Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

 
 
Introductory Note by Alfred R. Wallace
(S412: 1888?)

 
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A one-page introductory note written for Arthur J. Ogilvy's pamphlet A Colonist's Plea for Land Nationalisation (Land Nationalisation Tract No. 23), probably published in 1888. To link directly to this page connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S412.htm


     The following paper, which the Author has kindly permitted us to add to our series of tracts, is an interesting and valuable contribution to the literature of Land Nationalisation. The writer is himself a considerable landholder in Tasmania, and it says much for his independence of thought and freedom from prejudice that he has arrived at conclusions which are practically identical with ours as to the evil results of private property in land.

     Tasmania is by nature one of the most favoured countries in the world. It possesses a delightful climate free from the extreme heats and long droughts of Australia; its soil is fertile, its forests are magnificent, its streams numerous and overflowing; all the products of the temperate zone flourish there, while for fruits of every kind it is unsurpassed; it has excellent roads, with railroads and navigable rivers; its population is small, and a large proportion of the land still remains uncultivated; yet instead of universal happiness and well-being we find the inevitable complaint, (as with us,) of trade depressed, capital unemployed, farming unprofitable, and labourers out of work!

     The Author shows us clearly the cause of this state of things, and what is still more important, he explodes one of the commonest fallacies of our opponents--that large farms lead to better cultivation and higher production than small farms or peasant-holdings. This part of his work is especially valuable, because he shows, as the results of observation and owing to the inevitable working of the law of self-interest, that the larger owner or large tenant will often cultivate his land badly, or even leave much of it uncultivated, because he obtains the largest net returns by doing so. The peasant farmer, on the other hand, working a small area by the help of his own family finds his profit in high culture and the maximum of production from the land. By the former system one man gets a large profit but small proportionate produce by employing say ten men on a large area of land; by the latter system twice that number of men work for themselves on the same area, produce double the amount of crops and stock, and live, all of them, in independence, and in that healthy enjoyment of life which a man obtains when he works freely upon the soil and knows that the whole produce of his labour is his own.

     These points, and many others of equal interest are so well discussed and illustrated by the Author, that I strongly recommend the study of his paper to all who are interested in the greatest problem of the day--how to abolish pauperism by enabling every working man to obtain some portion of his food directly from his native soil.


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