On this day in 1845, Westminster, the UK Parliament passed the 1845 enclosure act. Although not the first step in the enclosure of the commons, this act created enclosure commissioners who were given the authority to enclose land without prior parliamentary approval. In total, over the course of 300 years, the British government enclosed nearly 7 million acres of the commons in Britain alone. In doing so they created the ‘working class’ and systematic private property in one fell swoop. This model became a worldwide blueprint that has led us to the situation in which we find ourselves today. Enclosure of the commons, coupled with imperialism has ensured that hundreds of millions of people are unable to access agricultural land and billions more live in abject poverty, despite living in regions of abundance. Continue reading
On the one hand, it is great to see how far we’ve come. And on the other, it is pretty difficult to accept how far we haven’t. Pay close attention at 19:00 minutes to what one farm employer has to say about working conditions, wages, and his workers dispositions.
A perspective from 1943. Download the pdf: Kansas Union Farmer
Check it out HERE.
Three movements to build public life
- Initially a movement to improve agriculture. Travelling speakers would speak about the latest scientific agricultural techniques, and the operations of the commercial economy. An offshoot of the Morrill Act which established land grant universities (like the University of Maryland) to advance agriculture.
- The speakers were the knowledgeable who educated the farmers. The Grange Hall provided a successor to the lyceum and chatauqua where farmers came to hear lectures. They heard about crop rotation, hybridized seed, and other scientific advancements. They also learned the language of commercial activity: markets, supply and demand, borrowing capital, investment strategies, and so on. Thus, science, business, and education (training) were brought to agriculture. Continue reading