[Marxism] Re: land titles and cooperatives and Venezuela

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Aug 6 12:05:59 MDT 2005

Rrubinelli's thoughts on this are a useful addition. He wrote:

Part of the issue, I think, is that Venezuela has not had, and does not
now have, an actual peasantry.  Individual, small, agricultural
proprietors, producing for individual/family use, engaging in exchange
as a secondary, supplementary, activity are pretty well absent from the
history of Venezuelan agricultural production.

What does exist, and has existed, are rural landless or near landless,
exchanging their labor power in agricultural production for payment in
wages, or in goods, as their primary activity, with some maintaining
meager land-holdings that ensure their continued impoverishment, and
subsistence as source of agricultural labor.

Under these circumstances, creating a peasantry, creating small
landowners cannot be successful, and agricultural  production requires
collective organization, ownership, and stewardship.

I have no doubt that Rrubinelli's views have a point. There has been
vast destruction of the peasantry worldwide in recent decades, way out
of proportion actually to the degree of industrial expansion and
agricultural industrialization that has taken place.

But for me, I admit that the decisive issue is a simple one: Michael, an
excellent observer, pointed out that most of the peasants involved in
the current struggle over land wanted to be private owners, not
cooperative members.  I have to admit this raised the "spectre" for me
that the radicals and possibly even the Chavez team were coming to the
peasants with the message that private ownership was unrealistic, and
that cooperatives were needed.

I believe the sentiment of the tillers is decisive on this.  If the last
century proves one thing (and it proves many of course) it is that more
revolutions have been damaged or destroyed by denying private ownership
of land to the tillers than by granting it ( the total of the latter is
actually none as far as I know, while the others range from Hungary to

Also, this may not sound like "communist economics," but nothing
maximizes production as much as the motivation of the producers, which
is more than a matter of material rewards.  If the peasants think they
can make private ownership of the land, inalienable for the producers,
work, let them attempt to do so with full and strong support from the
government.  Please, please do not assume they are idiots. Lenin and
Fidel were right.  They started not from what agronomists and communists
and so on think is viable, but from what the peasants want.

Again, I think this is likely to be a life and death issue for the
revolution, no matter how small the layer that is characterized as

And I also re-emphasize that I think the decline of the peasantry in the
last few decades is more a product of imperialist  decay, than
capitalist progress, and thus "progress" will consist on reversing, not
just building on, the conquests of globalization.

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