A critique of the greatest reallocation of resources in the history of the world and an analysis of its effects on indigenous peoples, the growth of property rights, and the evolution of ideas that make up the foundation of the modern world.
The Great Land Rush and the Making of the Modern World, 1650-1900 describes the appropriation and distribution of land by Europeans in the new world. By integrating the often violent history of colonization of this period and the ensuing emergence of property rights with an examination of the decline of an aristocratic ruling class and the growth of democracy and the market economy John Weaver describes how the landscapes of North America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa were transformed by the pursuit of resources.
He also underscores the tragic history of the indigenous peoples of these regions and shoes how they came to lose "possession" of their land to newly formed governments made up of Europeans with European interests at heart. Weaver shows that the enormous efforts involved in defining and registering large numbers of newly carved-out parcels of property for reallocation during the Great Land Rush were instrumental in the emergence of much stronger concepts of property rights and argues that this period was marked by a complete disregard for previous notions of restraint on dreams of unlimited material possibility. Today, while the traditional forms of colonization that marked the Great Land Rush are no longer practiced by the European powers and their progeny in the new world, the legacy of this period can be seen in the western powers' insatiable thirst for economic growth, including newer forms of economic colonization of underdeveloped countries, and a continuing evolution of the concepts of property rights, including the development and increasing growth in importance of intellectual property rights.