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Book Review: 'Who Owns Scotland'

Highland grouse

'Who Owns Scotland', by John McEwen EUSBP £1.50 (paperback)

This book sets out to list those people who are the real landowners in Scotland. The author, who is over 90 years old, has worked in forestry in Scotland practically all his life and writes from the inside; the book is heart written in sorrow.

Material World: Socialism as a World Commons

Material World

The world’s environmental crises stem largely from the failure to share the ownership and use of the world’s natural and industrial resources. The principle of sharing has always formed the basis of social relationships in societies across the world. We all know from personal experience the importance of sharing to family and community life. In fact, sharing is far more prevalent in society than people often realise. The idea of individual (or private) ownership of land is a relatively recent phenomenon. There is now a growing movement that reminds us of this and which promotes the development of ‘the Commons’ and which has gone beyond the prevailing ideas of conventional capitalist private property economics.

Professor Cosmo Innes (1798-1874), Advocate and Professor of Constitutional Law and History wrote in his Scotch Legal Antiquities,

Material World: St Kilda and Socialism

Material World

The last native resident of St Kilda died in April. This remote part of Britain used to practise a communistic society.

Socialists, when asked about examples of common ownership and control in action, often refer to peoples who live or lived in a social system that we term ‘primitive communism’, often tribes in the Amazonian rainforest. Yet 110 miles west of the Scottish mainland there are a small cluster of islands known as St Kilda, inhabited for at least two millennia and with a population probably never exceeding 180, where a form of primitive communism prevailed.

Edinburgh: Working Class Housing

How many boxes of shortbread have caught the customer's eye with a gaudy picture of Edinburgh Castle? And very nice, too: they would not sell much shortbread by showing Edinburgh's slums, although there are enough of them.

Yes, Edinburgh has a slum problem, just like any other great city. Panorama went there a few months back, showing up the damp and rotting houses around Arthur Street, where the workers pay rent to live with the rats and broken sewer pipes.

And like a lot of other places, Edinburgh also has dwellings which are not classified as slums, but which are not much better; it has its prefabs. These, as the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch said recently, are " . . . the relics of the immediate post-war housing crisis . . . " which are " . . . still with us, although when they were built they were intended to be only temporary makeshifts."

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