New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
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Succession

October 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Victor Postnikov

Toward Harmonious and Stable Co-Existence

by V.I. Postnikov

Loitering the central streets of my native town, Kiev, where I had lived for 63 years, I involuntarily examine the passers-by.  Gosh, how changed the appearance of citizens! I notice some subspecies that I never met before — such as a subspecies of managers — short-Imagehaired young people in white shirts, a subspecies of guards — stern-looking lads with bull’s napes,  a subspecies of builders — lads from other towns. The old age people are rarely seen on the streets.  I peer at the faces, hoping to recognize familiar ones. But no, no way, they are all long gone.  The species, the environment have changed irrevocably. Sad, but true.

In ecology, there is the concept of “succession,”  an important term which explains serial mutability of a species and its habitat. William R. Catton, Jr., in his classic book Overshoot, shows how this principle works in the human environment [1].  To understand the succession in human society, it is useful to first consider nature’s succession. (more…)

Food Mosaics

October 07, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos, Politics

UN Appeals for Urgent Agricultural Reform

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

I remember going to one of the preparatory meetings on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development at the State Department. It was late 1978 and I represented Congressman Clarence Long (D-Md.).

There must have been at least forty federal bureaucrats around a huge wooden table in a large conference room. I asked them how many peasants they or the United Nations had invited to address the 1979 Agrarian Reform and Rural Development Conference in Rome. After all, who knows more about the pain of the peasants than peasants themselves?

The icy silence that followed my question was a reminder that this conference had nothing to do with food and agriculture or agrarian reform. It was rather a forum for the amusement of men and women from the North and the South who guarded the world’s food and agriculture. (more…)

Traditional Agriculture

May 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Reclaiming Our Farmland from the Rural Oligarchy

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

Traditional agriculture was the mother of human culture and societies. Small farmers raised food and created organized societies and Large carrot field, Coachella Valley, southern California. (Photo: Evaggelos Vallianatos)states. In ancient Greece, small farmers invented democracy and the polis. They also defended the state. Xenophon, an Athenian general, a student of Socrates, and philosopher of late fifth century BCE, praised agriculture as the mother of all the arts and sciences and civilization.(1)

However, the fall of the Greeks and the Romans and the following Dark Ages transformed agriculture more to the liking of plantation owners who worked the land with slaves. Then the nineteenth-century “industrial” revolution added mechanical power to the plantation and, thus, the industrialized version of agriculture came into being. This is a mechanical powerhouse that has been remaking modern science and society to serve the interests of large landowners and industrialists. The damage of this monstrous institution has been monumental, even threatening the survival of the Earth. (more…)

Civilizational Shift

May 09, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos, Politics

Old-Fashioned Activism to Confront the Food Monopoly

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

In the twentieth century, American agriculture abandoned its traditions of family farming. This was no small change. Like the centuries-long enclosure movement in England whereby the landlords used the law and violence to privatize the commons and throw out of the land uncounted number of peasants, American large farmers have been using the power of the state to bring about a civilization shift in rural America.

They transformed a way of life for raising food and sustaining democratic society to a massive factory industrializing both farming and food and farmers, making rural America a colony for the extraction of profit.

This tragedy left behind millions of broken family farms, contaminated water and land, and a wounded rural America.

According to the 1884 “Transactions of the California State Agricultural Society,” “there will be too few farms and these too large. A republic cannot long survive when the lands are concentrated in the hands of a few men. Any man will fight for his home, but it takes a very brave man to fight for the privilege of working for half wages.” (more…)

Sowing Knowledge

March 26, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos

What I Tell My Students…

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

I have taught sporadically at several universities. My latest teaching is at Pitzer College that prides itself for its liberal and environmental values.

I focus on the politics of agriculture, shedding light on an invisible giant making America on its image.

This is not the agriculture of Thomas Jefferson with the small family farmer all over the country. Rather this is the agriculture of big business. This is the agriculture that has sent rural America to oblivion, industrializing the countryside and, along with it, farming and food. And, yet, it remains out there, unspoken, beyond the daily discourse. (more…)

On Food and Drink

October 18, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Martin Zehr, Politics

California Now Has Water as a Human Right — Or Does It?

by Martin Zehr, aka Mato Ska

The headlines read: law passed in California to make water a human right. AB685 does indeed have that language but California is far from that as a reality. The question really is whether this is a real breakthrough or whether it presents the potential of a creating a new maze of litigation in the future. From looking at the language of the bill, it would be a profound mistake to consider this a victory for poor people or an acknowledgement of their basic survival needs. It needs to be said that there are so many questions raised by such a law that are not addressed in the law that it will assuredly result in profound impacts on farmers and farm workers throughout the state of California.

Water as a Human Right has to be defined in the context of both drinking water and food production. (more…)

Local, Slow, and on the Street

October 12, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Economy

Exploring the Roots of Urban Agriculture in Mexico 

by Devon G. Peña

Every now and then a photograph really speaks more than a thousand words. The accompanying 1865 photograph shows two fruit and vegetable vendors in Mexico City. Judging from the architecture in the background, the photo was most likely taken inside the historic core, perhaps close to the Zócalo.

A lot of commentary has been made about this photo. One thread of comments emphasizes the perceived poor condition of the ambulantes (mobile street vendors). How one can surmise this seems difficult but one comment posted recently to Facebook argues that the photograph demonstrates “The poor condition of the vendors, which can still be seen in the streets of Mexico City today.”

However, even by today’s standards, these vendors actually look fairly well dressed and healthy. These lamentations about the urban poor strike me as betraying a modernist urban sensibility and class bias. If anything, given the source of the comments on Facebook, they illustrate a widespread failure, common to what I can only characterize as petit-bourgeois intellectuals, to understand that for many people street vending is as much a way to earn an income as it is a social and community-building activity — a way of life even. (more…)


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