A Defence of the Concept of the Landowning Class as the Third Class

Towards a Logic of Landownership

In: Historical Materialism
F.T.C. Manning Geography Department, CUNY Graduate Center New York USA

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Although Marx dubbed landowners one of the ‘three great classes’ of modern society, the most prominent Marxian and socialist thinkers of capitalism and land over the past century – from Lefebvre to Massey to Harvey – have implicitly or explicitly argued that landowners are not capitalism’s ‘third class’, and that the social relations of land are marginal or contingent to the mode of production as a whole. Through assessing the work of Marxist geographers, political economists, value-form theorists, and others who have dismissed the class-status of landowners and blurred the line between ground rent and interest, this article argues that the theory of the landowning class is fundamental to the understanding of the totality of capitalist social relations, as well as to developing more incisive analyses of struggles around housing, land, and movement today.

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