New chapters

Happy new year to you from Small Farm Future – and thanks for the seasonal wishes from various folks on here just prior to the holidays.

My new year’s resolutions for 2019 are … writing, writing, writing. But, regrettably, not so much on this site, I fear. I have an autumn deadline for my book manuscript which already feels looming in view of the work yet undone for it, so I think for the time being new blog posts here at SFF are going to be few and far between.

Happily, various commenters have been keeping the site ticking over in my absence over the holidays with interesting interventions on the matter of John Michael Greer’s erratic course through the firmament of right-wing populism and also on the matter of comparative health care systems. I’d like to comment, but I’m a bit late to the party and…well…y’know…priorities and all. Actually, I started my career as a health policy analyst, and feel lucky that I eventually escaped from it into the more engaging field of agriculture. Still, I agree that health and health care issues are important. There’s even a section on it that I plan to write in my book. When I get around to it… Guess all I’d say right now is that in a private-funded system it’s worth distinguishing between people who actively don’t want to take out health insurance, and those who’d like to but feel they can’t afford it and so, on the balance of the risks, don’t. When I looked at this many years ago, it seemed clear that in the USA the second group was a lot bigger than the first. I suspect it still is.

Despite the impending hiatus, I have a sliver of good news for anyone thirsting for a bit more Small Farm Future to see them through the next few wintry months. Issue number 24 of the incomparable The Land magazine has just hit the news-stands, including an article from yours truly that I’ll reproduce in fully-restored and unexpurgated form here shortly. The article was based around an interview I conducted with David Bandurski, author of the fascinating book Dragons in Diamond Village: Tales of Resistance from Urbanizing China so I’ll also publish that interview in full on here soon.

Arguably, that means that I’m already reneging on my promise to Vera at the end of last year to address in my next post this criticism of me that she made: “One issue you’ve ducked time and again is this: does your locked front door offend your libertarian spirit? Do local laws that prevent squatters taking over your farm offend it as well? And if it happens not to be offended then, then why is it offended by equally firm boundaries of larger units humans organize?”

Now, I don’t feel that I’ve ducked this issue at all, and in fact I think I made my position on it pretty clear in the very post to which Vera’s comment was appended. However, I find the blunt clarity of the way Vera frames these questions useful – not least because I think one of the main ways in which the crises of our epoch are going to manifest in the coming years is the contest between what might broadly be termed civic and nationalist responses to global migration. And also because it homes in on the question of property, which is critical. So let me rephrase my promise:

“I promise I’ll address these points in my first post of 2019 that involves entirely new writing”.

It’s just that I’m not yet sure when that will be.

There’s plenty of other things I’d like to write about, not least after returning fresh from another great Oxford Real Farming Conference with my head full of ideas. But I don’t want to break a new year’s resolution as well as a promise all in one post. So that’s it for now.

19 thoughts on “New chapters

  1. ORFC sure looked very interesting, at least in the videos I’ve watched. Some very interesting presentations don’t seem to have been recorded, which is a shame.
    Happy New Year!

  2. Before Christmas, when you gave the promise to me and Jody, I was very happy I would not have to quack at you. But alas, your ducks have shown up in a row again. Quack, quack, quack.

    You just threw out a promise in exchange for some nebulous facsimile. No thanks. All that remains of it it is 2019. And that can be exchanged for another year in due course, right? Double quack.

    • Well now Vera, here I am doing my best to write a blog in my spare time for nothing and throwing out an offer in response to your critique while also working a farm, writing a book for which I’m actually getting paid for once and, y’know, trying to live a life beyond my computer…and this is the thanks I get. Sheesh, I’m not sure your bad faith deserves the reward of that blog post. Still, the promise stands – it’ll be the first new blog post I write. And I’ll write it when I write it, at a time that will be unaffected by silly hectoring.

      • You made a freely-given promise. I did not hold your hand in the fire. Now you lash out because I actually expected you to keep it? Not to mention looked forward to it.

        • Vera, I think your reaction is absurd. But in case any other commenters are reading this and have an opinion, here’s a revised offer. I can either hold back the two pieces I have that are already written so that I honor my original promise, thus presumably escaping the awful torment of further dripping sarcasm from Vera. In that scenario, I’d guess my next post will appear probably late February or March. Or I can boldly brave the sarcasm and publish the stuff I have that’s already written and get on with my work in the meantime. All votes will be counted in accordance with a voting system that will be arbitrarily devised by me.

          Meantime, a couple of suggestions for Vera: (1) I’ll advance the publication date of the promised post by 1 day for each $5 you donate to this site (2) if you carefully read what I’ve written in the past about property and immigration, it’ll give you a pretty good idea of what’s going to be in the post. This is not an issue that I’ve avoided.

          • I’ve been asking pretty much the same question for a long time. Look, a pretty duck! 😉

            Now Jody joined me.

            Do what you want, Chris. It’s your blog.

    • …offend your libertarian spirit?

      Hmm, given my understanding of the use of the word I would not characterize Chris as ‘libertarian’ in the political sense.

      Be that as it may, another set of questions comes to mind: Given Vera’s preference for self-determination and defensible boundaries, is she not offended by clear-cutting on privately owned timberland? How is that different from Ted Turner Ranch, or Richard Branson’s private ownership of Necker Island? Is the private ownership of Niihau in that same category? By what process did Ted Turner come to hold title to 2 million acres? How does she feel about the rights of the aboriginal occupants of those lands?

      I am going to assert that these are complicated issues.

      I am not a libertarian. I could probably be characterized as some flavor of socialist, though I would prefer not to be. I hold title to real estate. I am happy to share a variety of my possessions with people who ask me. I insist that they ask me first. Locking the doors on my house and garage is a good way to make it more likely that people do that asking.

      • Neither would I (call him a libertarian).
        What I am offended by was not the topic of conversation here.

        I do believe in boundaries: personal, sexual, cultural, political… am I missing any? I also believe that in order for boundaries to be boundaries, they must be effectively defended. I have wondered how the boundaries of the Republic of Wessex would be effectively defended.

        But since you’ve asked, Eric, I am indeed offended by clear cutting on private land. Such action affects the entire watershed, and to pretend a watershed can be private is some sort of a neoliberal/neoconsevative fantasy. IMO.

      • Great questions Eric.

        To go alongside some of the property rights questions – there are often zoning issues where if a polity is sufficiently established it can make and enforce them. In the case of Necker Island, even though Branson owns the whole rock he has to share the beaches:

        Although the land on the island is entirely privately owned, under British Virgin Islands law, all beaches up to the high-water mark are Crown land, and are open to the public [from Wikipedia]

        As for locking the doors or building fences – I’m with Eric here as well. Good fences make good neighbors.

        On the vote for next post issue – I’d leave it entirely up to the host. His blog, his time. Civility can be learned.

  3. Gosh!
    I again forgot to sent you a greeting photo of a Christmas carps in our bath tube.
    Once I’m at my mother’s place (need to download the pics from her camera) I will get it

  4. Thanks for the comments.

    Defending the boundaries of any peasant’s republic is indeed a key issue, and probably the one most likely to scupper the possibilities for such a republic. But the people it most needs defending from are not impoverished international migrants. Indeed, as I argued in my ‘Beyond borders’ post, the way the present world is shaped the latter are the people who now seem most likely to bring such a peasant republic into being. Perhaps I need to clarify this in yet another post. But no promises…

    Perhaps I should also have read Vera’s duck and quack remarks as more banterous than the trolling I took them for. Then again…

    And thanks for the carp-in-the-bath picture option, Jura. A little known susidiary purpose of this website is to provide a gallery of Christmas food traditions…

    And so onwards to my next blog post…but what will it be…??

    • Venezuela is a case in point , collapsed economy , stellar inflation and farmers being murdered for their crops , in the country that twenty years ago had a standard of living higher than that of Canada , those farmers never thought they would have to start a militia to protect themselves , family and property .

    • “But the people it most needs defending from are not impoverished international migrants.”

      Maybe the people of Calais and surrounding areas would be able to provide another view. Not of the armchair kind.

      In either case, I was not asking who Wessex needs *most* defending from. I was asking about effective boundaries, whatever the particular danger or dangers might be. In fact, one of my examples was hordes of rich urbanites.

      Millions of impoverished international migrants can be a force that can sink a a region or a culture, or a whole slew of cultures or even a whole continentful of them, depending. Ask the American Indians.

      I vote for leaving the PC talking points aside, and dealing with the real issue. Effective boundaries. Quack. Er, no, actually, I meant hawgh. 🙂

  5. Happy new year to one and all! It feels a little awkward on here at the moment, but as Chris has opened a ballot I feel it should be ok to wade in. I’d quite like to see one of the next posts please, but it would be a shame to leave the various issues in this comment thread hanging.

    That said, I don’t think I understand the issue. Vera, you seem impatient to have Chris’s view on the ‘real issue’, which is ‘effective boundaries’. But there’s a lot of loose talk here, so I’m not sure what bounded entity you’re referring to and what would class as effective. For example, are you looking for real policy suggestions for real-world situations, things that are happening now (rich predatory urbanites, impoverished international migrants) or have already happened (European invasion of the Americas)? Or are you in utopian mode, and interested in the Peasants’ Republic of Wessex? If the latter, you presumably have some idea of the threat that you think some kind of border would need to be effective against.

    Chris had promised a post, so presumably has some idea of the point that he thought you wanted clarification on. I’m clueless I’m afraid, but I’m interested in the resolution of the issue. Could you be more specific on what it is?

    • I/ve been asking Chris a long time for a clarification… and yes, it is in the framework he himself created (Wessex).

      He wrote very recently to me and Jody that he will address the issues sort of raised but left unaddressed just before the year ended. He wrote — which I very welcomed — “OK, I’m pretty much signing off now until the new year, but since Jody’s comment above touches some of the same issues as Vera’s ( I promise I’ll address these points in my first post of 2019 (I’m not going to promise when that will be…) I had no idea that I seemed to be evading that point – I feel my position on it is pretty straightforward and should be easily explainable. And Vera is right that it will be unacceptable to Marxists.”

      I think that would resolve it nicely. And a happy new year to you, Andrew.

  6. Vera,
    Here in the US all we hear on the news now is how much we need Trump’s border wall and the government shut down over funding it. What few are talking about is the fact that $5 billion is just the first installment of what is estimated to be closer to $30 billion. What can we actually afford? Seems like people forget about paying for government services.
    I hear that overall migration demographics are shifting. The total numbers are down but families applying are up. Social disintegration in southern countries is worsening. I’m not sure what if anything we can actually do to help. Perhaps more judges and better family holding areas at our borders would alleviate some of the current problems. Are illegal drugs making the situation in southern countries worse? Perhaps legalization of marijuana might stem drug traffic and reduce the power of the cartels. I wish Fox news would stop instigating Trump to play chicken. It would be nice if the news would do more to inform the public to help us think clearly about long term planning.

    That’s about all I can muster for response on this issue. I just returned from my father’s funeral in Minnesota and to be honest I’m heart sore and too tired to find energy for argument. So please forgive me if I’m just going to bow out on this discussion.

    Good luck with all the writing demands before you. I’m sure you will prioritize them as needed. No need to belabor border issues and migration policies when you have more important chapters to write. I’m sure whatever and whenever you post it will be appreciated by all.

    • There are allready laws to control immigration into the usa the problem is enforcement .
      To legally enter the USA you have to
      A , pass a medical , have a interview with a US consulate official and have a clean police record , ( being busted for drugs is automatic denial of entry )
      B , have sufficient funds to live above poverty line for five years or have someone willing to fund you for that time .
      C . You are not allowed to call on any state or federal help ( health food stamps whatever ) untill you have worked ten quarters and paid into SS for that minimum time on penalty of being deported .
      D , you are not allowed to vote untill you become a US citizen , again on penalty of being deported .
      IMHO The usa discriminates against legal immigrants .
      The so called ” we nation of immigrants ” is a spurious argument as all legal immigrants have had to live by those rules for half a century .
      One beef I have is the fast track entry , the UK scours the world for medics , the USA for tech workers encouraging the brightest and best to leave their countries and move west .

  7. Thanks (mostly) for the further comments. A couple of points, including some housekeeping issues, relating to this blog and arising from some of them.

    I’m not going to be looking at this website for about a week, and I’m going to turn comments off during that time. I’ll turn them on again around 19/20 January.

    I drafted a longer response to some of the comments above, but I think I’ll just cut to the chase:

    I’ll publish a post soon-ish on property and immigration. I suspect it won’t satisfy one or two folk who read this site, who will think it doesn’t deal with the ‘real issue’. So be it. To my mind accusing someone of not dealing with the real issue is often just a self-aggrandizing way of saying that you disagree with them. Maybe for them your ‘real issue’ is a non-issue.

    I find the tone of some of the comments above discourteous. I’m not going to respond in future to comments I judge discourteous because there are too many better things to do.

    There also seems to be an uptick in comments here expressing various Islamophobic, whites-as-victims, or ‘anti-PC’ sentiments. Enough please. There are plenty of other websites where these views are welcome. This isn’t one of them. And dismissing something as ‘PC’ does not actually constitute an argument against it…

    But let me close by offering my thanks to everyone who comments here and reaffirming my commitment to hosting courteous and non-bigoted debate and disagreement.

  8. Just a word on the ” private health insurance ” as a resident of Texas I do not have health insurance , the best quote I can get is $ 3000 a month , mainly because I am diabetic .
    As for the county I live in I know many without insurance ,people in this county are too poor to qualify for ” Obamacare ” they get an exemption from the IRS so they do not have to pay the fine for not having insurance , that is the state of private medicine in TX .

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