[Marxism] Accumulation by dispossession

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Sep 22 12:23:47 MDT 2011

David Harvey:
Accumulation by dispossession is about dispossessing somebody of 
their assets or their rights. Traditionally there have been rights 
which have common property, and one of the ways in which you take 
these away is by privatizing them. We've seen moves in recent 
years to privatize water. Traditionally, everybody had had access 
to water, and [when] it gets privatized, you have to pay for it. 
We've seen the privatization of a lot of education by the 
defunding of the public sector, and so more and more people have 
to turn to the private sector. We've seen the same thing in health 

What we're talking about here is the taking away of universal 
rights, and the privatization of them, so it [becomes] your 
particular responsibility, rather than the responsibility of the 
state. One of the proposals which we now have is the privatization 
of Social Security. Social Security may not be that generous, but 
it's universal and everybody has part of it. What we are now 
saying is, "That shouldn't be; it should be privatized," which, of 
course, means that people will then have to invest in their own 
pension funds, which means more money goes to Wall Street. So this 
is what I call privatization by dispossession in our particular 

A lot of other things are going on. For instance, look at the way 
in which lands have been taken away; peasant movements have been 
destroyed by state action. There are a lot of things of that sort 
happening around the world, where people are accumulating at other 
people's expense.

full: http://www.marxsite.com/DavidHarvey%20interview.htm


NY Times September 21, 2011
In Scramble for Land, Group Says, Company Pushed Ugandans Out

KICUCULA, Uganda — According to the company’s proposal to join a 
United Nations clean-air program, the settlers living in this area 
left in a “peaceful” and “voluntary” manner.

People here remember it quite differently.

“I heard people being beaten, so I ran outside,” said Emmanuel 
Cyicyima, 33. “The houses were being burnt down.”

Other villagers described gun-toting soldiers and an 8-year-old 
child burning to death when his home was set ablaze by security 

“They said if we hesitated they would shoot us,” said William 
Bakeshisha, adding that he hid in his coffee plantation, watching 
his house burn down. “Smoke and fire.”

According to a report released by the aid group Oxfam on 
Wednesday, the Ugandan government and a British forestry company 
forcibly expelled more than 20,000 people from their homes here in 
recent years, emblematic of a global scramble for arable land.

“Too many investments have resulted in dispossession, deception, 
violation of human rights and destruction of livelihoods,” Oxfam 
said in the report. “This interest in land is not something that 
will pass.” As population and urbanization soar, it added, 
“whatever land there is will surely be prized.”

Across Africa, some of the world’s poorest people have been thrown 
off land to make way for foreign investors, often uprooting local 
farmers so that food can be grown on a commercial scale and 
shipped to richer countries overseas.

But in this case, the government and the company said the settlers 
were illegal and evicted for a good cause: to protect the 
environment and help fight global warming.

The case twists around an emerging multibillion-dollar market 
trading carbon-credits under the Kyoto Protocol, which contains 
mechanisms for outsourcing environmental protection to developing 

The company involved, New Forests Company, grows forests in 
African countries with the purpose of selling credits from the 
carbon-dioxide its trees soak up to polluters abroad. Its 
investors include the World Bank, through its private investment 
arm, and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, HSBC.

In 2005, the Ugandan government granted New Forests a 50-year 
license to grow pine and eucalyptus forests in three districts, 
and the company has applied to the United Nations to trade under 
the mechanism. The company expects that it could earn up to $1.8 
million a year.

But there was just one problem: people were living on the land 
where the company wanted to plant trees. Indeed, they had been 
there a while.

“He was a policeman for King George,” Mr. Bakeshisha said of his 
father, who served with British forces during World War II in Egypt.

Mr. Bakeshisha, 51, said he was given land in Namwasa forest in 
Mubende district in 1997 by a local kingdom through his father’s 
serviceman association. Mr. Bakeshisha lived happily on the 
property for years, becoming a local administrator and ardent 
supporter of President Yoweri Museveni. In a neighboring district, 
people had been living on land the company would later license 
since the 1970s.

Tensions brewed. The company and government said the residents 
were living illegally in a forest. Residents said they had rights. 
Community members took the company to court in 2009 and a 
temporary injunction was issued, barring evictions. Nevertheless, 
Oxfam and residents say, evictions continued.

Residents were given until Feb. 28, 2010, to vacate company 
premises while soldiers and the police kept surveillance. Company 
officials visited, too. From time to time a house would be burnt 
down, villagers said. Then came Feb. 28, a Sunday.

“We were in church,” recalled Jean-Marie Tushabe, 26, a father of 
two. “I heard bullets being shot into the air.”

“Cars were coming with police,” Mr. Tushabe said, sitting among 
the ruins of his old home. “They headed straight to the houses. 
They took our plates, cups, mattresses, bed, pillows. Then we saw 
them getting a matchbox out of their pockets.”

Homeless and hopeless, Mr. Tushabe said he took a job with the 
company that pushed him out. He was promised more than $100 each 
month, he said, but received only about $30.

New Forests says that it takes accusations that settlers were 
forcibly removed “extremely seriously” and will conduct “an 
immediate and thorough” investigation.

“Our understanding of these resettlements is that they were legal, 
voluntary and peaceful and our first hand observations of them 
confirmed this,” the company said in a response to the Oxfam report.

A Ugandan government spokesman said residents in Namwasa were 
illegal encroachers, but he acknowledged and deplored the use of 
violence to remove them, saying it was done by corrupt politicians 
and police officers operating outside the law.

Olivia Mukamperezida, 28, said her house was among the first in 
her community to be burned down. One day in late 2009, she said, 
her eldest son, Friday, was sick at home, so she went out to find 
medicine. Villagers suddenly told her to rush back. Everything was 

“I found my house when it was completely finished,” she said. “I 
just cried.”

Ms. Mukamperezida never found the culprits. She buried Friday’s 
bones in a grave, but says she does not know if it is still there.

“They are planting trees,” she said.

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