TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 4.30 p.m.] The Ashburton Guardian. Magna Est Veritas et Prevalebit. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29. 1881. Communism in Land.
The distinction drawn by Mr Wason in his recently published speech, between Liberalism and Communism is a very accurate one, and. one absolutely necessary for every one to bear in mind who wishes to hold clear views respecting party politics in the Australian colonies. An able writer in one of the leading British reviews recently remarked that though extreme Radicalism did not of necessity imply Communism, it was somehow always associated with it. This has been par *'•••» ••• V’ , • : I f/iolri’) j nu, ( lrjsuuJ/j> Ilo.vj
ticularly the case at this part of the world, be'cahse so large a proportion of Ihe people have had or have wished to have transactions with regard to land with the Governmenti Indeed, “ Liberalism,” as it is called here, is in its most recent phase nothing more or less than Communism. It either means that, or it means nothing at all. In looking back to the past, it pours forth its never wearied jetemiads on the acquisition of large tracts of land as freehold properties by runholders and other capitalists; in looking toward to the future, its New Jerusalem consists in a state in which all large estates, and, indeed, all small ones, too, are to be “ burst up ” by a process of heavy. penal taxation. “ Liberalism ” is a horse of a totally different color. The term arose when members of the highest aristocracy in Great Britain made concessions on behalf of themselves and their order to the just demands of the people at large. Its latest example was when the present Premier of New Zealand proposed, and other landowners in New Zealand supported, the imposition of a property tax on all property bwhers alike. Now, with regard to Communism in land-, and its remaining altogether in the hands of the State, we believe, following Mills, Spencer, and other eminent men, that in the abstract this doctrine is a thoroughly sound one, and that no land in this colony or elsewhere ought ever to have been sold out and out. But unfortunately in the early days 5f our colonial history, every one thought differently. The shining lights of Liberalism, Sir George Grey, Mr Mac■andrew, Mr Montgomery, and Mr Ormond were fully as eager to get the freeholds of Government land sold and to buy them themselves as were Mr Hall and Mr Whitaker. The bargains were made by the State, the land was sold and the money was paid; To assert now that the State is to avail itself of its own wrong and to cancel the bargains it made without making comped--sation is as monstrous as' it Would be for the State, after Mr Ivess has paid his license money to act as an auctioneer, to send down some day and clear out all the goods from his rooms, on the ground that auctioneering is an immoral trade, and one tending to the exaggeration of the excellencies of commodities. In the early days of the colony's history the Stale, and, to use the current foolish phrases, both Tories and Liberals alike were only too anxious to sell land to all who would buy. The country cannot now, by a side-wind, repudiate its own bargains. Besides,'in very many instances, perhaps in the majority, the present holders of landed estates, large or small, are persons who could not possibly have been parties to any wrong committed by the original purchasers, as these lands have, with the full assent of the State passed through several different hands before coming into the hands of the present owners. In the main, the cry for “ bursting up large estates ” by heavy taxation is merely an indication of the meanest envy and dishonesty ; the motive is no better than that of the street thief, whose incentive to action is “You have ; I have not.” It is possible, however, that in some few instances, this outcry is indulged on the ground that without some radical reform of the kind proposed the settlement of the country cannot go on. Any such fear as that is indeed groundless. In the Premier’s recent speech at Leeston, the audience were informed of the significant fact that at the present time, besides the land in the hands of private owners desirous to sell or lease, there ate eight million acres of Crown lands open for settlement in almost every way by auction sale for cash, on deferred payments, as village settlements, or on lease as runs, and that in addition to all this, in a very short time, all the runs in Otago and Southland will be thrown on the land market. Even “ Necessity, the tyrant’s plea,” cannot obviously be urged in this case for the robbery of landowners, whom the State, some years back, asked to purchase of it.