacle impeding the evolution of a land ethic is the fact that our educational and economic system is headed away from, rather than toward, an intense consciousness of land. Your true modern is separated from the land by many middlemen, and by innumerable physical gadgets. He has no vital relation to it; to him it is the space between cities on which crops grow. "

-- Aldo Leopold; The Land Ethic, 1948

This was and remains true in America, where Leopold was writing. The industrialisation of agriculture has continued to force accellerated clearances through economic necessity.

In Scotland, indeed in the whole of Britain, centuries of enclosure and eviction created a vast class of displaced people whose only recourse was to migrate to the industrial centres. This proved quite a convenient source of labour for the emerging industrial owners, who frequently converted their growing wealth into political power by purchasing land. This power was reinforced through the provision of tied housing for their landless labourers.

Meanwhile, all over Europe, the peasant uprisings re-established the rights of small freeholders, but the British state was uniquely successful in resisting the trend, often with recourse to considerable force, applied on behalf of the ruling landed elite. Strangely, this is a source of pride to many of my neighbours.

"a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom."

Tom Paine; Common Sense, January 1776

Sir Albert Howard, the brilliant agricultural scientist and one of the principal founders of the Soil Association and the concept of "Organic" farming, was in no doubt about the connections between land and society, as illustrated by the extracts already cited above. I wonder if the following longer extract from the introduction to his Agricultural Testament (1940) can be read without noting the resonance between Scotland and the last days of the Roman Empire?

"These splendid ideals did not persist. During the period which elapsed between the union of Italy and the subjugation of Carthage, a gradual decay of the farmers set in; the small-holdings ceased to yield any substantial clear return; the cultivators one by one faced ruin; the moral tone and frugal habits of the earlier ages of the Republic were lost; the land of the Italian farmers became merged into the larger estates.

The landlord capitalist became the centre of the subject. He not only produced at a cheaper rate than the farmer because he had more land, but he began to use slaves. The same space which in the olden time, when small-holdings prevailed, had supported from a hundred to a hundred and fifty families was now occupied by one family of free persons and about fifty, for the most part unmarried, slaves. 'If this was the remedy by which the decaying national economy was to be restored to vigour, it bore, unhappily, an aspect of extreme resemblance to disease' (Mommsen).

The main causes of this decline appear to have been fourfold: the constant drain on the manhood of the country-side by the legions, which culminated in the two long wars with Carthage; the operations of the Roman capitalist landlords which 'contributed quite as much as Hamilcar and Hannibal to the decline in the vigour and the number of the Italian people' (Mommsen); failure to work out a balanced agriculture between crops and live stock and to maintain the fertility of the soil; the employment of slaves instead of free labourers.

During this period the wholesale commerce of Latium passed into the hands of the large landed proprietors who at the same time were the speculators and capitalists. The natural consequence was the destruction of the middle classes, particularly of the small-holders, and the development of landed and moneyed lords on the one hand and of an agricultural proletariat on the other. The power of capital was greatly enhanced by the growth of the class of tax-farmers and contractors to whom the State farmed out its indirect revenues for a fixed sum.

Subsequent political and social conflicts did not give real relief to the agricultural community. Colonies founded to secure Roman sovereignty over Italy provided farms for the agricultural proletariat, but the root causes of the decline in agriculture were not removed in spite of the efforts of Cato and other reformers. A capitalist system of which the apparent interests were fundamentally opposed to a sound agriculture remained supreme. The last half of the second century saw degradation and more and more decadence.

Then came Tiberius Gracchus and the Agrarian Law with the appointment of an official commission to counteract the diminution of the farmer class by the comprehensive establishment of new small-holdings from the whole Italian landed property at the disposal of the State: eighty thousand new Italian farmers were provided with land. These efforts to restore agriculture to its rightful place in the State were accompanied by many improvements in Roman agriculture which, unfortunately, were most suitable for large estates. Land no longer able to produce corn became pasture; cattle now roamed over large ranches; the vine and the olive were cultivated with commercial success.

These systems of agriculture, however, had to be carried on with slave labour, the supply of which had to be maintained by constant importation. Such extensive methods of farming naturally failed to supply sufficient food for the population of Italy. Other countries were called upon to furnish essential foodstuffs; province after province was conquered to feed the growing proletariat with corn. These areas in turn slowly yielded to the same decline which had taken place in Italy.

Finally the wealthy classes abandoned the depopulated remnants of the mother country and built themselves a new capital at Constantinople. The situation had to be saved by a migration to fresh lands. In their new capital the Romans relied on the unexhausted fertility of Egypt as well as on that of Asia Minor and the Balkan and Danubian provinces.

Judged by the ordinary standards of achievement the agricultural history of the Roman Empire ended in failure due to inability to realize the fundamental principle that the maintenance of soil fertility coupled with the legitimate claims of the agricultural population should never have been allowed to come in conflict with the operations of the capitalist.

The most important possession of a country is its population. If this is maintained in health and vigour everything else will follow; if this is allowed to decline nothing, not even great riches, can save the country from eventual ruin. It follows, therefore, that the strongest possible support of capital must always be a prosperous and contented country-side. A working compromise between agriculture and finance should therefore have been evolved. Failure to achieve this naturally ended in the ruin of both."

CONCLUSION: Back to the Future (or Betray the Future?)

It will be a difficult task to write a better conclusion than Sir Albert's above, but I shall attempt to bring us into the twentyfirst century, and into Scotland in particular, where I have lived almost half my life.

There can be little doubt that the ownership of property empowers the owner, whether it be the family home, a smallholding or working farm, or at the other extreme, thousands of acres, tenanted or not. That the strength and health of a culture, particularily one espousing democratic ideals, depends upon the widest possible distribution of such empowerment is apparent from the foregoing pages. That this power is unevenly distributed in today's Scotland is clearly recognised in official Scottish Office papers:

"Land is a defining issue for the people of Scotland." and:

"Rural Scotland is characterised by gross inequalities of wealth and power. To achieve real sustainable development, which ensures proper life chances for all our rural people, we must widen the power base and introduce greater democratisation and local community involvement." and:

"A key resource in rural Scotland is the land, and land reform will play a major part in the Government's strategy ...".

Towards a Development Strategy for Rural Scotland

Thus, prior to the establishment of the new Scottish Parliament, the New Labour Government identified land reform as important and commissioned a consultation: "To take this Manifesto commitment [to "initiate a study into the system of land ownership and management in Scotland"] forward,...look comprehensively at the range of reform options identify and assess proposals for land reform, ...and their likely impact on the social and economic development of rural communities and on the natural heritage." Ibid.

The Land Reform Policy Group (LRPG) , a handful of Scottish Office civil servants & an academic, convened by a Lordly Minister, duly observed:

"Land is a key resource. The lifechances of people living in rural areas depend on how it is used. All too often in the past, the interests of the majority have been damaged by the interests of the few who control that resource." and:

"Land reform is needed on grounds of fairness, and to secure the public good. The Group's initial review of the evidence indicates that present systems of land ownership and management in rural Scotland still serve to inhibit opportunities.... the way landholdings are owned and managed can have a critical impact upon the land's ability to sustain rural populations. The work of the Group should have a liberating effect in freeing up the land resource."

LRPG: Identifying the Problems (February 1998)

"The pattern of land ownership in Scotland remains dominated by a small number of large (often very large) estates. The majority of the land consists of under 1,500 private estates. About 12% of all land in Scotland is in public ownership." Now I know where Andy got his figures! (NOT!)

Ibid; section 3

And, in their final recommendations, LRPG identified the need for:

"increased diversity in the way land is owned and used: in other words, more variety in ownership ...which will lead to less concentration of ownership and management in a limited number of hands, particularly at local level, as the best way of encouraging sustainable rural development;" and

"increased community involvement in the way land is owned and used, so that local people are not excluded from decisions which affect their lives and the lives of their communities..."

LRPG: Recommendations for Action, Introduction, January 1999)

So it it not surprising that the leadership of the new Scottish Parliament have given a high profile to land reform, as a good example of long needed "radical change," and have been trumpeting it as "an essential element of their wide- ranging plans for a modern Scotland." [Land Reform: Proposals for Legislation, July 99]

Considering the points raised consistently throughout the consultation process, the Scottish Executive might have been expected to present an agenda for legislation which would involve reform in the following areas;

a new land tenure system
system of land value tax
national information system on land ownership and occupation
limits to holding size
agricultural tenant's right to buy allied with more flexible leasing arrangements
residency obligations for landowners
succession law reform
a ban on offshore trusts and companies and private trusts
reform of the land market
action on the urban agenda

Andy Wightman, Land & Power

What is surprising instead, is the timidity of the kitten being paraded as a tiger of radical change: "The proposed legislation will create new opportunities for community ownership and for access to the Scottish countryside." We are informed the proposed legislation will accomplish this (laughably modest) objective by creating:

Register of community interest
Time to assess community interest
Community right to buy
New compulsory purchase power in the public interest
Information about land
Access, [Land Reform: Proposals for Legislation]
and by Abolishing the Feudal System

IN SUM: Community ownership, Access, Conservation, and outright ownership for the existing pattern! The proposals for community ownership are so limited by the definitions of community as to be likely to have absolutely no effect on the problem of concentrated ownership identified throughout the entire consultation process. There are no other proposals which might be expected to have any effect on the existing pattern of ownership. On access & conservation, it must be admitted, there is much of value, but the real betrayal is in the headline-grabbing "Abolition of the Feudal System":

"A key element in the land reform programme will therefore be a series of measures currently being prepared by the Scottish Law Commission to remove outdated and unfair land law. Firstly, by the time that the Scottish Parliament is in being, a draft Bill will be available to abolish the feudal system (which is still susceptible to abuse) and to replace it with a system of outright ownership of land... The significant contribution which these law reforms could make towards comprehensive land reform is welcomed."

LRPG: Recommendations for Action

The most significant contribution regarding land reform would seem to be the sweeping away of the beneficial concept embodied in feudal land law - that ownership is subject to the sovereignty of the people - and its replacement by a system of "outright ownership"

"It is of supreme concern that we are about to initiate legislation which, under the popular guise of land reform will, if handled as planned, be the defiant and ultimate triumph of a project begun around 800 years ago by the Scottish aristocracy, namely to wrest to themselves all power over land from the Crown. They have been remarkably successful so far because they have made the land laws of this country."

Andy Wightman, Land & Power, P34.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an a' that!
But an honest man's aboon his might
Guid faith, he mauna fa' that,
For a' that, an a' that,
Their dignities, an a' that,
The pith o sense an pride o worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.

-- Robert Burns

There were only 2652 Parliamentary voters in Scotland when Burns was writing. This number included all the landed gentry and their lackeys. These were undoubtedly the "proud usurpers" who caused the "oppressions, woes, and pains", referred to by our patriot bard. Compare this number with the 1252 owners of two-thirds of Scotland today.

"What an unbelievable irony if, just as the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster loses the power to revise Scottish legislation, a land reforming Scottish Executive, delivers to the lairds their final prize in its first piece of legislation!"

Andy Wightman, Land & Power, P34.

Fortunately, many others have noted this alarming possibility, and the matter is sure to be aired as the legislation proceeds, but in the environment of party-majority, coalition and whipped voting, there is considerable doubt whether this ill-advised course can be averted. The elegance of the Power Elite in engineering it's coup de grace through the agency of a coalition of supposedly left-of-centre parties has to be admitted its irony. The selling out of the interests of the sovereign people to the Establishment by the parties of the Scottish Executive, should it succeed, will indeed rank with the events of 1707!

What force or guile could not subdue
Thro' many warlike ages,
Is wrought now by a coward few
for hireling traitor's wages.
The English steel we could disdain,
Secure in valour's station.
But English gold has been our bane:
Sic a parcel of rogues in a nation!

O, would, or I had seen the day
That Treason thus could sell us,
My auld grey head had lien in clay,
Wi Bruce and loyal Wallace!
But pith and power, till my last hour,
I'll mak this declaration:-
`We're bought and sold for English gold' ---
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

-- Robert Burns, 1791

"THESE are the times that try men's souls. ...Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph....Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated."

"The present winter is worth an age, if rightly employed; but, if lost or neglected, the whole continent will partake of the evil; and there is no punishment that man does not deserve, be he who, or what, or where he will, that may be the means of sacrificing a season so precious and useful."

Thomas Paine; Crisis, December 23, 1776

The present Scottish Parliamentary Session is worth an age, if rightly employed; but, if lost or neglected, the whole country will partake of the evil; and there is no punishment that man (or woman) does not deserve, be he (or she) who, or what, or where he (or she) will, that may be the means of sacrificing a season so precious and useful.

To any reader who has gotten this far and remains unconvinced, may I commend Andy Wightman's excellent book, Scotland: Land & Power, which discusses these matters in compelling detail.

"It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan,
more uncertain of success, nor more dangerous to manage
than the creation of a new order of things.
For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit
by the preservation of the old institutions,
and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new ones."

Machiavelli, The Prince (1513)

Ed Iglehart, January 07, 2000


For the sake of the present exploration, it is fair to say that my views are conditioned by a Northamerican childhood, raised and educated in the (state-provided) institutions of the United States and Canada. In the US, young people are educated in the history and principles of civil society and democratic government (American style, of course) from an early age generally until the age of 20, if formal schooling is continued past 16, generally the earliest exit allowed. Primary School in Canada left me with a few memories of resisting indoctrination (a childish loyalty to US?)

Those Canadian years, however unwittingly, gave me some sort of sense of 'scotch/irish' culture, and twenty years later, allowed me to easily feel at home in Scotland. The past three decades observing and living within the forms of democracy practiced here have given me many surprises, and have broadened my view. It is also material to my attitudes that, with the exception of the period of higher education and very early employment, I have resided in owner-occupied freehold property.
--Ed Iglehart, January 2000


Thomas Paine; On the Origins of Government, January, 1776
John Locke, Second Treatise on Government, 1690; V: On Property
Theodor Mommsen; The History of Rome, transl. Dickson, London, 1894
(quoted in Sir Albert Howard's An Agricultural Testament)
Aldo Leopold; The Land Ethic, 1948
Declaration of Arbroath, April 6th, 1320
Adam Smith; The Wealth of Nations, 1776
Wendell Berry; Conserving Communities, 1995
          Conserving Forest Communities, 1995
          Private Property and the Commonwealth, 1995
Andy Wightman; Who Owns Scotland, Canongate, 1966 AND:
             Scotland: Land and Power, the agenda for land reform, Edinburgh 1999
             Available from the author: 9 Inverleith Terrace Edinburgh EH3 5NS
Sir Albert Howard; An Agricultural Testament, 1940 (introduction)
Thomas Paine; Common Sense, January 1776
Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Professor William Ogilvie of Pittenseer; Birthright in Land,
                 an Essay on the Right of Property in Land, 1782
Henry George, Progress and Poverty, 1879
THE ORIGIN OF PROPERTY IN LAND, by Galliard Thomas Lapsley
(American Historical Review, volume 8, (1902-3) pp. 426-448.)
Government Papers:
Here for the White Paper: and Here for the Abolition of the Feudal System
LRPG reccommendations:, Summary, Land reform legislation:, Feudal Law reform legislation:

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