Land and liberty (slogan)
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Land and Liberty (Spanish: "Tierra y Libertad", Russian: Zemlya i Volya) is an anarchist black slogan. It was originally used as a name of the Russian revolutionary organization Zemlya i Volya in 1878, then by the revolutionary leaders of the Mexican Revolution; the revolution was fought over land rights, and the leaders such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa were fighting to give the land back to the natives from whom it was expropriated either by force or by some dubious manner. Without land, the peasants were at the mercy of landowners for subsistence.
Similarly, during the Russian Revolution, the main concern of the peasants was to free themselves from subservience to landowners, to get a plot of land if they had none, or to expand on their land holdings. Consequently, the Russian peasants welcomed the Russian Revolution under the banner "Zemlya i Volya": "Land and Liberty".
In a narrow sense, the possession of land meant freedom from the landowner. And this may have been the main concern of both the Mexican and Russian peasants.
In a broader sense, the slogan can be interpreted to mean that the necessary (though not the sufficient) condition of liberty is something like possession or access to subsistence land. If possession or access to land is a necessary condition of liberty, then its deprivation results in some form of slavery: tenancy, sharecropping, wage-slavery. Access to land is only a necessary condition because even with access, the government may impose taxes to such an extent that one is not free. For example, in the Soviet Union in 1932–1933, the government was removing from the peasants their agricultural products to the extant that it produced an artificial famine which directly or indirectly killed roughly 2.582 million people only in Ukraine. (See Soviet famine of 1932–1933.) So, the possession of or access to subsistence land is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for liberty.
In the following passage, Friedrich Albert Lange points out the relation of the possession of land to liberty: "In former times the marauding minority of mankind, by means of physical violence, compelled the working majority to render feudal services, or reduced them to a state of slavery or serfdom, or at least made them pay a tribute. Nowadays the dependence of the working classes is secured in a less direct but equally efficacious manner, viz. by means of the superior power of capital; the labourer being forced, in order to get his subsistence, to place his labour power entirely at the disposal of the capitalist. So there is a semblance of liberty; but in reality the labourer is exploited and subjected, because, all the land having been appropriated, he cannot procure his subsistence directly from nature, and, goods being produced for the market and not for the producer's own use, he cannot subsist without capital. Wages will rise above what is wanted for the necessaries of life, where the labourer is able to earn his subsistence on free land, which has not yet become private property. But wherever, in an old and totally occupied country, a body of labouring poor is employed in manufactures, the same law, which we see at work in the struggle for life throughout the organized world, will keep wages at the absolute minimum".
Appropriation as title
Land and Liberty is the title of a publication produced in Britain by the supporters of the land value taxation programme described by Henry George in his book Progress and Poverty. The journal was first published towards the end of the nineteenth century, originally under the name "Land Values". It was given its present title just before World War I. At present, the journal is quarterly. Articles are mostly about economics and political topics, with special reference to their relationship to land tenure and taxation.
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- Friedrich Albert Lange, Die Arbeiterfrage. Ihre Bedeutung für Gegenwart und Zukunft. Vierte Auflage. 1861, pp. 12, 13. Quoted by H. J. Nieboer, Slavery: As an Industrial System (Ethnological Researches), 2nd edition, 1909, p. 421.
- An almost-complete archive of Land Values and Land and Liberty is held at the library of The School of Economic Science in Mandeville Place, London.