The anarchist who inherited property- where would you stand?

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samjam
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Nov 16 2004 14:00
The anarchist who inherited property- where would you stand?

Where would you stand on the situation below. It is not purely theoretical but a real scenario I know about.

What if an anarchist inherited property from a rich uncle. The property is farmland that can fetch quite a high lease value. It also happens to be in a society where anarchist concepts are foreign.

He knows that if he does not take over the property, others will squeeze as much as possible from the tenant farmers. He also knows that if he turns the land over to the tenants, they will sell their portion to the highest bidder; they are poor and the land is worth more than they will earn in a decade of farming.

So the anarchist accepts the property but intends to charge only what the tenant farmer can afford; it may be a bag of corn or token amount for the lease.

What do you think -- did the anarchist 'sell-out' or is he just being practical by doing his best in a capitalist society?

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JDMF
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Nov 16 2004 14:13
samjam wrote:

What do you think -- did the anarchist 'sell-out' or is he just being practical by doing his best in a capitalist society?

thats what we all do.

There are real examples of this what i know of. For instance someone inheriting land in south africa where there are tenant farmers who have lived there for generations. Then i would just give the land to the people who it belongs to, because it sure as hell doesn't belong to me! Would probably have a slice to myself though.

If they choose to sell it, it is their business.

Just initial incoherent thoughts...

Kalashnikov_Blues
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Nov 16 2004 14:31

Sounds like Penny Rimbaud from CRASS. This was basically how he got his farm and all through the 70's-80's had it as a pretty open community.

lucy82
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Nov 16 2004 21:36

yeah he can sit on his arse, feeling holier than thou, but still setting the conditions of the lease, however generous, and not allowing the people who actually do the work the power to decide what happens to the land because they may make the "wrong" choice because they clearly will only be able to see the money whereas he, with his understanding of capitalism, has the vision to see the wider ecological, political picture. urrgh. roll eyes

or heres a third choice, he keeps the conditions of tenancy as they are, makes a profit from the land and uses that profit to fund a network of activists..

wink

rohan
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Nov 16 2004 22:48

hmm ... means and ends ... why does it always come down to em?

tongue

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rebel_lion
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Nov 17 2004 11:33

if it was me, i'd try to turn it into a farming co-op, the viability of which would probably depend on whether the tenant farmers wanted to form one, after i explained the concept to them...

what i'd do if they didn't want to, i'm not sure... possibly let them stay as tenants but charging only nominal rent, or possibly let them leave and invite other people to come and become a co-op... it's an interestnig question, tho i find it hard to imagine any tenants not prefering to collectively own their land...

i wouldn't turn it over to anyone as private property tho, especially not if small scale (separate, not collectivised) owners would probably get bought out/fucked over by big land buyers as you say...

(reply to lucy82, i think what he's saying is not so much giving it to the tenants is bad because they would make the morally "wrong choice, but because if they did then they would inevitably get fucked over by some powerful bastard who would buy out the land and leave them at least as badly off as they were before... so it's not as patronising or paternalistic as it looks, imo)

captainmission
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Nov 17 2004 13:00
rebel_lion wrote:
(reply to lucy82, i think what he's saying is not so much giving it to the tenants is bad because they would make the morally "wrong choice, but because if they did then they would inevitably get fucked over by some powerful bastard who would buy out the land and leave them at least as badly off as they were before... so it's not as patronising or paternalistic as it looks, imo)

ok if not 'morally' wrong, then economically wrong. I'd Also guess that tenant farmers probably have a better idea of how capitalism fucks people over than people who inherit land off rich uncles. And they'd get 'more than they will earn in a decade of farming' don't see how that's being left as badly off as they were before. If you don't think the poor folk can deal with the complexities of capitalism, might as well fuck it and become one-nation tories.

As far as i see it they worked it, its their land

rebel_lion
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Nov 17 2004 15:19

well yeah, that's basically what i think as well... but in the scenario stated in the first post, it was stated that giving the land to the tenant farmers as their private property would lead to them being forced to sell it and fucked over. and i don't doubt that's what would happen...

not that i ever will inherit land anyway, cos i'm not related to anyone that rich...

but i don't think anyone here would disagree that (as first course of action) trying to convince the farmers (to whom it's stated in the first post anarchist ideas are "alien") to collectivise would be the "most anarchist" thing to do?

hypothetical scenarios inevitably twist everyone's positions slightly off reality anyway... (there's too bloody many of them in my course at the moment)...

samjam
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Nov 18 2004 03:36
captainmission wrote:
ok if not 'morally' wrong, then economically wrong.

Can you explain this a little more? Why do you think it's economically wrong?

captainmission wrote:
And they'd get 'more than they will earn in a decade of farming' don't see how that's being left as badly off as they were before.

They may be worse off because most likely they will not be able to find other work where they live. So having sold their land and with no other source of income, they will probably move to the big city to find jobs. Prices in the city will be at least three to five times more expensive -- the money won't last. Chances are they will end up living in a slum or shantytown and get exploited much worse than if they were farmers.

(This is the trend in that country.)

captainmission wrote:
If you don't think the poor folk can deal with the complexities of capitalism, might as well fuck it and become one-nation tories.

Actually, I don't think they can deal with the complexities of capitalism. Why? Because that takes education and the poor have little or no education. (By 'poor', I mean 'third-world' poor.) If the poor folk really could deal with it, why are poor folk all over the world getting screwed by capitalism?

BTW, I'm not saying that poor folk don't have the ability; it's the opportunity that's lacking.

nuclearcivvy
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Nov 18 2004 13:11

Tell him to form a workers co-op. The land can be bought from him steadily by the co-op, and no individual could sell it. He wouldn't be living off their backs, and he can do something constructive with the money.

captainmission
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Nov 18 2004 18:08
rebel_lion wrote:
well yeah, that's basically what i think as well... but in the scenario stated in the first post, it was stated that giving the land to the tenant farmers as their private property would lead to them being forced to sell it and fucked over. and i don't doubt that's what would happen...

well no, its not that they'd be forced to sell it but that they would choose sell it.

Quote:
Can you explain this a little more? Why do you think it's economically wrong?

i don't, i was trying to characterise rebel lions comment that it wasn't a moral issue- but an economic issue, that they'd 'inevitably get fucked over by some powerful bastard who would buy out the land and leave them at least as badly off as they were before'.

Quote:
They may be worse off because most likely they will not be able to find other work where they live. So having sold their land and with no other source of income, they will probably move to the big city to find jobs.

if that's the case don't you think the tenant farmers will realise this? Don't you think there more able to judge there only economic future better than parentalist westerners?

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(This is the trend in that country.)

which country is it?

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Actually, I don't think they can deal with the complexities of capitalism. Why? Because that takes education and the poor have little or no education.

poor stupid peasants, can't even understand there own material conditions without educated westerns telling them what to think. roll eyes And i remember the first thing i learnt in school was how capitalism fucks you over 101.

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If the poor folk really could deal with it, why are poor folk all over the world getting screwed by capitalism?

maybe it cos rich anarchists are controlling the means of production? tongue why are the educated working classes in this country fucked by capitalism? Don't see any conection betwwen formal education and radicalism. Some of the most liberatrian revloutions have happen due to the influence of 'uneducated peasants'. Maybe getting consantly fucked over by landlords is a better education in the scewed up nature of capitalism rather than primary education?

Quote:
Tell him to form a workers co-op. The land can be bought from him steadily by the co-op, and no individual could sell it. He wouldn't be living off their backs, and he can do something constructive with the money.

he would be living off the backs of people if he's selling it back to them. What basis does he have to charge rent on this land (oh sorry, so generously allow them to buy it back roll eyes) - cos his uncle screwed them over before?

Either you believe that the people who work and use the land should control it (that includes with out being controlled by well meaning members of the ruling class looking out for the tenants best interests) or you don't. It's not really a tough one.[

samjam
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Nov 19 2004 05:47
captainmission wrote:
which country is it?

The Philippines

captainmission wrote:
if that's the case don't you think the tenant farmers will realise this?

Some of them do, but take the gamble anyway. Some of them genuinely don't. Whatever anyone thinks about their expectations, it is a fact that people move from the countryside and provinces to look for work in the big cities (and even to different countries). Many end up being exploited in sweat shops or as prostitutes. Some try to look for work as house servants.

captainmission wrote:
Don't you think there more able to judge there only economic future better than parentalist westerners?

My friend and I are not Westerners.

However, Western ideas can help, as can Eastern ideas. Isn't Anarchism Western (as an idea/political theory rather than as a natural way of organising)?

captainmission wrote:
poor stupid peasants, can't even understand there own material conditions without educated westerns telling them what to think.

I'm not saying they can't understand the conditions. It's that many don't have the 'tools' to do anything about it.

captainmission wrote:
Don't see any conection betwwen formal education and radicalism.

I didn't say anything about formal education and radicalism.

But it does take some kind of education (i.e. training) to learn about co-operative organisation, the use of new tools, different farming techniques, maximising yields, bringing produce to market, etc.

One reason why the farmers can't compete with American/European farmers is because they are using out dated or less efficient methods and tools. (I'm not even touching on getting screwed by trade agreements yet...)

It also takes ALOT of capital and knowledge to run and operate farms.

Which is better? To pool resources and buy a tractor, or stick with the water buffalo and upgrade to metal ploughs? It takes knowledge, education / training to make the better decision.

Fish farming has been found to be one answer to poverty and hunger. But it surprised me to find out that it's a very, very scientific and capital intensive process. The average 'poor farmer' will not be able to last long in fish farming without any education.

captainmission wrote:
Either you believe that the people who work and use the land should control it ... (snip) ... or you don't.

I don't think it's that simple. You can pay legal lip service by continuing to 'own' the land. This will probably prevent problems with the law and other parasites who want to take over the land. But you can operate in a way that's fair to the people who work the land.

Basically, I'm asking how far would you go to stretch your ideals for the sake of being practical?

nuclearcivvy
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Nov 21 2004 23:37

Samjam's got a point about education. Plenty of slick entrepeneurs waiting to part them from their assets. Plenty of bankers, brokers, tractor salesmen, investors and agrotech reps with extensive training in aggressive marketing.

A workers co-op would be a way to give the land back to their rightful owners without that risk. It wouldn't be exploiting them. The profit from the land would buy the land. Not them personally. It would also be the least disruptive, and most empowering way to do it.

Everyone involved would have a vested interest in the co-op's success. They would also have the incentive to support eachother as a community in their efforts.

Skills and experience would quickly build up within the co-op, in all aspects of running the co-op.

Finally, giving them each a parcel of land makes everyone less secure because your neighbour may sell out to a corporation. A co-operative member could only sell to the co-op when the co-op could afford to buy them out. It's also going to make everyone value what they have more, because they see how much it cost, even though that cost is offset by their increased income. People naturally feel protective and responsible for stuff they collectively own. They want to see it succeed, and work for the benefit of all. I think it would be up to the previous owner what he did with the money from the sale of the land. If it was me, I'd invest in local infrastructure, then wait for the first member to drop out, and ask to buy into it bringing true equality.

Get your friend to look into workers co-ops Samjam. He could propose it, and see what they think. I'd bet they'd jump at the chance.

captainmission
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Nov 24 2004 13:56
samjam wrote:
Some of them do, but take the gamble anyway. Some of them genuinely don't. Whatever anyone thinks about their expectations, it is a fact that people move from the countryside and provinces to look for work in the big cities (and even to different countries). Many end up being exploited in sweat shops or as prostitutes. Some try to look for work as house servants.
Quote:

As opposed to being exploited on tenant farms? Sweat shops and all might be exploitative but what section of capitalism isn't? And since most 'peasant' farming famlies in south east asia are reliant on income from outside of the farm any way- typically younger female family members working in big cities I think it would be reasonable to assume they do know about the conditions of employment elsewhere.

Quote:
I'm not saying they can't understand the conditions. It's that many don't have the 'tools' to do anything about it.

yes you have look at the second paragraph of your post. But that aside what are the tools to do anything about it?

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But it does take some kind of education (i.e. training) to learn about co-operative organisation, the use of new tools, different farming techniques, maximising yields, bringing produce to market, etc.

most of these skills would only be taught at agricultural college. Co-operative organisation is skill that tenant farmers do use to compete against capital intensive farming. If anything i sespuct that formal education would play a role in undermining collective solidarity.

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It also takes ALOT of capital and knowledge to run and operate farms.

depneds what sort of farm doesn't it?

Quote:
Which is better? To pool resources and buy a tractor, or stick with the water buffalo and upgrade to metal ploughs? It takes knowledge, education / training to make the better decision.

either of those choices aren't simple economic questions of maximising yiled or what ever, but political and moral descisions that are going to redifine the social relations the farmers would have with each other, suppliers and the land. Education isn't going to provide objective anwsers to this.

Quote:
Fish farming has been found to be one answer to poverty and hunger. But it surprised me to find out that it's a very, very scientific and capital intensive process. The average 'poor farmer' will not be able to last long in fish farming without any education.

i'd dispute that fish farming is an answer to hunger or poverty. As you say its a capital intensive process thus beyond the realms of 'poor farmers' educated or otherwise. They'll just place food production increasely in the hands of fewer capitalists. They also require massive amounts of dreadging of wild fish for food for the farmed fish, destroying local ecosystems and putting small scale fishers out of food.

but all this talk about farming methods is missing the point..

Quote:
I don't think it's that simple. You can pay legal lip service by continuing to 'own' the land. This will probably prevent problems with the law and other parasites who want to take over the land. But you can operate in a way that's fair to the people who work the land.

the only fair way to operate is that the people who work the land own and control it. and if they want to collectivise it fine thats there decision. But is it so hard to understand that anarchist should be working towards a society where workers control they're only lives, not that their held in trust by benovalant members of the ruling class, who can determine whether they're educated enough to make there own decisions.

captainmission
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Nov 24 2004 14:08
nuclearcivvy wrote:
A workers co-op would be a way to give the land back to their rightful owners without that risk. It wouldn't be exploiting them. The profit from the land would buy the land.

But why should they have to pay 'back' the land owner? If there is going to be a workers co-op (is a workers co-op suitable for the labour structure of a tenant family farm?) then the land should be given to the co-op for free. Otherwise your just reasserting the bougoies right of property inheritence and the right to exploit their workers. If you think that then you've no business calling yourself an anarchist.

btw it's explotation of labour that produces profit not the 'land'

Quote:
think it would be up to the previous owner what he did with the money from the sale of the land. If it was me, I'd invest in local infrastructure, then wait for the first member to drop out, and ask to buy into it bringing true equality.

you really do have a fucked sense of equality don't you? If this is what new land-lord did i'd fully support the tenants right to hack him/her to death as the slept and squat the land. Think that would be the most anarchist outcome.

samjam
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Nov 24 2004 16:07
captainmission wrote:
As opposed to being exploited on tenant farms?

Yes.

Again, I'm talking about ideals vs. practicality. Sticking to ideals and talking about exploitation, freedom and anarchism isn't going to fill an empty belly, or create jobs where there are none.

captainmission wrote:
Quote:
I'm not saying they can't understand the conditions. It's that many don't have the 'tools' to do anything about it.

yes you have look at the second paragraph of your post. But that aside what are the tools to do anything about it?

OK, you're right. I did imply that. Some of them can't understand or know about the bigger picture of their own material conditions. (Uh-oh...I'm going to get flack for that comment... sad )

The tools would be education. (And by 'education', I don't necessarily mean 'formal education'.) People can learn about ways to change their conditions.

captainmission wrote:
Quote:
But it does take some kind of education (i.e. training) to learn about co-operative organisation, the use of new tools, different farming techniques, maximising yields, bringing produce to market, etc.

most of these skills would only be taught at agricultural college.

So what? It doesn't matter where it's taught. Someone's still got to know these skills to compete. (They have to compete to survive.)

captainmission wrote:
Quote:
It also takes ALOT of capital and knowledge to run and operate farms.

depneds what sort of farm doesn't it?

Most farms I've come across.

captainmission wrote:
either of those choices aren't simple economic questions of maximising yiled or what ever, but political and moral descisions that are going to redifine the social relations the farmers would have with each other, suppliers and the land. Education isn't going to provide objective anwsers to this.

How is the choice between a tractor or a steel plough a political and moral decision? The farmers don't have time to sit around contemplating political and moral decisions; they've got to harvest before the crops rot in the fields.

Education will provide an answer because it will allow them to figure out which gives the best return on investment.

captainmission wrote:
the only fair way to operate is that the people who work the land own and control it. and if they want to collectivise it fine thats there decision. But is it so hard to understand that anarchist should be working towards a society where workers control they're only lives, not that their held in trust by benovalant members of the ruling class, who can determine whether they're educated enough to make there own decision

I'm not the anarchist, my friend is. This is what I'm trying to understand and is why I'm on this board asking questions.

Anonymous
Nov 30 2004 23:26

Don't worry about it too much you are where u are. I don't personally agree with personal wealth but it happens. We'll get you in the end anyway if it comes to it poppet if required.

captainmission
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Dec 1 2004 14:15
Quote:
How is the choice between a tractor or a steel plough a political and moral decision? The farmers don't have time to sit around contemplating political and moral decisions; they've got to harvest before the crops rot in the fields.

Education will provide an answer because it will allow them to figure out which gives the best return on investment.

As i said different economic choice will change the social relations that people engage in. changing from a plough to a tractor will change labour practies which will effect, for instance, how family members engage in farm labour and subsiquent time that they can spend together. Buying a tractor's going to make them more reliant on other to maintain it. And realistically to buy a tractor its going to have to be none collectively, which is going to change the realationship between tenant farmers. A technocratic education ain't going to solve the problem cos this isn't just an economic calulation about how to maximise profits.

Quote:
Again, I'm talking about ideals vs. practicality.

so my 'ideals' are to give the land to the people who farm it, cos there best able to judge there own economic interests (even if they are stupid peasants roll eyes). Whilst the 'practical' ideas suggested involve maintaining the bougoius rights of rent and property inherentence and the members of the ruling class holding on to the land. If that's the case then fuck I'm an idealist.

Quote:
I'm not the anarchist, my friend is. This is what I'm trying to understand and is why I'm on this board asking questions.

If you want to understand why your friends an anarchist why don't you ask him/her?