This fascinating document is available in booklet form as it is only ~35 pages. It is an excerpt from the larger Capital volume. It’s not an easy read but it’s not impossible either.
Some of the writing is gorgeous. I read one sentence to my very anti-Communist liberal Democrat father and he swooned over the prose. That one sentence was both perfect and beautiful, though it dealt with some terrible.
In many places, this is forceful – see the fencing of the Commons in the 1300’s, done deliberately to force the peasants into the capitalist mode or production. Indeed theorists said that if the peasants could not be shoved into capitalism, there would be no capitalism, for their would be no workers. It was essential to destroy the peasants ability to live off the land for themselves in order to force them into worse circumstances as industrial workers.
We see this very same rhetoric employed today in India – where it is argued that the tribals in Chattisargh and other places must be uprooted from the lands, have their lands stolen from them to give to mining and forest industries, and forced into the capitalist mode in cities in order to properly develop the economy. It is argued that India cannot develop its economy until the Adivasis have been destroyed. Note that as with the ancient peasants, the Adivasis will live much poorer lives in the cities than the were in the rural areas.
In Colombia, we see something very similar. In Colombia, small farmers own a lot of land. They are able to subsist off this land and they do not need to participate in the larger economy. They grow enough food for themselves and some city people. The process of the Colombian revolution and the genocidal response of the Colombian oligarchy to it is all throwing the peasants off of these small plots, stealing their land at gunpoint (the paramilitaries are used for this), and terrorizing or killing them if they refuse to hand over their land.
The land is then confiscated by latifundias or large landowners who by and large control the Colombian economy. They grow coffee, bananas, etc. and raise cattle for export, generating money for the economy in the process.
In fact, this process has been going on all over Latin America for over 200 years as sort of a slow-motion process of ethnic cleansing and land theft. Smalholders are able to live off the land in Colombia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Paraguay, and Brazil, and this is seen as unacceptable as they only grow food for themselves and possibly for city-dwellers but the produce cannot be exported.
These countries wish to develop an export model of agriculture based on the large scale production of food crops for export mostly to the US. In return, their ability to produce their own food is destroyed, in my opinion, rendering their economies completely backwards. The people are then rendered vulnerable to the purchase of imported food from the US, often packaged or canned food that is not very good for you.
As you can see, the country gets screwed and the US wins both ways. By destroying the basis for feeding themselves, the US wins an export market for its processed foods. By replacing these with food crops for export to the US, the US gets to make money by importing and selling these food crops. In return the country gains nothing.
Only a small landholding and import-export elite (maybe 20% of the population) gains and the vast majority of the poorer people lose as they can no longer feed themselves, no longer own land and are self-supporting, have to resort to unhealthy foods that they need much of their income to purchase, and they also are rendered much poorer as low wage proletariat in the slums of the large cities.
And in the process, of course, the country generates a revolutionary movement, often an armed one.
This can be seen in areas of Colombia. In one particular part of Southern Colombia, most of the rural peasantry had been thrown off the land and most of the land was now held by a few large landowners who were raising cattle on the land. The peasants had been terrorized off of their stolen land and formed ghettos in a large city nearby, which increased the poverty rate and the slump percentage of the city by a lot. Here they were poor, unhealthy, poorly fed and clothed, living in slums in shacks with no sewage systems, clean water or electricity.
These slums began to generate a lot of street crime as they tend to do. Outside of the cities on the main roads, there were soldiers and paramilitaries everywhere and one went from one armed roadblock to the other. Curiously enough, a large guerrilla movement had developed among the few remaining peasants and in teeming slums. Armed guerrillas extorted the latifundias for money that they called “war taxes.” The latifundias now paid a lot of money for paramilitaries to patrol their lands.
In the slums, an urban guerrilla movement was developing. Police, soldiers and paramilitary members were attacked with bombs, RPG’s and automatic weapons all the time and took significant casualties. The war had now moved to the city where there was no war before. Bomb and gun attacks hit city police stations on a regular basis. Death squads and army units roamed the land and the unarmed Left in the form or human rights activists, labor union members and organizers, community organizers and activists, environmentalists, campesino organizations, organizations of slum-dwellers and indigineous leaders were murdered and tortured to death on a regular basis.
The idiot US and the West see this as a process of “Communist guerrillas trying to subvert Colombian democracy, shoot their way into power, and set up a murderous Communist dictatorship which will destroy freedom and prosperity in Colombia”. The vast majority of Americans and others in the West actually buy this bullshit. Many on the Left refuse to support the Colombian guerrilla, insisting that they are anachronistic and that they should try to seek power peacefully. However, since the FARC disarmed, former members and members of newly formed political parties have been massacred like flies. So state terror blocks all road to peaceful change, leaving no alternative but the way of the gun.
Obviously the ridiculous analysis of this situation that Westerners believe has no basis in reality. The Western media cheers on the genocidal Colombian state and says that the Colombian democracy is waging a war against irrational and bloodthirsty terrorism, typically linked with drug trafficking to describe them as criminals and destroy their legitimacy.
As long as this process goes on, Colombia’s economy will stay forever backwards.
It is necessary to do a land reform in the rural areas before any country can prosper economically. Indeed this “socialist” project of land reform which the US spent decades in the Cold War slaughtering millions of people to stop was actually implemented by the US in Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan in order to fend off a Communist threat. Oddly enough, it ended up creating the basis for subsequent booming development in those places.
Land reform was and is the basis for the Communist and Leftist revolutions and guerrilla forces in South Vietnam, Thailand, Colombia, Nepal, Peru, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Paraguay in the past 55-65 years, with some of the revolutions happening later 40 years ago. In Paraguay this process has just started several years ago when a FARC split has taken up arms agains the state.