Wallace’s idea of nationalization of land leaves me cold, however, because what most people value about their space is that, however humble – even just one half of a bedsit – it is theirs and not anyone else’s and certainly not the government’s. Maybe he had seen too many homeless people to think of that, and anyway, he himself travelled a lot.
Flannery points out that I had merely assumed that Wallace hadn’t considered the question:
I ‘m glad your linked to Gaffney’s article on Wallace and land nationalization. He notes, “Wallace’s Land Nationalization was individualist, not collectivist. Individual lessees were to have secure tenure, and tenant-rights to improvements. Rents to the state would be used, not to engross the state, but to obviate taxes.” However, like you, I’m skeptical of the idea. Wallace was well intentioned but I think he was naive to think that the state would refrain from using any type of land nationalization plan to its own advantage at centralized aggrandizement. I mean that what centralized bureaucracies do! But Wallace was genuinely concerned for the poor and the impact of the Enclosure Act (esp. upon the Welsh farmers he considered his friends and neighbors) affected him deeply. How far away was Darwin and his comfortable coterie of elites! For Wallace these poor farmers were being victimized by interest groups of power and wealth; for Darwin and others of his class they were simply “unfit.”
I replied, thanking him for the clarification, and said,
Yuh, I know. A poor woman comes home from a grinding job and finds the landlord standing in her front room, smoking casually. Of course, it would be just the same if it was Some Low Level Bureaucrat.She pays hard-earned money for privacy, and gets … him!
Oh, so that’s what he means by privacy …
A hardbitten friend summed up the sort of matter I have in mind, coarsely: So why is she paying?
In my experience, she usually resolves the problem by just moving ASAP – if she is allowed to.
I am glad to think that Wallace did have some sense of this type of situation, as he must have encountered the makings of it in his travels.