ABSTRACT

Who owns the Earth? Most Atlantic countries regard land as a form of personal property; most of Eastern Europe considers it a collective good. Both groups have tried to export their ideologies of ownership wherever their influence has run, whether by force or conquest, colonial rule, foreign aid, international conferences, or friendly advice. No state has fully lived up to its own ideal in the homeland: all have compromised in practice without ever acknowledging failure in theory. Despite decades of experience and experiment, facts about the consequences of private versus collective ownership are still uncertain. The possibility remains that both of the models are irrelevant to the needs of developing countries. But each persists in an ideal form ready for export and thus as an issue in the international arena.