Thursday, June 16, 2005

FREE TRADE/PEASANT PERILS

g
Chinese peasants strike back again, driving off capitalist running dogs (heh, had to say that!)

Before WWII, America jealously guarded its own markets. Because of this, internal innovation flourished. Because our country had vast open farmlands wrest from the stoneage natives, the farming techniques and tools morphed very rapidly to exploit this. One thing that fueled a huge native industry was the need to make farm equipment to cut down on labor since there was a severe labor shortage in the new farmlands. Unlike Europe which had and still has fairly small farms with a long history of ownership restrictions, literally hedged in everywhere, American farms were open and expansive. The noble roots of the Republican party came from peasant riots and insurrection in the Albany area of New York, "Anti-rent Wars" as the van Rensselaer reproduction of peasant leasing collapsed after the American Revolution.

Yet the land was anything but free. Most land was owned by wealthy aristocrats, descended from those who had been given grants in colonial times. In the South, even many of our Founding Fathers (e.g. Washington and Jefferson) held large plantations which were worked by slave labor. In the Hudson Valley, the feudal manors persisted.

What?! Feudalism in Free America?! But wasn't feudalism a European thing? And hadn't it died a long time before America came into being?

Yes, yes, and yes.

Even though feudalism had died in England and Netherlands, the Dutch reinstituted it here in New Netherlands. In order to settle the Hudson River Valley, the Dutch West India Company granted land--and full government of it--to anyone who would bring 50 families to settle that land.
My ancestors were here before the van Rensselaer, indeed, the first van Rensselaer lived with the Steeles before building their own home.

Defusing this rebellion meant giving land to the agitated farmers who eked a poor living off of rocky hillocks like the one I am presently living on. If you look at a map of the USA, you will see all the names of all the towns across NY state repeating themselves across the Midwest for whole towns would colonize various plots. The Democrats didn't want to have the government handing out this farmland and as each area was settled rapidly, they would join the USA as a state and earn voting rights in the Senate and the slave states had to colonize, too, and this led to Kansas and John Brown and the Civil War.

Chinese Peasants Attacked in Land Dispute
Hundreds of men armed with shotguns, clubs and pipes on Saturday attacked a group of farmers who were resisting official demands to surrender land to a state-owned power plant, witnesses said. Six farmers were killed and as many as 100 others were seriously injured in one of China's deadliest incidents of rural unrest in years.

The farmers, who had pitched tents and dug foxholes and trenches on the disputed land to prevent the authorities from seizing it, said they suspected the assailants were hired by corrupt local officials. They said scores of villagers were beaten or stabbed and several were shot in the back while fleeing.

Shengyou residents collected some of the weapons abandoned by hundreds of men who attacked them in an attempt to force them off disputed land sought by a state-owned power plant. Niu Zhanzong, 50, right, recorded a portion of the clash with a digital video camera before he was attacked. (Photos By Philip P. Pan -- The Washington Post)

A farmer in Shengyou, China, videotaped hundreds of armed men attacking a group of local farmers. According to witness accounts, the group was resisting government demands to surrender land to a state-owned power plant.

Reached by telephone, a spokesman for the provincial government said he could not confirm or discuss the incident. "So far, we've been ordered not to issue any information about it," he said.

Large contingents of police have been posted around Shengyou, about 100 miles southwest of Beijing, but bruised and bandaged residents smuggled a reporter into the village Monday and led him to a vast field littered with abandoned weapons, spent shell casings and bloody rags. They also provided footage of the melee made with a digital video camera.

Despite the attack, the farmers remained defiant and in control of the disputed land. They also occupied the local headquarters of the ruling Communist Party, where they placed the bodies of six of their slain compatriots. A crowd of emotional mourners filled the courtyard outside; hanging over the front gate was a white flag with a word scrawled in black ink: "Injustice."
Last month, my blog talked about the surprising peasant uprising that successfully drove off similar invaders, overturning their cars and burning them. The peasants of China are a sleeping dragon that is waking up. Not because they are getting poorer but because they are getting richer!

All revolutions happen when there is hope. Demoralized, depraved, sad people don't revolt. Instead, like a horse "feeling its oats", peasants who feel better about themselves tend to be feisty. The children of many peasant families are sending them money from the factories so they have the ability to buy more land or improve the land they presently own. Now they have something to fight for!

The Chinese government is troubled by this. I am supposing the fermentation of activity from the land will refresh the whole system as the children working in factories there get feisty, too. Just like in America, the farm children filling the factories, becoming radicalized. They wrest the middle class lifestyle for themselves via strong union building. This art has been lost as the American small farmhold has disappeared. Today, most farms are huge corporate entities often owned by absentee landlords who import peasants from depressed societies. They subsist on government hand outs which is why I laugh when reading how Wolfowitz is planning to ask our government to stop doing this. Good old IMF! Can't wait for them to put us under their tender care so we too can have anti-IMF riots!

This ties in with peasant anger south of our borders. It is all part of nativist American anger about illegal aliens who are displaced peasants from the third world. If or rather when American "farmers" are cut out of the federal welfare queen system we will see some pretty explosive anger in the Heartlands. Voting for silly issues that don't really matter in the end will end if this vast system of welfare dependency ends. Gay marriage will fade as an issue and fetuses won't seem quite so romantic. For the devolution of American politics is directly related to the dependency of these same states on Federal money, giving them great leisure for fun projects.

The distress of the peasant is directly tied to free trade. The backbone of peasant economics is local. Small farmers can't compete with huge conglomerates who use large scale processing to make profits. For example, all small farmers raised some pigs and some sheep for sale to packing houses which were many and frequent. Herding the animals over to the auctioneer who sold them to the processors has ended when all of them were conglomerated or driven out of business by the huge operations which now can be numbered on one hand. They, in turn, stopped attending the auctions and made deals directly, probably on golf courses, with fellow mega-millionaire absentee landowners who set up huge pig factories to have a sweetheart deal where both parties profit by both hiring displaced illegal alien peasants....and so it goes, the exploitation of labor kills American free farmers who can't sell their stock anymore to anyone and the quality of food declines in value as it is puffed up.

In a Knight/Ridder article published in China: "Bewildered, Americans question free trade" says the headlines. Heh. This bewilderment is carefully cultivated by nearly everyone running or writing or doing things concerning our economy. The support for free trade is monolitic...at the top!
For 60 years the United States has promoted free trade as a powerful way to generate prosperity at home and abroad. Trade tripled over the past 40 years as a proportion of the U.S. economy, thanks in part to eight successive global negotiations that opened markets by lowering trade barriers. Now, efforts to expand free trade rules are stalling from Congress to Europe and in an ongoing round of global negotiations.

U.S. policy assumes that free trade benefits all who engage in it. The assumption dates back to 1817, when classical economist David Ricardo defined his doctrine of comparative advantage - that when nations specialize in what they do best and most efficiently, each will win by trading with the others.

Today, that concept is being questioned as never before. China's rapid rise is feeding a common fear: that developing nations led by China and India may out-compete the world for high-tech jobs and keep the low-skill, labor-intensive manufacturing jobs they won already. China already is the world's biggest exporter of electronics.

The fear is that China, so foreign and large, might soon gain advantages of labor, capital and even technology that will allow it to dominate the world economy - and the strategic advantages that go along.
Well, China, in classic Marxist fashion, understands that the basis of wealth and power lies in the working class. So by tapping the accumulated wealth of the working class, ie, managing their hours and energy and translating it into value-added merchandise, China gets richer and more powerful. Meanwhile, the USA, seeking to purchase things as cheaply as possible and to increase wealth by accumulating things, runs a huge trade deficit with Asia who is interested in selling and lending money. We can see this is a bad thing for the USA.
Charlene Barshefsky, who was U.S. trade representative from 1996-2001, believes it's both. Over time, she said, China will evolve from merely adapting technologies from others to developing its own innovations, which will affect the world.

"There is no historic precedent to the rise of a country this vast and this rapid, changing trade and investment flows around the world, with China the hub of Asian manufacture," she said in an interview.
Excuse me, can brain dead people like her be sent to a farm to be rehabilitated? There is plenty of historical examples like our own freaking history! We went from a rather poor colony that couldn't even pay a small tea tax to being the banker/rescuer of the entire British empire in less than 120 years. By the end of WWI, we displaced the entire British empire economically on nearly every front. We displaced them politically by WWII.

Now we are seeing the same process at work yet again.

The real tragedy here is the loss of American "inventiveness". During the 19th Century, agricultural universities were launched everywhere, every state getting at least two of them, for training and educating the children of farmers and they in turn invented or created a host of things. In farming, the invention of equipment starting with the cotton gin, revolutionized farming across the planet. Tractors and tillers, pumps and processors, freezers and cookers, transportation systems and tools, all broiled out of the farming/educational/financing dynamo of America. We were truly, number One.

This culture is lost. I watched it disappear in my own lifetime. I wrote about this in Small Farmer's Journal years ago. Chicken breeds came from the Victorian energy to not only have good layers/cookers but to make them beautiful to the eye for the sheer pleasure of watching the birds. This is connected with bird watching in general. The desire for beauty as well and functionality characterized the American farmer, once upon a time. To travel the Midwest or the East farmlands now is to become very depressed at how ugly it has all become. A rural slum.
Author Ted Fishman recently documented the challenge in his book "China Inc." He believes China soon will have two distinct economic platforms that will rival the United States. One is low-wage manufacturing. The second will be a high-tech industry that matches the West's in sophistication, and that will drive down wages in other nations as they try to compete.

"It's everything from Christmas ornaments to aerospace. Other economies don't come at us this way," Fishman said in an interview. "That's kind of a unique set of problems. The world has to find an `out.' We have to figure out how everyone can prosper along with China."

Barshefsky made the same point: "China's rise is not a function of pervasive unfair trade - although trade disputes must be addressed. But resting concerns on claims of unfair trade as the basis of China's rise obscures the real challenge facing the U.S., and that is the utter absence of any focus on our own longer-term competitiveness, formulating and implementing policy measures - from the fiscal, to education, to the state of our scientific infrastructure to business incentives - that answer the challenge of an emergent, vibrant, smart Asia, with China at its center."
This article is a must read. The writer is good. He interviews many people. Here is one person who hits the nail right on the head. He is correct. As I explained above.

Our peasants are depressed and woeful and are snapping back at inappropriate targets like urban gays or liberated women or alien peasants displacing them. They don't yet understand their own peril and by falling for fascistic fantasies, are driving themselves to a dangerous impass.

Just like in Germany many years ago.
|

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home