Upon opening the October issue of Comment, with its early pages of reporting from various managerial layers of society that we are persuaded we could not operate without – what refreshment to come upon the article Dunkeld and Birnam Community Growing!  For here we find the truth of the matter beautifully illustrated in living terms: that people don’t need all these managerial layers from above to direct their ways!  All they need is a piece of land – and freedom to ‘do it’ for themselves.
As the local chairman of this venture states, not only have they grown the fantastic harvest reported, of organically-raised produce, but in the process they have found themselves also growing community!  This, in the only real way, of course – like the food they have raised – organically, from their own roots, from within.  And not a single overhead managerial element to direct or interfere with that natural growth!
Can we not readily see that the same two elements, land and people, brought together, freed from outside overseership, will equally find, from its own roots, a people competent to house themselves, to devise their own micro-energy systems, flood defences, etc., and to care for their own sick – with real caring, for these will be their own kith and kin.
No less will they prove able to educate their own children – in ways patterned after far wiser teachers than a top-down society will ever allow: teachers such as Gandhi, who taught that real education begins with the children being involved in, and learning from, the various life-support systems necessary for their community, alongside the adults – leading the children in due course to seek out for themselves, from a lively natural curiosity, books of knowledge, of wisdom, and of instruction in every field of life.
In such societies, grown from their own grass-roots and freed from alien overlordship, life – as a study of such societies has well shown (1)  - is full and satisfying, too full and satisfying for the kind of social ills with which we are plagued; while music and theatre, song and dance, help nurture the ability for its members, from within, to deal, themselves, with such internal problems as do arise.
Land and freedom! – The simplest route whereto is for the people themselves to demand the resumption of their true and original social revenue: that is, the revenue that flows to them naturally from the community-created rental values of their land.(2) For these rental values, being best assessed by the local people themselves, as best knowing their own land’s rental values (including what is beyond value and beyond price), brings the whole planning system under local control, thus ending the planning disputes at present tearing Scotland apart; while the collecting and disbursing of this revenue locally, decentralises power politically, as assuredly as it levels the economic playing-field.
Moreover, the  community’s collection of the land’s vital rental values, by bringing an end to the marketing of land (3), not only ensures a Birthright in land to every member of society, but – by cancelling out the false substitute revenue of taxation with its centralist collection – leaves, then, no funding to support the present system of overhead mis-management of society that so plagues us today; thus leading to its inevitable demise.  We shall be the better for it, for as Thomas Jefferson said: “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate power of society but the people themselves.” (Quoted from memory.)
The entire political layer of society, which so afflicts us today – founded on the pillars of land monopoly – can exert its rule only over a caged populace, more and more deprived of work, of livelihood – and, for many, almost of any life worth living at all.
So, let us give thanks for the cracks in the present patterning of things provided by such as this inspiring report from Dunkeld and Birnam Community Growing – as well as for the recent launch, reported in Comment, of Land Action Scotland – (see under www.landaction.org.uk) – initiated by Andy Wightman, to reclaim the land for the people.
We can then look askance at so much political chatter today – set on foot to befuddle us – about happiness. For as a certain guru remarked, “I’m not in the business of happiness – I’m in the business of freedom!”

Shirley-Anne Hardy

1 See chapter ‘The Work of Dr Weston Pirive,” in Birthright in Land – and the State of Scotland Today, ISBN 0 9535426 0 2.
2 See speech by Richard Cobden in the House of Commons, 14 March 1842.
3 See Stolen Land – Stolen Lives…, ISBN 978 0 9535426 1 1.

 

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