69 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2006
A specter is haunting America, the specter of agricultural supremacy. Farm advocates have protested the decline of agriculture as an autonomous enterprise. After centuries of producer primacy, the agrarian state is withering away in the face of the reality that putting farmers first puts consumer and environmental interests last.
Karl Marx condemned the German Ideology as the fallacy that civilization begins with any step besides the acquisition of food, fiber, and fuel. The American Ideology is the fallacy that civilization ends upon the acquisition of food, fiber, and fuel. Bourgeois yearning to be delivered from necessity into freedom has catapulted America into world dominance. Agrarian discontent amid material abundance proves that American agriculture is not Marxist enough.
All hitherto existing law reflects the history of agrarian class struggle. The legislative explosion of 1862 gave farmers direct subsidies and access to the highest levels of government. But this success destroyed farmers' cultural and economic independence. What is true of evolutionary biology is also true of agricultural economics: the same Red Queen that stalks species in an evolving ecosystem pushes farmers first to adapt or die and eventually to adapt and die.
Stasis is the agroecological opium of the masses. The only value held dear by the American Ideologue is maximizing the market for the labor of agriculture's entrepreneurial class. Consumer health, social wealth, and environmental integrity are all secondary.
Come the revolution, a new bourgeois populism will restore the middle-class masses to their proper supremacy over pampered producers. America should treat agriculture like any other industry, as subject as toilet manufacturers to the fickle fluctuations of consumer demand. Behold the Consumerist Manifesto: Let farmers classes tremble at the feet of competition. Bourgeois consumers have nothing to lose but their bucolic illusions. They have a world to win.
Keywords: farming, agriculture, agricultural law, Marx, Marxism, rbST, homesteading, reclamation, consumers, welfare
JEL Classification: K32, N50, N51, N52, O13, O33, Q10, Q18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Chen, James Ming, The American Ideology. Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 48, p. 908, 1995; Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=935807