A Commons Without Tragedy
Robert V. Andelson
[A paper presented at the Joint Georgist Conference,
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1989]
Georgists, for the most part, are wont to deny that there is such a
thing as a population problem, or that, if there is one, it is of more
than trifling importance. I used to take issue with this view to the
extent of saying that there is a serious population problem, but held
that it was qualitative rather than quantitative in nature. Over the
past couple of years I have become persuaded that the problem is
quantitative as well as qualitative. This change in my position stems
from ecological instead of narrowly economic considerations. No doubt,
with proper land arrangement and the application of advanced
technology, the earth could support, after a fashion, a vastly greater
population well into the distant future. But when account is taken of
the quality of life, and of the environmental degradation that
significant increase in population would inevitably entail, the issue
assumes far more ominous perspective.
Lest by "true believers" I be charged with heresy, let me
say that I heard with my own ears the late Professor Harry Gunnison
Brown, for decades leading champion of the Georgist gospel among
academic economists, announce to a large audience bluntly and without
qualification: "I am a Malthusian." Well, I am not a
Malthusian in any literal or thoroughgoing sense, and I don't think
that Professor Brown really was one either. But I submit that there is
no good reason why Georgists today need turn a blind eye to
overpopulation, any more than those concerned with overpopulation need
turn a blind eye to land monopoly. I submit that it is time that we
Georgists (or neo-Georgists, if you will) called a halt to our
anachronistic feud with the Neo-Malthusians.
The fact is that land monopoly engenders artificial overpopulation,
whereas overpopulation exacerbates the ills of land monopoly. The
population problem and the land problem are both serious and real;
neither should be used as an excuse to avoid recognition of the other.
In Henry George's day, Malthusianism was the great red herring that
diverted attention from the most fundamental cause of poverty. The
fallacious mathematical methodology of Malthusianism proper was
utterly demolished by George in Progress and Poverty, but he
was "beating a dead horse," as it had been abandoned by
Malthus himself, as well as by John Stuart Mill and other
proto-Neo-Malthusians. George's treatment of their more sophisticated
position is far less satisfactory, and amounts to denying the
population problem altogether, except insofar as it might obtain in
such special isolated instances as Pitcairn Island. In the course of
this treatment, he permitted himself deliverances that are truly
awesome in their extravagance, most notably the assertion that "the
earth could maintain a thousand billions of people as easily as a
For this he may be forgiven in view of the obscurantist and callous
fatalism that Malthusianism characteristically engendered. Yet Malthus
himself was neither obscurantist nor callous, but a conscientious
truthseeker and humane reformer. It may come as a surprise to many in
this audience, and was, I'm sure, not known to George, but Malthus
had, in fact, proposed a single tax on land values as a remedy for
Irish poverty. Nor was Mill in any sense a complacent defender of
the status quo. His recommendation that future land-value
increments be socialized may have seemed to George a half-way measure,
and does not go as far as I myself would wish, but it surely pointed
in the right direction. I do not claim to be conversant with all or
even most of the current literature on overpopulation, but of the
major figures who have called attention to this evil in our time, I am
not aware of a single one who sees it as a comprehensive and
sufficient explanation for involuntary poverty, or who seeks to use it
as a rationalization for neglecting efforts toward a better
distribution of natural opportunity.
At any rate, if we hope for credibility among environmentalists, we
are going to have to admit that the planet's "carrying capacity"
is finite, and that, however much that may be extended by
technological progress or by free in g-up of natural opportunity, its
limits, in terms of the integrity of both global and regional
ecosystems, may be a great deal closer than we habitually assumed. The
Georgist outlook has always been sensitive to duty to future
generations, as evidenced in its emphasis upon the conservation of
non-renewable resources. That sensitivity must now be focused also
upon the need to keep those generations from swamping the environment.
I shall probably be accused of being alarmist. While I realize that
the scientific community is not unanimous as to the precise magnitude
or imminence of the ecological ills portended by exploding population,
there is broad consensus that at the very least the prospect of such
ills is not to be dismissed as nugatory. To do nothing in the hope of
some technological miracle would be to court disaster. Mandatory
population control, the only long-run safeguard against possible
environmental doom, presents a threat only to sentimental and
conventional notions of rights and freedoms. The movement to abolish
slavery was once considered an assault on vested rights; and efforts
to collect for society a greater share of the site-values it creates,
are today considered, in all too many quarters, an assault on
individual freedom. Self-interest and prejudice must not be permitted
to place at risk the condition and perhaps even the very survival of
the essential joint-heritage of the human race.
Implicit in this is a necessary repudiation of the assumption that
indiscriminate breeding is an absolute right regardless of the burdens
that it imposes by default on society. This statement may seem odd
coming from someone who considers himself a libertarian, but
libertarianism is not libertinism, and Georgists should be the first
to realize that rights that trench upon the rights of others are no
rights at all. The biological ability to procreate does not confer on
its possessors the right to saddle society with the support of
children for whom they are unable or unwilling to make decent
provision. Let us face this squarely, while as Georgists continuing to
affirm that society does not have the right to maintain institutional
arrangements which render it impossible for competent and industrious
people to make decent provision for children.
I don't want to oversimplify the ecological issue. If we were to get
a handle on population growth, and if access to natural opportunity
were open on fair terms to all, there would still be much to be done
in the way of stemming ruinous habits of consumption that deplete
resources, foul the atmosphere, and create mountains of unrecyclable
and sometimes toxic waste. But perhaps I am not being altogether
fatuous if I dare to entertain the hope that with fewer (and
conceivably more responsible) people, and with prosperity more
equitably distributed, public demand might turn away from machine-made
mass commodities and built-in obsolescence, in favor of craftsmanship
and durability; away from chemically grown and processed junk foods
raised and marketed by giant agribusinesses, in favor of wholesome
organic foods cultivated with care and pride on much less acreage by
those who truly love the earth and nurture it.
What I am trying to convey is that a solution to the land question
such as we propose is-the most decisive step that could be taken
toward the diminution if not the total extirpation of involuntary
poverty, but that although it might hugely ameliorate and considerably
postpone damage to the environment, in the last analysis salvation of
the environment will require control of population. In the words of
John Baden: "With any positive rate of growth, whether it is only
1 percent a year or even .1 percent a year, a population approaches
infinity in a relatively short period of time... Even a 1 percent
growth rate will double a population in a mere human lifetime. ...An
ever increasing population is clearly inconsistent with the
maintenance or improvement of the natural environment." For
most of the world's history, growth rates were kept in balance by
Malthusian checks, but modern medicine has drastically reduced
mortality, especially among infants, while well-meaning aid programs
have made famines more likely to result in stunted half-lives than in
Genuine solutions to both problems, involving as they do the
implementation of reciprocity in freedom (freedom to use nature
without doing so at the expense of others, and freedom to procreate
without placing unsolicited burdens upon others), fall legitimately
within the purview of enforcement by government. As we Georgists know,
the enforcement of the first solution allows for the removal of
impediments to the operation of the market; Kenneth Boulding has
suggested an ingenious plan whereby the second solution could also be
enforced within a market framework. It is at least arguable that
with these two solutions in place, market forces might themselves curb
ecologically destructive patterns of consumption.
Nothing I have said in underscoring the ecological necessity for
population control should be construed to denigrate the ecological
side-benefits of George's remedy for poverty. It is incontrovertible,
I think, that the rapidly-increasing destruction of the Amazon rain
forest (with its resultant "greenhouse effect" upon the
global ecosystem) is directly attributable to the fact that the Amazon
basin is the only part of Brazil where free or cheap land is
available, and this, in turn, is attributable to the fact that nearly
four-fifths of Brazil's arable acreage is covered by sprawling latifundios,
half of which are held by speculators who produce nothing. Were the
artificial scarcity of available land in the rest of Brazil corrected,
as the Georgist remedy would unquestionably do, pressure on the Amazon
basin would obviously cease. This is but on example, albeit a dramatic
one, of the ecological side-benefits of which I spoke. But, if the
Brazilian population continues to increase at its present rate, how
long would it be before the margin extended again to Amazonia? The
environmental advantages of the Georgist program are certainly
substantial, but they cannot be permanent unless coupled with
restraints on population growth.
Neither should anything that I have said be construed to minimize the
possibilities of technology. A couple of months ago, it seemed as if
we had strong indications that cold nuclear fusion would give us an
inexpensive and inexhaustible supply of clean power within a decade or
two. It appears now that these indications were unduly sanguine, but I
have no doubt that it (or something like it) will happen sometime
within the next half-century. Yet would an inexpensive and
inexhaustible supply of clean power save the rhinocerous hunted for
its horn or the elephant slaughtered for its tusks? Would it preserve
the redwoods from extinction? Would it protect the dolphins from the
drift-nets, or the pyramids from the disintegration caused by
tourists? It was Henry George himself who characterized man as "the
only animal whose desires increase as they are fed; the only animal
that is never satisfied."6 If his numbers be not too great, these
insatiable appetities can be accomodated without grave stress to the
environment. But the environment is fragile, and its carrying capacity
finite. In our day and age, this is too evident to deny. If Henry
George were living now, I am convinced that he would not deny it. If
we refuse to admit it, we are being wilfully blind, and cannot expect
to be taken seriously.
Of the Neo-Malthusian voices emanating from ecologist ranks, one of
the most powerful and certainly the most provocative is that of
Garrett Hardin. In some circles, he is best known for his advocacy of
triage; in others, for his advocacy of unrestricted abortion.
With this audience, which may already consider him a bet noire
for his famous association of tragedy with the idea of common
property, I shall not venture to discuss his views on these other
controversial topics except to say that, however harsh they might
appear, they stem from an attitude similar to that evinced in that
reluctant demi-Georgist, Thomas Nixon Carver's, definition of justice:
"Justice is mercy writ large. It is benevolence with a long look
ahead, a look which takes in the most distant generations of the
future and places them on an exact equality with the present
generations .. ." I confess that I find this unsentimental
attitude a lot more congenial than that expressed by Lord Keynes with
the flip words, "In the long run, we are all dead."
In the remainder of this paper, I propose to show that, despite
secondary disagreements, Garrett Hardin and Henry George may, in what
is to us of greatest interest, be far closer to each other than might
first appear. I propose to show that what they have in common is
obscured by a semantic difference -- ironically, a difference in the
meaning that they attach to the word "common."
When, in Book VI, chapter 2, of Progress and Poverty, George
asserted, "We must make land common property" he was
guilty of a tactical blunder that hobbled the advance of his proposal
from the start. For although he took pains later in his book to
clarify this declaration, it has been used by his antagonists with
deadly effect to portray him as an advocate of nationalizing land.
Actually, of course, nationalization, with its concomitant
collectivization and regimentation, was not at all what George
proposed. By "common property in land," he intended to
signify the effectuation of common rights in land, not (except in
instances involving generally-accepted public functions) its
collective use. Neither did he intend to signify a common resource to
be drawn on individually without concern for social consequences.
The true meaning of the phrase for George is best exhibited in Book
VIII, chapter 1. He first speaks there of a lot in the center of San
"This lot is not cut up into infinitesimal pieces
nor yet is it an unused waste. It is covered with fine buildings,
the property of private individuals, that stand there in perfect
security. The only difference between this lot and those around it,
is that the rent of the one goes into the common school fund, the
rent of the others into private pockets."
He then turns to the Aleutian islets of St. Peter and St. Paul, the
breeding places of the fur seal, and animal so wary that the slightest
fright causes it to flee its customary hunts forever:
To prevent the utter destruction of this fishery, without
which the islands are of no use to man, it is not only necessary to
avoid killing the females and young cubs, but even such noises as
the discharge of a pistol or the barking of a dog. ... Those who can
be killed without diminution of future increase are carefully
separated and gently driven inland, out of sight and hearing of the
herds, where they are dispatched with clubs. To throw such a fishery
as this open to whoever chose to go and kill - which would make it
to the interest of each party to kill as many as they could at the
time without reference to the future - would be utterly to destroy
it in a few seasons, as similar fisheries in other countries have
been destroyed. But it is not necessary, therefore, to make these
islands private property.
They have been leased at a rent of
$317,500 per year (partly fixed ground rent, partly payment of
$2.675 on each skin with an annual harvest limited to 100,000
skins), probably not very much less than they could have been sold
for at the time of the Alaska purchase. They have already yielded
two millions and a half to the national treasury, and they are
still, in unimpaired value (for under the careful management of the
Alaska Fur Company the seals increase rather than diminish), the
common property of the people of the United States.
Although George thus illustrates his principle by means of actual
examples involving leaseholds, his prescription envisages an easier
and less drastic application than that of confiscating land and
letting it out to the highest bidders. Instead, he advocated that land
titles be left in private hands, with rent appropriated by means of
the existing tax machinery. Commensurate reductions would be made in
taxes on improvements and other labor products (culminating ideally in
the total abolition of such taxes), and the machinery reduced and
simplified accordingly. "By leaving to landowners a percentage of
rent which would probably be much less than the cost and loss involved
in attempting to rent lands through State agency, and by making use of
this existing machinery, we may, without jar or shock, assert the
common right to land by taking rent for public uses." But this
is simply a practical refinement; the principle remains the same.
In his seminal essay, "The Tragedy of the Commons,"
Hardin focuses on the inherent tendency of individuals, each in the
pursuit of his own interests, to overgraze, denude, and use the
commons as a cesspool.* That which belongs to everybody in this sense
is, indeed, valued and maintained by nobody. The Enclosure Movement
ultimately brought an end to the commons in Europe as a basic
institution, but not without exacting a baneful price in human misery
that might well be termed "The Tragedy of the Enclosures."
It makes no difference, really, whether or not Hardin believes that
most people are utility or profit maximizers who value their
individual goods more than they do social goods. If common property is
free to all without restraint, it only takes one such person, once an
area's carrying capacity has been reached, to degrade the area. As
with persons, so also with nations. The stocks of blue whales are so
depleted that the International Whaling Commission recommends the
virtual stoppage of whaling, and all but two nations have ceased
whaling on the high seas altogether. But Japan and Russia continue to
fish for whales aggressively, and the depletion becomes ever more
acute. Soon the blue whale may be extinct. Actually, Hardin does not
deny the existence of altruism either in individuals or in societies.
But his "conservative policy," as he calls it, is "to
regard altruism as a marginal motive." To me, this policy
seems only sensible. Archbishop Temple must have been thinking along
similar lines when he defined the art of government as "the art
of so ordering life that self-interest prompts what justice demands."
When I commenced the research for this paper, I set out, with the aid
of two British collegues, David Redfearn and Julia Bastian, to
disprove Hardin's thesis. Together, we compiled an impressive list of
counter-examples, showing that the historic commons, far from being an
unregulated free-for-all, were mostly operated according to
agreed-upon rules that ensured a fair distribution of opportunity,
spread work evenly through the seasons, and generally tended to
conserve the soil and other natural resources. These rules worked
effectively in England for about a thousand years. It was only after
the enclosure of the open fields was well advanced that the common
pastures, having been thus divorced in large measure from their
traditional employment, became subject to overgrazing and other
environmental abuses as the old regulatory machinery fell into
abeyance. Vestigial remnants of the historic commons, such as the
Swiss alpine village of Torbel, survive and thrive even today. As
for the supposed ecologically beneficent effects of "private"
as opposed to "common" ownership of land; a recent report in
the Financial Times of London speaks of pollution resulting
from the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, deterioration of
habitats, erosion, loss of topsoil, acidification of rivers,
desertification, unsuitable afforestation, etc., etc. But this is
not a brief for "government" ownership (nationalization);
Lake Baikal in the U.S.S.R. is every bit as polluted as is Lake Erie.
"The Tragedy of the Commons" was first published in 1968,
and has been reprinted in numerous collections since that date. Among
the more vigorous efforts to rebut it is an article by John Reader
which appeared just last year. "The true commons," Reader
property insists, "was, by definition, an area of mutual benefit
and responsibility, managed by those using it in a manner than
acknowledged that environmental resources are not unlimited. Access to
the commons was restricted by entitlement; use was regulated to ensure
that no individual could pursue his own interest to the detriment of
others. Par from bringing ruin to all, the true commons functioned to
keep its exploitation within sustainable limits, thus providing every
commoner with a dependable food supply in the short term, and
maintaining the viability of available resources for generations to
A more careful analysis of Hardin's essay demonstrates that, like my
own compilation of counter-examples, Reader's attack, while factual
enough, is utterly beside the point: What Reader calls the "true
commons" is not what Hardin meant by "the commons' in his
essay. The essay presents a hypothetical illustration of a pasture
open to all. Each herdsman, seeking as a rational being to maximize
his gain, will try to keep as many cattle as possible on the pasture.
So long as tribal warfare, poaching, and disease keep the numbers of
both man and beast below the carrying capacity of the land, the
arrangement may work satisfactorily. But once that capacity is
exceeded, "the inherent logic of the commons generates tragedy,"
since the rational herdsman, knowing that without regulation others
will pursue their individual interests even if he abstains, adds
animal after animal to his herd. "Each man is locked into a
system that compels him to increase his herd without limit - in a
world that is limited." So much for the hypothetical
illustration. But one looks in vain in the essay for historical
It is true that, in another work, Hardin alludes in passing to the
ecological destructiveness of the system of English commons that was
replaced as a result of the Enclosure Movement. In this, he may
have been historically inaccurate, but this was a mere incidental
error, as in neither case was he writing to establish a historical
thesis. Hardin uses the term "commons" to refer, not
primarily or necessarily to any actual historical institution, but to
what sociologists, following Max Weber, call an ideal type - a
pure logical construct, in this instance, one of the four discrete
politico-economic systems of environmental utilization. The "system
of the commons" is the one in which the environment is utilized
by the group with the proceeds going to the individual. It is,
practically speaking, a synonym for anarchy.
In a piece entitled "Ethical Implications of Carrying Capacity,"
Hardin discusses an "excellent report" by Nicholas Wade,
which ascribes the advancing desertification of the Sahel largely to
(often well-intended) Western interference. Prior to this
interference, the Sahelian peoples carried on a way of life that was a
remarkably efficient adaptation to their environment, with migrations,
routes, the length of time a herd of a given size might spend at a
given well, etc., governed by rules worked out by tribal chiefs. But,
according to Hardin, the "old way of treating common property in
the Sahel" was not really the system of the commons but rather a
kind of informal socialism. It may, of course, be argued that the
words "commons" and "socialism" are both used by
him in an idiosyncratic fashion, but an author is entitled to use
words any way he chooses so long as he specifies what he is doing, and
Hardin cannot be accused of failing to so specify.
"The morality of an act," says Hardin, "is
a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed"
In the old Testament period, "Be fruitful and multiply"
might have been a sound injunction; today, it is a mandate to behave
irresponsibly. For a lone frontiersman to discharge waste into a
stream may harm nobody; as population reaches a certain density, such
conduct becomes intolerable. "Property rights must be
periodically reexamined in the light of social justice." In a
complex, crowded, changeable environment, statutory law cannot make
adequate allowance for particular circumstances, and must therefore be
augmented by administrative law. But Hardin admits that administrative
law, depending as it does upon decision-making by bureaucrats, is
singularly liable to corruption. To it applies with special force the
age-old questions: Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? - "Who
shall watch the watchers themselves?" Hardin draws attention to
this difficulty, but does not attempt an answer.
How can exploitation be adjusted to carrying capacity, allowing for
particular and changing circumstances, yet avoiding the corruption and
caprice of bureaucratic regulators? Inasmuch as we live in an
imperfect world inhabited by imperfect beings, a perfect solution to
this dilemma does not exist. Yet the program of Henry George, since it
calls for a process that is virtually self-regulating, comes as close
to being foolproof as anything conceivable. To leave the land in
private hands, while appropriating through taxation the greater part
of its annual rental value as determined by the market, would assure,
not maximum, but optimum exploitation.
In an illustration concerning the lumber industry, Hardin correctly
remarks that "high taxes on land that is many years away from
being timbered encourage cut-and-run." But they wouldn't have
this effect if combined with heavy severance taxes, which encourage
conservation while reducing the land's market value. Thus the tax on
annual rental value could be set at a high percentage yet still be low
enough to induce retention of title, together with non-injurious
harvesting schedules and techniques. Although the taxation of land
rent is, of course, the method characteristically emphasized by
Georgism, a severance tax is simply a different technical application
of the same philosophy, adapted to different circumstances but equally
amenable to determination by the market.
I make no pretense of familiarity with the whole of Hardin's copious
literary output, but the adverse reference to which I just alluded is
the only one I have encountered that speaks explicity of land
taxation. Conversely, in Stalking the Wild Taboo, one finds a
glancing but favorable mention of the graduated income tax. Yet he
proposes internalizing pollution costs (and simultaneously
discouraging pollution) through taxation - a proposal very much in
keeping with the Georgist accent on using the tax mechanism to protect
common rights in the environment within an overall framework of
private enterprise. And in a book he edited, Jay M. Anderson suggests,
quite possibly with his tacit approval, "the taxation of industry
at a rate proportional to used commons."
But most significant, I think, is an easily overlook passage in "The
Tragedy of the Commons" in which Hardin, perhaps unwittingly,
endorses by implication the essential Georgist concept:
During the Christmas shopping season (in Leominster,
Massachusetts) the parking meters downtown were covered with plastic
bags that bore tags reading: "Do not open until after
Christmas. Free parking courtesy of the mayor and city council."
In other words, facing the prospect of an increased demand for
already scarce space, the city fathers reinstituted the system of
By calling this a "retrogressive act," Hardin demonstrates
his belief that the meters ought to have been left in operation. Now,
parking meters exemplify (in specialized form) the public
appropriation of land rent; they constitute payment for the privilege
of temporarily monopolizing a site - compensation to the members of
the community whose opportunity to use the site is extinguished for a
given time by the monopoly. The payment, to be sure, is typically only
partial. Compensation reflecting the full market value of the
temporary monopoly would be at levels comparable to fees charged by
commercial parking lots in the vicinity of the meters.
But more than compensation is involved here. If parking meter fees,
instead of being used to pay for community services or even for their
own collection cost, were buried in the ground, their collection would
still be justified in order, as Hardin puts it, "to keep downtown
shoppers temperate in their use of parking space" - i.e., as
a means of rendering monopoly temporary and innocuous. So, also, the
public appropriation of land rent in its more comprehensive
application, by removing any incentive to hoard and speculate in land,
would be warranted in terms of social justice and well-being, even if
its yield were cast into the sea. For in rectifying distribution, this
approach liberates production; in apportioning the wealth-pie fairly,
it increases the size of the pie. Instead of being a cruel contest in
which the cards are stacked against most players because of gross
disparities in bargaining power, the market becomes in practice what
capitalist theory alleges it to be - a profoundly cooperative process
of voluntary exchange. And all this is accomplished without stressing
the environment. Cities, more compact, return to human scale as
artificial pressures for expansion outward and upward are removed. The
availability of land at prices no longer bloated by speculation, makes
profitable agriculture possible without the wholesale use of
ecologically harmful chemicals and machinery.
In addition to the "system of the commons," which amounts
to anarchy, Hardin distinguishes three other discrete systems of
environmental utilization: "Socialism," "Private
Philanthropy," and "Private Enterprise." He tends
in general to favor the last, since under it the individual
decision-maker and society both lose when the carrying capacity of the
environment is overloaded, and thus decisions are more apt to be "operationally
responsible." Yet he concludes that this is not invariably the
case, and is no apologist for absolute private ownership of land.
Not only does he grant that an owner, seeking rationally to maximize
his gains, may under certain conditions behave in an ecologically irresponsible
fashion (a conclusion set forth in greater detail respectively by
Daniel Fife and Colin W. Clark,) but he holds that the Enclosure
Acts, even though ecologically desirable, were unjust. "We
must admit," he asserts moreover, "that our legal system of
private property plus inheritance is unjust - but we put up with it
because we are not convinced, at the moment, that anyone has invented
a better system."
Well, someone surnamed George did "invent" a better system
- one that eminently satisfies all of Hardin's criteria, one that
secures the advantages of both commons and enclosures with none of the
disadvantages of either. For, paradoxical though it may seem, the only
way in which the individual may be assured what properly belongs to
him is for society to take what properly belongs to it: The
Jeffersonian ideal of individualism requires for its realization the
socialization of rent. Were rent socialized, the costs of negative
externalities internalized, and the returns of private effort
privatized, we and our posterity would prosper, at least roughly,
according to our deserts, and healing come to our abused and wounded
habitat, the earth.
1. Henry George, Progress and
Poverty (1979; New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 1962) p.
2. Two reviews published by Malthus anonymously of books by Thomas
Newenham, Edinburgh Review, July 1808, pp. 336-355, and April,
1809, pp. 115-170, respectively. I am indebted to Michael A. MacDowell
for having called my attention to this information.
3. John Baden, "Population, Ethnicity, and Public Goods: The
Logic of Interest-Group Strategy," in Garrett Hardin and John
Baden, eds., Managing the Commons (San Francisco: W. H.
Freeman and Co., 1977) pp. 253,259.
4. Kenneth Boulding, The Meaning of the 20th Century (New
York: Harper & Row, 1964), p. 135.
5. "Brazil's land reform program is caught in a violent
crossfire," Christian Science Monitor, May 7, 1987, p.
6. Progress and Poverty, p. 134.
7. Thomas Nixon Carver, Essays in Social Justice (Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press, 1915) p. 292.
8. Progress and Poverty, p. 405.
9 Garrett Hardin, "The Tragedy of the Commons," Science,
Vol. 162, pp. 1243-1248, Dec. 13, 1968.
10. Hardin, "An Operational Analysis of 'Responsibility',"
in Hardin and Baden, eds.. Managing the Commons, p. 68.
11. William Temple, Christianity and Social Order (1942; New
York: Seabury, 1977), p. 65.
12. See C. S. and C. S. Orwin, The Open Fields (Oxford:
Clarendon, 1938) pp. 38-58; and Laxton: Life in an Open Field
Village (Nottingham: University of Nottingham, Manuscripts
Department, Archive Teaching Unit No. 4), Introduction, pp. 12-17,
Transcripts and Summaries of Documents, pp. 10-11.
13. W. G. Collins and L. D. Stamp, The Common Lands of England
and Wales (London: Collins, 1963), pp. 56-60.
14. John Reader, "Human Ecology: How Land Shapes Society,"
New Scientist, No. 1629 (Sept. 8,1988), P. 55.
15. Bridget Bloom, "Erosion Threatens Europe's agricultural
land," Financial Times (London), July 18,1988,
16. Reader, p. 52.
17. "The Tragedy of the Commons," p. 1244.
18. Hardin, Exploring New Ethics for Survival (New York:
Viking, 1968), p. 116.
19. Hardin, "Ethical Implications of Carrying Capacity" and
"An Operational Analysis of 'Responsibility'," in Hardin and
Baden eds., Managing the Commons, p. 122 and p. 69.
20. "The Tragedy of the Commons," p. 1243.
21. Hardin, Exploring New Ethics, p. 127.
22. Ibid., p. 126.
23. Hardin, Stalking the Wild Taboo (Los Altos, CA: William
Kaufman, Inc., 1973), p. 177.
24. "The Tragedy of the Commons," p. 1245; Exploring
New Ethics, pp. 123, 244f.
25. Jay M. Anderson, "A Model of the Commons," in Hardin
and Baden, eds., Managing the Commons, p. 41.
26. "The Tragedy of the Commons," p. 1245.
27. Ibid., p. 1247.
28. "An Operational Analysis of 'Responsibility'," p. 69.
29. Exploring New Ethics, pp. 125-127.
30. Ibid., pp. 125-126.
31. Daniel Fife, "Killing the Goose," and Colin W. Clark, "The
Economics of Overexploitation," in Hardin and Baden, eds., Managing
the Commons, pp. 76-95.
32. Hardin, "Denial and Disguise," in Ibid., p. 46.
33. "The Tragedy of the Commons," p. 1247.
* A major theme in Hardin's
thought it that the genetic stream is also commons. As stewards,
we have an obligation to ensure that it is not overloaded or
polluted. I do not know whether he anywhere discusses the
specifics of how this should be done, other than to say that if
it were left to depend upon appeals to conscience, conscience
would soon be bred out of the population. My personal opinion is
that if measures are to be taken to reduce population size or
to keep it static, then there is all the more reason why
measures should be taken to upgrade its quality. Once understood
that there is no automatic right to breed, to prevent the
transmission of defective genes will not be regarded as a
violation of an individual's private and personal life any more
than to prevent the transmission of venereal disease is so
regarded. Arbitrary value judgements about what constitutes "superiority"
and "Inferiority" need not enter into the picture; the
only judgements required would center, upon whether prospective
offspring would be likely to become public charges - surely a
proper and legitimate concern. Hie probable production of
genetically defective offspring would then become an option only
for those wealthy enough to put up surety for their support.
Since such people are relatively few and tend to be less
prolific anyway, to permit them such an option would not
significantly hinder the cleansing of the genetic stream.