Who owns the world - The hidden facts behind land ownership
Published in 2007 by Mainstream Publishing .
Kevin Cahill is a former army officer who has worked at both Westminster and European parliaments as an adviser and researcher. This expanded upon 2001’s opus, Who Owns Britain, and is the first compilation of landowners and landownership structures in every single one of the world’s 197 states and 66 territories. This is a tome of huge political, economic and social importance.
Most of the world's land is monopolised by a handful of people
How was the current pattern of land ownership across the world established?
By force and theft. If you look at the largest landowners now they are all monarchs, the descendants of despots and some of them still despots.
Who are some of the largest landowners in the world and how much land do they own?
The largest individual legal landowners on earth are: Queen Elizabeth II (6.6 billion acres); King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (580 million acres); the Pope (about 177 million acres held in his name); King Bhumibol of Thailand (126 million acres); and King Mohamed V1 of Morocco (110 million acres, excluding the illegally occupied Western Sahara). The Queen owns one- sixth of the planet’s surface.
On what basis do you claim that the Queen is the sole owner of land in the UK?
I do not make a “claim" that the Queen is the sole owner of land in the UK. I merely repeat what the government states in the notes on the Parliamentary website relating to the Registration of Land Act 2002: “The Crown is the only absolute owner of land in England and Wales; all others hold an estate in land, in fee simple.” This is also the case in Australia, Canada and many other places. Freeholders do not own “their land” – fee simple is a medieval term for the sum paid to represent the fact that freehold was actually a tenancy.
Why do you describe the European Union in the book as an “outdoor relief organisation for Europe's redundant aristocracy”?
Most of the agricultural land of Europe is still owned by European aristocracy and their cousins. Each year they get the bulk of the EU agricultural subsidy. For example, 77,000 landowners: 0.7 per cent of the farm landowners and 0.022 per cent of the European population own about 25 per cent of the farmland – about 112 million acres. They get $12,000 million in subsidy, a quarter of the subsidy.
How has so few people owning land in Europe affected the farmers in undeveloped nations?
There isn’t a direct connection but it works like this. If you are a poor farmer in Bangladesh, trying to grow, say, grain on five unsubsidised acres, you will find your- self trying to sell against someone who gets 113 Euros subsidy an acre in Europe. When issues of scale are thrown in, you have no hope.
Can you explain your claim that the current Chinese rulers are one of the most pragmatic regimes ever to rule one of the world's great peoples?
The current regime knows that between 210BC and AD1900 Chinese peasant farmers revolted on 2,106 occasions to overthrow the regime on 48 occasions. The 49th in 1949 saw Chiang Kai-shek replaced with Mao when the peasantry lost their lands altogether under the new regime’s farm collectivisation. The current regime is moving to head off a peasant revolt by doling out land. Now it is rare to find a ruling elite any- where in history which is so busily sowing the seeds of its own elimination but at the same time willing to put prosperity before both its own survival and the good of its people. Socialism as tried in China did not work. So now there is state communist- controlled market capitalism. But the end of that road is multiparty democracy and the rulers of China know this.
Why should people read this book?
To give them a better idea of where we came from, why we are where we are, and how we can get to a better place. This book tells the story of history in terms of the bulk of the world’s people, 97 per cent of whose ancestors never owned anything and 90 per cent of whom currently own nothing and are thus as poor as 97 per cent of humanity has been for the whole 10,000 years of recorded history.
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