How Jonathan Steele defines success

Zimbabwe, throwing the white farmers out, black takeovers of the land and :

They have the courage to criticise Amnesty International for exaggerating the plight of farm workers who were forced off formerly \”white\” land taken over by Africans, and say that by 2011 the number of people working on resettlement land had increased more than fivefold, from 167,000 to over a million.

Interesting that, isn\’t it? More people returning to rural peasantry is good?

Christ, don\’t these people even read Marx any more?

29 thoughts on “How Jonathan Steele defines success”

  1. It’s great, isn’t it. It’s quite easy, from time to time, to fall into the delusion of thinking that the grauniad is only full of left-liberal handwringers bemoaning tree-felling in siberia or how quinoa is now too expensive for Bolivian peasants because of it’s popularity with western, guardian-reading, vegans.*. But happily we have people like Seaumas Milne apologising for Stalin and Jonathan Steele lauding Mugabe just to remind us that there are also people on the left who are actually a bit evil.

    *that made me laugh quite a lot.

  2. There’s a further point here too Tim: Steele comments that employment on the land has risen from 160k to over a million, and that more land is now used for agricultural production, and goes on to show why land reform is a success by noting that total production is now the same as in the late 90s, ie only slightly less than it was before farm seizures started.

    So, 1000% increase in labour plus small increase in land capital = small decrease in production. If this is the Guardian’s version of economic success, I think we can understand why they’re going bust.

  3. polly twaddle's banham locks

    “So, 1000% increase in labour plus small increase in land capital = small decrease in production. If this is the Guardian’s version of economic success, I think we can understand why they’re going bust.”

    Mugabe’s “Great Leap Backward”

  4. sackcloth and ashes

    Jonathan Steele was an apologist for the GDR in the 1970s. He was an apologist for the Sudanese regime’s genocide against Darfuris five years ago.

  5. When has the left ever concerned itself with property rights?

    When has the right ever concerned itself with the theft of property by people it approves of?

    Who on the right spoke out against the seizure of Zimbabwe’s farmland during the first half of the 20th century?

  6. “Who on the right spoke out against the seizure of Zimbabwe’s farmland during the first half of the 20th century?”

    It depends what you mean by ‘right’. Liberals from Adam Smith on have been denouncing colonialism for at least two and a half centuries., partly on moral grounds, partly because its so much less effective than free trade.

    It’s noticeable that this still hasn’t penetrated the skulls of the socialist left.

  7. PR: thanks for the reply. I’m genuinely curious as to who, from whatever party or none, spoke out against these seizures. Can you give specific examples?

    More people returning to rural peasantry is good?

    Yes actually, it is.

    What I suppose is happening is that the new farmers can’t afford the capital-intensive inputs – machinery, fertiliser, pesticides – deployed by the displaced farmers. So they’re using human labour instead. And that human labour is available because people, of their own free choice, prefer working on farms to being unemployed in cities.

    In other words, the cheapest resource is being used. Isn’t that the sort of successful market clearing Tim usually applauds?

  8. “Christ, don’t these people even read Marx any more?”

    African Socialism is more akin to feudalism. From my reading of European history the aristocracy got to that position by being knights who defended the serf from foreign invaders. Tends to be the same with African Socialists, most of them claim authority from being those who fought against imperialism or in true feudal style the decedents of them. Many of the political movements classed as socialist openly admit they just used socialist/Marxist rhetoric as the Russians where the only people to supply them with guns.

    You’ll rarely meet an African who’s an Atheist. I had to laugh I was in Mozambique a while back in a place called Inhambane where the Catholic church is always packed out but the street name is Karl Marx street!

    @Tim J that graphs just corn production, there’s being a massive increase in tobacco production which is what the alleged success is and where the peasants are farming.

  9. “Isn’t that the sort of successful market clearing Tim usually applauds?”

    I have seen a comment or two about how mechanizing industry mining in Indonesia would make many people unemployed and might not be desirable. A low cost labour model can work until workers start demanding higher wages so it works in Zim where you have limited rights but doesn’t in South Africa where people are talking about mechanizing in the mining and agricultural sector.

  10. “No chapter of history is steeped further in blood than the history of colonialism. Blood was shed uselessly and senselessly. Flourishing lands were laid waste; whole peoples destroyed and exterminated. All this can in no way be extenuated or justified. The dominion of Europeans in Africa and in important parts of Asia is absolute. It stands in the sharpest contrast to all the principles of liberalism and democracy, and there can be no doubt that we must strive for its abolition. The only question is how the elimination of this intolerable condition can be accomplished in the least harmful way possible.”

    “It is significant that here again we frequently find the conservatives joining hands with the socialists against the liberals – not only in England, where the Webbs and their Fabians were outspoken imperialists, or in Germany, where state socialism and colonial expansionism went together and found the support of the same group of “socialists of the chair,” but also in the United States, where even at the time of the first Roosevelt it could be observed: “the Jingoes and the Social Reformers have gotten together; and have formed a political party, which threatened to capture the Government and use it for their program of Caesaristic paternalism, a danger which now seems to have been averted only by the other parties having adopted their program in a somewhat milder degree and form.”

    Both Hayek.

    Free market economics doesn’t generally applaud the reduction of people, by government interference, to starving, disease-ridden, broken, desperate serfs who are happy to slave on the land. That really is the province of the hard left and, in that extraordinary paradox, the ultra-right (like supporters of Tsarist Russia).

  11. Paul B:

    the point is that there is no free market in anything else than farmery so people can’t make a living doing anything else. You are mistaking the symptoms for the cause.

  12. @PaulB ‘Who on the right spoke out against the seizure of Zimbabwe’s farmland during the first half of the 20th century?’

    Hmmm. Who on the left spoke out against the murderous regimes of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Ceaucescu, Hoxha etc etc?

    The seizure of land from anyone by anyone is a bad thing.

    But it rather pales into comparison when seen against the crimes of your fellow travellers, you old drone-murder supporter, you.

  13. Who on the right spoke out against the seizure of Zimbabwe’s farmland during the first half of the 20th century?

    To be perfectly honest, in the first half of the 20th Century, right and left had rather more to be concerned with than whatever was happening in the bit of the British Empire we hadn’t really wanted but Sir Cecil had insisted on.

    Like, oh, 2 world wars (including the multiple decimation of much of “the right”) and the end of the imperial dream (well, except for the USA and Russia, of course.)

    With the notable exception of free-market economists, “the white man’s burden” remained a fashionable meme on both left and right until the latter half of said century.

    Of course, economically liberal (or free-market, or baby-eating capitalist neo-liberal) and “politically right-wing” are not very well correlated. Especially with the debasement of “politically right-wing” in modern lefty parlance. (See various descriptions of the commie Milliband and his fellow-travellers in the margins of the amusing SWPper in-fighting)

  14. Thanks for all the comments. Apart from the Hayek’s admirable condemnation of colonialism in general, we seem to have come up with nothing. So can we please give up on the one-eyed attacks on the left.

    If Interested is genuinely unaware of left-wing opposition to his list of tyrants, he’s not been listening.

  15. So can we please give up on the one-eyed attacks on the left.

    No, sorry. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Leftist support of Mugabe – a vicious thug and self-enriching dictator in the best African post-colonial style (independent of claimed political leaning) – is still wrong.

    And, frankly, I have so little in common with what was called “the right” in the first half of C20, I fundamentally resent the fact that you think I should limit my expression of opinion because of their manifest failings.

    Especially “communism is so bad, any alternative must be better.” Very, very close to being true, statistically, but I’m not enough of a utilitarianist to get my (dubious) morals from my (even more dubious) statistics.

  16. SE: I agree that Mugabe deserves no one’s support.

    I sympathize with your disdain for the right in the first half of the twentieth century. You will understand that I feel equally unhappy with blanket condemnations of “The Left” for the views of a minority.

  17. You will understand that I feel equally unhappy with blanket condemnations of “The Left” for the views of a minority.

    Unfortunately, Paul, it is you that are the (thinking) minority. We may be condemning the vainglorious bastards who claim to lead the left (ditto right – Cameron doesn’t get much time here, iirc) but we’re condemning the ovine followers who, despite your disclaimers and your lack of involvement with the group, are, in fact, the majority.

  18. SE: that may be so over some issues, but not this one. The left in Britain is generally not sympathetic to Mugabe. See for example Peter Hain, Peter Tatchell, or the late Robin Cook.

  19. PaulB – So your argument is that we look through the prism of political discourse in the Early, pre World War One period for evidence of the Right’s malfeasance on this issue – scraping the barrel somewhat, aren’t we? I’d ask whom on the Left in that era (It was the time of the birth of the Labour Party) was speaking out on behalf of the Shona and Ndebele?

    But to your second point in post #12, I actually happen to agree that it is better for people to be working at subsistence farming in the Short term and earning some form of sustenance than doing absolutely nothing which would be the consequence of the impact of the disastrous Economic crisis of the middle part of the last decade were they still in the towns. For long-term purposes, ideally the country needs shot of Mugabe and all his henchmen and a transition to an MDC dominated transitional government, but my guess is that is not going to be easy.

  20. One orange (and not British), one despised by the mainstream for not being right-on enough (although I have to say I’m a fan of his honesty and directness) (and also not British) and one dead?

  21. @ PaulB #23
    The left (or at least the Labour and Communist parties) is responsible for Mugabe. Also Wilson was responsible for UDI – a lot of us reckoned that wartime civil servant relatively safe in Whitehall calling a volunteer, and wounded, RAF pilot “small, frightened man” was the tipping point.
    Peter Hain probably feels let down after he spent so much time and effort to reduce the earnings of black Africans in the hope that this would cause them to violently overthrow the rule of white Africans; pardon me for saying that I don’t regard Peter Tatchell of representing anyone, particularly not gays (except perhaps for a small minority who describe themselves as “the gay community” to the exclusion of all others).

  22. TW: ‘More people returning to rural peasantry is good?’

    The biggest plank of the new If campaign against hunger is the protection and encouragement of small-scale farming – of picturesque but inefficient peasantry living close to starvation (many of whom, incidentally, survive only by doing paid labour on large farms). The big baddies are the ‘land grabbers’, foreigners who take long leases on large tracts of land, which they then furnish with roads, canals, schools etc. so that they can be farmed efficiently. The infrastructure reverts to the state at the end of the lease. Wicked, innit?

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