Nicaragua, hog farms

Jon Flanders 72763.2240 at
Fri Apr 26 07:59:50 MDT 1996

 >> Regarding the big hog farms: economies of scale are achieved that
 should be recognized as historically progressive. It is along this
 course of technological progress that agriculture has now reached
 a stage of development in which one farmer feeds 80 people, when
 at the turn of the century one farmer could only feed 20 people.
 We should not give an inch to the reactionary anti-technology bias
 of the Greens. It is only the improvement of the productivity of
 labor under capitalism--both in industry and in agriculture--that
 lays the foundation for socialism. <<Jim Miller

 Jon Flanders:

   Jim, I didn't say that economies of scale were bad, I did say that there is
"nothing inherently progressive" about these huge farms. Possibly they could
be made to work, if the waste and husbandry questions could be dealt with. But
I also think it is time for socialists to consider if labor productivity is
the only criteria for judging economic questions.

  It is not "giving in to anti-technology bias of the Greens" to say that the
environment can't be stretched forever, and that we must take that into
account. I think it would be "giving in to the bottom line mentality of
capitalism" to unthinkingly accept the "progress" that creates these huge
megafarms. We need only look at the former Soviet Union to see where aping of
early twentieth century capitalist giantism led.

  Right now a small family farm can produce enough food to provide thousands
of people, without the punishment to the land and water that the concentration
of production in corporate farms creates.

  More importantly, if workers are serious about forming an alliance with
small farmers, we have to listen to them and let them decide what they would
like to do in the rural areas. If they chose to dismantle much of the megafarm
complex and rebuild the agricultural economy where appropriate along family
farm lines, I think we should support that. After all there are things like
pooling expensive equipment and working together during harvest seasons that a
true farm co-op could do.

  I don't think you have a major disagreement with this, but even the SWP,
which learned much about the farmers in the 1980's still tends to discount the
sustainability question in favor of labor productivity. This is a weakness
that almost all marxist groups, who are based in cities after all, share.

  Amusingly enough, Louis Proyect, who would be the first to admit he wouldn't
know which side of a cow to milk from, has thought about this quite a bit, and
in my view, can teach even an old country boy like me a few things.

  Glad to see you back on the list , Jim.

 Best, Jon Flanders

  E-mail from: Jonathan E. Flanders, 26-Apr-1996

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