Nature cannot be owned

Congratulations on your critique of capitalism (Resurgence 233), pointing out that there can only be a cure of the world’s environmental ills under an economic system that accords with the laws of nature – which you called ‘naturalism’.

Mankind is familiar with its dependence upon nature in many areas, but the fundamental of a system of naturalism must be the acknowledgement of the crucial dynamic between the laws of nature and humanity in community. This is the ‘tipping point’ between today’s conditions and the possibility of a just economy and cherished environment: it is this special relationship that creates the wealth that manifests as location value, ie the benefit that specific sites within a community have by virtue of fertility, access to natural resources, markets, services etc – what the classic economists called ‘the rent of land and natural resources’.

This ‘rent’ is what they, and leading thinkers over centuries, have maintained belongs to the community as a whole, because it was created by the community and constitutes its natural source of revenue. This supports the self evident reality that nature cannot be owned and when possession is needed of specific locations or natural resources, a proportion of this value is paid as a ‘user fee’ to the community. Given the understanding and the will, this well researched means of collecting the natural source of communal revenue could easily be implemented.

The impact of an economic system in harmony with the laws of nature would be dramatic and, as well as replacing the taxation of incomes, savings and production, it would, amongst untold benefits for all, give access to the land, promote conservation of natural resources and encourage sustainable development. This would obliterate the shortcomings of capitalism, highlighted in your Magazine: ironically however, by incorporating this system, capitalism would become naturalism.

Timothy Glazier