Volatility

October 4, 2011

Colorado, Cantaloupes, CAFOs, and Property

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A few days ago I described how “property” is a creation of the government and therefore always will be viewed by the government in an instrumental, i.e. pro-corporate, way. Your rights here like everywhere else will extend only as far as is convenient for the big corporate prerogative. This fact of corporatism has been on public display in the government’s war on raw milk, which is the template for a broader war on food freedom in general.
 
I mentioned how this Humpty Dumpty interpretation of property operates in tandem with the complete Orwellian inversion of the Constitution itself.
 

But for the time being we can formulate a transitional doctrine to accompany our constitutionalism. The right view is that the Constitution must be interpreted strictly where it comes to government/corporate power, loosely where it comes to the power and liberty of the people. This is truly its Original Intent, as is made clear by the original philosophy of the American Revolution.

Similarly, since “property” could only ever be valid if it referred to the rights of real people living and working within a community, so it follows that if we’re to recognize property rights at all our priority must be rights that involve constitutional liberties, rights that involve local/regional business and residence, rights that involve actual work and eating. Meanwhile the concentrated “property” of the alien rich shouldn’t be respected at all. Corporations, not being persons, can’t own property in the first place.

 
I quoted from the FDA’s brief in one of the raw milk freedom lawsuits pending against it. But I didn’t give the quote which most clearly crystallizes this inversion:
 

5. FDA’s Regulations Rationally Advance the Agency’s Public Health
Mission.

Because the interests asserted by plaintiffs are not fundamental rights, FDA’s
regulations are not subject to strict scrutiny. Instead, plaintiffs have the burden of
showing that the regulations do not bear a rational relationship to legitimate
governmental interests.

 
As I remarked in one of my food tyranny posts discussing this brief:
 

It’s not we the people who have to prove the government is wrong, but the government, in theory our “public servant”, which has to prove it is correct in any given case. But that inversion of truth and lie, morality and immorality, is all too typical of today’s kleptocratic government.

 
In this Wisconsin case it’s the state thuglets walking point for the feds. This is a common pattern. I previously mentioned a Colorado assault whose constitutional logic seems to have been received from the top down.
 

Patti Klocker, assistant director for the Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability for the Colorado DPHE, told me, “A number of things were going wrong here (at Haynes’ stores), so we did collaborate on this” with county public health authorities in going after Haynes.
As for Erickson’s raw dairy, she said Colorado’s law allowing cow share operations only sanctions fluid milk. “It does not allow access to raw milk products.” She said three dairies have been asked to “please discontinue this practice” of making other raw dairy products available to their shareholders.

 
Hmm, Colorado, Colorado, that rings a bell. Oh yes, Colorado was the geographical origin of a recent deadly outbreak of food contamination. The vector was cantaloupes. But what was the source? Everyone’s playing dumb so far, but our attention is immediately drawn to the fact that Prowers County, the location of Jensen Farms to which the outbreak has been traced so far, has an “extreme” concentration of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
 

“Filthy runoff from confinement operations can contaminate water used in irrigating crops,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. “We hope that public health officials will include irrigation water and waste water lagoons in their investigations of this tragic outbreak.”

 
This is the most likely source of the pathogen, just as CAFOs have been the source for innumerable previous outbreaks. (We’ll see how interested the food police are in tracing the source prior to Jensen.) If so, as I’ve said many times, the executives, major shareholders, government flunkeys and media and academic flacks are all guilty of murder. And I remind again that it’s not a question of “if” but of when a CAFO shall be the source of a lethal pandemic.
 
So does that mean the license (AKA “freedom”) and “property rights” of these operations will immediately be revoked by a sane society acting in clear self-defense? Don’t answer that.
 
Meanwhile, will those who refuse to take action here at least have enough shame to leave off their assaults on the freedom and rights of innocent and benevolent raw milk producers and drinkers? We can guess the answer to that one too.
 
I hope this example makes clear what I mean when I say that “rights” including property rights, and “freedom” in general, are just infinitely malleable empty words in the hands of a government which is run completely by a small extension of itself, corporations. I hope this makes clear that no freedom and no rights can have any real existence at all for as long as corporatism exists. It’s a zero-sum war between them.
 
(BTW, Colorado was also an original proving ground for fracking, another ongoing lesson in corporate power and what “rights” truly mean in the face of power.)
 
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7 Comments

  1. Hi Russ,

    Food production that needs to be hidden from public sight is dishonest. I remember reading on the food freedom blog (or was it here?) that slaughter houses and the like were preventing people from filming what goes inside. As if we should ever support food production that isn’t transparent!

    I really like when you discuss property as I agree with you that current property laws are inadequate. I got through about 500 pages of Proudhon’s Anthology and I am still thinking myself about what a positive solution to the question of property would be in a different idea of society (a better idea/more correct idea). Have you discussed property in depth at any point? Or are you planning to in the future? In my own work I’m far from reaching a place where I could propose what a positive solution to the quesiton of property is, including how it is integrated into a larger economic framework. However, I do think the idea of “what you use is yours” makes sense and I did learn that from you! I would venture that “what you make (the product of your labour) is yours for a certain amount of time” as well – along the same lines of the currencies that have a wealth tax. Still, even just these two proposals need a huge amount of discussion to be articulated correctly. But, because of their simple fairness, I suspect it is possible that they would end up being conclusions that would be reached by critical analysis of the subject.

    The sun is shining so I’m going to go for a walk, take care

    Comment by Strieb Roman — October 4, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

    • I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned how factory farms need to be secretly videotaped to be seen as they really are. (I agree, what kind of honest food purveyor can’t stand to be out in the sun?) But Food Freedom must have had posts on it lots of times.

      As much as I’ve written about property, I haven’t dedicated many posts specifically to it. (Searching for “property” gave too many results to be really useful.) The posts on the Land Recourse page will often discuss it.

      https://attempter.wordpress.com/series-on-the-land-scandal-and-the-land-recourse/

      In particular “Jubilate!”. There’s also “Land” and “Feudal Property” which are older and may not convey my most up-to-date position. (I still thought citing Locke was worthwhile.)

      Proudhon’s excellent on the subject. Property is Theft is a superb set of rational and moral proofs.

      I’ll write more on it going forward. But my basic position is that a land dispensation based on useful possession and food production stewardship would be far more morally and rationally coherent, would make for a far more stable, prosperous, and happy society, would produce far more food, and would paradoxically (from the point of view of property bigots) render people more secure in their homes and on their land, since they wouldn’t be at the mercy of banks and state, always one mortgage payment or other whim of the system away from losing it all. That’s some notion of “property”, all right. And that’s what people call “Ownership”!

      Hope you had a good walk.

      Comment by Russ — October 4, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

    • It’s still not clear to me how sedentary agriculture works in the absence of property with a closed frontier, particularly if you’ve got a mix of groups who are practicing usufructy and those who aren’t. Effectively you’d have enclaves of usufruct agriculture asserting communal property rights over a particular area, with others asserting individual freehold property rights over nearby areas. This would be seriously problematic in the event of population increase in the usufruct area- you’d have a pretty hard upper cap on the upper limit of the size of your movement/community that would necessitate either an engagement with the cash economy in order to acquire more land (kind of defeats the point) or some serious evangelising to the neighbours..

      Comment by paper mac — October 5, 2011 @ 1:16 am

      • I agree it’s unclear how that would work. I suppose the complacent answer would be that when our way was proving how much better it is, the people of nearby areas would get rid of their parasites and follow suit.

        On the other hand, if the propertarian area was doing better merely because it was still hoarding better-quality land, I’d be surprised if anyone objected to the people’s liberation of that land, which would be nothing but continuing the logic of revolution. (It’s incoherent to say “we have the need and right to liberate the land of this valley, but if the thugs are strong enough to hang on in the next valley, we have no need or right to assist the people there”.) I think some anarchists at least would support this in principle, wherever people were still in bondage. It definitely follows that if one region is overpopulated and another is underpopulated (all other things like land quality, climate etc. being equal), then according to the basic principle of useful possession there needs to be a homeostatic movement.

        Then there’s the broader issue of sedentary agriculture vs. the more nomadic herding and how to harmonize those.

        In all this I’m eliding possible “cultural” issues, and being overly simplistic in order to derive a preliminary thought or two. (I also find it hard to believe that if there were contiguous cooperative and propertarian areas, that it would be the former who was the “aggressor” in evangelizing, subversion, open assault.) But I agree it’s a difficult issue.

        Comment by Russ — October 5, 2011 @ 6:27 am

      • Yeah, I definitely think it’s worth starting to bat around some ideas about how the mechanics of this would work over the next few years. I don’t think it’s going to be an issue soon, but my feeling is that in the medium term, we’re going to have something like 4-500 million people in North America who need to be fed from a fraction of the good land that’s available today (due to climate change, drought, destruction by corporate ag, fracking etc). I think it’s possible to achieve the productivity increases necessary to do this within carefully thought out, relocalised agroecologies, but I think propertarianism will be probably the major stumbling block after state/corporate resistance. The Canadian Shield probably isn’t going to support a couple hundred million people swiddening, so the continuation of the property system we have implies holocaust.

        I agree with you that the usufruct groups are less likely to be aggressive, and I suppose that in a sense that’s what I’m worried about. If we care about successfully winding down the corporate ag system and achieving something like liveable conditions in sedentary agricultural areas in north america in a post-oil, post-climate change world, we’ll need a pretty clear idea about what we want to see happen and how we get there, as well as a martial ethos about defending and extending our claims, and the ability to retreat from the valleys into the hills where necessary, etc etc. I need to think about this more, but coming up with a scenario for what the land/population constraints are going to be, as well as some general ideas about different strategies and tactics that could be employed over the next few years probably wouldn’t go array.

        Comment by paper mac — October 5, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

      • array=awry

        Comment by paper mac — October 5, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

      • the continuation of the property system we have implies holocaust.

        Exactly. Mass transformation to organic production on a relocalized smaller-plot basis is the only thing which can prevent mass starvation. This is true for all the reasons I’ve described many times.

        But this transformation cannot occur as long as the land property bottleneck/logjam exists.

        So it follows that breaking this logjam is a prerequisite to feeding the world, i.e. feeding ourselves.

        I agree with you that the usufruct groups are less likely to be aggressive, and I suppose that in a sense that’s what I’m worried about. If we care about successfully winding down the corporate ag system and achieving something like liveable conditions in sedentary agricultural areas in north america in a post-oil, post-climate change world, we’ll need a pretty clear idea about what we want to see happen and how we get there, as well as a martial ethos about defending and extending our claims, and the ability to retreat from the valleys into the hills where necessary, etc etc. I need to think about this more, but coming up with a scenario for what the land/population constraints are going to be, as well as some general ideas about different strategies and tactics that could be employed over the next few years probably wouldn’t go array.

        That sounds like it will require tremendous research and synthetic analysis. It could be ramified into an intellectual structure as large and rigorous as that of Marx and Engels. Maybe that’ll finally be the intellectual structure anarchism/positive democracy has lacked.

        I bet all the basic material is already out there, and just hasn’t been assembled. We’d need to take a few typical scenarios (like the way the IPCC does) and then fit those to the data of soil, climate, etc. The most speculative part would be the political aspect of the scenarios, and how to “war game” various strategies. I wonder if “revolution” computer games exist, where you’re given certain parameters, make various decisions, and see what the computer projects for thousands of iterations of it. I’ve never heard of anything like that. Just stuff for regular war. (But it has to exist for regular politics, doesn’t it? Someone has to have tried coming up with computer political campaign gaming.)

        Comment by Russ — October 6, 2011 @ 6:57 am


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