Updated March 2006












1. The actors: states, capital and peoples' movements
2. The stage: the world
3. Peoples' movements before the world market system
4. Local communities' defence against the world market system
5. Wage labourers' defence against capital owners
6. System peripheries' defence against the center
7. Agriculturalists' defence against the food markets
8. Marginalized peoples' aspiration for equality
9. The self-defence of civil society
10. The peoples' movement system
In Swedish

The Carriers of Democracy

The global peoples' movement system


Chapter 7: Agriculturalists' defence against the food markets


The author will appreciate corrections of language as well as content.

by Jan Wiklund


System center: cooperation and world market resistance

System periphery: land reform and national movements

Agrarian movements of the future


Food production differs from other production in a crucial way: it depends of natural processes [1]. It is more difficult for capital to range into the industrial discipline than, for example production of shoes or books. For that reason, the direct producers of food have been able to maintain a certain autonomy right up to our days. But not always - food is a key commodity if any, and it has often been so urgent for states and capitals to control i that they have been forced to use violence to keep it. Farmers' defence against the market has for that reason more than other direct producers' been characterized by autonomy and violence.

The villages that had defended themselves by peasant rebellions against an encroaching state began to dissolve as soon as the world market system had them in its grip. For the subsistence villages' peasants and land were need to produce food for the towns and raw materials for the industry. And in world market system terms this meant that food had to be commercialized, became a commodity, and that the subsistence peasants were mobilized as slaves, wage labourers or petty entrepreneurs. All alternatives implied that the village solidarity was dissolved [2].

This happened at different times in different sites in the world. As early as during the medieval commercial system there was some commercializing of food, according to Slicher van Bath [3], and in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries it was commercialized grand-scale in North Italy, the Netherlands, England and around the big cities and coasts of Western Europe generally, and in the plantation regions in East Germany, Poland and South America. Commercialization spread to the rest of the world during the eighteenth century. Today, about 2000, the last agriculture in Africa and central China is commercialized.

This also happened in different ways, with different outcome for the peasants. In the system center, the peasants often took the initiative to commercialization and were actively promoting it, to get cash for their villages. Conflicts around the process concerned methods, to make most of the proceeds benefiting the peasants instead of merchants and landlords [4]. In the system periphery, where at a greater disadvantage concerning resources and the system had less to offer, the main actor behind commercialization were states, system center based businesses and/or the richest peasants, and the resistance from the village was greater. But since the peasants are always at a disadvantage, because they are small producers furthest down the commodity chain in a monopolized market, they have been forced in the system center as well to organise in peoples' movements to protect their civil society against state, capital, world market system and the destruction that is inflicted by the callous routines of these.

It was not easy for the peasants to deal with the commercialization collectively. For they were afflicted in very different ways. The richest peasants had most to gain; Joel Migdal has even shown the way these rich peasants consciously used the opportunities of commercialization to shatter the village community and escape their responsibility for common needs [5]. The poor peasants generally lost by commercialization and would even be forced to leave their land to become wage labourers at big estates and plantations, emigrate to the shantytowns of the cities, or starve to death - if they couldn't use the opportunities of industrialization. Between them were vast groups whose experience of commercialization differed. The balance between these categories decided how the peasants acted as a collective, or if they acted at all.

Barrington Moore has contended that such balances determined the development of the whole society and whether the majority in a country would have any saying or not [6]. I think his contention is somewhat one-sided: all popular movements carry some weight to establish a democratic tradition. But since the peasants were a majority in all societies until fairly late, and still are in a global perspective, it is reasonable to suppose that peasants' movements determines most for the democratic development in a region. In global and regional peripheries it may determine the difference between popular self-assertion and a fast capitulation before the system center and domestic elites, see chapter 4. And in the system center it may determine the difference between parliamentary democracies or aristocratic or fascist dictatorships (according to Moore) or at least the difference between popular and elitist cultural dominance.

In the system center, farmers' or agrarian movements have taken as a starting-point to control commercialization. The principal instrument has been cooperation. To this is added trade union and political pressures on the states, but they have as a rule not been dominated by government power strategy as much as have labour movements and national movements. Self-education has been used as an auxiliary.

In the system peripheries, there have been more labour regimes than in the center and thus more protection strategies. When commercialization has taken the form of plantations and large estates, demands for land reform have been pressed in different ways - through litigation, land occupations andrevolutions. When commercialization allowed the peasants to stay as small independent producers, the methods have resembled the one in the center. But the fact that the surplus is smaller in the peripheries, and that commercialization brings in less, has forced many methods of struggle apart from cooperation.

Agrarian movements have been less effective than labour movements and national movements to acieve hegemony over the peoples' movement scene. (This is the reason why there is such a dearth of literature on agrarian movements; intellectuals have simply thought that agrarian movements are dull). They have often had to be foot-soldiers to others - both to other social movements like the national movements, and to elites in struggle against other movements or each others. Most students of the field blame this on country people's limited horizon; if they have only been able to provide for their immediate local needs they have been happy, they have thought. More sophisticated theorists point at the fact that market dependent farmers compete with each other and for that reason find cooperation difficult [7]. But the fact that for example the Danish agrarian movement, with its People's High Schools and its Grundtvigian awakening, and the Mexican peasants with their demands for tierra y libertad effectively were able to challenge at the hegemonic level shows that it has been, or is, principally possible.

System center: cooperation and world market resistance


The European agrarian movements are a creation of two dramatic events during the nineteenth century. During the Kondratiev A phase 1848-1873, see chapter 5, the railways opened opportunities for the farmers to sell surplus food to the towns and thus increase the incomes of the villages. Expectations on further incomes enticed the farmers to concentration to the most profitable crops, while the growing urban industry drove the home industries of the countryside out of the market. But during the Kondratiev B phase of 1873-1894 the expectations were crushed by the slump and by cheap mass imports from American wheat and meat, cheaply produced because of abundant land. It was the British model and the free market that had cracked down on the farmers. Survival had been subordinated to the demand of keeping the wages of the industrial workers as low as possible. While farmers earlier had been able to rely on the subsistence of the village during lean times, this was now impossible; in a generation the economy had been commodified and nationalized beyond return, and the farmers were stuck in production for a market that promised less and less [8].

The reaction from the farmers to this disaster varied in different parts of Europe. The most important denominators were, according to Urwin, the power relations that existed already in the countryside and between countryside and city.

Parts of western Europe's countryside was since old dominated by family farmers - Norway, Sweden, the Rhine valley, Bavaria, Switzerland, Catalonia, north Italy and much of the Balkans. Other parts was dominated by commercial manors while family farmers as a strong opposition - Denmark, France, Ireland. Britain was the great exception in the West, completely dominated by manors, as was most of East Europe and the Mediterranean.

The other deciding dimension was the closeness to the surplus of the system center. It was easier for the farmers close to the center to sell their produce directly to the towns and thus gain a certain independence. In the periphery in the east and south, trade implied more capital and was for that reason controlled by the rulers. Another factor which isn't mentioned by Urwin is that all landowners in the center had better access to capital and more opportunities to invest than in the eastern and southern peripheries; dependence on cheap labour was a reason for the eastern landlords' unwillingness to relax its repressive power the least.

A third dimension was the traditions of the village. According to Urwin, the villages in the west were older and had stronger identities than the villages of the east. John Powelson contends that this strong village identity, and the collective action and bargaining ability this had conveyed since the middle ages, is the main reason why the west European peasants were able to assert themselves and liberate themselves from serfdom [9]. On the other hand, Eastern Europe's peasants had a stronger class identity than Western Europe's, because they were equals in their poverty - but this poverty also implied less resources for struggle. In the west, the participation of farmers in food trade had begun to result in class stratification as early as the eighteenth century, with unpredictable political and social conflict as a result.

This difference between west, east and south indicates of course the difference between center and periphery/semi-periphery. Eastern Europe was organised as a periphery with grain export as the main task in the infancy of the system in the sixteenth century, and succeeded in advancing to semi-perihery in the nineteenth.

Up to the market explosion in the nineteenth century, the peasants' defence against the routines of the world market system had been tax rebellions againt the state, refusal to pay local dues to local authorities, bread seizures, and attacks on foreigners (who were seen as agents for state and market). All these forms had been local or in some cases limited to a province, and often been expressed as individual violence, backd up by the local community [10]. The crisis of the 1870s demanded new forms of actions and organisations. But they were not easy to find.

Firstly, it wasn't easy for farmers to act supra-locally. They were dependent full-time of their farms, dispersed over vast areas; they weren't like workers concentrated to communication nodes, and coordination was tricky for that reason.

Secondly, they were dependent to maintain their economic activity contunuously. This left out strike as a struggle form (except in extreme cases like in Germany in 1923 and Russia in 1929), because it would imperil the farm.

Thirdly, commercial farmers lived under very different conditions and found it difficult to act in common. There were differences between freeholders and tenants, rich and poor, and cultivators of different crops. For that reason it was easy for the adversaries of the farmers to play off farmers against each other.

So it was difficult to prevent bigger landowners or professional politicians to establish themselves as shadow movements and take over the agrarian movements as for example populist party politics.

In the system center, the farmers decided on two main forms of defence: cooperative organising of purchase and sales, and political struggle against free trade and anti-inflation policies.

The struggle against free trade aimed at getting at the consequences of the constantly deteriorating terms of trade for the farmers. It also aimed at creating guards against the violent price fluctuations on the world market. But in a more generalized level, it also aimed at putting up a limit to the commodification of the means of subsistence. Strategically, the struggle against free trade constituted an opportunity for political alliances, desperately needed for the peasants, but sometimes such alliances were problematic.

The struggle against the anti-inflation policy aimed at creating better access to credits and getting out of the economic stagnation.

Cooperation aimed at wringing the control over the commercialization of food from the hands of capital and get out of the thankless role as the furthest, unmonopolized link of the commodity chain. Locally, and for subsistence needs, cooperatives had been organised by peasants in Holland in the middle ages, for reclaiming marshlands, and cooperative irrigation plants are represented over the whole world. If you want, you may see a village as a cooperative with subsistence as an aim.

The first supra-local co-operatives among agriculturalists, with the market as an aim, were organised in the Rhine valley in the 1840s. They were savings banks, aiming at breakting the dependence on moneylenders who could take up to 100 percent interest. The idea spread to Scandinavia in the 1850s, and after twenty years farmers in Denmark began to organise co-operatives for sales and purchases. In France, farmers' cooperatives were started in the 1880s with fertilizers as a pioneering activity. In Ireland, farmers' cooperatives were one of Sinn Féin's methods for self-reliance against the British rule.

The aim of co-operation was thus to get out of the subordination under monopolist capitals, by organising a monopoly of themselves in the market. But the organisational difficulties inherent in the farmer predicament were an obstacle. Firstly, most cooperatives were strictly sectorial: potatoes had its cooperatives, wine had another. But the great obstacle was paternalist organising. In many cases, cooperation was a business of elites, while the farmers for that reason regarded the whole thing with suspicion and kept aloof.

The Danish farmers' co-operation would be the most successful in the world, a never surpassed model for all agrarian movements in Europe. The reason was not least that it was not only an economic and/or political movement, but also a spiritual one, tht put human dignity at the center and for that reason broke definitively with paternalist organising [11].

The agrarian movement in Denmark had strong links to Christian revival. It was Christian agitators that aroused peasant politically in the 1820s, and it was the regions where Christian revival had strong roots that began to act politically in connection with the struggles for suffrage in the 1840s. The core issue of the revival was that the church consisted of the congregation, not of officials or scriptures - as the leading proponent of the revival, N.S.F. Grundtvig expressed it - and for that reason in principle of the peasants themselves, of the people. According to Gundelach, Grundtvig is the first theorist that have used the concept "the people" in opposite to the upper class, with positive connotations. Grundtvig even saw the peasants and the lower class in general as the people equalling the nation, while he saw the upper class as a worthless froth at the surface.

This undertanding gave a democratic self-reliance. It was first expressed when the Danish king promised, after external pressure, to call a kind of consultative parliament. The Christian agitation methods were activated to give a voice to the peasant demands: land reform, universal conscription (instead of conscription only of peasants), and universal elementary school. The poor peasants, those who had to work at the manors, went to strike, and in 1845 a mass meeting was hold in Holbæk for the demands. The government panicked and prohibited meetings of peasants, but this discriminating law only heightened the conflict. A petition collected 100.000 names, and in 1846 a national political organisation was established that succeeded in electing oppositional peasants to a third of the seats in the new parliament. The organisation would disintegrate and be supplanted by others, but in two things a fantastic continuity would prevail in more than fifty years: popular politics would be powerfully represented in the public, among other things in an increasingly growing majority in the parliament, and it would be represented by farmers.

The farmers also worked out a system for competence development and ideological articulation: the peoples' high school movement. This had also its foundation in the religious revival; if the congregation made the church, and the congregation was the people, the people had to learn to rule the church - and the state. An since the foundation of truth was not scriptures but "the living word" ans Grundtvig expressed it, the peoples' high school wasn't based on textbooks but on discussion. The education was directed towards practical agronomy and municipal matters, but was imbued with the Grundtvigian democracy. The first peoples' high schools were founded in the 1840s, the same time as the battles about suffrage and freedom of assembly.

The economical crisis of the 1870s forced the farmers to act to survive. The prices of their traditional produce fell, and the speculation economy forced up the interests. The landlords were more able to manage the crisis through their economy of scale, but such economy of scale was also within reach for the farmers if they cooperated. The key business was butter, a profitable product thanks to export to British industrial towns, but the big estates had an advantage thanks to the fact that they could gurarantee high quality. In 1882 the farmers founded their first cooperative dairy in Hjedding in Jutland to take up the fight with the estates. They broke consciously with the joint-stock company form and organised it as an association of one man, one vote, and they used the most modern technology available. They formed a model; cooperative dairies, cooperative slaughterhouses and cooperative trading companies had soon forced the estates from the market. The cooperatives also took care of purchases for farms and households; they took care of veterinary service and agricultural research.

There were no organisatory links between the economic, political and ideological thrusts of the farmers. The links were cultural. The activists tended to be educated in peoples' high schools. Cooperators tended to take political responsibility. There was a common Grundtvigian conduct in the different expressions of the agrarian movement, which kept the movement together but also repelled outsiders.

And this was the decisive weakness of the agrarian movement. The movement was an expression of the self-defence and political self-assertion of the freeholders, gaardmændene. The crofters, husmændene, were to great extent outsiders, as were even more the land workers, and the relation to the labour movement was cold. Crofters were sometimes coopted into the cooperation, as hostages or as proofs of the democratic disposition of the movement. But they had no admission to the core of the movement, for example they were for economic reasons in practice excluded from the peoples' high schools, and from the early twentieth century they formed their own associations in cooperation with the labour movement rather than the farmers.

About that time, the state bureaucracy accepted parliamentarism in Denmark, i.e. allowed the agrarian majority in the parliament form a government. The farmers, thanks to their commercial success, soon proved themselves to be good capitalist businessmen; politically, the division was increasingly between farmers and bourgeoisie on one side, and workers and crofters on the other. Seventy years later, the farmers' organisations were the strongest political force for corporate liberalism and EU membership in Denmark.

Yet, the Danish example was the great model for farmers in Europe the decades around 1900, a model that almost never was possible to emulate. There was always something in the way.

In France, the traditional political divisions prevented them from common action and becoming a power. In some regions, primarily in the west and south, the peasants had liberated themselves from the landlords during the revolution, so the farmers were republicans. In others, primarily in the west and north, the peasants had struggled against the revolutionary government's claims for taxes, conscripts and Roman ownership, so the farmers were anti-republicans. Different notables were able to play on this false conflict up to 1945, and put themselves at the leadership of agrarian organising, which for these reasons was slow. In the anti-republican movements, landlords led the way, appealing to the rural solidarity against government and towns. The republican movements were led by veterinaries, agronomists and not least lawyers who run after offices, needed voters, and appealed to the republican solidarity against church and traditional landlords. These organising was for natural reasons paternalist, they were small, sectorial and the combated each other as much as they could [12].

The French agrarian movement - in a genuine meaning - was for that reason an occasional and divided thing, which not only had to fight against banks, wholesale dealers and government discrimination, but also against very strong shadow movements.

The strongest mobilizations were businesses of winegrowers. They were republicans all of them, and they were not prevented by anti-republican colleagues to mobilize against the republic if necessary.

What forced them to action was the ravages of the vine-pest in the 1870s. The wine-growers had organised themselves in an interest organisation quite early, and these took initiative to cooperatives. They got new vitality when the Algerian wine forced down prices in the early 1900s. In 1907 the winegrowers in Var in the south revolted against Paris and the upper class rule. They borrowed their terminology from the labour unions - the class struggle was concretized with their own struggle against the château wines - and they saw themselves as a part of a generalized lower class rebellion. Professional politicians tried to make a shadow movement within but were never successful; instead, the cooperatives with their sttely buildings had the hegemony and symbolized popular power. Wine-growers are still a core of egalitarian republicanism in southern France.

If the political activities of farmers tended to cancel out in France, because of shadow movement influence, it spelled disaster in Germany for the same reason.

The German countryside was a patchwork socially; freehold farmers dominated regions like the Rhine valley and Bavaria while landlords dominated others like lands between the Elbe and Russia. These north-eastern landlords, the so-called junkers, also dominated the state and the civil society in the dominating state of the German empire, Prussia. They were a hardy lot, pioneers of world market agriculture with slave labour since the sixteenth century and used to work within small margins [13].

The agricultural crisis in the 1870s hit the junkers as hard as the farmers. But unlike the peasants, the junkers were well organised through their monopoly of higher employments in the Prussian state. Without waiting for a political reaction from the farmers, they organised their own movement, first through the state and from 1893 also through a mass organisation open for all agriculturalists but under control of the junkers, Bund der Landwirte.

The immediate aim of Bund der Landwirte was protection for the German agriculture against the ravages of the world market. This satisfied the needs of the peasants as well as the junkers. Thanks to the state control of the junkers, this part of the program was carried out immediately: in 1894 protection duties were introduced for agricultural goods, which created prosperity for many farmers, even if the junkers took most of the money. The Kondratiev A wave from 1894 also contributed to the prosperity.

But Bund der Landwirte had also other items on their program, intended to put up a front against democratic tendencies threatening the junkers' power in the state: hate against Jews and Poles, demand for "strong men" instead of parliamentarism, demands for war and expansion eastwards, summed up in a defence for property against the unpropertied and a jingoist assertion of the superiority of the German people. And with "people", they didn't mean the lower classes as Grundtvig had done, but the "race".

This program was later something the farmers would associate with the good times between 1894 and 1914.

Bund der Landwirte didn't have a monopoly among the German farmers though. The Catholic and democratically egalitarian family farmers in Bavaria had strongest capability of organising. They had a tradition to build on, of Catholic suspicion against the superiority of Protestant Prussia, and against irreligious power-worshipping upper classes. So when the launched their Bauernbund or Farmer's Alliance in the 1890s to protect the price of food, the ideology was Catholic.

Bauernbund was egalitarian; against aristocrats and landlord privileges, anti-militarist but for government protection for agriculture and for branch lines of the railways, and for universal suffrage and freedom of speech. What made them a power was their anti-aristocratic touch: their first mobilization concerned a particular tax on all commoners in Bavaria.

Bauernbund remained organisatorically divided; it remained a political organisation while the cooperative movement that might have given them stability was organised by others with strong links to the big Center Party. For that reason Bauernbund swung considerably up and down depending on immediate struggle matters. It had a high tide just before the war, and another at the breakdown of the empire in 1918 when it founded the Bavarian Republic together with the labour movement.

The defeat in the war shattered the reputation of the junkers and forced the farmers to stand on their own feet in north Germany also. The circumstances were odious. The economy of the cooperatives was wrecked by the super-inflation of 1923 while the terms of trade of farmers deteriorated fast in the world market. The attempts from the government to protect agriculture with customs benefited only the junkers this time.

The farmers responded with delivery strikes. Their organisations were defined as anti-socialist, since socialism was identified with urban interests and the kind of forced deliveries the war economy had begun and Social Democrat governments had continued. They also arranged mass demonstrations - in January 28, 1928 some 140.000 farmers demonstrated in Holstein against taxes, interests and food import. But all these actions were local.

Under these circumstances, three initiatives were taken to unite the agrarian movements nationally.

The first was one from the Bavarian Bauernbund, which tried to create a national farmers' party. The attempts fell because most leading activists in other German states supported other parties whose interest they put before the interests of the farmers.

The second was one from regional leaders of Bund der Landwirte, who tried to break away from the junker interests. This attempt fell because many of them saw the defence of traditional values as more important than defence of the interests of farmers, and for that reason supported conservative parties without exacting anything in return.

The third initiative came from the Nazis. They succeeded where the others had failed; they took by force of their well-oiled organisation over the leadership of Bund der Landwirte whose program they had already copied. Their Keynesian economic policy promised liberation from the tyranny of the world market. And their take-over of the agrarian movement was facilitated by the fact that so many non-Nazi farmer leaders were jailed for unionist activities.

Control over the agrarian organisations gave the Nazis a popular legitimacy which mobsters or skilful NGO managers would never have. And they inherited this role from the junkers, thanks to a paternalist organisation culture within the Bund der Landwirte. It is striking that the Bavarian base of Bauernbund remained anti-Nazi to the end. Their egalitarian organisation culture was impossible for operators to penetrate.

In the USA, the people's movement democracy tradition was stronger than in Germany. But nevertheless, the rank and file's inability to cope with strong shadow movements would have destructive consequences for the American domestic history and owing to that also for the global history [14].

We can read with Tocqueville about the USA in the early nineteenth century and its popular-dominated culture [15]. This society was cut to pieces by the civil war in the 1860s, which was a struggle between the northern industrialists' attempts to advance in the world market system and the southern cotton planters' ambitions to remain an aristocratic periphery in dependence of Britain, see chapter 6.

The civil war produced a speculative war industry, which after peace went on to conquer the rest of the economy, supported by the huge gains of war contracts. In due time, this attack resulted in system hegemony, see chapter 2. But the civil war also resulted in a hierarchic society, where the farmers and artisans of the north were filed up behind the war industry while the farmers and artisans of the south were organised as support for the planters. After the peace this order remained, materialized in the republican and democrat parties.

The breakdown of the democratic peoples' movement society in the USA coincided with the crisis of the 1870s. The category that was hardest hit was the family farmers of the south.

These family farmers had always had a hard time. Most cultivated some cash crop, for example cotton or tobacco, but most were indebted to the merchant buyers who often were political bosses as well, and were able to pay only after the harvest. And then they had to borrow again. The 1870s crisis and the monetarist policy made things even worse.

The first family farmer association, Farmer's Alliance, was organised in 1877 in Lampasas, Texas. Not until 1885, the Alliance, at that time spread all over Texas, begun to deal with purchase and sale cooperatives. But the movement wouldn't be a success by economic means; it was not enough to get out of the debt trap. The decisive impulse was instead the idea of the popular movement genius S.O. Daws to keep one week mass meetings with travelling agitators for the cooperative idea. And it seems that mass meetings was the right thing to do during the nineteenth century; in this case they created a kind of radical popular movement culture that according to Goodwyn threatened to recreate the lost democracy of the US.

In 1886, the great railway strike broke out in Texas and Farmers' Alliance took its stand at the side of the workers. Farmers and workers were both declared as working people, and the railway companies were the main enemies of the farmers; the political aims formulated the same year were control over the railway unions' unfair freight rates, stop for land speculation and monetarist economic policy, and trade union rights for working people [16].

To be sure, the majority for these aim was slender. But this was no obstacle for expansion. Agitators were sent out over the cotton belt and the cooperative sales organisation was extended. In 1890 the Alliance had a million members, but the cooperative business didn't go well, lack of capital was always a great handicap. Increasingly, the focus of the movement was pushed over to politics, and to struggle against monetarism, anti-inflation and the gold standard.

The movements had also other problems that would never be overcome.

There was the deadlock of the civil war. The USA was divided in North and South, each with its political hierarchy, and none could be attacked for fear that the other faction would exploit the split.

There was also the inability to communicate with the urban industrial workers. Not for lack of good will - the identification of farmers as workers was firmly rooted in the agrarian movement. But because the worker majority consisted of fresh immigrants, ex-farmers ruined by American food import, who couldn't even speak the language of the American farmers, and even less were able to take a stand for them. Not the least obstacle was the inability for Italian or Irish workers to understand American farmers' teetotalism.

The third problem was the geographical vastness of the USA. The indebted cotton farmers of the South had few interests in common with the so far prosperous grain farmers in the Midwest.

The fourth was the division of the southern farmers themselves, between whites and blacks. The Alliance did its best to include black farmers in the movements, but they proved hard to approach. Their dependency, precarious position and lack of self-confidence made them weak fighters; more than once they acted as strike-breakers and support for local bosses. And after the defeat of the movement, this guided white farmers' opinion of blacks for two generations.

The Alliance pinned its faith to politics. But how do this without challenging the paternalist system that also the members of the Alliance were a part of? First they simply supported candidates who promised to support them, but these promises were never fulfilled. Then they began to launch their own candidates, with spectacular success in Kansas in 1888. Three years after it was formalized in a political party, the Populist Party, with an aim to struggle for union power to put an end to the anti-inflation policy. At the 1892 election the party won successes in states where the Alliance had a strong cooperative organisation - Texas, Kansas, Georgia and Alabama.

The Populists were successful in some other states. But these were of another kind. Since no strong popular movement culture had been built up, the electoral successes could not be translated to effective politics. The elected politicians proved completely impotent against railway corporations, banks and wholesale dealers, and many of them changed sides rather than fighting.

In the election of 1896 these took over the Populist Party. They dominated 30 state organisations, the popular movements only four. And since the need for professional politicians is to be elected and get offices, they forced through an amalgamation with the Democrat party and the Democrat program.

With that, Populism was dead as a political movement, and the aspiration of the farmers for popular hegemony was at an end. The victory for the Republican candidate, the business lawyer McKinley, only confirmed the weakness and demoralization of popular politics. And the defeat, and shame over having lost the movements to political opportunists and middle class urban intellectuals, gave rise to two typical American phenomenons that superficially look like opposites: an intense gulf between popular politics and intellectual reform without popular base [17], and an extreme subalternity, i.e. incapacity for popular movements to take responsibility beyond their own niches. Not even the successful labour movement of the thirties was able to take this hegemonic grasp, with the effect that the political superiority of professional middle class politicians remained unmoved. Subsequently, all agrarian movements were sectorial, aiming at economic relief for farmers, but nothing beyond that.

Despite all failures, the European and North American farmers, in contemporaneousness with labour and national movements, succeeded in breaking down the food regime of the 1870s. Against free trade with grain and meat, they successively forced through national food security as the superior principle for food supply. This principle was a part of the different varieties of emergency policies in the USA, Scandinavia and Germany in the thirties, finally confirmed in Bretton Woods in 1944. The tyrannical power of the world market was harnessed, and the states gave themselves power, right and duty to protect the living standards of their citizens.

The market where the break was most distinct was the food market, for it had been most attacked by popular movements. When the food markets were reorganised from the thirties, and particularly from 1944, the agrarian producers' cooperatives were partners of the state [18].

This was an ambiguous success for the spontaneous expressions of life of the civil society, which the cooperatives originally were intended to protect. This for two reasons.

The first, most elementary reason was that also cooperatively organised farmers act on a market. And the world market favours always the most well-adjusted. There was for this reason always a tendency that the farmers most well-adapted to the world market exclude the others and establish themselves as agri-business, and moreover, that the cooperatives help in the process to promote their own competitiveness. Sometimes the cooperatives even abolished themselves, converting themselves to joint-stock companies [19].

The second was that new forms were developed to exploit the farmers.

In the food regime established from the mid-nineteenth century, agriculture was for technical reasons not very well integrated in the capitalist system. The production of food was ruled by biological processes that capitalists couldn't understand, and it was for this reason impossible to organise it in the same way as production of shoes and bottles was organised, with wage-labourers working under the supervision of capitalists. The production had to be organised artisan-like by autonomous households. instead, capitalists were reduced to exploit the farmers through their control of marketing.

But with the emergency politics of the thirties a new opportunity opened. Almost everywhere this policy built on production subsidies. The consequence was that it was profitable to increase production, which created a market for agricultural machinery, fertilizers, and seed. Commercial relations began to spread within the food chains.

According to Friedmann and McMichael, the new food regime after 1944 implied that three industrial complexes were built up around food production. They were the wheat complex, dominating the trade with American wheat, which used this to dump the prices in the south; the canned goods complex, which replaced southern ingredients in northern produce with high-processed north-products; and the meat complex, which used crops from the whole world to raise cattle sold as food for wealthy people in the north. Within the domains of these complexes, food production was industrialized, i.e. farmers and their artisan-like work was subsumed under industrial discipline and replaced as much as possible with machinery, according to the American model that demanded cheap energy and abundant land.

These factors put together implied that the central political power over food production was moved from farmers to capitalists and industrial workers. These operated increasingly, according with the principles established during the USA hegemony, within globally organised large-scale enterprises.

The farmers of the system center thus lost much of their political power after 1944. They were able, thanks to their cooperative organising, to see to it that state and market bought them off individually to a good price. But they were unable to assert their principles and preserve themselves as political actors.

Primarily, there were three countries left where they had some scope of action: USA, France and Norway.

The USA was the home country of agri-business. This was a consequence of the fact that USA was the leading country of the new food regime, but also that the independent agrarian movement was so divided and subaltern. Farmers' Alliance survived the breakdown to be sure, and even succeeded in growing as a cooperative movement, but it never got hegemony within the agrarian movement. The wheat and corn farmers of the Midwest had their own organisations, like the dairy farmers of the northeast. These organisations were often locally and sectorially limited.

In the confused muddle of non-cooperating organisations the government took the initiative and formed its own paternalist organisation, American Farm Bureau Federation, with the aim to help the ignorant farmers to develop into effective food producers at the bottom of the commodity chain. The farmers would for a long time regard this organisation with utmost suspicion, but during the crisis of the thirties they had no choice. If they would have any of the loans and subsidies of the New Deal they had to support the AFBF and accept its aim, market efficiency, as their own. Local resistance could easily be isolated and broken.

The permanent conditions of war after 1940 created a boom for food and some prosperity for the farmers. This lead to a temporary thinning out of the populist inheritance - radical politics was seen as a threat to war and prosperity. But dependence on the world market is insecure. Towards the late fifties, violent price swings caused new mobilizations among farmers. But they were also patchy, so for that reason it took time for a new attitude to AFBF and agri-business to grow.

An early instance of independent organising was National Farmers' Organization in Iowa, a strike organisation against the cooperatives, which according to the farmers run the same politics as capitalist enterprises. They invented the telephone chain as a struggle method when they organised strike pickets. Their drastic methods against scabs made them newsy, which spread their influence west of the Mississippi. They also developed as cooperative marketers, but they were crushed by the state and the banks after some decade, with economic means.

During the peoples' movement wave of the seventies other even more divided movements appeared instead. Some of these, like for example American Agriculture Movement, grew fast and organised for some periods about half the farmers in some states. But they relied in lobbying with media support and failed to mobilize locally, which doomed them. Others have been even more local and short-termed. But common to them was that they linked up with old populist anti-capitalism, countryside fundamentalism - and ecological consciousness, an effect of their struggle with the chemical corporations [20].

It is because of this retained ability to mobilize, that the US agrarian movement have been able to take the initiative, together with the Indian, the French and the Central American agrarian movements, to a global resistance to the new corporate food regime of the twenty-first century.

It was also during this period the agrarian movement in France finally was able to organise independently. The old paternalist organisations asserted themselves poorly during the slump of the thirties, and many of them discredited themselves through collaboration with the Germans during the occupation. After liberation, the soil was open. The initiative was taken by a group of French "Grundtvigians" - members of the Catholic youth organisation Jeunes Catholiques; Christians who despised the hierarchies and took a stand for self-organised adult education, not least for women [21].

They saw to it that the farmers joined one organisation in 1945 that unlike earlier organisations were ruled by the farmers themselves. They formed the Gaullist food policy, implying development of the countryside for government money. They also broke with it when it was evident that this development only favoured the most prosperous farmers. It was also they who developed the radical struggle methods of the French farmers - dumping of poorly paid food at the town halls and blocking the motorways with tractors.

If the farmers of the system center were present in a weak way during the post-war era, farmers in the system periphery so much stronger. Here, it is possible to talk about a long peoples' movement cycle that is begun in the early twentieth century and doesn't grow ripe until the early seventies.

The system periphery: land reform and national movements


The peasants of the world market periphery have since the instigation of the system in the sixteenth century remained its bottom-rock underclass. They have had least bargaining power towards the rulers of the system. The farmers of the system center have at least had an opportunity to disturb the public order and the peace and quiet of the rulers. And the wage workers of the system periphery were at least able to strike. The peasants haven't had much of these opportunities. They have been far from the levers of the system, and it has been easy to play some of them out against others, over the whole world. When the twentieth century began, they were alone of having got no integration whatsoever in the form of democratic and social reforms. For them - a majority about the year 1900 - the world market system thus was plunder and nothing but that.

The forms of this plunder varied however in different parts of the world. Not only parts of the world for that matter; since the world market system took over adjusted and adjusted itself to, local regimes and systems of exploitation, the forms might vary from village to village, or even individually.

Roughly however, it has been possible during the twentieth century to distinguish between three agricultural regimes, shown on the map [22].

  • The bimodal regime, or the latifundia system. It is characterised by the fact that almost all land is owned by very few, who let the direct producers, the "peasants" cultivate it for wages, part of the harvest, or/and a right to cultivate a small part of the land for themselves. The latifundias were always established by a European state, at the expense of the forms below. The original reasons for establishing it may have varied, but about 1900 they were all engaged in some form of commercial agriculture for sale or even export.

  • Family farming, or the clientelist system. This is characterised by the fact that the whole scale exists, from landlords over more or less prosperous farmers, both owners and leaseholders, to crofters and landless workers. This is the "traditional" system in all densely populated agricultural societies, including Europe. In this system, a great variety of exploitation forms appear - taxes, price manipulation, corruption, low wages and high leases, and they hit unevenly. As the name suggests, there are often local strongmen, whose interests are not necessarily the same as other farmers', crofters' or land workers' interests.

  • Customary land tenure systems. Here, the land is owned by the clan or the family, and the cultivator has only a user right. This is the typical "traditional" regime where there is abundant land. The traditional form of exploitation, which was inherited by the Europeans, were taxes and forced labour. The world market system also implied another pain - introduction of Roman law, and individual ownership made compulsory, not always in the name of the cultivator.

Agrarian movement during these three regimes are different and worth considering separately.

Cultivators in a bimodal system usually struggle for their own land. Cultivators in a customary land tenure system struggle for keeping the state at a distance, or for better prices if they sell their produce. And cultivators in a family farming system are stuck in a cobweb of conflicts.


Agrarian movements in a bimodal system

I will begin with agrarian movements in a bimodal system, since this is simplest and since they have marked the twentieth century at least up to 1974 and for that reason left most literature [23].

One or another form of bimodal regime seems to have been the most obvious way for the European upper classes to introduce their world market system during the first centuries. It was established in Andalusia when it was conquered from the Arabs; the military chiefs parted the land between them and let workers run it for them. In the same way South America was parted between Spanish conquerors, and what it could not digest was delegated to the domestic upper class to own on the same conditions; the aim was primarily not land but control over silver. In eastern Europe and Ireland, grain exporters made peasants into serfs in latifundias on conditions reminding of the South American. At the Caribbean, from Bahia to Potomac, European merchants established plantations for tropical export crops and put African slaves to work there. In northern India, the British East India Company decided that the domestic taxmen should consider themselves owners of the peasants' land. In Algeria, South Africa and Kenya, European settlers established latifundias while they chased away the earlier cultivators by means of government-supported violence, after which they were allowed to come back as tenants or land workers. In this way, the system periphery was mobilized to produce cheap crops for the center.

In the whole system periphery, regardless if agriculture was organised as latifundias or not, the legal and ideological guise for the violence was Roman law, and to force putative owners to write their names in a land register. The consequence was often that urban interests or the colonisers themselves beat the peasants to it and took over as formal owners.

The immediate reaction of the peasants is described in chapter 4. These immediate reactions were rather fruitless, except of course that all resistance makes the rulers be more careful. There were only two bimodal zones where the cultivators reached any decisive result before the late nineteenth century. In the Caribbean plantations, the Haitian revolution and numerous small rebellions resulted in that slavery was replaced with wage-labour or share-cropping during the nineteenth century. In the East European grain estates, the peasants got the right to buy off parts of their previous farms and their personal freedom, if they had any money. In both cases, a contributing reason for liberation was that forced labour is ineffective and extremely sensitive to everyday resistance. The only reason why it was used at all was rather imperfections in the market system. As soon as the state was able to guarantee the unequal distribution of property effectively enough, wage labour was more profitable, alternatively family farming exploited through the marketing system.

But from the early twentieth century, the pressure began to grow on the bimodal system. This is to some extent related to the increasingly effective resistance to the European rule over the world, see chapter 6, and an increasingly peoples' movement system in general. The bimodal system was a part of the colonial system, and was attacked as such. With a lot of success, for a while.

But it is also related to the fact that the latifundias found it difficult to adapt to the decline of the food regime of the 1870s and the emergence of the Bretton Woods system. The land owners had, to survive the increasing competition, to relinquish their roles as protective patrons and convert themselves into lean managers. And this provoked the direct producers to militant defence of their subsistence.

The pioneer, as in so many cases in social movement history, was the Irish.

The land of Ireland was owned by English landlords, mostly absentees, and was rented by Irish peasants. When food prices fell in the 1870s due to competition from American import, the leases were kept at the earlier high levels. The rural discontent was organised into a national movement was the Irish nationalists in the Irish Republican Brotherhood. It had up to then been an urban phenomenon, but it saw the opportunity to win a mass base in its struggle with the British rule. Together with local rural mobilisations and a few parliamentarians they founded the Irish Land League with the aim to decrease the lease or if possibly take over the land themselves [24].

The method was primarily resistance to evictions of peasants in arrears.

This was a popular and often successful method that involved the whole district. Peasants who took over evicted peasants' place were banned - nobody would speak or deal with them, and when this method was extended to the estate managers the language was endowed with a new word, coined after the estate manager John Boycott in Co. Mayo. And the peasants used every possible trick - roadblocks, summons, reoccupation of emptied farmsteads - to make collection cumbruous for the landlords. The movement was integrated by the middle class nationalists and became so strong that it could elect the majority of parliamentary seats in Ireland; it also dominated local politics and local courts in countryside Ireland, and after a few years the British state was compelled to a tenancy legislation and began to buy off the estate owners and sell their land cheap to the peasants.

The Irish agrarian movement was significant in Ireland, but on the global level only the Mexican agrarian movement made a hegemonic impact. It was the Mexican movement, together with the Indian and the Chinese, which put land reform at the global agenda [25].

This despite that the agrarian movement in Mexico was a local affair that hardly went beyond the borders of the state of Morelos.

Morelos belongs to the densely populated central tableland of Mexico. Sugar plantations had begun to establish themselves there in the late 19th century, protected by Diaz's development despotism (see chapter 6, the section Post-colonial movements). The villages tried to protect themselves with lawsuits and weren't completely unsuccessful despite the corrupt judicature. But in 1909 the planters changed tactics. So far, they had relied on bribed judges. But now this was not enough; the planters had invested heavily in equipment that required increased sales to pay off. So they took, with the help of Diaz, complete control over the state legislature and made it a law that the planters could take over all land in the state if they wanted.

The villages tried to defend themselves with petitions to the central government but with no avail. What emboldened them to go further was an instance of contemporaneousness: when the middle class constitutionalist movement took to arms in the north in November 1910, the peasants of the village of Anenecuilco invaded a newly stolen field and planted maize.

The authorities kept a low profile because they were busy controlling the northern insurrection. And two other villages, Ayala and Noyotepec, joined Anenecuilco and established a joint fund. As chairman they elected the mayor of Anenecuilco municipality, Emiliano Zapata.

It is fitting here to define the concept "peasants". The peasants called themselves campesinos, i.e. country people. What acted were the villages, collectively, like during the early world market system, see chapter 4. The bimodal system had not given space for stratification among the peasants; all identified with the village regardless of profession [26].

Small successes, for both the little agrarian movement and the democracy movement in the north, called for bolder projects. At the Shrove Sunday Market next year in the small town of Cuautla, Zapata together with the local teacher proclaimed revolution and association with the democracy movement. The aim was land reform in Morelos.

Now, the Mexican establishment hurried to co-opt the democracy movement, appointed its leader Francisco Madero as president and sent an army to Morelos to deal with the peasants. This proved more difficult than expected.

For with their pillages, village-burnings, massacres and mass deportations, the occupying armies gave the villagers no choice. To survive they had to take to the woods. And in the woods, they had to organise to fight. In this way, the Zapatist peasant army was born, and they turned out to be as skilful soldiers as the professional ones.

But the villagers also organised politically. They formulated their program, The Ayala Plan [27], and spread it over the country. They had good help from the press, which depicted them as a center for all subversive activities, enticing revolutionary youth from all the country to the peasant base. These urban youths - the secretaries, as they were called - would be useful to manage the correspondence, communications and administration of the peasant movement.

In April 1913 a new rebellion broke out in the north, because meanwhile Madero had been killed and the army had taken power. The military pressure on Morelos was lifted somewhat and the peasant army could mount an offensive. While the so-called constitutionalists approached Mexico D.F. from the north, it was flooded from the south by the peasant army. In August 1914, the government fled and left power to the constitutionalists. The peasant army went home to carry out their own land reform, according to the Ayala plan.

While Mexico during 1915 was ruled by military adventurers or not at all, Morelos was ruled by the villages and their elected councils. They took back the stolen land, and shared the plantations between them; some of the plantations with belonging refineries were maintained though, for cash. The "secretaries" saw to it that the new title-deeds were written into the land registers and maps. It looked as if everything was all right, according to the traditional countryside way of life.

But in October, the grip of the constitutionalists hardened. They were uninterested in land reforms, they wanted business as usual, and demanded submission from the peasants. After some weeks of bargaining they sent in the army.

This occupation was worse than the previous one: it burnt villages and deported people even more energetic than the military dictatorship had managed to do. The peasant army had to fight again; after two years they had succeeded to chase the army out of Morelos but at that time a fourth of the inhabitants were dead.

The Zapatist army had shown that it was able to carry out a land reform, and it had shown that it was able to beat armies. But it couldn't do both at the same time. To keep plundering soldiers away it had to be militarily mobilized. But then it couldn't organised the civil society or even tend the land.

It surely tried. In 1917 it organised something of a political party in the villages to defend the villages against militarist tendencies with the peasant army, and nurture democratic autonomy by for example run schools. But the pressure was too hard, from poverty and the uncertain future.

During 1918 the understanding grew that alliances from without Morelos was needed to get permanent results, or even survive. At first they were difficult to get. But during 1919, the conflicts grew among the ruling constitutionalists; a reformist faction with a base in the commercial middle class in Sonora was increasingly marginalized by traditional landowners, and the alliance-making of the Zapatists were beginning to ripen.

In April 1920 the leading reformist Obregón - a general with good ties to the Yaqui Indians - was threatened by prosecution and fled to the Zapatists. And while local reformists rebelled in self-defence, Obregón and the Zapatist army conquered the capitol together.

During Obregón's presidency 1920-1924, the Zapatists were a part of the ruling coalition. They gained from it. The Ayala Plan was law, and since they controlled the ministry of agriculture and were mobilized locally they could use the law to wipe out all remnants of the sugar plantations. And their battle-cry Tierra y Libertad was made the national motto and symbol. But they had to pay for it also. Unlike when they carried out the land reform themselves, bureaucrats had to approve every step they took. And they grew increasingly parsimonious with time.

The reason for this was the local limitations of the agrarian movement. In the rest of Mexico the peasants weren't mobilized to undertake any land reform, so it was a sluggish thing to do. When it was done, in the thirties, it was as a paternalist concession from the state. For that reason, the state could lay claims to political and economic support. For a very effective method was invented in Mexico to get the peasants to pay for the country's advancement in the world market system, by buying dear and selling cheap to state monopolies [28]. This method would later be used in the whole world.

For that reason, the gains of the agrarian movement would be undermined with time. From the second world war, the rulers of Mexico concentrated on agriculture for export, which was more profitable for them and for the state, even if they now and then proclaimed new land reforms to reassure the agrarian movement which never demobilized completely, despite cooptation in paternalistic organisations [29].

The success of the Mexican agrarian movement is perhaps appreciated better when compared to its contemporaneous counterparts in Russia. There, the peasants were even more brilliantly successful in seizing the land from the landlords in 1917. But the easiness of the task, the fact that they never had to organise more than at village level, made them easy victims for the new Russian state bourgeoisie when these needed resources for the Russian world market career. When the latifundia system was resurrected in government regime in 1929, to the misfortune of the food supply, the peasants had nothing to defend themselves with [30].

The link between resistance to the bimodal agricultural regime and anti-colonial movements was - of course - forged in India. The anti-colonial movement pioneered (if one doesn't count Ireland) a mass movement in India, and this implied engaging peasants to struggle for their interests against the colonial power - see chapter 6.

A movement for land reform against the colonial system was an effective combination. For it made it necessary for the global anti-colonial coalition to attack the bimodal system everywhere [31].

The Indian peasants had managed a defence struggle against the land thefts of the British state from the beginning: what the peasants had regarded from time immemorial as village and county commons was treated as belonging to the state, and the peasants were deprived of their usufructs. Since the peasants needed the commons for wood and other things they had to break the bans and sometimes defy the military power of the occupiers. This was a locally based and uncoordinated mass movement as early as in the nineteenth century, decades before Gandhi had begun to formulate it as a strategy, as disobedience, and coordinate it nationally [32].

These movements were however limited to the mountainous peripheries of India. In the densely populated plains it was according to Dhanagare only in the twenties that the peasants begun to assert their interests collectively and in an organised form. For better or for worse, it was the national movement that taught the tactics. Not because the nationalists were interested in the conditions of the peasants in the first place, but because they realized that they couldn't win against the British if they didn't engage the whole people [33].

But the Indian National Congress consisted of people from the urban middle class. For that reason it was natural that they turned to the cultivators that most resembled themselves, to the commercialised farmers halfway up in the hierarchy, who mostly had poor land workers to do most of the work for them. The movements of poor peasants and land workers against high prices of food during the war left them cold; only the sinking prices for the products of commercial farmers after the crash of 1929 triggered them to systematically thematizing the problems of the farmers.

The class structure in the Indian countryside was not two-tiered - landowners and peasants - but three-tiered. There were the owners who sometimes were zamindars, taxmen who had been granted ownership by the British, sometimes merchants or moneylenders who had taken land for forfeited loans. Then there was a middle layer of farmers who managed the farming with right of usufruct. And finally there were the landless labourers who mostly did the labour for the farmers. In some regions there were even more layers, for example in the Bengal where there were big and small landowners and tenants without rights.

According to Indian parlance these layers were described as high-caste, low-caste and untouchables, see chapter 3. Each caste may be described as a guild with a more or less well-formed internal organisation. This organisation would, in the case of the low-caste, be used by the farmers when they built their agrarian movement.

The initiator of the farmer strategy within the National Congress was Mohandas Gandhi. An important reason why he mobilised the richer farmers was that he didn't want any conflict between Indians, even if some of them were landowners by grace of the British. He wanted to attack the British directly. And the most well-placed for this were the tax-payers, who had something to withdraw. Such fairly prosperous farmers were the indigo cultivators in Champaran in Bihar and the farmers in Kheda in Gujarat whose movements Gandhi took part in in the tens.

But with the mobilizing of farmers, the National Congress had set in motion a process they couldn't control.

The disobedience campaign in 1930-32 built on the ability of the more prosperous to withhold taxes. In parts of the Ganges plain the campaign was extended to refusal of paying the rent. But the campaign was directed against the government; in 1932 the Congress achieved an agreement about autonomy of the provinces, and the campaign was suspended.

But some of the farmers who had taken part in the campaign were not at all in the mood being demobilized. For the small family farmers, the government was not the only problem. For them, the rent was more important. So they went on with their campaign, with demonstrations, mass meetings and violent resistance against the landlords' men when they came to evict them.

This was to a great extent done with only local organisation. The peasants of villages or counties utilized the contemporaneousness created by the nationalist movement to assert their trade-unionist claims. But there were also attempts made to coordinate the movement. The prime movers were the Kamma and Reddi castes of Andhra and the Yadav and Kurmi castes of Bihar, together with middle class intellectuals in the communist party. In 1936 they went together in Kisan Sabha or Farmers' Alliance, which aimed at asserting the economic claims of the farmers and in the long run abolish the landlord system and give full ownership to the farmers.

Kisan Sabha never got the organising capacity the activists dreamt about. The agrarian movement was even afterwards a local or at most a regional affair. They also had trouble with their relations to sharecroppers and landless workers further down the social ladder, and their enemies were sometimes skilful exploiting this fact. And the movement was unevenly spread over India. But at the local and provincial level, the Kisan Sabha alliance was yet effective enough to change the social balance towards the small farmers over all India during the next generation.

When the Congress was allowed to form provincial governments in 1937, this awoke expectations among the farmers, and their strike movements grew. The movement seems to have been particularly active in the Ganges plain and above all in the Bengal. There was no coordinated planning, the farmers acted locally protected by the contemporaneousness of the movement. In the Bengal, sharecroppers - tenants paying with part of the harvest - managed their own versatile movement against both farmers with right of possession and landlords and moneylenders.

In August 8, 1942, the Congress launched its Quit India campaign, and the farmers rallied to it. Despite the fact that most of the Congress leaders were rounded up and jailed, the farmers rose locally in the United Provinces, Bihar, Bengal, Maharashtra and Tamilnadu, chased away the British police, blocked the railways and organised their own authorities at village and county level. Ranga contends that the British in some regions didn't dare to return for years. The government succeeded to restore order to be sure, but it didn't last long [34].

For when the war ended, the farmers mobilized again. It was still a matter of local refusals to pay rents and taxes, but in three regions the movements achieved some coordination. In the Bengal, the rice sharecroppers demanded decreased rents and refused to deliver the harvest before the demand was approved. In Malabar in the present Kerala and surroundings tenants and land workers stroke separately but with growing cooperation. In the part of present Andhra that is called Telengana, the agrarian movement grew to revolution; the princely state that controlled the region collapsed and the agrarian movement administered the countryside half a year before the new Indian state sent the army to repress it. Meanwhile, the movement grew to something more than a movement of Reddi and Kamma farmers with right of possession; landless workers got parts of the land, and women took part in the administrative power. To make the farmers competent to assert their citizenship, the movement managed an ambitious education program. Some students contend however that this focus on the least privileged made the Reddi-Kamma alliance less eager to support the movement, thus contributing to its downfall [35].

After independence, the weight of the farmers have however continued to grow. The national movement's dependence of mass mobilizations gave the farmers an influence on the politics of the independent state. Urban interests, struggling with each other, have been forced to appeal to the farmers' caste organisations for support, and have been forced to promise continued land reform to get it. The process has sometimes halted, and the farmers have been forced to resort to land occupations and tax refusal to get it afoot again, and the process has not gone equally fast everywhere. But since the eighties, the farmers is a force that struggle in earnest for hegemony in India [36].

So the Indian agrarian movement was successful. So was also the agrarian movement in the other giant state China. It succeeded in carrying through the most ambitious land reform in the world, thanks to its alliance with the national movement. The subordinated or subaltern role of the agrarian movement would however guarantee that the land reform wasn't realized to the primary benefit of the farmers but more to the benefit of the Chinese state - in a way analogous to the Mexican case, the state was able to utilize the land reform to create mechanisms which let the farmers pay not only the industrialization of the country but also the consumption of the urban population.

The achievements of the alliance are described in chapter 6. But the history can also be told focused on the agrarian movement [37].

The traditional Chinese order had been rather favourable for the rice cultivators; they had bargaining power thanks to their technical skill [38]. But the nineteenth century, with its dissolution of the traditional order had been a time of social sinking for most people in the countryside, according to Moise. And the twentieth century was even worse. Instead of a taxing regime, they got mutually warring armies to provide for, the so-called warlords who misruled China between 1912 and 1927 had to plunder their provinces to get resources to maintain themselves against their rivals.

Incapable of paying all duties, the peasants had to convey their land to strongmen - landowners, moneylenders etc - with good relations to one warlord or another, against the right to stay and work for a part of the harvest.

The traditional conflict organising of the Chinese peasants were the so-called secret societies, see chapter 3. The societies organised mutual help, smuggled salt and were during tumultuous times recruiting bases for peasant rebellions. In the early twentieth century, the most important secret societies in south China were the Society of the Elder Brothers and the so-called Triads or the Society of the Three Harmonies. In the north the most important were The Great Knives and the Red Spear which went back to the White Lotus of the fourteenth century, see chapter 3. The societies were more networks than hierarchies; they were for that reason hard to wipe out but they were also usually incapable to concentrate on greater projects [39].

The fall of the empire in 1911 had been impossible hadn't the republicans had useful contacts to secret societies; Sun Yatsen and his closest collaborators were members of several, and risings arranged of them accompanied the formal republican takeover in the cities. Pressured by the economic exploitation and the military harassment in the China of the warlords, these societies were used for revolts according to the old catchword "attack the rich, protect the poor".

The advantage of the societies was legitimacy. The disadvantage was the lack of mobilizable resources. Rebellions of secret societies might make the Chinese provinces ungovernable and hard to tax. But they were not able to establish an order of their own against the armies of the warlords. To succeed, the Chinese farmers had to make use of modern weapons, in the form of effective organisation and language - to mobilize enough support they had to set the aim of a Chinese renaissance. They were able to borrow these weapons from the national movement assembled in the communist party - but only on conditions.

The Chinese communist party had a background in a student movement for national renaissance around 1920. They had been invited by merchants in Shanghai to take part in a nationalist counter-regime able to unite China and assert Chinese interests in the world market. Faithful to communist ideals, most of its members were more interested in what happened in the cities and the industry. But most of the members had also an origin in the countryside, and with some of them solidarity with their native ground won over ideology; they used the government party position to organise peasant unions in the base of the counter-regime, Guangdong-Guangxi in the south, and create a school for peasant organisers. Meanwhile, communists got a position in the army that was set up to conquer all China.

The conquest was launched in 1926. Since it represented an end to the warlord regime, it was received enthusiastically by the peasants, who created organisations after the Guangdong pattern. These organisations took over power in the countryside, they decreased leases and interests, they organised cooperatives, they abolished patriarchal laws and founded schools. It is estimated that in early 1927 about 10 millions were members. Meanwhile the secret societies organised self-defense against plundering soldiers in the periphery where such things was possible.

But this movement, and the increasingly active labour movement in the cities, frightened the merchants and their allies in the nationalist party. In April 1927, they used their military positions to repress both and establish a military dictatorship.

They weren't strong enough though to control all the countryside. The peasant movement was able to survive for a while in eight peripheries. They happened to be regions where the secret societies were strong, and the new cooperation between peasant movement and national movement was made a good deal easier by a common background in secret societies. For example, the communist generals Zhu De and He Long were prominent members of the Society of the Elder Brothers, and it was said about He Long that he was able to order for whole armies through the Elder Brothers [40]

The history about peasant movement and national movement together survived and carried through land reforms in these peripheries, and later in the regions they controlled behind the Japanese lines during the war is told in chapter 6. I will only touch upon here the way the process and the character of the reforms was informed by the fact that the hegemony was kept by the national movement, and not the peasants.

During the early phases, up to the defeat and abandonment of the southern base in 1933, and again in the remaining base in the northwest up to the war against Japan, the peasant movement had a strong position. The national movement was a refugee in need of protection. So the peasants were able to dictate the forms for the land reform, and the communist party just had to adapt. This implied that landlords and rich farmers who were considered oppressors simply were expropriated and that their land was divided among the other peasants [41].

During the war against Japan, the bargaining power of the nationalist movement was strengthened. Also landlords had to be involved in the struggle, so land reforms were out of question. The peasants were only too happy for help to protect their land againt Japanese terror attacks, so they were not able to question this policy.

On the other hand, the cultural hegemony of the peasants was strengthened. Peasants were the core of resistance. The intellectual urban people who dominated the communist party had to live in a peasant way, not least because Mao and other veterans from the twenties sided with the peasants.

When the Japanese were defeated, the peasant movement was able to take initiative again. Now, landlords and rich farmers were attacked, sometimes corporally, and their land and other belongings was shared. The communists tried to put a brake on the movement but had to put a good face on it not to loose confidence.

After 1948, when the communists were able to form a government, the peasants were weakened again. The communists now needed the support of rich farmers to industrialize the country, and in the regions the peasant movement hadn't got a hold of - the heaviest populated areas - the land reform was a rather slow affair.

But yet, the peasants made some headway during the early fifties. Much land was shared out to the poorer peasants, and they formed cooperatives to utilize the resources more effeicient. But this was not enough for the state, which needed the resource of the peasants for its own project - advancement in the world market system. In 1955, the state cracked down on the peasants. instead of the locally formed cooperatives under peasant rule, it introduced collective farming organised in a national hierarchy. This was easy, since there was no organising beyond the village to put the interest of the peasants foremost. For that reason, the pesants had to trust the communist party and its national considerations. The model was not unlike the one that the Mexican state had invented: selling dear and buying cheap, the state was able to seize the surplus of the countryside and invest it into industries.

This doesn't imply that the peasant movement was powerless and its successes worthless. Not at all. The collectivization wasn't carried through violently as in Russia, but with consent on the whole. The Chinese communist party was not only an instrument for the state bourgeoisie, but the peasants had a stake in it. And after 1970, the state control decreased as a result of the culture revolution, let be a new that local upper class with ties to party and state were posed to make the greatest advantage from it. The deep involvement of a broad popular mobilization in the national project guaranteed that the project would continue to develop, to some degree, to the benefit of a majority and not only for the new upper class [42].

The Mexican, Indian and Chinese agrarian movements were during the age 1945-1975 an example for agrarian movement over the whole world. Over the whole world market system periphery, agrarian movements attacked landlords under the banners of "land to the tillers" and constituted the popular base for the southern national movements of the twentieth century. But as Jeffrey Paige has pointed at, differences in the exploitation patterns have resulted in differences in the strategies and aims of the agrarian movements [43].

When the relations between landlord and peasant has been weakly monetarized and rested upon forced labour, and when the landlords haven't had any other assets than land, agrarian movements have primarily fought for land reform. Such conditions have for example ruled most of Latin America.

The Latin American latifundia system found it difficult to produce enough food for the growing urban population which forced these to use their scarce foreign exchange to buy food in the world market. And during the thirties slump, the market for the export agriculture disappeared. The landlords were for that reason enfeebled politically and economically, and an opportunity for an alliance between urban middle classes and peasants appeared, as it had done in Mexico [44].

In South America, the agrarian movements were not as politically strong as they were in Mexico - perhaps except in Bolivia where the control of the state was weak. The urban middle class politicians were always able to use local agrarian mobilizations, co-opt these, and utilize them as pressure on traditional landlords to force them to modernize and create strong export units, or divide their lands to create commercialized family farms. In Peru, the peasants were for example sandwiched between government ruled cooperatives and the local middle class organised in Sendero Luminoso, and had few opportunities to act on their own [45].

For in South America, the agrarian mobilizations didn't take place until the Bretton Woods policy was firmly established in the fifties and offered capital-intensive food-exporters and effective family farms a room in the global food regime. For that reason, it was not long before the urban bourgeoisie deserted the agrarian alliance and concentrated on food export. Only with the Indian movements in the late eighties, the peasants of South America has got a new instrument to assert themselves with, see chapters 6 and 8.

The agrarian mobilizations did however also get an impulse from this political situation, according to Paige and Handelman. Monetarization, market and the reforms of the urban middle class gave an opportunity. In Bolivia, the agrarian movement was begun by commercial farmers in Cochabamba when the local landowners ignored a new law against forced labour. In Peru, it was begun by peasants near the Cerro de Pasco mine which was a market to them although it had stolen land from them, and by the commercial coffee-growers in the Convención valley. From them, the movement spread unevenly; peasants made local invasions into haciendas which had stolen land from them. The leaders of the movement were often people with unionist experiences from the towns.

The methods were always the same as in Morelos. Peasants in a village gathered at dawn, preferably with a music band, banners and weapons. They marched away to the land they considered theirs, but which a big estate had stolen sometime during the centuries. They built a fence on the ground and sometimes a small house, let loose some animals or planted maize. Then they waited for a reaction [46].

If the reaction was violent they usually retired. But during the period up to 1972 many local agrarian movements were usually able together to get the landowners to the defensive.


Sharecropper movements

When the relations between landowners and agriculturalists have built on sharecropping, i.e. the peasants have leased land for a part of the harvest, the peasants have usually taken part in movements aiming at government power. Paige's explanation is that economic and social terms of agreement have been more important to them than the formal ownership, because they haven't been tied to a certain village but worked where a contract has been available. Such conditions have ruled in Vietnam, West Bengal, Philippines and China.

In reality, they have acted according to workers' trade union principles. The rice cultivators in the Mekong delta is a typical case. The unionist movement against absentee landlords was the core of Vietminh as well as the FNL, see chapter 6. While Vietminh had fixed a maximum for the leasehold rent, the South Vietnamese dictator Diem fixed a minimum while the South Vietnamese state established itself as the biggest landlord at land it confiscated from the French plantations [47].

But what about the rice cultivators north of Manila? When the paternalist ties between landlord and cultivators began to be substituted by purely commercial ones after the first world war, the peasants formed trade unions to pose elementary economic demands like that the landlord should pay for the tools or that the peasants' share of the produce should be increased. When the Japanese occupied the Philippines the peasants used their trade unions to protect themselves against excesses, and this soon grew to a guerrilla army of several thousand people, fighting the Japanese [48].

After the war, the peasants didn't ask for more than going back to their business, but the authorities and the landlords persecuted the ex-guerrilleros and forced them to take to arms again. From 1945 through 1951, the state and the peasant army waged war against each other, primarily because the landlords were afraid of a too strong trade union. After a few years, the leftist parties joined the battle, but at that time the peasants had begun to withdraw because a new government tried the carrot instead of the stick, yielding to the unionist demands. Kerkvlied shows that the peasants were completely alien to the urban leftist demands - but he also shows that they found it easy to talk to each other as long as the conversation dealt with the trade union matters of the peasants.

When landowners have had plenty of money, it has been easy to take over their land - they have then found it easy to invest in other activities like banking or wholesale grain business, and the agricultural movements have swiftly turned to cooperation and pressure on the state for pro-agrarian policies. This is the case in parts of India for example.

Regardless of varying strategies, the peasants succeeded very rarely to repeat the achievement of the Zapatists and make inroads to the global hegemony. Almost always, they subordinated themselves to nationalist agendas or urban reform movements. Paige, Barraclough and other theorists come to the conclusion that it is impossible for southern cultivators to organise a movement of their own with any strength.

And all examples may indicate that it is not easy.

But regardless of varying strategies, and regardless if the movements succeeded in organising themselves regionally or nationally or only took the form of local land occupations and marginal strikes, the movements were nevertheless partly successful. The movement alliance between agrarian movements and national movements worked; it hit hard against the landlords who had had close ties to the colonial powers, and much of their land was shared among the cultivators. But after an early period of concessions, the global rulers began to formulate a counterstrategy, which was launched globally at the UN land reform conference in Ottawa in 1966. It built on three principles, which were later copied to hit against other peoples' movements, for example the environmental movement, see chapter 9.

The first principle was to declare the land reform to be primarily was of a technical character. The core matter was not social justice or food security for the peasants, but with a repetition of the crisis policy of the thirties maximum food production for the world market. This was declared to call for a new agricultural technology based on ample access to water, fertilizers, pesticides and new seed varieties; of course few peasants could afford that, so only prosperous farmers could be selected for support by national and international aid.

The technification of the land reform question was an invention by the Mexican agrarian bourgeoisie - when the peasants had taken most of the land area, they had to find more capital intensiveways to utilize the land they had left. It was in Mexico the "green revolution" was launched as one of the ways to curb the agrarian movement in the early forties [49].

The other principle, used over the whole world, was also a Mexican invention - government monopolies of sales to and purchase from the cultivators, to utilize their surplus for industrialization and urban privileges. Sometimes, when the world market career was particularly ambitious, this was combined with government supervised cooperatives to strengthen control. The purchase prices were kept down, by means of a massive supply of subsidized agricultural products from the North.

The third principle was to coopt selected parts of the agrarian movements into a talkshow without end.

The more authoritarian the land reform had been, i.e. the less agrarian movements had been involved in them, the more this global strategy affected the outcome. In countries where an agrarian movement had existed, for example in India, the results were less disastrous and at lest some peasants were able to profit from the reforms. But for example in Iran, the "green revolution" was realized with such force that more than half of the peasants were forced in to the slum of the cities. In Ethiopia, the entirely urban-based revolutionary government carried through a land reform which was so destructive for the peasant that mass starvation ensued, and that the peasants joined the rebellion that toppled Mengistu's regime [50].

The land reforms were thus a double-edged business for the peasants. And far from all were entitled to land from it. Sobhan calculates that about 15-40 percent of the peasants have benefited from land reforms in the countries where they have taken place (except Mexico, China, Vietnam and South Korea where the figure is about 70 percent), while still about half the peasants are landless. Many have been forced to the urban slums as a sub-proletariat, and even those who got land have had to pay for it by paying for the industrialization programs of the governments [51].

The result of the land reforms was thus that the political fronts of the agriculturalists were divided. The landless became fewer and got less political leverage. The new family farmers got new problems that were less clearcut. The prices for their products were pressed down by national policies and international dumping, not least by the so-called food aid of the USA. Commercial big estates continued to dominate politically and economically, and caught the advantages that were for agriculture and not least the water. Even if the social standing of the agriculturalists had been raised during the land reform movements of the twentieth century, they were still direct producers in the outer edges of the commodity chains and very far down in the global hierarchy. Against this, no land occupations and violence against landlords were sufficient. New social inventions were needed. They will be considered in the next section.

Agrarian movements of the future


Peasants had only in limited parts of the world market peripheries the privilege of being independent commodity producers for the market as they were in the system center. This was particularly the case in Africa where land was plentiful and people few, and it would be impossible to tie them to latifundias. On the other hand the number of products to sell was limited by administrative methods - cacao in Ivory coast, palm oil in other West African countries, coffee in Uganda and Angola. In such regions the peasant defence methods were quite similar to the ones used in Europe and north America. Stephen Bunker has described the coffee cooperatives in eastern Uganda - how the peasants struggled with political and tradeunionist methods to successively expand their control over cultivation and marketing against the bureaucratic supremacy of both colonial subsequent national regimes, and by this struggle created their own anti-colonial identity [51a].

But such methods became common in the rest of the southern world only when the bimodal system was abolished.

The post-war food regime - by some called the Bretton Woods model - suffered a crisis when the contemporaneous hegemonic power did, in the early seventies [52].

The Bretton Woods agreement with the peoples' movements about food security was undermined from the start by the fact that the most dynamic element of the hegemony model, the transnational businesses, integrated increasingly more of the commodity chains of food. It was not possible to keep food outside the market when most of the value in it was managed by transnational businesses in the form of inputs and refined food products, bought and sold over the whole world. The signal crisis came when the wheat price began to swing wildly in 1973, when both Russia and China began to take part in the grain trade.

Also, the cost for the food security rose in the system center. It had since the thirties built on subsidized production. Of course, the consequence of this was that the production increased; in the end there were huge stocks of unsold food while most of the subsidies went to a fairly small number of great producers. And since the increased profitability of cultivation resulted in increased prices of land, the beneficiary in the last resort were the credit institutions [53].

And in addition, the national development plans in the periphery states went to pieces. As mentioned, they had been paid for by the peasants in such a way that food prices had been kept down with subsidized import and government monopolies of sales and purchase. The sudden rises of grain prices (added to sudden rises in oil prices) broke the development budgets. And this caused the end of "development" as the grand integrating ideology of the post-war era. Meanwhile, the high food prices stimulated high investments in the agriculture of the periphery. After a few years, when the grain prices had fallen again and the center states had dumped their stocks in the peripheral markets and knocked out their farmers, debts and dependence of the transnational businesses was what remained.

While these crises smashed the post-war agreements between states and agrarian movements, capital had begun to learn how to integrate food entirely into the capital accumulation. For now, it had become possible to industrialize food production. Some organic substances like fat and sugar is completely removed from the control of farmers and included into the industrial discipline. With development of bio-technology, this will apply to an increasing number of products. Other products grow so dependent on industrially produced seed, fertilizers and pesticides that the farmers will considered as subcontractors rather than independent producers.

This process of subordination, which seems to be a main theme for the Kondratiev A wave that begins around the turn of the century, is for that reason the most important target for the agrarian movement of our time.

The pioneers in these movements are the Indian farmers [54]

The first mover was the green revolution and the transitory high prices of food products in the early seventies. Like in Europe a hundred years earlier, the Indian farmers who had at last got their ownership secured went into the market - just to discover that it wasn't easy to withdraw when it wasn't profitable any longer. For the methods introduced by the green revolution might have been profitable at the onset, but they called for high expenses and indebtedness that had to be paid back.

Since the green revolution had been introduced most forcefully in Punjab, the first agrarian movement for market-related demands in the peripheries began there also.
When food prices fell while chemicals and fertilizers grew more expensive, farmers became insolvent; a third were ruined between 1970 and 1980 according to Shiva. Meanwhile, the commons of the villages had been enclosed during the commercialized euphoria; the consequence of this was an ethical vacuum where violence and liquor was spread. As a reaction, the farmers organized themselves in a Sikh revival with trade-unionist streaks. The forms of struggle were blockades against authorities and bankers, and the Sikh agrarian movement began to cooperate with the young agrarian movements of north India. Among other things, they tried to get control over the increasingly important water supplies which were used by the government as a way of divide and rule.

These movements joined into an interstate agrarian committee in 1982. As a first step, it planned an embargo of grain in Punjab in 1984; Punjab is the grain basket of India and such a strike would hit hard at the urban middle class. The action began well, the boycotts were supplemented by mass meetings and an occupation of the city of Chandigarh.

But the mobilization ended in disaster. In 1984, the Indian government bombed the most important Sikh temple and killed the most important Sikh clergymen. The movement in Punjab was thus canalised into religious fundamentalism. And the religious card proved itself effective; henceforth, Hindu fundamentalism and massacres of Muslims would be the government's and the urban middle class' best counter against agrarian mobilizations.

But yet, agrarian movements spread. The Indian agrarian movements differ somewhat in organisation, ideology and mobilization patterns. The strongest ones during the eighties and nineties were Shetkari Sanghatana in Maharashtra and Karnataka Rajya Ryota Sangha, KRRS in Karnataka.

Both of them seem to have begun in 1980. The agrarian movement in Karnataka began as a revolt against a national irrigation program, while the movement in Maharashtra began as a mobilizing for better prices of onions. Linked to this, the onion grower and ex-UN official Sharad Joshi began his agitation against the westernized upper middle class and their exploitation of the countryside, a theme that was included by other agrarian and minority movements. In 1982, Shetkari Sanghatana began to keep its first mass meetings.

Shetkari Sanghatana and KRRS are campaign organisations without functionaries. KRRS claims ten million members but doesn't know; they don't exist in non-campaign seasons but when they are needed millions may be active in demonstrations and direct actions, mobilized by the farmers' children.

Both organisations claim to organise Bharat, the countryside, against India, the westernized cities of the upper middle class. While Shetkari Sanghatana sees its main enemy in the state and its exploitation of agriculture for the sake of cheap food and development, and recommends market prices, KRRS mobilizes against the transnational food complex. KRRS was the years around 1990 the spearhead of movements against genetic engineering , the reason was of course that the farmers fought to retain their control over seeds. KRRS has attacked the food giant Cargill's offices in India, and burnt Monsanto's experimental fields in huge manifestations under the battle-cry "knowledge should be free".

The agrarian movements are thus not farmers' organisations but countryside mobilizations. Shetkari Sanghatana organises the greatest women's movement in India and also the Dalit struggle for land and self-assertion in Maharashtra. But bread and butter issues are most important. Urban Marxists have emphasized conflicts between the farmer core and the land-workers also organised by the movement, but the movement has countered this by offering wage rises as fixed percentages of the claimed food-price hikes.

There are also more traditional organisations in India, for example the patriarchal Jat-dominated Bharatiya Kisan Union in Uttar Pradesh.

After 1985, the regional agrarian organisations managed regional campaigns while diverging perspectives and personal conflicts prevented strategic cooperation. In 1989 it looked like if the agrarian movement would dominate the government; after huge demonstrations in Delhi and other manifestations together with environmental, women and Dalit movements, agrarian representatives united into an anti-establishment government and worked out its agrarian policy of higher food prices, higher wages for land-workers, no more dams, local development instead of green revolution. But the coalition was dominated by the shadow movement, and when the urban middle class mobilized Hindu-fundamentalist violence the coalition went to pieces. But the program remains, and the agrarian movement is a strong contender for hegemony in India, as it is one of the main strands of the so-called anti-globalization movement of the world, see chapter 10.

The new agrarian movement of the South has many themes in common with the early twentieth century agrarian movement in the north, most important better pay for the food. But a changed food regime as well as the common experiences of the peoples' movements has modified this theme.

Agrarian movements in West Africa have tended towards renouncing the market as a theme. Agriculture in Africa was never monopolized by latifundias when the world market system expanded there; instead, merchants bought products directly from the peasants, for example coffee, cacao and cotton [55].

Farmers have however lost out in terms of trade during the whole post-war era; while a tractor in 1960 cost three tons of bananas, it cost twenty in the mid eighties. For that reason, they had to sell more and more to pay for the commercialized part of their living, and when drought hit them in the early seventies, the subsistence plots weren't enough. An estimated 300.000 people starved to death in Sahel in the seventies.

For many farmers, commercial agriculture for that reason appeared as exploitation, something to avoid. In Senegal they speak of "the peanut trap". And when they began to organize from about 1970, the aim was to make subsistence agriculture more effective to avoid the need for sale.

The cooperative institutions established over Sahel aim at coordinating resources for investments in the villages. They build on traditional African forms of collective work, but this work is also used for modern purposes, i.e. to change things. Cooperatives develop storages, schools; they experiment with biological pesticides, and change the power balance between the sexes to the benefit of the women. The organisation is transnational but governed from the villages. According to Pradervand, the migration has shifted in the most effective villages; young people return from the cities because they have a better future in the countryside.

The West African agrarian movements don't as a rule sees the states as counterparts because the states are too weak to have any influence. They don't challenge the global institutions or the transnational businesses either, because their interest in Africa seems to have stagnated about 2000. They are completely busy in inventing a new kind of modernity locally in West Africa, beyond the world market system.

The agrarian movement which has most expressively challenged both national and global powers about the political program of the twenty-first century is centered in Chiapas in Mexico [56].

Chiapas was a backwater where the Mexican land reform never applied, neither as a result of an authentic agrarian movement nor as a paternalist state-building. Commercial ranch or plantation owners ruled arbitrarily as representatives of the ruling party until liberation theology begun to spread in the church in the sixties. This was partly a result of the poverty of Chiapas; careerist priests shunned it, the poor country priests that remained had to invite the lay people to make the business go round.

The core of Latin American liberation theology is that Christianity has to be formulated from the perspective of the oppressed [57]. In Chiapas the concern of the oppressed was that they were peasants without land. The Mexican constitution gave them in principle right to it, and when they had begun to formulate their predicament in the terms of liberation theology, in their own Indian languages, they got courage to assert their right. They were favoured by the fact that farmers over all Mexico, as in the whole world, were unusually active in the early seventies and threatened to break the paternalist subordination under the ruling party, so the state had to offer them something. New national agrarian organisations were established, breaking the dominance of the parastatal CNC, both to carry on the land reform and to strengthen the farmers as commercial actors in the market. The family farmers in Chiapas were soon among the most active in both these fields [58].

But the concessions of the government in Chiapas were small, and the concessions of the local ruling class were even smaller. Particularly after the Mexican national bankruptcy in the early eighties, the government found it more pressing to earn currency in the world market than to favour family farmers, so they began more actively to cooperate with the local ruling class to repress agrarian movements in a violent way. It also used a method that proved extremely destructive - to concede favours to small groups for their help to use violence against their neighbours.

From 1983 on, the Chiapas villages considered it necessary to set up an armed police force against these "coras" as they were called, with an old Indian term for henchmen of the colonial power. This police force would be the origin of the Zapatist army EZLN. The settlers in the great Lacandón forest were the pioneers; they had enough initiative and space to take offensive steps. They also began to link up more creatively to the themes of liberation theology; earlier, land reform was always at the center of Mexican agrarian parlance. Now, the Lacandón agriculturalists began to look for support in all Mexico for their rights as citizens to express their meaning without being met by violence.

The response for this appeal was so strong that the government had to change tactics. Instead of naked violence, they turned to "development" in the form of roads, logging and credits. But while the farmers got credits, the world market prices for their products fell. The core of the government tactics, however, was market liberalization, as it was everywhere in the eighties, among other things liberalization of the land market. As a part of this liberalization, the paragraph in the constitution that gave peasants right to appeal for land reform was abolished in 1991. Three years after, the cooperative ownership of villages was abolished too, as a part of the Mexican free trade agreement with USA and Canada. The same day as this agreement was signed, the EZLN occupied four towns in Chiapas, in January 1, 1994.

The occupation, the "Zapatist rebellion", was a demonstration of strength in order to force a negotiation, to force the Mexican government to acknowledge the Indian family farmers as citizens with equal rights. This was also the aim behind other diplomatic demonstrations of strength, used by the Chiapas farmers, like websites and global mass conferences in the Lacandón forest with participation from the most prominent intellectuals of the era. But the content of these demonstrations have been a new political language. The farmers don't speak of government power in order to introduce democratically supported integrating reforms; they don't speak of new utopian routines at all as an alternative to the present, repressing ones. They speak of the right of the civil society to reject all utopian routines and find futures, in pluralis, for all. In this way they have found a peoples' movement language that has been rather invisible during the twentieth century - the language of the spontaneous expressions of life and the social responsivity, in contrast to the language of the political projects. The focus of the mobilization has not only been the Mexican state however, and its marginalizing and repressive policy; the Zapatists have consciously linked it to the "Washington consensus", the market fundamentalism favoured by the ruling class of the world market system around 2000.

And thus they got a leading role in the peoples' movement system in the whole world.

When the post-war model for world market development lost its credit rating in the mid seventies, the model that has been called the Fordist one, formulated in Bretton Woods and building on nationally organised integration of the direct producers, the system rulers were faced with the task to formulate a new model. This model, developed during the eighties and nineties, has been a replica of the British free trade model of the eighteenhundreds. It has implied that the role of the states has been shrunk. Instead, the transnationals and the global institutions have become main actors. The strategic model of action is not longer integration of the direct producers, for a maximation of consumption. It is detaching of everything that hampers the maximum liberty of capital. In the same utopist way as in the nineteenth century, the "market" is set up as a totalitarian form of organisation for all activities in society [59].

Like the market utopia gave rise to resistance during the nineteenth century, it does so today: the market knows no difference between necessities and frivolities, and permits the caprices of the rich knock out the necessities of the poor and the long run survival of the earth. But while the labour movements of the North, the strategic main actors of the nineteenth century, are captives of an obsolete language and activity pattern, the agrarian movements take on the role as main actor of the popular resistance, see further in chapter 10.

The intention of the global rulers was to establish the market superiority at the so-called Uruguay round of GATT, as series of negotiations and agreements about 1990. The most effective resistance was raised by agrarian movements in USA, France, Southeast Asia and India. The family farmers took initiative to a global mobilizing since they had discovered that national mobilizing was ineffective, and in 1983 they called for an international summit - the International Farm Crisis Summit [60] - together with family farmers in the Philippines and India.

This movement grew and began to formulate alternatives together with environmental and consumer movements. They published their program To build a global agriculture in 1989, wherein they protested against the economism of the GATT and claimed that agriculture is also a social, cultural and political activity that one must consider, and called for national food security, fixed minimum prices, prohibition of export subsidies, and right for each country to maintain its own food policy. In 1990, 10.000 farmers from the whole world demonstrated against the summit of GATT in Brussels, the program amplified to a resistance to seed patents. A few years after, the farmers of Chiapas occupied the four towns. In 1990, peoples' movement organisations from the whole world went together in Peoples' Global Action, with family farmers in a leading role, to topple the free trade regime. Some years after, in 1993, they formed the family farmer international Via Campesina, with the aim of "food sovereignty", i.e. the power over the food production in small farmers' hands. In December 1999, when GATT's successor WTO would have its first summit in Seattle to confirm the free market regime, no decisions could be taken because of the global mobilization of the family farmers, and the trade regime would continue to be very shaky [61].

According to McMichael, one thing differs the agrarian movements of today from those a hundred years ago. The latter would to a great extent be co-opted by national upper classes as a part of the attempts of those to create effective and aggressive states; the farmers were granted their food security in a way that in the short run favoured capital accumulation and stability. Today, there are no "national projects" to co-opt the farmers into, perhaps except China and the USA, and the agrarian movements are forced to rely on themselves and to other peoples' movement mobilizations to challenge the world market system in its entirety.

There is another difference, that is not mentioned explicitly by McMichael but is implied in his relation. The agrarian movements a hundred years ago acted in a phase of the world market development when the production was firmly in the farmers' hands. The agrarian movements of today are in the same position as the artisans two hundred years ago, when they organised the classic labour movement: they were about to lose their autonomy as producers to become wage labourers under industrial discipline. Biotechnology is one of the two most important components of the next Kondratiev A, and the most important aim of biotechnology is to industrialize food production, or to subjugate food production under the rule of capital. For that reason, agrarian movements are more central actors in the conflict between system and human beings than they were a hundred years ago.

The point is if they are prepared to manage their leading part in a competent way.
We don't know anything about this. But if we may compare our experiences of labour movement traditions (and have a glance at Bader's peoples' movement cycle), three thresholds seems to be decisive. One has to establish an identity that is attractive enough to be worth following. One has to formulate a language that sum up the experiences of the category and offer a credible program. And one has to offer a model of action that may be spread over the world. This was what the First International succeeded in, helped by successful worker experiences of the Chartist movement and the French revolutions of 1789 and 1848.

Two factors indicate that the present agrarian movement will be successful.

Several agrarian movements have been extremely sensitive for the demand of linking their local to global mobilizations, and linking their mobilizations for bread and butter issues to attacks on the prevalent ideology of the world market system.

Several agrarian movements have been very skilful in leading mobilizations going far beyond the farmers as a category. Agrarian movements in for example Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chiapas and Ecuador express not only their own trade-unionist demands but the demands of all oppressed people, like the labour movement did in nineteenth century Europe.

And this policy is carried by the without comparison most dynamic global small famers' organization, Vía Campesina.

These two factors indicate that at least some strong agrarian movements see a need for struggling about the global hegemony, and this is at least a first step.

On the other hand, one factor indicates the opposite. The labour movement was spread from a center of industrialization, and followed the wave of industrialization out over the world, and established a pattern for new worker groups to emulate. But for agrarian movements, there is no such center. Strong hegemonistic identities have to struggle with other more narrow-minded traditions, and it is not certain that they will win out. And the hegemonistic ones are in a minority so far.

The agrarian movements have however strength that is the same everywhere: they have not, as the labour movements and (particularly) the national movements have, got stuck in the government power strategy of the twentieth century. For that reason, they have qualifications to take part in the creation of the new peoples' movement strategy we need.




[1] David Goodman & Michael Redclift, Refashioning nature, Routledge 1991.

[2] Commercialization of food is described shortly and concisely by Eric Wolf, Europe and the peoples without history, University of Califormia Press 1982.

[3] B.H. Slicher van Bath, The agrarian history of Western Europe, St. Martin's 1963.

[4] Victor Magagna, Communities of grain, Cornell University Press 1991.

[5] Joel Migdal, Peasants, politics and revolution, Princeton University Press 1974.

[6] Barrington Moore, Social origins of dictatorship and democracy, Beacon Press 1971. Moore presumes the bourgeoisie as the real actor in the drama - when they ally with peasants, the result is democracy, when they ally with the aristocracy, the result is dictatorships. But an alliance with the peasants presumes that the peasants have reasonably much to offer, which makes my reformulation plausible.

[7] Jeffery Paige, Agrarian revolution, The Free Press 1975.

[8] Eric Wolf, Europe and the peoples without history. The most systematic account of the social conditions of the farmers and their organisational endeavours in Europe is Derek W. Urwin, From ploughshare to ballot box, Universitetsforlaget 1980. A more near-sighted book is Flemming Just (ed), Co-operation and farmers' unions in Western Europe, South Jutland University Press 1990. The importance of the railways is stressed by Eugen Weber's classic Peasants into Frenchmen, Stanford University Press 1976, and by Roger Price, The modernization of rural France, Hutchinson 1983.

[9] John P. Powelson, The story of the land - a world history of land tenure and agrarian reform, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy 1988.

[10] Nathan J. Brown, Peasant politics in modern Egypt, Yale Univversity Press, is an account of such traditional forms of struggle.

[11] Peter Gundelach, Sociale bevægelser of samfundsændringer, Politica 1988; Flemming Just (ed), Co-operation and farmers' unions in Western Europe has a short description.

[12] M.C. Cleary, Peasants, politicians and producers, Cambridge University Press 1989; Annie Moulin, Peasantry and society in France since 1789, Cambridge University Press 1991; and André Gueslin, Agricultural co-operatives versus farmers' unioons in France, and Yves Rinaudi & Geneviève Gavignaud, The emergence of wine co-operatives in the Midi, both in Flemming Just (ed), Co-operatives and farmers' unions in Western Europe.

[13] Robert Moeller (ed), Peasants and lords in modern Germany, Allen & Unwin 1986; Hans Jürgen Puhle, Politische Agrarbewegungen in kapitalistischen Industriegesellschaft, Vandenheck & Ruprecht 1975.

[14] Hans Jürgen Puhle, Politische Agrarbewegungen in kapitalistischen Industriegesellschaft, Patrick H. Mooney & Theo J. Majka, Farmers' and farm workers' movements, Maxwell Macmillan 1995, and Lawrence Goodwyn, The populist moment, Oxford University Press 1978. The last one is so far I know also the book that coins the concept shadow movement.

[15] Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, several editions, for example Vintage Books 1945.

[16] The role of railway companies in the robber capitalism of the late nineteenth century, and the main enemy to one of the mightiest popular movement mobilizations in the USA is probably the most important backdrop to the role of the auto in the popular American mythology. Through the private car, the Americans defeated the railway companies. I suppose Henry Ford saw this symbolism as he had farmer background.

[17] Richard Hofstadter, The age of reform, Random House 1955, has related how upper middle class politicians stole the reform demands of the agrarian movement, realizing them in such a way that their democratic potential was lost.

[18] Harriet Friedmann, The family farm and the international food regimes, in Theodor Shanin (ed), Peasants and peasant societies, Penguin 1988; Harriet Friedmann & Philip McMichael, Agriculture and the stte system, in Sociologia Ruralis 29-2; William Friedland et al (ed), Towards a new political economy of agriculture, Westview Press 1991; and David Goodman & Michael Redclift, Refashioning nature.

[19] According to André Gueslin, in Flemming Just (ed), Co-operatives and farmers' unions in Western Europe.

[20] According to Mooney & Majka.

[21] M.C. Cleary, Peasants, politicians and producers,; Annie Moulin, Peasantry and society in France since 1789; and André Gueslin, Agricultural co-operatives versus farmers' unions in France

[22] According to Solon Barraclough, An end to hunger, Zed 1991.

[23] Case studies apart, there are Rehman Sobhan, Agrarian reform and social transformation, Zed 1993; John P. Powelson & Richard Stock, The peasant betrayed - agriculture and land reform in the Third World, Oelgeschlager, Gunn & Hain 1987; Howard Handelman (ed), The politics of agrarian change in Asia and Latin America, Indiana University Press 1981; and Demetrios Christodoulou, The unpromised land, Zed 1990. They all focus on the cultivators as victims. One book that is almost unique for focusing on the cultivators as actors is Jeffrey Paige, Agrarian revolution.

[24] Paul Bew: Land and the national question in Ireland 1858-1882, Gill and Macmillan 1978; Samuel Clark & James S Donnelly (ed): Irish peasants - violence and political unrest 1780-1914, The university of Wisconsin Press 1983, and F.S.L: Lyons: Ireland since the famine, Fontana 1971. There seems to be a real dearth for books on the Irish Land war, despite the importance of the subject.

[25] John Womack: Zapata and the Mexican Revolution, Alfred A. Knopf 1969, is still the book most quoted by people writing on the Mexican agrarian movement. It ends in 1920; for later times there are Dana Markiewicz: The Mexican Revolution and the limits of agrarian reform, Lynne Rienner 1993; Gerardo Otero: Agrarian reform in Mexico, in William Thiesenhausen (ed): Searching for agrarian reform in Latin America, Unwin Hyman 1989 and The new agrarian movement in Mexico 1979-1990, University of London 1990. John P Powelson & Richard Stock: The peasant betrayed contains a chapter about Mexico. And Ann L Craig: The first agraristas, University of California Press 1983 describes villages passed by of the Zapatist movement.

[26] For example, Zapata himself was a horse breeder, his brother Eufemio was a fruit dealer, other of the future leaders of the movement were teachers, limeworkers or farm-hands. The picture is supported by an investigation about the agrarian movement in Peru in the 60s; the labour migrants were leading, they had experience of city life and/or labour organising (Gavin Smith: Livelihood and resistance - peasants and the politics of land in Peru, University of California Press 1989).

[27] The Ayala Plan, named after the district where the three villages were situated, had 15 items. They may be summarized thus: 1. Madero has deserted his own program. 2. Madero is thus dismissed. 3. Instead, the a certain Orozco is named as successor. 4. Morelos has a right to its own program. 5. The revolution should be done methodically, not to leave any Díaz people in power. 6. All land stolen from the villages must be left back. 7. The peasants have right to more if they can't get a living from the old land. 8. All the lands owned by the Díaz upper class should be nationalised and given to the peasants. 9. The model from the nationalisation of church lands in the 1860s can be used. 10. Those who don't support this are traitors. 11. The cost for the revolution is taken account for in Madero's original plan. 12. A future interim president should be appointed by the revolutionaries in common, and he should call an election immediately. 13. Each state should do the same. 14. The present rulers will be pardoned if they retire immediately. 15. A rhetoric summing up. New items were added step by step and the old items were changed after the political situation. It may be added that "plan" is Mexican for political manifesto. The Plan can be read in full at http://www.ilstu.edu/class/hist263/docs/ayala.html

[28] Gerardo Otero, Agrarian reforms in Mexico - Capitalism and the state, in William Thiesenhusen, Searching for agrarian reform in Latin America, Unwin Hyman 1989; Neil Harvey, The new agrarian movement in Mexico 1979-1990, University of London 1990; and Democracy Backgrounder 1.1: Land and liberty in rural Mexico, http://daisy.uwaterloo.ca/~alopez-o/politics/landliberty.html

[29] The Mexican peasant organisation CNC was founded at an initiative by Zapata's successor Gildardo Magaña. But at that time, Magaña had little to do with the peasans of Morelos; he was a general in the army and would soon take up a post as governor of the neighbour state of Michoacán.

[30] Described in chapter 6. For sources see Sheila Fitzpatrick, Stalin's peasants, Oxford University Press 1994, and Victor Magagna, Communities of grain, Cornell University Press 1991.

[31] Some authors, for example Eric Wolf, have seen peasant movements as the core and driving force of the national movements, and called the great revolutions of the twentieth century as "peasant wars" (Wolf, Peasant wars of the twentieth century, Harper & Row 1973). I think this is an exaggeration, if you think of the result of the revolutions. But certainly there was an alliance.

[32] Vandana Shiva, Ecology and the politics of survival, Sage 1991.

[33] D.N. Dhanagare, Peasant movements in India, Oxford University Press 1983, Sunil Sen, Peasant movements in India, K.P. Bagchi 1982, and A.R. Desai, Peasant struggles in India, Oxford University Press 1979. Gail Omvedt, Caste, agrarian relations and agrarian conflicts, in A.R. Desai, Agrarian struggles in India after independence, Oxford University Press 1986, and T.K. Oommen, Protest and change, Studies in social movements, Sage 1990, describe the class structure in the countryside.

[34] N.G. Ranga, Indian peasants' struggles and achievements, in A.R. Desai, Peasant struggles in India. But Ranga was chairman in the All-Indian Kisan Sabha and he may have an interest in making the movement look more effective than it was.

[35] Barry Pavier, The Telengana movement, Vikas 1981.

[36] The literature on this is fixed on the role of the state. I have relied on oral information from Staffan Lindberg, University of Lund.

[37] Jean Chesneaux, Peasant revolts in China 1840-1949, Thames and hudson 1973. The period after 1949 is described, unfortunately focused on the state, by Edwin E Moise, Land reform in China and North Vietnam, The University of north Carolina Press 1983.

[38] Ravi Arvind Palat, Historical transformations in agrarian systems based on wet-rice cultivation, in Philip McMichael, Food and agrarian orders in the world-economy, Praeger 1995.

[39] Jean Chesneaux (ed), Popular movements and secret societies in China 1840-1950, Stanford University Press 1972.

[40] According to Edgar Snow, Red star over China, Penguin Books 1972.

[41] The land reform is treated, except by Chesneaus, by Mark Selden, The political economy of Chinese socialism, M.E. Sharpe 1988.

[42] The discreet and almost unorganised way of circumventing government control and step by step breaking it is described by K.X. Chou, How farmers changed China, Westview Press 1996. According to Chou, the peasants' liberation from bureaucratic control and exploitation is the secret behind the fast economic growth of China.

[43] Jeffrey M. Paige, Agrarian revolution, The Free Press 1975.

[44] Alain de Janvry, The agrarian question and reformism in Latin America, Johns Hopkins University Press 1981, is a standard work about the preconditions. Agrarian movements are described in Jeffrey Paige, Agrarian revolution: Howard Handelman, The politics of agrarian change in Asia and Latin America, and Gavin Smith, Livelihood and resistance - peasants and the politics of land in Peru, University of California Press 1991, are case studies.

[45] As contended by Linda Seligman, Between reform and revolution - political struggles in the Andes 1969-1991. Sendero Luminoso was formed by the "new" university educated middle class in the province, which began with offering the peasants a political leadership contrary to the interests of the state and the market. But the peasants had their own interests sometimes contrary to the local middle class, and this was of course not accepted by these, and it didn't last long until Sendero Luminoso directed most of its aggression against the peasants.

[46] Eric Hobsbawm, Peasant land occupation, in Past and Present 62, 1974.

[47] Vietnam is Paige's example of sharecropper's movements. See also Gabriel Kolko, Anatomy of a war, Allen & Unwin 1986.

[48] Benedict Kerkvliet, The huk rebellion, University of California Press 1977.

[49] Vandana Shiva, The violence of the green revolution, Zed 1991.

[50] John Young, Peasant revolution in Ethiopia, Cambridge University Press 1997, deals with what is, despite the title, a national revolution and not an agrarian one.

[51] Rehman Sobhan, Agrarian reform and social transformation, Zed 1993. Other authors say about the same, for example John P Powelson & Richard Stock, The peasant betrayed, Demetrios Christodoulou, The unpromised land, and Howard Handelman (ed), The politics of agrarian change in Asia and Latin America.

[51a] Stephen Bunker: Peasants against the state, University of Chicago Press 1987

[52] Philip McMichael, Rethinking globalization: The agrarian question revisited, in Review of International Political Economy 4:4, 1997; David Goodman, Some recent tendencies in the industrial reorganization of the agri-food system; Harriet Friedmann, Changes in the international division of labor; agri-food complexes and export agriculture, in William Friedland et al (ed), Towards a new political economy of agriculture, Westview Press 1991; and David Goodman & Michael Redclift, Refashioning nature.

[53] Göran Djurberg, Gods och gårdar, Arkiv 1994.

[54] Modern Indian agrarian movements have been described by A.R. Desai, Agrarian struggles in India after independence, Oxford University Press 1986; and Tom Brass, The new farmers' movement in India, Frank Cass 1995. The most interesting contribution is, I think, Gail Omvedt, Caste, agrarian relations and agrarian conflicts, and New peasant movements in India and the formation of a national agricultural policy. Omvedt has also written a book on Indian peoples' movements in general, Reinventing revolution, Sharpe 1993. And finally, the book about the way farmers were hit by the "green revolution" is Vandana Shiva, The violence of the green revolution, Zed 1991.

[55] Land was cheap in Africa because there was so much of it; labour was much more valued. About African agriculture and African agrarian movements, see for example Jonathan Barker, The politics of agriculture in tropical Africa, Sage 1984, Gudrun Lachenmann, Social movements and civil society in West Africa, German Development Institute 1992; Pierre Pradervand, Une Afrique en marche, la révolution silencieuse des paysans africains, Plon 1989, is a completely unacademic book, for better and for worse.

[56] Neil Harvey, The Chiapas rebellion, Duke University Press 1998.

[57] A standard work is Ulrich Duchrow, Alternatives to global capitalism, International Books 1995.

[58] Neil Harvey, The new agrarian movement in Mexico 1979-1990, University of London 1990.

[59] Philip McMichael, Rethinking globalization, the agrarian question revisited. Review of International Political Economy 4:4, 1997. McMichael has also described the shift between the two models in Globalization, myths and realities, Rural sociology 61/1996.

[60] Jeremy Brecher & Tim Costello, Global Village or global pillage, South End Press 1996. The rise of the family farmer movement globally is primarily told in Marc Edelman, Transnational peasant and farmer movements and networks, in Global Society, Yearbook 2003.

[61] The emergence of a global small farmer movement is related by Marc Edelman: Towards an anthropology of some new internationalisms: small farmers in global resistance movements, i Focaal 40/2002, and by Annette Aurélie Desmarais: La Vía Campesina, Pluto Press 2007. There is more about the 90s' social movement wave in Chapter 10 The social movement system.

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