New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


A Unique Struggle

August 02, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Politics

Farmworkers in Washington State Mobilize for Dignity, Rights

by Devon G. Peña

Burlington is not a very old city center and got its start in 1902 as a logging camp. Today the small town of 8,380, located in the  Skagit River watershed north of Seattle, does count with a prosperous fruit and vegetable agricultural industry. Of course, the industry relies on mostly migrant families for farm labor. This is especially the case during harvest work and strawberry crops present an opportunity for workers to seize the current condition of ‘labor scarcity’ and high demand for skilled pickers during harvest time to organize for their workplace rights. And that is exactly what has happened in the State of Washington, and not in the Yakima or Wenatchee valleys but on the western side of the Cascades where peri-urban farming is increasingly big business. (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…)

The Foodopoly

February 21, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Ecology, Economy, Politics

Too Big to Eat?

by David Swanson

We’ve come to understand that the banks are too big to fail, too big to take to trial, too big not to let them write our public policy, too big not to reward them for ruining our economy.

Why have we come to understand that?

We’ve been told it by a mega media cartel that has itself been deemed too big to fail, too big not to subsidize with our airwaves, too big not to reward with political ads buying back our airwaves in little bits and pieces.

Speaking of which, the buying of elections is moving rapidly in the direction of monopoly ownership itself.

The concentration of wealth and power in the United States over the past half century is not a story of ineluctable forces of technology or progress.  It’s a story of orchestrated corruption.  Some of its key players were born after it had begun.  One of them, the man who was president when some of the worst of the deregulatory legislation was passed, was of course Bill Clinton — who ended welfare as we knew it and recreated it as we wish no one had ever imagined it.  Giant corporations and banks are feeding at the public trough. (more…)

The Natural World

February 05, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos

From Abuse and Fear to Serving the Public Good

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

When I lived in Alexandria, Virginia, my home was near the Holmes Run Creek in the west side of the city. The Creek separated my neighborhood from high rises. It was partly natural and partly a cement ditch. Trees and bushes and flowers and the running water made the Creek beautiful, the only stretch of land that had the appearance of wild nature. I used to bike or walk some of the length of the Creek alone or with my dog.

In time, the Creek became my world, a place I went to reflect, exercise, and enjoy the natural world. I was not alone in appreciating the Creek. From 1979 to 2008, the 29 years I lived near the Creek, I noticed the number of people walking or biking by the Creek increased tremendously. The Creek became our neighborhood, where people visited for enjoyment. (more…)

A Land Without Farmers

September 17, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Grappling with the Emerging Empire of Agribusiness

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

The plutocratic remaking of America has a parallel in the countryside. In rural America less than 3 percent of farmers make more than 63 percent of the money, including government subsidies.

The results of this emerging feudal economy are everywhere. Large areas of the United States are becoming impoverished farm towns with abandoned farmhouses and deserted land. More and more of the countryside has been devoted to massive factory farms and plantations. The consequences, though worse now than ever, have been there for all to see and feel, for decades.

Walter Goldschmidt, an anthropologist with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) was already documenting the deleterious effects of agribusiness on small communities in California’s Central Valley as long ago as the 1940s (1). (more…)