Abstract: I offer historical reasons for the relative paucity of discussion of property in land during much of the last century. Insofar as this reflects lack of understanding of the subject, it puts at risk, for lack of adequate theoretical defense, the historic separation of land and state. The destructive attacks by Henry George and Karl Marx in the nineteenth century can be attributed to an uncritical acceptance of Locke’s labor theory of ownership; reliance on an outmoded concept of land as physical, fixed in quantity, and not man-made; and failure to perceive the social function of property in land. These points are discussed in turn. To bring some clarity to this clouded area, Spencer Heath and F. A. Harper sought a more empirical, scientific approach. Heath’s operationalizing of the terms “property” and “capital” solves the Lockean problem and reveals, as a measure of civilization, an evolutionary trend towards property of all kinds being administered as productive capital. With respect to land, the trend manifests most significantly in the recent emergence of multi-tenant properties. These, being specialized communities, privately owned and administered, may be harbingers of an impending new step in social evolution—the provision of all public services by private contract rather than taxation.
Keywords: Henry George, F.A. Harper, Spencer Heath, Institute for Humane Studies, John Locke, community organization, land, multi-tenant properties, ownership, proprietary community, public services, social science
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