It seems to me that Ayn Rand didn't actually claim that you have the right to own land, water or air,
but the result of your own production. Now, before you go sprouting froth in your eager attempt to
overvoice me with your constitutional rights and what not, let me make clear that this statement
should be read from an objectivists point of view, and viewed in the light of: "What if society was built
entirely on objectivism?"
As I understand it, if I produce food from a piece of land, I own the food I've produced, not the land
on which I produced it. If George on the corner decides that he too will produce food on this
piece of land, he has the right to do so. He too, will own the production of his hard work. And he can
choose to do with it as he sees fit.
Though I can't find any such statement in Rand's writings (or what I've read so far), I rest on the
basic corollary on her view on human rights. She's saying that all rights stem from the one most
basic right: the right to your own life. Anything you do in order to protect that right while not
depriving another person his/her right to the same
, is morally defensible (or so I've
A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context.
There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s
right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life
means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action - which means: the freedom
to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the
fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness.)
If, for George, the only way to stay alive and happy is to farm the land that I've previously farmed
then he has the right to do so, and I cannot prevent that by waving a "land property right" in his face.
That is, I can't prevent it if I am to be consistent with the basic meaning of rights from my own
objectivist point of view
So, what happens if the only suitable piece of land within reach can't support both me and George
and we both have the right to farm it? I own the production of my own hard work, and subsequently
the right to distribute it at will (in trading or given away as welfare). He has the same right. Is it the
first to the mill that counts here? What if next year, he's the first to sow the seed? Then the land is
Or, do we in fact need some kind of social rule that states we both have the right to farm that land,
and that we must split it equally between us?
Is it any more inconsistent with a liberal mindset than the thought that one person can "own" land,
even more land than is needed for his/her survival?