Home Economics Everybody Must Be Peasants - Don't Let Them Off The Land!

Everybody Must Be Peasants – Don’t Let Them Off The Land!

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It is, at times, necessary to read between the lines a little bit to see what the real proposal is. Here the headline is that farmland usage is becoming increasingly unequal. This is bad, it must be stopped because inequality is bad, right?

The actual demand is that those damned peasants had better stay out there being peasants. Because what’s the point of having concerned academics working in the warm and dry library if they can’t lord it over people sweating out in the fields? You know, Pol Pot didn’t gain power by actually growing rice himself, did he?

You think I’m joking, don’t you?

One per cent of the world’s farms operate 70% of crop fields, ranches and orchards, according to a report that highlights the impact of land inequality on the climate and nature crises.

Since the 1980s, researchers found control over the land has become far more concentrated both directly through ownership and indirectly through contract farming, which results in more destructive monocultures and fewer carefully tended smallholdings.

There are economies of scale in farming. Rather large ones in fact. Growing wheat in your back garden (and yes, there is a nutter who will come and show you how to do this) is insane.

Therefore people applying the economies of scale to farming is evidence of us all getting richer. This is bad, M’Kay, because reasons. We can tell this is what is meant from this:

Asia and Africa have the highest levels of smallholdings, where human input tends to be higher than chemical and mechanical factors, and where time frames are more likely to be for generations rather than 10-year investment cycles. Worldwide, between 80% and 90% of farms are family or smallholder-owned. But they cover only a small and shrinking part of the land and commercial production.

What they mean by “smallholding” here is not the hobby farm of 15 acres outside Penge that some Facebook coder keeps a cow and two sheep upon. Rather, that half acre where a family tries to live off $300 worth of rice or maize they can tempt from the soil each year. That’s where all that “human input” is, in peasants desperately trying to avoid starvation. As they have been for millennia – or their forbears at least – and as these vile cretins would have them do for the next few.

To address this, the report recommends greater regulation and oversight of opaque land ownership systems, a shift in tax regimes to support smallholders and better environmental management, and great support for the land-rights of communities.

“Smallholder farmers, family farmers, indigenous people and small communities are much more cautious with use of land. It’s not just about return on investment; it’s about culture, identity and leaving something for the next generation. They take much more care and in the long run, they produce more per unit area and destroy less.”

Yep, the world will be so much better if a couple of billion people have to remain in peasant destitution. Forever.

Actually, Pol Pot had an idea here. Take the noodly armed ones from out of the libraries, break their spectacles and get them out there hand planting and hand harvesting rice. Because, you know, human labour rather than partaking of the economies of scale just is the right way to do things, isn’t it?

If you’d prefer a slightly more rigorous examination, think of that initial complaint. 1% of organisations produce 70% of the output. This is bad, M’Kay?

Rilly? 1% of manufacturing companies produce 70% of the cars? We think this is bad? 1% of coders in the world produce 70% of search engines? That is, efficiency is a bad thing? Well, actually, yes, according to the noodle armed and four eyed peasantry promoters in those libraries. For we’ve a corollary to Kip Esquire’s Law here – they really do believe that they’re always going to be the ones in the libraries. A belief we should disabuse them of.

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  1. “…the biggest shift from small to big was in the United States and Europe, where ownership is in fewer hands and even individual farmers work under strict contracts for retailers, trading conglomerates and investment funds.

    Ward said these financial arrangements are now spreading to the developing world, which is accelerating the decline of soil quality, the overuse of water resources, and the pace of deforestation.

    “The concentration of ownership and control results in a greater push for monocultures and more intensive agriculture as investment funds tend to work on 10-year cycles to generate returns,” he said.”

    So…. he is not concerned with ‘inequality’ per se, but rather the impact of single central control and ’10-year plans’. So I would guess that the LAST thing that he wants is the Marxist approach of state ownership, where all the land is contolled by ONE bureaucracy, and 10-year plans are de rigeur.

    What does he want, then? I’m guessing that we are talking about Wordsworth and the Romantics here – a return to a bucolic, pre-industrial age of small vilages and hand labour with no nasty fossil-fueled mechanisation? I could go along with that if it meant a return to a truly medieval system, with a local manorial Lord. I rather fancied myself as a steward, or reeve…

    • bucolic?
      The peasants slowly drinking themselves to death as they use scrumpy to sedate themselves from the unpleasantness of subsistence farming?

    • I rather fancy myself as the Lord High Muckity Muck.

      But he rather fancies me as one of the peasants doing all that hard yakka. This is precisely why I loathe all such people.

  2. “…in the long run, they produce more per unit area…”

    I’m not sure what this actually means – because, if the words mean what they seem to mean, then why aren’t all those mega-agri-businesses employing smallholder farmers to increase their profits?

    • ‘cos you get greater output if you get rid of the hedges and roads between those smallholders and have one bigholder.

      Just as I and my three neighbours took out our garden hedges and between the four of us own one lawnmower to maintain the now one large lawn – instead of us collectively owning four lawnmowers and each having half a pocket handkerchief.

  3. The Grauniad has forgotten that the Oklahoma dustbowl, due to monoculture was in the 1930s.
    “Since the 1980s, researchers found control over the land has become far more concentrated both directly through ownership and indirectly through contract farming, which results in more destructive monocultures and fewer carefully tended smallholdings”
    No “western” country has suffered from a famine since the 1980s – only those ruled by Marxists.

  4. No “western” country has suffered from a famine since the 1980s – only those ruled by Marxists.

    The last Western famine to my reckoning was the German “Hungry Winter” of 1946-47, which was effectively the fallout of WW2. If you exclude war (and the immediate post-war aftermath) and the idiocy of the Paddies then probably the last Western was the Swedish famine of 1867–1869.

  5. The assertion that small holder “care” for the land is a myth. Subsistence farmera push everything to the max to survive. Modern farming outside of USA *** is probably kinder to environment because soil condition is critical for high performance crops. In Oz the use of no till cropping has reduced erosion considerably, increased drought resilience and soils are in better condition. The damage done by European land practices is steadily being fixed. Salination West Oz is reducing visibly over a mere decade, gullying has stopped and being repaired in eastern Oz. All this during multiple bad cropping seasons. Going from 100 acre paddocks to 2000 acre paddocks means big efficient machinery can produce quickly. No need to turn. As for concentration of ownership, why is this important ? Food prices are dropping in real terms. *** even in USA, lower quality land is going out of agriculture and reverting to forest.

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