We at the Lib. Forum have long been advocates of land reform, but not, obviously, because we are socialists or egalitarians, or because we are
simply pro-peasant or anti-landlord. "Land reform" is a portmenteau
.concept that covers a lot of sins and virtues, and so is a virtually
meaningless term. What we favor, here as always, is justice and property
rights, and we favor the return of stolen property to its rightful owners. In
many areas of the world, arable land was stolen by conquest and
government expropriation from the peasants and handed to a favored
group of "feudal" landlords, and we consider it not only just but essential
to restore this property to the rightful peasant owners.
In these cases, the "rent" extracted by the unjust landlords is really a form of tax paid by the peasantry. This of course is not true of all peasants and all landlords, since in many cases the land was justly owned by the landlords and then rented out to the peasantry. How do we know which is which? Obviously, in the same way we know whether any property-a watch, a horse, or whatever-is justly or criminally owned by its current possessor: by
engaging in a "historical" inquiry into the source of its current title. The
proper analysis is not "peasant" vs. "landlord" but just vs. criminal
possession of current property.