27 September 2011

Third factor

One side’s ideology favors capital, the other’s favors labor; hence the tension between the right and the left. Neither side, however, acknowledges the third factor: land and the natural resources and raw materials it represents. 
What the Bible is saying is that if you acknowledge the sanctity of God's little acre, it won't much matter whether you're on the right or on the left because most of what counts as value in our economies is embedded in the land and the commodities and the raw materials associated with the land; and credit for all that deservedly goes to God. 
What God wants in recognition for His beneficence is reciprocation in political rather than in economic terms. 
The reciprocation for a gift is often non-material. One often reciprocates a gift through behavior, in one’s comportment, the bestowal of dignity and honor, in one’s manners, by affording particular courtesies, etc. 

Two cycles of yovel

Israel's actual and full implementation of shemitta rules will almost certainly have to await the end of the tyranny of oil, and it will likely have to await the demise of the free market fundamentalists’ power. 
There's plenty to do in the meantime. Likely, the proper time frame ought to be two cycles of yovel – a century.  

We can spend our time

We can spend our time thinking about kosher lePesach water or we can spend our time explaining why water distribution should never be privatized. The former is sheer fantasy, the latter excavates the political/economics of the Chumash. 

Revolution in management

What we're talking about is a revolution in management style. 
In the beginning of state-building, the model for that management style had to have been lodged in the military and in the clergy, in the zva’oht, the legions of Israel. 
We're talking about an enormous shift in consciousness. We're talking about changing the instincts people bring to bear when they conduct themselves as professionals to undertake the productive endeavors of their lives, be those endeavors economic, political, cultural or spiritual. 

Intrinsically pro-active

The opposite of responsibility is indifference. 
"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain a neutrality." (Dante.) 
That adage is true not only with respect to times of moral crisis. The entire sova way of life requires pro-active, internally motivated and self-initiated conduct as opposed to the selfish way of life that responds to external threats of starvation and predation, and absent those external incentives the actors remain indifferent. The reason autonomy is pre-requisite to adhering to a sova way of life is because autonomy is the basis of that pro-action. 
The giving of gifts is an intrinsically pro-active behavior. 

26 September 2011

Sova, desert, shemitta

Private property says if a man finds the resources and creates a product, it is his and he earned it. 
  1. From a sova perspective the resources are not there to be found and claimed as one's own, they are there as a gift of grace. 
  2. The person's productive power is itself there in part thanks to God's grace. 
  3. Beyond the sova point the surplus belongs to the lower classes during the shemitta year. 

Military, priestly and national regimentation

The necessary regimentation the nation needs are there in the military and in the priesthood. A third form of regimentation, among the general public, comes and goes according to the exigencies of the moment. 
When the nation has a particular, common purpose, it can organize itself by a national encampment and regiment the progress of the nation until it achieves that purpose. 
The military regimentation deals with predatory matters while the priesthood regimentation deals with starvation matters. The priesthood institutions are funded partly through apportionments and partly through voluntary donations. 


Regimentation is crucial when timing is crucial. 
Timing and scale are both enabled by proper regimentation. 

25 September 2011

Introducing rhythm

The sabbatical year introduces rhythm. That's what it means to keep sheviit, it means to take what could be understood as a linear process and transform it into a cyclical process. 

Define the line

The sheviit/shemitta system addresses the maturation process an economy goes through to become an ecology. It speaks to how the political and the monetary systems work to shape the economic system. 
It addresses the relation between surplus and class struggle. It says the problem of surplus and class struggle can be dealt with through a careful shaping of the laws of property. 
The key is to use the laws of property to define the line between satiation and excess, not only the line between standards and practices and satiation. 

21 September 2011

Fourth commandment

Shabbos has two dimensions: the first directly between man and God; the second between man and man with God mediating between the upper classes and the lower classes. 
The second version of the fourth commandment in Deuteronomy 5:15 has zakhor invoked not for the Sabbath day but for God taking a servile Israel out of the Egyptian people. This replicates the double dimension of sheviit/shemitta with sheviit being directly between man and God; and shemitta being between man and man, with God mediating. 
The other Shabbos, the monthly Shabbatot, also has two dimensions: pesach is about the role of God in the demography of the Israelite nation; succot is about the role of God in the geography of the Israelite nation. 


Psalm 78:60 uses the word yitosh to mean remove oneself rather than to release some object. 
Why is this interesting? Because when Scripture in Exodus 23:11 first introduces the matter of shemitta it uses the terms tishmitenah u’netashtah. Tishmitenah, we know, means to release but what does u’netashtah mean? 
If we define the term u’netashtah as meaning ‘to remove oneself,’ then what the verse might well be teaching is that in the seventh year the ruling class must remove itself from its rule and hand power over to the subject class. 
U’netashtah could be the political analogue in shnat sheviit to the economic regulations defined by tishmitenah.

Insecure abundance

When someone in scarce circumstances experiences the scarcity it allows for many opportunities for finding meaning. The activities of scarcity – the exercise of cooking or of defending the homestead –  are always meaningful in their own right. 
When someone experiences scarcity when his material conditions are actually those of abundance then it allows only for empty lives devoid of meaning. 
Yes,  devastating oppression and unrelenting terror are horrible political conditions in which to live but insecure abundance affords a horror of its own stripe.

Creative and providential

When God says do not harvest during My sabbatical year He is not speaking out of a what might seem like an arbitrary willfulness, He is expressing the natural consequence of His being the Creator. 
God speaks in the Bible as an expression of His particular creative and providential posture vis-a-vis the world. He is not bespeaking an ethical stance so much as He is trying to lay out the implications of the world's having been created the way it was, the way He created it. 

Fundamentalist nonsense

The problem with ChZL's neglect of the laws of sheviit and shemitta is not that they did not follow the letter of the scriptural law as written but that they did not attempt to reproduce the spirit of the law as they understood it. 
It is this slavish preoccupation with the letter of the law, based on the preposterous notion that ChZL cannot surmise the true intent of scriptural law and must instead, and in every instance, address scripture as a spiritual black box, that has led to the calamity for the Jewish people that it has. 
As the collapse of the industrial West's wealth will disqualify the nonsense of the free market fundamentalists so the Genocide has already disqualified the nonsense of the Oral Law fundamentalists. 
Curiously enough, both fundamentalisms could be overturned by the revival and obsrvance of the set of scriptural laws – the laws of sheviit and shemitta

In times of threat

Sheviit would naturally be suspended in times of military threat, as would shabbos be. 

Force an urgent future

Shnat sheviit serves as a national institution, as an integrator to bring together the nation’s disparate minorities. 
Indeed, the notion that Israelis could sell their land to resident Arabs as a way of getting around the laws of sheviit and shemitta goes against the deepest meaning of the institution, which is to bind together all the people who share the land. 
To install shnat sheviit as a fundamental national institution would give a purpose to the state that is at once revolutionary in the context of the modern political/economy as well as founded on a set of ancient practices that aren't identified particularly with the Jewish people since those practices in history don't seem to have been embraced by them. 
Shnat sheviit would be a revolutionary idea for a people, one that could inspire all of its people and its peoples, tear it out of the past and force an urgent future onto all its people.  

19 September 2011

Best time

Shnat sheviit offers the economy an opportunity to reconfigure itself. 
When people need to adjust to structural changes in the economy the best time to accomplish it is during the sabbatical year when the entire economic order is in flux.

To the families

How the central government shares power with the local governments is embodied in how the mishkan incorporated the tribal identification in the avnei shoham and the lechem hapanim
The tribes bespeak the kinship relationship rather than the civil relationship. 
The land is granted by God not to the nation but to the families. 
The family is the locus of will whereas the individual is the locus of appetite. Families favor stability while individuals favor getting more and more. 

A form of hoarding

The contractual claim that equity capital can exercise over the revenues an enterprise throws off over the lifetime of its operation ought to wane with time. Such contracts ought to have built into them sunset provisions that would require their claims periodically to be revisited and reconsidered. 
Permanent claims encourage passive ownership, which, in turn, is a form of hoarding. 

Beyond subsistence

To enable the development of industry in an economy requires of the farmer to produce surplus food. 
That surplus allows the economy to move beyond subsistence into higher forms of productivity. The shnat sheviit forces the economy to produce surplus food and thus to organize itself so that the production of surplus is a basic standard in the economy. 
The sabbatical year both enables the going beyond subsistence as well as the remaining within the band of sova so that the society does not descend into the excesses of excess. 
The sabbatical year promotes the institutions of both surplus and sova

18 September 2011

Land and seed

Land and seed are the two basic ingredients of Avram's blessing from God. 
The Lord promises Avram land and seed as a way to start fresh so as to build a new society dedicated to principles that would be blessings for those who bless them and accursed for those who curse them. 
That society would find its highest expression in the laws of sheviit and shemitta, which laws detail how the land and seed need to be apportioned to greatest advantage. 

Color of covenant

The laws of sheviit are tagged as coming from har Sinai in order to convey the message that these laws are meant not only to be followed but more important they are meant to function as definimg the cultural shape of the nation. 
Sheviit must take on the color of the covenant between God and the people of Israel. 
As the Sinaitic covenant defines the character of the nation, so these laws must serve as the germs for implementing the institutional sub-structure of such a nation. Sheviit is about more than a set of laws governing the use of land in Israel, it is about a vision of what a covenantally autonomous people can accomplish. 
It is a stab at utopia; it is the biblical regime’s shot at making a paradise on Earth. 

Putrifaction, evaporation, evanescence

  • Shabbos is about credit; miqdash is about blame. 
  • Shabbos is about assets; miqdash is about liabilities. 
Both are about maintaining the balance between storage relative to putrifaction, evaporation, the evanescence of what might otherwise be stored. 

Danger of perpetuities

The American Founders understood the danger of perpetuities. 
They did not however understand the need for the establishment of rhythms in the society to counteract those perpetuities. 
They had the ideas with elections and with copyrights and patents but not with the limitation of liabilities and the claims of publicly traded, arm's length equities shares. 

Stashing the discipline

The sabbaths are moments of liberation and reversal of established power relations whereas the sanctuary is a space of discipline and the enactment and performance of established power relations. 
By stashing the discipline of miqdash into the free flow of shabbat ChZL really impaired the proper action of both of these institutions. 

Equal dignity

The Sabbath bespeaks Creation insofar as it is meant to open people up to the infinite possibilities of newness and renewal. Miqdash bespeaks Creation in its recapitulation of paradise. 
The Sabbath also represents the moment when their are no distinctions between super- and sub-ordinate. According to such a vision of the Sabbath Day no-one should be working. It is a day of absolute equality when no-one serves another, when every person has equal dignity, be they servants or animals or the high and mighty or the resident alien. All commerce stops and every person does for him or herself. 

Rare, outlier event

According to Nasim Taleb, Mediocristan is the world of predictable outcomes where the weight of the outlier does not substantially alter the result; Extremistan is the world of rare events where the weight of the outlier dominates the result. 
History jumps, it does not crawl. History is affected by the rare, outlier event. 
What sheviit/shemitta does is superimpose a regular variation in the historical process to move the society from Extremistan to Mediocristan. 

16 September 2011


Hakheil is the place where shabbos and miqdash meet. 
The government disintermediates itself at the end of sheviit to declare the fundamental importance of civil society and the covenant that defines its essential character.   

Poor strategy

Hoarding is a poor strategy in a collapsed society because hoarding invites theft. What you gain from the hoarding you lose in the having to defend yourself against those who covet the hoarded stash. 
In a collapsed society it does not pay to be rich because the maintenance of that potential difference between rich and poor, which maintenance is one of the key functions of the power elite, is what is being collapsed along with the collapse of the commercial traffic the political/economy had been enabling. 
Sheviit/shemitta is a periodic suspension of that potential difference coupled to the suspension of the commercial traffic. 
Sheviit/shemitta induces a national simulation of kibbutz/commune life. 

Tear-stained embrace

The kibbutz movement was tailor made for the early settlers in Palestine because they did not have the luxury of a super-ordinate national government to provide for them. They needed to fend entirely for themselves. 
The problem was the kibbutzniks believed they were manifesting socialism when what they were really manifesting was civil society. When the immediate challenges of kibbutz life eased some the kibbutzniks couldn't pass along that way of life to the next generation because it didn't make sense anymore. The socialism didn't sell. 
What Zionism 2.0 needs to be is a kibbutz movement that has moved out of the kibbutz and into its next stage which manifests the civil society at the national level, viz, sheviit/shemitta. The kibbutz-based values need to find a way of translating into a national program, which is precisely what sheviit/shemitta would accomplish. 
The people of Israel have as their competitive advantage the makings of a civil society. Two millennia of diaspora have taught the Jewish people how to survive without the co-operation of the power elites. The Jewish people have been living in a prolonged state of disaster and civic collapse. What this people needs to do at present is to take the lessons of the diaspora and to import them into the homeland so that civil society can flourish even as the people have resumed their own power elites for governing the nation. 
The Jewish people need to import into Israel those institutions of diaspora, which are the institutions of sheviit/shemitta, that would periodically suspend the functioning of the power elites and replace those elites with the explicit functioning of the civil society. Diaspora, antisemitism, the lessons of life without authoritative oversight, the resilience and stability of civil society, the kibbutz movement all culminating in sheviit/shemitta makes for a strong unifying explanatory thread to serve as a national mythos and a national self-understanding. 
If we take this argument to its logical conclusion, it seems as if the iniquities the people of Israel committed which merited exile was the encroachment of the profane institutions onto their cognate sacred institutions. In exile the Jewish people lost their access to the profane institutions and needed to develop a deeper appreciation for the civil society, which is what the sacred institutions were meant to steward. The biblical system is not only non-government and non-market it is contra-government and contra-market. 
The tear-stained embrace of the Gaza settler by the Israeli soldier before they both proceeded to perform their activist rituals was a demonstration of civil society not so much over-ruling authority but effectively making it irrelevant. 

Economic shifts

When the economy shifts from end-user products and services to tools people can use for themselves to make whatever they need to sustain themselves, especially over the shnat sheviit, the society will become more resilient. 
The way companies organize their employment relationship will change when the economy experiences a regular shnat sheviit that intervenes in the possibility of selling one's labor. 


The re-institutionalization of the new economic order can be led by the re-definition of Zionism into Zionism 2.0 along the lines of bringing in shnat sheviit into the political/economic arena. 

House of David

Shabbos and miqdash are the artificial superpositions of sanctity into time and place. They temper and create manageable rhythms and legions to defend territories respectively superimposed on the profane commercial and military sectors. 
Shabbos addresses the function of money and installs a sacred interim where money transactions are suspended and the action of money cannot operate. Shabbos controls time, and in the commercial sector money is time. 
Miqdash addresses the function of place and installs a consecrated space where location loses its sacred power. 
The House of David unfortunately understood neither shabbos nor miqdash. It likely never instituted shnat sheviit, and it fixed the miqdash and thus merely intensified rather than suspended the sanctity of a particular place, to this very day. 

15 September 2011

Sheviit, shabbat and bikurrim

Sheviit is about eretz; bikurrim is about adamah
The former defines the culmination of the first covenant, brit Sinai, the second defines the culmination of the second covenant, the brit Arvot Moab
Adam violates shabbat when he eats from the fruit, which God explicitly does not grant to man; Qayin violates bikurrim by not offering his best (first) fruits in his mincha, in contra-distinction to Hevel who brings "mibkhorot tzono." 
Shabbat is about what belongs to God's choq; bikurrim is about how God's contribution has a hand in man's creative power. 

Harnessing wildness

The sabbatical year allows the natural systems to refresh themselves. 
The observance of a sabbatical year respects the mystery of complex ecological systems. Such systems cannot be dealt with in a mechanical fashion, and so the application of artificial, man-made forces onto the environment is bound to destroy the inner balance by which the ecology organizes itself. 
By imposing the self-restraint of a sabbatical year, man is at once harnessing the wildness and the unmeasurable character of nature and of life while at the same time man is also super-imposing an artificial rhythm onto the social system so that the natural rhythms will be kept from oscillating out of control. 

Just enough underbrush

Sheviit introduces into the political/economic system regular stresses and tests that function like controlled burns in the forest, 
"clearing away just enough underbrush to make you invulnerable to a larger fire." (The Age of the Unthinkable, Joshua Cooper Ramo, 2009, page 181) 
The cycles of sheviit and yovel address the slow variables in the eco-system enabling them to refresh without having to contend with the action of the fast variables. 

Gratitude for repayment

Shemittat kesaphim replaces legal enforcement, as the motivator to repay the debt, with gratitude for the repayment of a gift. 
Shemittat kesaphim thus puts a time limit of endebtedness and insists the experience of gratitude into the affairs of fellow Israelites. 
The ability to experience and express and act on gratitude bespeaks the cultivation of character that itself bespeaks the development of autonomy and dignity, which is the point of sacred social institutions. 

Back and forth rhythm

The back and forth rhythm of control over the land that shemitta represents simulates the passing back and forth between fellows of gifts for the sake of establishing a relationship. 

Free press and jury system

The function that Shabbat and Miqdash perform in the biblical political/economic system could well be performed by a free press and a jury system in a democratic system. 
These are, in the respective systems, the mitigating institutions that stop the advance of commerce and government from overwhelming the civil society. 

Native world & corporate world

The biblical system is a bridge between the na├»ve innocence of the native world and the harsh rapaciousness of the corporate world. 
The biblical system links the simplicity of civil society with the sophistication of elite rule. 

Lip service

Sheviit embodies the material experience of Clal Yisroel's relationship with God. 
Without that material aspect to the relationship, it's all lip service: avodat hapeh, and consequently insincere. 


  • Rhythm is a by-product of stewardship. 
  • The steward has to give back. Thus is rhythm made. 
  • Ownership allows for invariance and lack of resilience. 

Surpluses for sabbaticals

The lechem mishna of the manna episode is there to teach that surplus should be accumulated expressly for the sake of sabbatical. 
Sabbatical is the answer to the problem of surpluses. 

Not about locomotion

The proscription in Exodus 16:29, 'shvu Ish tachtav, al yeitzei Ish mimeqomo bayom hashevii', could be read as being not about locomotion but about extraction. 
Shvu tachtav and yeitzei mimeqomo could mean prohibiting man from taking from God’s providence.

Essence of self-discipline

Sova, on the consumption side, and shabbos, on the production side, are both the essences of self-discipline. 
Both sova and shabbos address the economic, legitimate side of the political-economic arena. 
The miqdash correspondingly addresses discipline on the political, authoritative side of the political-economic arena. 

Isolated economic orders

When global trade grinds to a halt at the end of the oil era and as energy costs become too great to sustain the world’s economy it will become feasible for Israel to install the shemitta system. 
The end of global trade will return nations to their isolated economic orders, more closely resembling how they were in the ancient world. 
Israel will then be able to lead the world in the new way for nations to organize their economic activities. 

Associate that sova

Which would you prefer: Clal Yisroel keeps shemitta but never benches after meals or Clal Yisroel always benches but it never keeps shemitta
The problem with benching is that it expresses gratitude for the mazon, the food, which has the effect of suppressing the primary intention of the injunction, which is not to bless after every meal but to recognize when one has achieved the sova point in one’s consumption basket and to associate that sova with God's having granted Israel the land. 

Production for export

Israel could begin the process of instituting shemitta by limiting the sabbatical to only domestic markets while production for export markets would still persist during the shnat sheviit
That would help manage most of the political/economic issues sheviit is meant to address. 

Guests as strangers

When miqrah says don't treat your guests as strangers it is saying don't allow market values to govern policy. 
Strangers are aliens. We transact with aliens only with respect to those things that are alienable. When miqrah repeatedly says to treat the non-Israelite as one of your own it is saying not to transact in terms of alienability. 
In the covenantal social order resident strangers are treated either as members or as consecrated others but not as aliens. 

Dialectical approach

The Lebanese experiment of sharing power between multple ethnicities through a quota system won't in general work because each office becomes the 'property' of that ethnicity, to be hoarded and aggrandized relative to the other offices under apportionment. The offices become chuqim with no covenantal relationship. 
A better approach would be the one devised by ATT – the dialectical approach. Each office-holder's ethnic community gets to appoint the successor's successor. Thus, the office becomes a choq but it also requires shemitta, and so, covenantal relationship and mutual respect and aid.  

Merits of the mature

Stewardship maximizes the likelihood that the participants will focus on the merits of the mature rather than any other considerations. 

14 September 2011

In the breach

Any plan for the revival of the institution of shemitta in the State of Israel needs also to lay out how to get from here to there: how to devise an interim system during which time shemitta will be observed largely in the breach or only partially, while the rest of the world comes into conformity with its establishment. 

"At the end of seven years ..."

What does it mean when Deuteronomy 15:1 says 'At the end of seven years ...'? 
Does that mean that shemittat ossaph and shnat sheviit happen at the beginning of the seventh year while shemittat kesaphim kicks in at the end of the seventh year? 
It could be the difference between the former and the latter is that shemittat ossaph and shnat sheviit revert after the seventh year to their prior conditions whereas shemittat kesaphim is permanent. 

Excess & abundance

YHWH assures Israel to observe shnat sheviit by promising excess before the onset of the sabbatical. 
YHWH assures Israel to observe shemittat kesaphim by promising abundance after the release of the debt-dunning. 
       'Lo yigash' (Deuteronomy 15:3) means 'don't dunn,' not 'don't be owed.' 

A ready abundance

When YHWH promises to provide for proper abundance before the onset of shnat sheviit it could well mean that if He doesn't provide a sufficient measure of abundance, the requirement of shnat sheviit is suspended. 
It might be that sheviit is only applicable under circumstances of a ready abundance. 

Artificial cycle

The seven year sabbatical cycle superimposes an artificial employment boom and bust cycle onto the economy's natural feast and famine cycle. 

Providence & fury

Shemitta is about God's providence and the reciprocation it entails; miqdash is about God's fury and how we need to appease Him in our relationship with Him. 

Change the game

The laws of shemitta alter the definition of the decision-making agent. 
Whereas during the six years of productivity the decision-making agent was the self-interested individual or firm, during the shemitta years that agent becomes the community. It is not that the community becomes the agent for the decision-making over the individual but that the individual seems himself as behaving according to the tastes and preferences of the community. By altering the laws of property with respect to the elementary needs to sustain life while at the same time foreclosing the producers of those needs from working for the market, the members of the society could attend to matters driven by higher spiritual concerns. 
If spirituality is grounded in materiality, there comes a moment when the materiality has to flip around and serve the spirituality, and that moment is shemitta. Shemitta alters the axiomatic presumptions of the economic system. It takes the initial endowments of, on the one hand, material goods, and, on the other hand, tastes and preferences with respect to those goods, and it says let's change the game once every seven years and another once every fifty years. During the years of shemitta and yovel your endowments are not your own and your tastes and preferences are driven with respect to what you can make and not what you can consume. 
Every shemitta year people behave as if they won the lottery. Shemitta makes the entire society behave as if abundance and not scarcity were driving all the economic decisions. 

Everyone wealthy

The logic behind shemitta has to be that those who dominate the social structures would consider it wise to allow the body politic, every seven years, to behave as if everyone were wealthy. 
The irony of shemitta is that it fell into disuse because those who dominate the social structures deemed the entire body politic as too impoverished to allow for such behavior under abundance. 
The economy could manage abundance once every seven days but not once every seven years, and certainly not for two years every fifty years. 


One benefit from the institution of a regular shemitta year is the ease with which creative destruction can occur. 
During shemitta the established power structure is weakened and the possibility for innovation is enhanced. The year after shemitta would likely be a year when lots of new ideas would be tried out and some of them would be implemented. The shemitta year is a year of general subsidy of creative novelty. With a shemitta system in place it is easier to imagine people changing their minds about how things should work. 
Shemitta puts a certain measure of flex into the social structure so that it can bend with the wind and bow under heavy loads without having to snap in brittle rigidity. Shemitta is not just the last year of a six year production cycle, it is also the first year of a six year implementation cycle. 

Coherent or incoherent

The matter of shemitta is the matter of how coherent or incoherent is the state of Israel's social, economic and political organization. 
When the leaders of the people of Israel felt the societal bonds to be weak they weakened the shemitta laws. The question is can that weakening be reversed now that the societal bonds holding the people of Israel together have become demonstrably stronger, what with the salutary effects of modern day technology and the robust institutional foundations that come of enlightened democratic society? 

Permanently inalienable

The prohibition against selling real assets, which is the centerpiece of the laws of shemitta, in fact forecloses the sort of irresponsible public policy presently impoverishing the American people. 
Much as the leadership might like to mortgage away the future welfare of the country by selling off its real assets in order to improve consumption levels in the present, the laws of shemitta and yovel delimit that. 
The real assets of the people of Israel cannot be alienated permanently. They are inalienable, and thus are deemed to be a part of the identity and personality of the people. 

To run in surplus

A fixed, nation-wide sabbatical year establishes the primary economic drivers for the state as having to run in surplus. 
When, every seven years, the surplus is distributed, the distributions go to the general public at a moment of social equalization and equilibration. 

Mass de-commodification

Might it be that shemitta is about what belongs to God and is given to us as a source of abundance, and that shemitta does not apply to the fruit of our own labors, which is the product of scarcity? 
When God describes Himself as the landlord and the people of Israel as the tenants who have a claim only on the produce of the land but not on the real assets, it could be He is referring to the matter of how to allocate the over-abundance that can come of a too-well-ordered society. In that case the laws of shemitta would correspond to the Biblical admonition not to strut with too much self-importance at the acquisition of cities already built and fields already plowed when the Children of Israel occupy the land of the Canaanites, etc. 
The Chumash is dealing with the problem of how to allocate in the face of abundance rather than scarcity, where markets can allocate effectively and, likely, efficiently. The answer to the question of how to distribute rents is: the sabbatical – to fund an annual 15% excess every seven years, and then once every 50 years to spend a year when the only thing happening is happening on the inalienable side of the economic equation. 
The inalienability of the land at Yovel is reflected in the inalienability of the produce and of the debts and of the sale of persons into slavery. Shemitta is a mass de-commodification of the economic order. The super-abundance that comes of having too much rent is distributed like a reverse head tax, a sort of head subsidy, one per person, to fund the work of the society that would be done even if there were no compensation, out of the motivation of the people's creative impulse and self-expression rather than in response to the incentives that come from trade and compensation.