The Corner

Property in Iraq

A friend e-mails regarding my interview with Hernando de Soto: “I would offer one caveat: Japanese peasantry could be titled with small holdings, as it was rainfall-based, rather like British agriculture. I don’t know what percent of Iraqi land is tenable on these terms, but the classical granaries of the Tigris-Euphrates are not. They are hydro-control systems that require extensive state control–the classic formula for all the great totalitarian states of antiquity centered there, as on the Nile,

Hindus, Yellow, etc.”

I’m pretty sure my friend is channeling Karl Wittfogel here.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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