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(en) Britain, Anrchist Cmmunist Group ACG: Property is Theft!
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 08:00:09 +0200
The UK has one of the most unequal distributions of land in the world! ---- Around 0.6% of
the population owns over 70% of the land. Over a third of this is in the hands of the
aristocracy - a legacy of the Norman Conquest. ---- When people refer to ‘land' most think
of the countryside. Land rights movements have focused on gaining access to land for
recreation purposes, eg the mass trespass of Kinder Scout, and calling for community
buy-outs of the large estates in places such as the Highlands of Scotland. Rural areas are
also faced with companies taking control of land for fracking. However, in the city,
underneath the buildings and tarmac, there is also land and the struggles for access and
community ownership are just as relevant in the city as they are in rural areas. The high
cost of housing and other property is mainly due to the value of the land beneath it- up
to 80% in central London.
The reason we do not have access to and control of housing, social centres, community
gardens, parks and open spaces is because we do not own and control the land. Even land
that is in public hands is not controlled by us, but by the State, which is more concerned
in supporting commercial interests than public ones.
Anarchist communists have always believed that we can only have a free and equal society
when private property is abolished. This does not mean that a person cannot have their own
personal property, as some critics of anarchist communism have said. However, we do need
to hold the main productive assets of society in common so that they can benefit us all.
Land is a main example of this and struggles to get access and control of land are an
important part of the working class struggle for a better society.
The LJN was launched in June 2017 with the aims of both educating people about land
inequality and campaigning for land to be held in common, for the benefit of all. They
have called for a Week of Action on Land Rights from April 14th to 22nd.
Lords Vs Commoners call out leaflet
More than a third of our land is still owned by the aristocracy, whose ancestors seized it
during the Norman Conquest. By fencing off land and using violence to exclude people,
landowners (the lords) have deprived the rest of us of what should be a shared resource.
The vast majority of us, the commoners, own little or nothing. Even most of the land that
was once declared common land (for local use) has been taken away from us. Land in
community use, such as hospitals, fire stations, school playing fields, is increasingly
being sold off for the short term profit of private developers.
Land issues are central to much inequality and environmental degradation in society today.
Landowners control and exploit our natural resources and force the rest of us to be
beholden to them for food, shelter and other needs. Despite their huge wealth, our taxes
are used to pay them £billions in ‘farming' subsidies and housing benefit, increasing
inequality still further.
In the countryside, large landowners dominate agriculture, squeezing out small farmers and
collective farming. Agriculture workers are poorly paid and struggle to find housing that
they can afford. Huge tracts of land are turned over to grouse moors to provide the rich
with space for their destructive past times. Our freedom to walk and enjoy nature is
largely restricted to a limited network of ‘rights of way'.
In the cities, land is also unequally distributed, owned by a combination of traditional
aristocrats and their modern-day equivalent: offshore companies and institutional
investors. Increasingly homes are now owned by buy-to-let landlords rather than by
individual home owners or social landlords. All of this forces up the cost of living for
those who have to rent. Tenants have little security with standard tenancies running for
just 6 months.
There are no controls on rent, so now on average people pay a quarter of their wages to
their landlord, while in London it's roughly half their salary. Even those who manage to
buy their own home rarely own it outright until late in life. Most people are stuck paying
a big chunk of their salary on their mortgage every month, with the worry that if they
lose their job they could lose their home too.
In the last 6 years homelessness has dramatically increased. It is obscene that in this
day and age so many people do not have a secure home. This could be achieved if the £9.3
billion a year paid in Housing Benefit to wealthy landlords was instead used to build
social housing in all communities.
Urban areas also need well managed parks, community gardens and allotments, so that
everyone has access to nature and the opportunity to grow food. But increasingly these
spaces are being sold off or rented out to private companies for events, damaging the
parks and shutting out residents for lengthy periods of time.
More and more people are realising how important the issue of land is and are questioning
the rights of the rich to do what they want with what is our land.
For more information about the week of action and land inequality in general see:
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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