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Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 1.djvu/287

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govemment; and that every man may be admitted to have a right to live somewhere and to some land without admitting that he has a right to live here or to the land of this country. No one who really saw and believed in the rights to life and land, and felt their immense significance, could say such a thing as that. Let us see: Take another natural right, which is deeply and truly believed in, and whose value and weight are perceived, — liberty, for instance. That right, too, is a relation which eaeh man bears to all the rest of the race; that, too, in logical, if not in chronological order, precedes governments and states; but who ventures to risk his reputation for intelligence and sound judgment by denying that one is justified in complaining, nay, ultimately in rebelling, if the laws of the State of which he is a citizen deny him his natural right to liberty or fail to secure it to him as fully as circumstances at any time permit, and as fully at all times as they secure it to any other citizen of that State? If there be natural rights to life and land (and whether there are or not depends upon other considerations than the one now noticed) they must be dealt with by governments and states as the natural right to liberty is dealt with — must they not? There are no laws of the world which uphold private ownership of land any more than there are universal laws which maintain slavery or peonage. The institution in either case exists by force of the laws of the particular State within whose jurisdiction the land or the men affected by it are. Are the people of such a State any the less entitled, among themselves, one as against another, to be made secure in their natural rights by its laws, because there is no federation of nations, no sovereign government over the world, nor other practicable way of securing natural rights universally?

What precedes is all that can be given here of the argument offered to show that unrestricted private ownership of land as a legal institution involves a wrong which a government established to secure the natural rights of its people is bound to remedy. Observe that no reference, even by implication, has been made to the value of land. It is of much importance to exclude the idea of value from that part of the case, or to refer to it merely as a test for determining whether the possibility of injustice which absolute property in land necessarily involves has become actual injustice in any given community at any given time. For, unless one is cautious, it will shunt the mind to a wrong track. The argument for