Rent is the living tissue of our humanity

Early humans gravitated out of nature when they learnt how to create that flow of energy, and to pool it for the common good. They invested that unique flow of resources in their bodies, minds and communities. That process became the evolutionary blueprint that culminated in Homo sapiens.

Fred Harrison

Fred Harrison is Research Director of the London-based Land Research Trust. He is a graduate of the Universities of Oxford and London. His first book, The Power in the Land (1983), predicted the economic crisis of 1992. He followed this with a 10-year forecast (published in The Chaos Makers [1997]) that a global financial crisis would be triggered when house prices peaked in 2007.

In his #WeAreRent trilogy, Fred Harrison does not pull his punches.

Our world is being driven into a catastrophe many times worse than the Covid crisis. But the worst can be avoided.

Other forecasters are promoting gloomy prognoses with the aid of flawed economic models.

A better life is possible beyond the Covid virus. Beyond Brexit. Beyond Trump. Beyond the culture of cheating that compresses people’s lives.

Harrison bases his assessment of prospects on the basis that people will exercise their right to create an authentic democracy.

To convert disaster into triumph, informed citizens must intervene in the fate of their communities.

That’s the lesson Fred learnt from previous attempts at laying the foundations for good governance. Like the bid to rebuild post-Soviet Russia.

In 1990, the people of Russia could have avoided the cannibalistic fate of capitalism. Fred and his colleagues spent 10 years working in Moscow and St Petersburg to explain how to create an authentic democracy. This would be achieved by constructing a value-adding economy that was free of free riders. By combining the private ownership of capital while pooling the rents that would flow from Russia’s natural resources. Those resources were already in the public domain. Instead, the Kremlin allowed crooks to grab the rent-yielding assets.

The next systemic crisis was also an opportunity to reconstruct the capitalist order. Harrison gave governments 10 years advance warning to prepare for the financial crisis of 2008. They failed to act. A decade of austerity followed.

This time could be different, if people mobilise and mandate reform to the way governments raise their revenue.

Taxation distorts the allocation of income. Tax policies are driving the global economy into an abyss. The tipping point arrives when house prices peak in 2026. Harrison’s diagnosis is aided by the prism of a new evolutionary blueprint. He interrogated the trends by deploying the techniques he used as an investigative reporter for a Fleet Street newspaper. A global catastrophe does loom. Defensive barriers can be erected, and these are described in Book 2 of #WeAreRent.

The list goes on…

Understanding the bias in tax policies leads to the enlightenment that is needed to motivate action. Insights and information can be found in Fred Harrison’s books listed on the website.

View Fred’s videos:

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The Social Galaxy

In #WeAreRent, I draw on the work of anthropologists and zoologists, genetic scientists and evolutionary psychologists to piece together the terms on which our ancestors gained a measure of control over one of the laws of nature. I reveal how this enabled them to buy the time and space to create a new kind of existence. As I explain in the video below, their creation, the Social Galaxy, was anchored on planet Earth, but through their emerging collective consciousness they expanded their presence into the universe.


Economic Rent

Our nearest cousins, the chimpanzees, remained within the laws of nature. Early humans behaved differently in one vital respect: they discovered the benefits of working a little longer, or a little better. They created the flow of energy which they did not need for biological subsistence. Classical economists call that net flow of resources economic rent.

To achieve the benefits, they had to pool that net income for the common good. That income had to be protected from individuals who were tempted to use it for their personal benefit – relieving them of having to work, by living off the labours of others.

Realm of the Imagination

By sharing Rent, the hominids of Africa invested in the genetic evolution of their anatomy – crucially, by expanding the energy-hungry brain. That investment in what become their legacy assets – genetic, psychological and cultural – made possible the formation of a unique space: the realm of the imagination.

Combined with the aesthetic sensibilities and spiritual and moral codes of conduct which they developed, our ancestors embarked on the evolutionary path into a future which they painstakingly imagined, intentionally charted, and which they worked cooperatively to achieve.

That evolutionary blueprint has now been abandoned.

Privatised Rent

Rent has been privatised and turned against humanity. In its private state, it imprisons everyone, ranging from the overt form (slavery) to the covert, legally sanctioned devices that are deployed today.

The Rent privatisers of the 16th century incubated the culture of cheating and mutated it (through colonialism) into the form that now spans the globe. That is why we are now threatened by the ultimate existential crisis: the wipe-out of our species. Privatised Rent is at an advanced stage of causing the collapse of the legacy assets that were created on terms that enabled early humans to gravitate away from the life led by the chimpanzees.

How this happened, and what we must do about it, is told in the #WeAreRent trilogy.

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