White Farms, Black Farmers

Written by Sam Vaknin

The Western press casts him inrepparttar role of an African Saddam Hussein. Neighboring leaders supported his policies but then succumbed to diplomacy and world opinion and, with a few notable exceptions, shunned him. The opposition in and its mouthpieces accuse him - justly - of brutal disregard for human, civil, and political rights and of underminingrepparttar 125931 rule of law.

All he wants, insists Comrade - his official party title - Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is to right an ancient wrong by returning land, expropriated by white settlers, to its rightful black owners. Most ofrepparttar 125932 beneficiaries, being war veterans, happen to support his party,repparttar 125933 Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF, and its profligate largesse:

"We must deliverrepparttar 125934 land unencumbered by impediments to its rightful owners. It is theirs by birth; it is theirs by natural and legal right. It is theirs by struggle. Indeed their(s) by legacy." - he thundered in a speech he made torepparttar 125935 Central Committee of his party in March 2001 in response to mounting multi-annual pressures from war veteran associations.

It was Margaret Thatcher of Falklands fame who, after two decades of fierce fighting, capitulated to rebels, headed by Mugabe. The Iron Lady handed to them, inrepparttar 125936 Lancaster House agreement, an independent Zimbabwe - literally, "Great Stone House". The racist Rhodesia was no more. Butrepparttar 125937 agreement enshrinedrepparttar 125938 property rights of white farmers until 1990 and has, thus, sownrepparttar 125939 seeds ofrepparttar 125940 current chaos.

Many nostalgic white settlers in Zimbabwe - mostly descendents of British invaders atrepparttar 125941 end ofrepparttar 125942 19th century - still believe in their cultural - if not genetic - superiority. Their forefathers bought indigenous land from commercial outfits supported byrepparttar 125943 British Crown. The blacks - their plots and livestock confiscated - were resettled in barren "communal areas", akin to Native-American reserves inrepparttar 125944 USA minusrepparttar 125945 gambling concessions.

Starting in 1893, successive uprisings were bloodily suppressed byrepparttar 125946 colonizers andrepparttar 125947 British government. A particularly virulent strain of apartheid was introduced. By 1914, notes Steve Lawton in "British Colonialism, Zimbabwe's Land Reform and Settler Resistance", 3 percent ofrepparttar 125948 population controlled 75 percent ofrepparttar 125949 land. The blacks were "harshly restricted to a mere 23 per cent ofrepparttar 125950 worst land in designated Reserves. There were only 28,000 white settlers to nearly one million Africans in Zimbabwe at this time."

Land ownership hasn't changed much since. The 1930 "Land Apportionment Act" perpetuatedrepparttar 125951 glaring inequality. At independence, according to "Zimbabwe's Agricultural Revolution" edited by Mandivamba Rukuni and Carl Eicher and published in 1994 byrepparttar 125952 University of Zimbabwe Publications, 6000 white commercial farms occupied 45 percent of all agricultural land - compared to only 5 percent tilled by 8500 black farmers. Another 70,000 black families futilely cultivatedrepparttar 125953 infertile remaining half ofrepparttar 125954 soil.

As black population exploded, poverty and repression combined to give rise to anti-white guerilla movements. The rest is history. The first post-independence land reform and resettlement program lasted 17 years, until 1997. It targeted refugees, internally displaced people, and squatters and its aims were, as Petrunella Chaminuka, a researcher at SAPES Trust Agrarian Reform Programme in Zimbabwe, summarizes a 1990 government discussion paper inrepparttar 125955 "Workers' Weekly":

"To redress past grievances over land alienation, to alleviate population pressure inrepparttar 125956 communal areas and to achieve national stability and progress. The programme was designed to enhance smallholder food and cash crop production, achieve food self-sufficiency and improve equity in income distribution."

Land reform was an act of anti-colonialist, ideologically-motivated defiance. The first lots went to landless - and utterly unskilled - blacks. Surprisingly, theirs was a success story. They cultivatedrepparttar 125957 land ably and production increased. Certified farmers and agronomists, though, had to wait their turn untilrepparttar 125958 National Land Policy of 1990 which allowed for compulsory land purchases byrepparttar 125959 government. There was no master plan of resettlement and infrastructure deficiencies combined with plot fragmentation to render many new farms economically unviable.

As ready inventory dried up,repparttar 125960 price of land soared. Droughts compounded this sorry state and byrepparttar 125961 late 1980's yields were down and squatting resurged. Unemployment forced people back into rural areas. Egged on by multilateral lenders, white farmers, and Western commercial interests,repparttar 125962 government further exacerbatedrepparttar 125963 situation by allocating enormous tracts of land to horticulture, ostrich farming, crocodile farming, ranching and tourism thus further depletingrepparttar 125964 anyhow meager stock of arable acreage.

International outcry against compulsory acquisitions or targeting of c. 1600 farms forcedrepparttar 125965 Zimbabwean government and its donors to come up in 1997-9 with a second land reform and resettlement programme andrepparttar 125966 Inception Phase Framework Plan. Contrary to disinformation inrepparttar 125967 Western media, white farmers and NGO's were regularly consulted inrepparttar 125968 preparation of both documents.

In what proved to be a prophetic statement,repparttar 125969 aptly named Barbara Kafka ofrepparttar 125970 World Bank, quoted by IPS, gave this warning inrepparttar 125971 September 1998 donor conference:

''We are delighted thatrepparttar 125972 government has called this conference as a key step in our working together to make sure that Zimbabwe reapsrepparttar 125973 results it deserves from its land reform programme ... Nevertheless, we must not be naive. The downside risks are high. There is abundant international experience to show that poorly executed land reform can carry high social and economic costs ... For instance, a programme that does not respect property rights or does not provide sufficient support to new settlers, is underfunded or is excessively bureaucratic and costly, or simply results in large numbers of displaced farm workers, can have very negative outcomes in terms of investment, production, jobs and social stability."

This second phase broke down in mutual recriminations. The government made an election issue out ofrepparttar 125974 much-heralded reform andrepparttar 125975 donors delivered far less than they promised. Acutely aware of this friction, white farmers declined to offer land for sale.

Left and Right in a Divided Europe

Written by Sam Vaknin

Even as West European countries seemed to have edged torepparttar right ofrepparttar 125930 political map - all three polities of central Europe lurched torepparttar 125931 left. Socialists were elected to replace economically successful right wing governments in Poland, Hungary and, recently, inrepparttar 125932 Czech Republic.

This apparent schism is, indeed, merely an apparition. The differences between reformed left and new right in both parts ofrepparttar 125933 continent have blurred torepparttar 125934 point of indistinguishability. French socialists have privatized more than their conservative predecessors. The Tories still complain bitterly that Tony Blair, with his nondescript "Third Way", has stolen their thunder.

Nor arerepparttar 125935 "left" and "right" ideologically monolithic and socially homogeneous continental movements. The central European left is more preoccupied with a social - dare I say socialist - agenda than any of its Western coreligionists. Equally,repparttar 125936 central European right is less individualistic, libertarian, religious, and conservative than any of its Western parallels - and much more nationalistic and xenophobic. It sometimes echoesrepparttar 125937 far right in Western Europe - rather thanrepparttar 125938 center-right, mainstream, middle-class orientated parties in power.

Moreover,repparttar 125939 right's victories in Western Europe - in Spain, Denmark,repparttar 125940 Netherlands, Italy - are not without a few important exceptions - notably Britain and, perhaps, come September, Germany. Nor isrepparttar 125941 left's clean sweep ofrepparttar 125942 central European electoral slate either complete or irreversible. Withrepparttar 125943 exception ofrepparttar 125944 outgoing Czech government, not one party in this volatile region has ever remained in power for more than one term. Murmurs of discontent are already audible in Poland and Hungary.

Left and right are imported labels with little explanatory power or relevance to central Europe. To fathomrepparttar 125945 political dynamics of this region, one must realize thatrepparttar 125946 core countries of central Europe (the Czech Republic, Hungary and, to a lesser extent, Poland) experienced industrial capitalism inrepparttar 125947 inter-war period. Thus, a political taxonomy based on urbanization and industrialization may prove to be more powerful thanrepparttar 125948 classic left-right dichotomy.


The enmity betweenrepparttar 125949 urban andrepparttar 125950 bucolic has deep historical roots. Whenrepparttar 125951 teetering Roman Empire fell torepparttar 125952 Barbarians (410-476 AD), five centuries of existential insecurity and mayhem ensued. Vassals pledged allegiance and subservience to local lords in return for protection against nomads and marauders. Trading was confined to fortified medieval cities.

Even as it petered out inrepparttar 125953 west, feudalism remained entrenched inrepparttar 125954 prolix codices and patents ofrepparttar 125955 Habsburg Austro-Hungarian empire which encompassed central Europe and collapsed only in 1918. Well intorepparttar 125956 twentieth century,repparttar 125957 majority ofrepparttar 125958 denizens of these moribund swathes ofrepparttar 125959 continent workedrepparttar 125960 land. This feudal legacy of a brobdignagian agricultural sector in, for instance, Poland - now hampersrepparttar 125961 EU accession talks.

Vassals were little freer than slaves. In comparison, burghers,repparttar 125962 inhabitants ofrepparttar 125963 city, were liberated fromrepparttar 125964 bondage ofrepparttar 125965 feudal labour contract. As a result, they were able to acquire private possessions andrepparttar 125966 city acted as supreme guarantor of their property rights. Urban centers relied on trading and economic might to obtain and secure political autonomy.

John of Paris, arguably one ofrepparttar 125967 first capitalist cities (at least according to Braudel), wrote: "(The individual) had a right to property which was not with impunity to be interfered with by superior authority - because it was acquired by (his) own efforts" (in Georges Duby, "The age ofrepparttar 125968 Cathedrals: Art and Society, 980-1420, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1981). Max Weber, in his opus, "The City" (New York, MacMillan, 1958) wrote optimistically about urbanization: "The medieval citizen was onrepparttar 125969 way towards becoming an economic man ...repparttar 125970 ancient citizen was a political man."

But communism halted this process. It frozerepparttar 125971 early feudal frame of mind of disdain and derision towards "non-productive", "city-based" vocations. Agricultural and industrial occupations were romantically extolled by communist parties everywhere. The cities were berated as hubs of moral turpitude, decadence and greed. Ironically, avowed anti-communist right wing populists, like Hungary's former prime minister, Orban, sought to propagate these sentiments, to their electoral detriment.

Communism was an urban phenomenon - but it abnegated its "bourgeoisie" pedigree. Private property was replaced by communal ownership. Servitude torepparttar 125972 state replaced individualism. Personal mobility was severely curtailed. In communism, feudalism was restored.

Very likerepparttar 125973 Church inrepparttar 125974 Middle Ages, communism sought to monopolize and permeate all discourse, all thinking, and all intellectual pursuits. Communism was characterized by tensions between party, state andrepparttar 125975 economy - exactly asrepparttar 125976 medieval polity was plagued by conflicts between church, king and merchants-bankers.

In communism, political activism was a precondition for advancement and, too often, for personal survival. John of Salisbury might as well have been writing for a communist agitprop department when he penned this in "Policraticus" (1159 AD): "...if (rich people, people with private property) have been stuffed through excessive greed and if they hold in their contents too obstinately, (they) give rise to countless and incurable illnesses and, through their vices, can bring aboutrepparttar 125977 ruin ofrepparttar 125978 body as a whole". The body inrepparttar 125979 text beingrepparttar 125980 body politic.

Workers, both industrial and agricultural, were lionized and idolized in communist times. Withrepparttar 125981 implosion of communism, these frustrated and angry rejects of a failed ideology spawned many grassroots political movements, lately in Poland, inrepparttar 125982 form of "Self Defence". Their envied and despised enemies arerepparttar 125983 well-educated,repparttar 125984 intellectuals,repparttar 125985 self-proclaimed new elite,repparttar 125986 foreigner,repparttar 125987 minority,repparttar 125988 rich, andrepparttar 125989 remote bureaucrat in Brussels.

Like inrepparttar 125990 West,repparttar 125991 hinterland tends to supportrepparttar 125992 right. Orban's Fidesz lost in Budapest inrepparttar 125993 recent elections - but scored big in villages and farms throughout Hungary. Agrarian and peasant parties abound in all three central European countries and often holdrepparttar 125994 balance of power in coalition governments.

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