We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Who said this?

“Today we are coming to realize that our land is finite, while our population is growing. The uses to which our generation puts the land can either expand or severely limit the choices our children will have. The time has come when we must accept the idea that none of us has a right to abuse the land, and that on the contrary society as a whole has a legitimate interest in proper land use. There is a national interest in effective land use planning across the nation.”

This piece of communitarian nonsense was issued by a senior US politician in the 20th Century (I quote from page 11 of “Property Rights and Eminent Domain” by Ellen Frankel Paul).

I wonder if Samizdata readers can guess who said these words. Some might be quite surprised, some not.

Update: answer – Richard Nixon.

26 comments to Who said this?

  • Dom

    I have the book, just looked it up, won’t give the answer though. I thought at first, “What a shocker”, but no, it’s not shocking at all.

  • Anthony Trauring

    I won’t spoil the answer because I cheated with Google. The previous commentator may not be surprized, but I sure am!

  • Kim du Toit

    Well, duh. He may have been a Republican, but he WAS from California. Reagan apart, California Republicans (and their East Coast cousins) are generally known as “Democrats” to us Clingers.

  • Dom

    “The previous commentator may not be surprized, but I sure am!”

    But if you think about it, that person had a certain Keynesian streak about him. And I think many republicans do. That’s why we use the phrase “RINO”. The appeal of communitarian planning is difficult for a politician to resist.

  • Sounds to me like it was something from Mr. Wage & Price Controls.

    Tricky Tricky Tricky.

  • Taylor: my thought exactly. I google-cheated too, confirming my initial guess.

  • Laird

    I agree with Taylor.

  • Alisa In 1974 I was part of the “Konnenut Nixon” when he drove up from Lod to Jerusalem to see Rabin.

  • AKM

    I think probably everyone Google-cheats these days! :)

  • Jay

    Looks like something Teddy Roosevelt might have said. He was a progressive and felt drastic action was needed to “save” wilderness America.

  • Oh, you are thatTaylor then;-P

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    It’s amazing how many ‘Free Enterprize’ politicians are either closet socialists, or turn into socialists as they age. Australia has our own Malcolm Fraser as a living turncoat from small government to big. He would fit into the Australian Labor Party quite comfortably now! (He used to be our ‘Conservative’ Prime Minister, 1975 to 1982.)

  • hennesli

    All property, indeed, except the savage’s temporary cabin, his bow, his matchcoat and other little Acquisitions absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the creature of public Convention. Hence, the public has the rights of regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the quantity and uses of it. All the property that is necessary to a man is his natural Right, which none may justly deprive him of, but all Property superfluous to such Purposes is the property of the Public who, by their Laws have created it and who may, by other Laws dispose of it.

    Benjamin Franklin

  • Well, that is an unpleasant surprise, hennesli – but thank you nonetheless for the education. I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years.

  • John B

    Yes, all successful politicians must be fairly corrupt, I suppose, or they would not have succeeded.
    They are all power-orientated trough-ists?

    As for that Benjamin Franklin quote, is it for real?
    Assuming it is, as with all these magnanimous efforts by partial or full elites, while it is indeed fairly disgusting, I would be very slightly less disgusted were the perpetrator willing to apply their sentiments to their own lives first.
    Such as Al Gore and his lifestyle energy consumption (or Bono or Geldoff), or any of our luxuriously appointed Marxists or redistributionists.
    When their wealth approximates my own they can begin to offer me suggestions.
    Perhaps.

  • Radex

    The views on the land question expressed by Nixon are in a fine Individualist tradition. They are similar to those of Henry George (1839-1897). George was a Free Trader, a Capitalist, an advocate of limited government, a friend of Herbert Spencer [until they fell out] and favoured a Single Tax on land (thus abolishing income tax, purchase taxes, wealth taxes, corporation taxes, etc.). Try Googling ‘Henry George’.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The views on the land question expressed by Nixon are in a fine Individualist tradition. They are similar to those of Henry George (1839-1897). George was a Free Trader, a Capitalist, an advocate of limited government, a friend of Herbert Spencer [until they fell out] and favoured a Single Tax on land (thus abolishing income tax, purchase taxes, wealth taxes, corporation taxes, etc.). Try Googling ‘Henry George’.

    Oh dear. You really are new here, aren’t you? Here(Link) is a previous Samizdata posting on the subject which shows we had a long and exhausting debate on the matter.

    The Ellen Frankel Paul book on eminent domain, by the way, highlights how the sort of views as backed by Nixon have led to ordinary people losing homes and businesses for the “greater good” of the Great Whatever. Cases such as the Poletown and the Kelo case spring to mind.

    Both were benefiting big corporations as the expense of small property owners, a process that would have been accelerated by land taxes, particularly if the tax was set at a high rate relative to the estimated rise in the value of “unimproved land” (a largely arbitrary thing in developed countries). This is because the higher taxes earned from rising land values would encourage governments to grant more eminent domain powers to corporations. This is actually what has happened and it puts small property owners in jeopardy.

    Henry George was a great writer, and right about many things, but alas, largely wrong on the main thing he is famous for.

  • JP,
    I didn’t expect you of all folks to be handing out troll-biscuits!

  • Radex

    Johnathan – my point was not to introduce Henry George but to point out that Nixon’s views on land were not necessarily communitarian. Similar views have been, and are, held by Individualists. W.H. Mallock, the British Conservative writer in the late 19th Century, wrote ‘Progress and Plenty’ (IIRC) in which he accused Henry George of advocating socialism without realising that he was doing so.
    Nixon, BTW, was probably the best president the Americans had in recent times, but the least appreciated. He got the US out of Vietnam, ended conscription, brought about detente with Russia, and opened the door to China. His only major mistake was introducing Preferential Treatment on the ground of race, aka ‘Affirmative Action’.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Nixon may not have been communitarian on land or at least self-consciously so, but there is a clear presumption in that quote that “we” – whoever or whatever “we” are or is, has some collective right to own and frame land use over the long run, even if that means violations of property rights as such. That is an almost feudal approach, at odds with the stance of the Founders.

    “Nixon, BTW, was probably the best president the Americans had in recent times…..”

    You do TV as well? You mean, the man who imposed wage and price controls – to disastrous effect? Who failed to rein in the Fed; who presided over skyrocketing spending?

    You are right about China, however. It is probably the one big issue he got absolutely right. And I would add that he was probably cleaner than say, LBJ, Clinton, or indeed, the present occupant of the White House.

    But Nixon was still far from being a small government conservative. Very far.

    Another epic fail.

  • What exactly is an ‘Individualist’? I am asking out of complete ignorance, as well as out of the understanding that anyone advocating views such as in the quote cannot be possibly called an ‘individualist’.

  • Paul Marks

    The quote is almost word for word from “Teddy” Roosevelt – but then “T.R.” was Richard Nixon’s hero.

    People who were surprised that Nixon was such a statist shit as President simply were not listening to him (or were ignorant of history).

    Someone who goes around saying (again and again and again) that T.R. is his hero is going to be a Progressive – Teddy Roosevlt was the first openly Progressive President, he has open contempt for such things as the “rule of law” or the idea that there should be limits to government power.

    Before anyone points it out…… yes I know John McCain also said that T.R. was his hero. I like to think that was because of T.R.s macho strutting about – objectionable, but perhaps the least objectionable part of him.

    Alisa – an “indivdualist” can mean “methodological individualism” (as in Austrian School economics), but it normally means “foe of the collectivists”.

    Hardly applies to Richard Price Controls Nixon going off to kiss Marxist Mao’s blood stained boots (biggest mass murderer in the history of the human species – but, hey, I will even get praise in the New York Times if I go crawl to Mao).

    Actually I do not much like the term “individualist” – the market depends on civil society, VOLUNTARY (CIVIL) COOPERATION.

    It is not about isolated individuals.

  • Paul Marks

    Beware just being “anti left” – as in “the left hate Nixon – so we must defend him”.

    J.P. is correct – Nixon was useless.

    I am quite happy to defend someone who is almost universally attacked if I think they are correct – for example I have defended Senator Joe McCarthy (not on stuff like his support for Federal housing subsidies, or his hard drinking – but on the central point, the point that having supporters of Marxism in powerful positions in the government is a bad thing, and that these people should be exposed) and I would do so again.

    But I will not defend someone just because they are universally attacked.

  • Paul: would methodological individualism be capitalized?

    Actually I do not much like the term “individualist” – the market depends on civil society, VOLUNTARY (CIVIL) COOPERATION. It is not about isolated individuals.

    There is absolutely nothing in the term ‘individualist’ that could possibly imply any kind of isolation. In fact, the term itself is objectively meaningless outside of society. Beware of Newspeak.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Alisa, the term ‘individualist’ has connotations of rugged individual, almost advocating autarky.

  • Nuke, to repeat myself: beware of Newspeak. Any such connotations are artificial, and have nothing to do with the actual meaning of the word or its etymology.