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THE BOON OF NATURE

to his standards; but if even it were true that primitive men had and enjoyed some boon of nature, how can it be imagined that a civilized society could get happiness for its members according to the standards of civilized society, while re-establishing any of the facts and conditions of primitive savage life? If we had to go back to the origin of civilization to get the boon, how much would the boon be worth?

In truth there is no boon, and never was. Nothing could well be more contradictory to the facts as they appear than the notion of such a thing.

It is said, of course, that the earth is the boon, that is to say, the "land." The notion which has been caught up is that the land is a gift of nature to all and that some have monopolized it. How many were the "all" to whom it was given? How many are the "some" who have monopolized it? Plainly what is meant and ought to be said is, that the land was given to many and has been monopolized by a few. This is the very opposite of the truth—the earth was given to a few, and civilization has made it available to a large number. Monopoly is in nature, and liberty, or relaxation of monopoly, is one of the triumphs of civilization. The "land" in this connection is a very delusive expression. Every man who stands on the earth's surface excludes every one else from so much of it as he covers; every one who eats a loaf of bread appropriates to himself for the time-being the exclusive use and enjoyment of so many square feet of the earth's surface as were required to raise the wheat; every one who burns wood to warm himself, or uses the fiber of cotton or wool to clothe himself, appropriates in monopoly a part of the land so far as the land is of utility or interest to man. Perhaps the most fundamental fact which makes this world a