Pathways Travelled – Land or Capital?


 “Those peasants did not of course “flock” to the factories.
They were driven –
as men are finally driven.

By hunger.

By desperation and despair.”



By Shirley-Anne Hardy

“But that class of men in whom the strength of every government resides, and in whom resides also the right of making laws — (or the power of influencing and controlling those who possess the right of making them) — have generally been borrowers of money and proprietors of land.” …William Ogilvie

The power of those who “roam the world of the Seven Wise Masters” is tellingly summarized by Ogilvie in this paragraph; and the features of that power are very familiar to us today!

Here, are the pathways by which corruptive power may operate, under which the people will then be held. And held by whatever government, as Ogilvie points out, since the operations of every government hoisted on the pillars of land monopoly are inevitably involved with that underlying corruptive power.

Even in Ogilvie’s time, the basis of such influence was not, however, just landed power. As he points out in the phrase “borrowers of money”, it was power over capital too. In his preceding two paragraphs, however, he makes plain, which he views as the more truly foundational – and why.

Today it is the power of what Ogilvie regarded as the less foundational that mainly grips people’s imaginations. Capital is the great enemy of labour. Capital is the great wickedness. The difficulty is that capital is so much more visible than land – so much more valuble! It shouts at us from all those glass-and-concrete blocks. In the cities, where capital shrieks loudest, land is silent – almost invisible. We see the concrete – but not the rental-values! Yet there is a certain saying, is there not, about the one lies under having power over. . . ? – and life sometimes throws up amazing parallels – ? (And let us remember that there is a woman involved here too – Mother earth. . . under all that more superficial masculine stuff!)

Marx became waylaid by the more obvious appearance of things – and it may be that his day had to be, before Ogilvie’s could dawn. However that may be, the Scots, on the whole, have been apt to hold Ogilvie’s rather shrewder view of the matter.

For our good neighbours south of the Border, it is of course many centuries ago that they suffered the massive enclosures of their common lands. The Clearances of the Scottish Highlands, by contrast, are still practically on the fringes of living memory. Thus any insights they held that the roots of economic power lie in landholding could not possibly have faded from the memory of the Scots. But to discover that such insights were just as vividly alive, at the time of their cruel dispossession, among the English peasantry . . . is another matter. For who has ever heard any whisper of this? Yet if we turn to a book such as Hoskins and Ward’s “The Common Lands of England and Wales”,1 we will read there of the heroic stand taken by those peasants, equally as by their Scottish counterparts: those peasants who equally knew that the root of economic power lay in landholding. They knew that the taking of the common lands they depended upon for their living – a place to attend the pig and gather winter fuel – meant the end of their economic independence and beginnings of their slavery. We only need to read, too, of the terrible punishments meted out to those desperate peasants taking their last stand . . to realize that the ruthless land-enclosers knew it just as well.2

The Myth

The myth of the English peasants “flocking to the factories for the good wages to be found there” reveals the same technique of cover-up so familiar to ourselves – utilized in the hope that a people will eventually forget their history, forget how they came to be where they are, and so – most hopefully of all – live resigned to an unjust lot. This technique having virtually succeeded in the case of the English, it is as well to revive the history of the English people, along with our own. Those peasants did not of course “flock” to the factories. They were driven – as men are finally driven. By hunger. By desperation and despair.3

Here is something else. It was at the time of these enclosures that the first Poor Laws came in, to deal with the new “problem”, of course, of all those vagrants! All those tramps and beggars who had no work..

All those men cut adrift.

Can we still not understand it?

Of course, those who made the Poor Laws made first the Enclosure Acts! – exactly as Ogilvie points out in his paragraph quoted at the head of this note. But not many were pointing it out so clearly . . . And need it be added that our boasted Welfare State is but the modern successor of those Poor Laws. So no wonder it is failing us. For nothing has changed regarding the fundamental crime of the dispossession of the people from their land. ..

Shirely-Anne is Scottish, and returned to her roots in Scotland in 1975, following a long sojourn south of the Border. An honours degree in Russian from London University in 1968, gave entry to the field of Liberal Studies lecturing; and here she dedicated herself to spreading the knowledge among the youth of today, of the essential law of social justice, known as the Law of (Land) Rent. The great exponent for our time of this Law of Land Rent, was the great American, Henry George whose work numbered among its foremost admirers the renowned Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. Author of a masterpiece entitled Birth Right in Land by William Ogilvie…. and the State of Scotland Today produced and written by Shirley-Anne Hardy. A large book; “Dedicated to those who, through challenging times, managed still to keep alive the understanding of Justice and Liberty; to many others who have suffered and endured for it, unable to speak or act and to others yet, who both acted and spoke and paid a great price for it.”

There will be a website available in the new year with information relating to Birth Right in Land, William Ogilvie and the State of Scotland Today


Namaste Notes

This book, the correct title of which is “Birth Right in Land by William Ogilvie…and the State of Scotland today” by Shirley -Anne Hardy, is a well researched and an enlightening expose of the human enslavement to the ‘myth of land ownership’. This masterly volume will inform and fascinate all those who seek to unravel the truth of our past. A4 size, 630 pages, available through Namaste Publishing. Special Price £25.00 inc. p/p.

Futher Information:

The Highland Clearances

Scottish Land Reform

Caledonia’s Land Programme

The Freedom Charter

New Statesman


This article is extracted from Birth Right in Land and the State
of Scotland Today,  published in Namaste Magazine Vol. 8 Issue 3
PO Box 127, Shrewsbury SY3 7WS
Tele: + 44 (0)1743 341303

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