Volatility

January 14, 2016

Adapting the Populist Lecture Series for Today’s Food Sovereignty

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Here’s some basic information about 19th century public and farmer education through public lecture programs, as conducted by the Grange and especially the Populist Farmers’ Alliance movement. I’d like to contribute to building a new movement to rebuild community food and agriculture, and abolish corporate agriculture, organized in a way similar to the Populists. We’d have the advantage of trying to build outside the commodity system, rather than being in a race against time to reform it from inside, which is what ultimately undid the Populists.
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For a great book on the history and handbook for true democratic organization, see Lawrence Goodwyn’s The Populist Moment.
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Once upon a time I thought of adapting this idea to what I called the land scandal involving systematic property fraud on the part of the big banks. Did you know that, strictly speaking, most alleged bank-owned residential real estate is arguably not really owned by the banks at all, but rather their claim is an imposture? In 2009-10 many bloggers and commentators thought this fact, if effectively propagated, could become a major political theme. Well, that never happened, and it seems like the whole idea fizzled out. Probably both too “fringey”-seeming, even though legally it’s true, and too abstruse to boot. I ended up moving on from the idea to the more down-to-earth matter of food. Of course there’s plenty of policy mysticism here as well, such as patents, which I’ll soon be discussing in depth. That’s why I’ve long referred to the FIRES sector, adding “Seeds” (i.e. intellectual property in them) to Finance, Insurance, Real Estate. And of course corporate agriculture is more than the physical phenomena of land-grabbing and poison. Under the neoliberal globalization regime it’s also a sham campaign trying to reify fictive numbers – commodity pricing, profit, GDP, trade balance, “growth” in the biotech, agricultural, food, and finance sectors – and induce worship of these, or at least surrender to their domination. One of the greatest evils of corporate rule (the most mystical, bizarre fiction of all is that of the corporate person) is how it has made our literal bread hostage to the insane rule of these pure fictions and superstitions. We intuitively know a few basic principles for the counterattack – all commodification of food and critical natural resources is illegitimate, there can be no patents on life, and a “corporation” cannot own or control land, especially farmland. My background writing about Wall Street will come in handy for all these elements.
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