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Oh god not this again.

The relationship between the landowners and land laborers was more than complex in Spain during the 1920s and 1930s.

Yes, there was land seizures and 'forced' collectivization.  Mostly it was land taken from absentee landlords and given to the people who worked on it.  It was "collectivizied" but they worked it as they always had under the direction of an elected body generally based on anarcho-syndicalist lines.  That was what the FAI/CNT were all about, after all.  Effectively what happened is the landlords were replaced by a local board.

Yes, it meant the large landlords went over to Franco in a body.

Yes, it may have been a mistake but on the other hand there was widespread dissatisfaction, hunger, and it was maintained - at the time - the landlords were letting the land lie fallow because they couldn't make the estates pay.  

Ultimately the problem was ownership of the land was concentrated in too few hands relative to the number of people whose existence depended on access to that land.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 01:56:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ultimately the problem was ownership of the land was concentrated in too few hands relative to the number of people whose existence depended on access to that land.  

what do you mean, "the problem was" ?

:-)

it still is The Problem, the irreducible problem.  the commons privatised into the hands of an elite who often find it more "profitable" to create scarcity by various means -- diverting subsistence productivity to cash cropping for wealthy foreigners, allowing prime farmland to lie uncultivated (while we spend megajoules cultivating marginal and inaccessible land, clearing rainforest to get more land), etc.

seems to me from my very limited understanding of the events in Spain that they were somewhat parallel to those documented more recently in "The Take" -- workers occupying and restarting factories that had been closed down by the owners.

hmmm random musings... whether by overproduction, market glut and the resulting need to foster a kind of hot-house consumerism, or by the shutting down and idling of essential resources, it seems like capitalism produces perverse incentives that decouple productivity from any sane relationship to human need...  lurching from one inappropriate extreme to another (kind of like a hyped-up climate with too much heat injected into it)...   when people produce for themselves, productivity is intimately tied to need:  you don't make 20 pairs of shoes if you only need one, and you don't make glittery high heels if you need barn shoes.    and you certainly don't grow ethanol crops for the car if your kids need real food.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 02:39:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's no shortage of land.

All you need is a whole bunch of money.

Of course the poor ain't got no money .... but there's no helping some people.

8-p

I prefer the term "predatory capitalism," I find it more descriptive.  And in a broad sense every economic system is "capitalism" as every economic systems needs to defer immediate gratification and invest for the future.  

Which leads to the odd fact predatory capitalism devalues the future.  The most advanced (sic) capitalist nation - the US - has a creaky, falling apart, infrastucture.  Jane Jacobs noted, in one of her books, a city works better the more storefront space there is along the streets.  Yet in most US cities the street spaces are minimized to maximize near-term rents.  Modern corporations, the poster boy for Taylor's ideas, are notorious for seeking the immediate.  

Another odd fact is the take-over of supposedly non-profitable factories by the workers succeeds more often than it fails.  It seems without the cash draw of absentee owners and the dumping of the "professional" management things go along much better.  

These are odd only because they go against Modern and Approved Management Techniques© as taught in all the chic business schools.

And who am I to argue with a Harvard?


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:30:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't there and the history of the Anarchist movement during the civil war is not something that really gets talked about much in Spain. A cursory google search  reveals very different accounts of what it was like. Anarchist sources paint it like a paradise where there was no coercion and landowners were allowed to not join the communes but eventually chose to. Communist sources excoriate the Anarchists for being economically naive and bringing economic ruin to the countryside and paralysis to the Republican rearguard. Let's not even go into what rightist sources say.

I don't know whether Ken Loach's Land and Freedom is faithful to Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, which I haven't read, but forced collectivisations and the shooting of landowners who wouldn't join the collective are depicted. To be honest, knowing how quickly Spaniards were to kill their neighbours over political differences, old grievances, or nothing at all, I would be very surprised if the "Spanish Revolution" as it is called in English had been peaceful and non-coercive in the countryside as the Anarchist propaganda depicts it.

Any suggested reading?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:26:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Homage to Catalonia is a classic 'take' by a master of English prose and is worth reading.  If you can find a copy The Spanish Collectives by Sam Dolgoff will give the FAI/CNT view.  I'll have to roust through my library and see what else is there.  I don't know what the standard Marxist and Fascist texts are & I really don't care.  

I would be very surprised if the "Spanish Revolution" as it is called in English had been peaceful and non-coercive in the countryside as the Anarchist propaganda depicts

Hum.  How can I put this?

From what I've heard, directly from FAI/CNT people who were there at the time ... you don't have to be surprised.  Neither was it the bloodbath depicted by all Right Thinking people either.  From what I've been able to gather the local history of interaction(s) between the landlord(s) and the general populace of an area counted far more than ideological/political position.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:59:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I second ATinM in saying that Homage to Catalonia is a very good read.

From browsing the "policy" chapter, Orwell himself doesn't talk about landowners being shot ; only priests. But he certainly talks about land seizures. (I'm not sure how and why an self-respecting Anarchist would recognise property rights dating from feudal times, anyway)

And reading the book puts a different emphasis on the way Stalinists source are to be believed about revolutionary behaviour ; or on how propaganda was impressive at the times : he notes an accusation that the Fascists used live children to build barricades, a "most unhandy thing to build barricades with"...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 07:10:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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