Family Farm Defenders (Kansas Chapter)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"African Land Grabs" and "a call to protest the oligarchy"

"African Land Grabs" and "a call to protest the oligarchy"
"We should be able to agree on this: there is an oligarchy in this country [in this world], one that uses financial strength to gain political power, one that fights and bullies for its “right” to make money regardless of the consequences to the earth or anything [and anyone] on it. Exxon will do all it can to prevent meaningful climate change legislation; Cargill and Pepsi will fight any improvement in agriculture or diet that threatens their profits; Bank of America would rather see homeowners go under than discuss changes in financial structures. And so on.

There are two ways [I would suggest there are more, from e.g. Wikileaks, Oakland Institutes and Michael Harisses informing us to many other ways.] to fight this oligarchy: by making personal and local changes and by joining mass movements that protest that power. The first can be as simple as light-bulb changing (which Republicans famously detest) and salad-eating [1] , though obviously it can be far more involved. The second begins with voting, but it takes more than a president, however well-intentioned, to bring about real change. Does anyone believe that Lyndon Johnson wanted to combat racism, or that Richard Nixon cared about American troops or Vietnamese citizens? No: they were forced, respectively, to support civil rights legislation and to begin ending the Vietnam War. Forced by masses of Americans marching, yelling, demonstrating, sitting in and more — Americans driven by their conscience, not by profits."

Beyond Elections: People Power, Mark Bittman, The New York Times, 3 January 2012

Thanks Michael for bringing the discussion, "African Land Grabs" home to the USA and linking the global with the local by including black American "land grabs" in the discussion of "African land grabs." We are one world and one people, and we are facing the same problems created by the same perpetrators in Africa, the USA, El Salvador and around the world.
I was listening to the conversation regarding "African Land grabs" but realized that the perspective being expressed was limited as participants seemed to be ignoring the biggest and most recent "land grabs" of all by Europeans and their descendants of most of Africa and the Americas as well as other parts of the world and the continued extension of this hegemony through neoliberalism, globalization and rank military force. Now, descendants of other world powers, namely Middle Eastern and Asian appear to be joining this recent powerful and exploitative domination. As well, there have been empires and "land grabs" around the world throughout history by various peoples. Also, there are classes of people and individuals on all continents, including Africans and Americans, who have conspired with the world powers against the people through coercion, intimidation or other means.
I would suggest that these large European and European descendant "land grabs" are the most recent and have created what I think of as "The Age of the Europeans (and their descendants) and Industrialization" in which more and more of us are suffering and our home, the Earth is getting trashed . This " Age" has likewise brought Mark Bittman of the New York Times above to call for a people's revolution to free us from the doom to which this huge concentration of industrial military government power is leading us.(See quote above.)
The smaller, more recent, " land grabs" being discussed on this list serve are complex and diverse. I can't say I completely understand what is going on in the many myriads of "land grabs," and what I prefer to call "land commercializations," but the Samburu people of Kenya are currently suing conservation agencies as well as the former Kenyan President Moi for their part in "grabbing" Samburu land to allegedly make a national park.

I hope that lawsuit has a more just resolution than the lawsuits by black as well as indigenous, latino and women farmers for the unjust "land grabbing" of farmland that took place through "government corruption" on behalf of private individuals and corporations here in the US in the 20th century. Even though these lawsuits were successful, many of the victims died before redress and I think you will agree Michael and others that the redress is paltry compared to the injury.
As well, small farmers of all racial groups are having their "livelihoods grabbed" here in the US and around the world through "government corruption" backing "corporate corruption" but more accurately neoliberalism and globalization backed by the rank military power of the current world powers.
Finally, some excellent domestic research on the strategies of these smaller more recent African "land grabs" being currently discussed on this list serve for biofuel and forest production has been done by Ng'wanza Kamata, The Mute Plunder: Bioresources and Dispossession in Tanzania and the Land Rights Research and Resources Institute of Tanzania (HAKIARDHI), Accumulation by Land Dispossession and Labor Devalutation in Tanzania: The Case of Biofuel and Forest Investments in Kilwa and Kiolo.

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