The Wounds Of Society And The Land

In September, 1905, George Cadbury (the famous philanthropist) delivered an address before the Trade Union Congress at Hanley. As a successful businessman he had been an ardent supporter of the trade union movement, both with his time and financial means. His belief in the importance that the voice of all workers should be heard and the equal rights of pay, gender and opportunity should be built into all business practice, led him to not shy away from the critique of many issues and polices of the day. And one of his favourite themes was land distribution.

…and on this occasion he took as his theme the rating of land values and the recovery of the land for the use of the people. He showed how the evils of society sprang from the divorce of the people from healthy contact with and interest in the soil, and how the land had been filched from the community and its burdens transferred to industry; touched on the Jewish law of the Jubilee; showed how beneficent would have been the operation of such a law upon the development of this country, and asserted that the wounds of society would never be healed until the rights of the people in the soil were re-established.

It was an address that was reprinted into flyers, and 3 million copies were distributed to the business and political community. His dream of Jubilee and the redistribution of land were not fully realised, but he never ceased from showing the nation, and the world, an alternative economy to the one that was accepted as ‘the norm’. In this case, Bournville and the business practice of Cadburys

(you can read more about Quaker Capitalism in Revival’s Symphony).

The issue of landownership and its relationship with the wounds of society is an interesting one, and seems a very relevant theme today as the graph below highlights.

  • 70% of the UK land is Agriculture, held by 0.28% of the population.
  • 20% of the land is Waste (including mountains, rivers).
  • 5% of the land is Business, and
  • 5% is Domestic which houses 90% of the population.

The voice of George Cadbury continues to echo throughout our land.


(New Statesman: 19/09/12: How We Pay For Our Richest Landowners)