R. H. Tawney - "Reaping Without Sowing"

May 28 2018

Tawney published The Acquisitive Society in 1920. This is an excerpt from it. It should be understood that Tawney was a Christian socialist, advocating for an egalitarian society.

To begin, Tawney examines the property and land rights that have been governing England prior to the industrial revolution. He emphasis that property right in England is traditionally based on by where a man reaps what he himself has sown.

There is also mention of the American Constitution, especially of the 14th Amendment which sees the right to property as a moral, rather than just a legal right. This was, Tawney explains, so that the producer of a good may not be deprived of his efforts by violence and also, to protect ones creative work from being violated by monopolies.

Now however, such rules condemn many properties and do not fit modern society any longer.

In today’s world, we are shown, ownership of property is no longer active, but passive. An owner of today does not work the property anymore, but uses the property to gain or govern.

That regretfully leads to a lack of a guarantee that gain bears relation to service or power of responsibility. Ownership and use are now normally divorced.

Tawney is not a fan.

The interest of those who own the property used in industry… is that their capital should be dear and human beings cheap.