Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The tragedy of industrialized private property

I've been reading a report by the Kachin Development Networking Group which I came across thanks to a link from Chatham House about the Hugawng Valley and the confiscations of land and forced relocations that began in 2007 when the Yuzana Company started to turn the valley into an industrialized farming landscape of monocrops. It also happens to be an internationally recognised tiger reserve.

It is hard to digest in the safety of my living room the brutality these people have to face. The completeness with which their lives and villages are being destroyed. There being encircled by there oppressors, cut off from their culture and their connection to the land; their right to farm their lands and to gather in their commons, their forest and their streams and rivers, forced to grow alien crops in their "model village". I find their dogged stoic resistance awesome.

This a warfare between peasants and industrialized farming, the sort that was fought in England in the 18th century. Now I understand the pain of those labourers and peasants. It seems that little changes just the location. It is a concentration of the world's wealth from the many to few so that the developed world can enjoy artificially cheap goods at the expense of the long term health of the environment.

Another parallel is the American frontier. I'm reading, in a slow and leisurely fashion, Turner's The End of the American Frontier. I'm not sure about the "end". There are frontiers everywhere. Hukwang Valley is a frontier between a traditional life of common property and invading industrialization and private property. These are land wars.

This is the tragedy of property, the conversion of commonly held resources to privately held and exploited resources. Economics has it arse about.

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