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A False Tree of LibertyHuman Rights in Radical Thought$
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Susan Marks

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199675456

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199675456.001.0001

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Improvement and the Real Rights of Man

Improvement and the Real Rights of Man

Chapter:
(p.153) 7 Improvement and the Real Rights of Man
Source:
A False Tree of Liberty
Author(s):

Susan Marks

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199675456.003.0007

In completing the book’s discussion of the contested significance of the rights of man in the Revolution controversy, this chapter directs attention to contemporaneous developments affecting land. Thanks to the process of Parliamentary enclosure, the second half of the eighteenth century saw the privatisation of virtually all remaining common land in England. What did it mean, in that context, to assert the right to live? The most influential account emphasised welfare and wages. In contrast, Thomas Spence put forward an alternative vision in which the focus was on the social-structural conditions in which security of subsistence could be achieved.

Keywords:   rights of man, Parliamentary enclosure, Arthur Young, Thomas Spence, eighteenth-century English radicalism

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