The real capital is : Land

Henri George, during the end of the 19th century, was a renowned thinker and writer. His central theme was Land. He saw land as a vital good, to give everyone a basis to live from. But he also saw that it was sold or given away by the government, by which it became concentrated in a few, and monopolized. [1] And even though there was still plenty of land back then, those monopolists kept it out of the market, causing the price to rise . Moreover, the owners started (and still do) , exploiting the land, whereby ordinary citizens, who are actually equally entitled to land and living space at birth, came into the position that on the one hand they had no land, and on the other hand they were exploited by the well-known landowners, who confiscated substantial parts of the yields without putting in any effort.
And he had a point. Nowadays, many mourn about the loss of the Commons in England, in which people shared land and lived on it. This is independent of the use of technology on land. It is mainly about the shared right to the land’s revenue in any form whatsoever. And land is scarce, and is becoming increasingly scarce. Marc Twain already saw that, and his statement is clear: ‘buy land, they dont make it anymore’. It’s the nail on its head. But as a community, we have given that land, out of your hands. There remain only a few countries where these values and rights are recognized. Like in Cuba, where one of the foundations under the policy of the “revolution” is motivated by the observation that: “that no individual may enrich himself on the basis of the work that another person provides him” It was a reaction to that same exploitation by large landowners, for which George already warned about. [2] And today we can where it leads, if that country is not well managed: land grabbing by countries: buying large tracts of land in other countries, with the proceeds of providing their own country with food. [3] Because a) the populations are growing, and their own land provides no longer enough and b) because the yield per hectare in their own country decreases due to drought and other climate effects.

The fact is that we today are slowly finding out that land is in fact our most important asset: the world’s population is growing as well as the worries about how we must feed 10 billion people in the enar future. Fossil fuel is disastrous for our climate and for air quality, and the alternative has to come from land mainly: fields with solar panels, or even biomass as fuel. And for materials the same: it is clear that we can no longer afford the energy for the energy-intensive minerals and metals, (nor produced with fossil fuels, nor with renewable energy, since also requiring land) , so we have to use biobased materials again, which also require land-based yields such as wood and engineered bamboo (with at least a much higher yield as wood for structural use). Being the biobased (in stead of financial) economy. So land is our capital! However still mainly owned by ‘few’. Not by the people themselves who could create some security or guarantees for the future with that land.
Up to now, we, as ‘landless people’, have been able to content ourselves with some money, previously based on gold as a standard, and now this has become a paper exercise only.

They are the new clothes of the Emperor: printed money, without counter-value, only because we ‘believe’ in it. And now there is digital capital, such as bitcoins … Someone behind a laptop thinks: Let’s everyone start make puzzles, which I call money, and everyone falls for it … While its only electrons that are grouped here and there. But then this text you read has a much higher intrinsic value; because the electrons are organized in such a way that they also contain information and make it visible. Although bitcoins are grouped electrons, a pattern of zeros and ones, they do not represent any substantive value. Not physically in nature, not socially as a function valued by people. You can not eat them, so to say. And no counter value has been formulated for this.
Land is not even in economic models, which are mainly capital and labor. And the labor-power factor is also being phased out, by technology and robots. And now , after gold, paper is being phased out, to get some invisible electrons as ‘ capital’ to trust . How crazy can you get people …? *
George had a point with his connection between land and labor. And trust me (.), Land is the real capital: to generate energy, food and materials, to ‘mine’, if you wish. The Bitcoin ‘mining is just an e-sports game. Nice, but of no use at all. Moreover, it requires a lot of energy: a transaction is estimated one week’s energy for a family …. (for which land is needed again …) We go down and play with the new clothes of the emperor.

The real ‘mining’ happens on land. As George, Twain, and Castro have already realized: and also Hundertwasser, the Austrian artist and later architect: His architectural work was inspired by his philosophy: ‘The vertical is for man, the horizontal for nature’. And put it into practice: he designed buildings that blend into the landscape, a photograph from above shows only nature. [x] What he already discovered philosophically, now also appears to be physically correct: every square meter is worth ‘gold’, also a roof. Which we have been denied for centuries, even water was ignored and brought out of the building footprint and removed as quickly as possible. That time is over: making every m2 productive becomes the motto.

But then, how big is the capital, in land, you wonder. In the top 5 countries it is between 1 to 2 ha per person, such as Kazakhstan, Russia, Canada, Australia and Argentina. [x] In the Netherlands the per capita fertile land is around 2000 m2 per person. (0.2 ha pp). Which is not that much, I can tell you. To get some reference: for the current affluent diet, 3000 m 2 of organic agriculture is needed: 0,3 ha. For a vegetarian diet about 1000 m2, 0,1 ha. So it still possible: The Netherlands can survive vegetarian. (but then also think of energy, material and such, which also requires land).

The real value is land, and if you are lucky with a distribution of land, it comes with some supplies from it or on it. Or with a ‘legacy’, so to speak: the already invested yield of the land that has now become part of the social capital [x], such as a dwelling on that piece of land. Because then you no longer have to invest in that, to get shelter. That is to say: not to sacrifice land for wood to grow for shelter. (think of the English castle that already had an orchard for wood for later planned maintenance), or to start a mine for non-renewable resources.

You can, of course, manage land in large parts, if the proceeds go to the rights holders, divided pro rata. Co-operatives or commons are then a possible management form. By the way, by land I mean not only bare land, but also a proportional part of, for example, industrial estates. How exactly we should arrange this , to divide the proceeds form those parts per capita , is not my specialism, but that we have to find some form of (re-) distribution is clear. Up-till now the financial capital is in the hands of a few [x], who thus buy up land which is withdrawn from the ‘wealth’ of the common man, from ‘Joe Public’ and ‘Plain Jane’. The “ordinary man”, which has been talked about so much, is in fact the exploited man without access to land, and thus deprived of the “survival capital” for the future. (And then we are not even the worst off over here.) (Whoever is best off is probably the Russians, who usually have a large piece of land somewhere!) [x book]

Incidentally, it also decreases: What applies to raw materials also applies to land: The more people the thinner the flow per person. We therefore lose capital per person, not even by large landowners, but simply by reproducing ourselves. No wonder, then, that there are governments that buy land outside their country borders in order to secure a certain production for their residents. As Twain said, they do not make it anymore.

Money and bitcoins? forget it, It is the new clothes of the emperor and at some point the naked truth will see the light. I would invest in land, and in roof surface, to secure production. But if you are too late, the oceans may offer an escape route: they are not yet divided, and there is also a lot to produce. That battle so far only has included the fishermen, and they therefore have claimed the role of great sea owners. That fight (on fishing rights) has been running for some time now , but more and more grasping hands come on stage , like for sand, for windenergy and for raw materials. So hurry to claim a piece, land is no longer for sale, and remember: they do not make oceans anymore …

* if you are interested: Robert Ayres has released amazing analyzes, with raw materials and land as an economic parameter, and could thereby explain things that the traditional economy could not: tough readingc …. The Economic Growth Engine: How Energy and Work Drive Material Prosperity, Robert Ayres, Benjamin Warr, 2009 .

[1] Henri George, Our Land and Land Policy” 1871 and : Progress and Poverty, 1879,


[3] Fred Pearce: The Land grabbers , 2013



[6] An Economy For the 1%: How privilege and power in the economy drive extreme inequality and how this can be stopped OXFAM report 2016.

Author: ronald rovers