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How Farmers Became Slaves to the Corporate Masters

Posted on 17-Mar-2013. Updated on 12-Sep-2013.
Topics: Economic Debates  

From the blog The Deliberate Agrarian:

Divided We Stand is an expose of the domination of the corporations in America over the people of America and, in particular, the people of the South and West. The professor presents evidence to support the idea that America is composed of three distinct regions, with differing cultures and the controlling corporate interests were primarily in the Northern Region. These interests were pulling the wealth out of the other regions.

Of course, most of the data Webb presents is way outdated, and his thesis of the Northern Region dominating the others may no longer apply, but it is an interesting perspective. The realization that corporations were (and still are) exercising domination over every area of our culture is still spot on.

Quote from the book, included in the blog:

Liberty is Not Cheap

Something fine has gone out of that farm, and that is the spirit of independence and self-sufficiency that was present when the mules were pulling the plow and the colt that had not yet felt the collar was frolicking in the meadow.

Something fine has gone out of John Smith, something of the spirit of independence. In reality, he has become a retainer, and might well don the uniform of his service. He raises wheat and cotton for a world market, unprotected by tariff or patents, in order that he may buy mechanical mules, feed, shoes, and everything that he needs in a market that has every protection of a beneficent government. Disconsolately he comes from the field, cranks up his old car, puts a few tractor parts in the back to be replaced, and drives to town to see if he can extend his notes and stand off his creditors. As he passes the meadow, where the grass is ankle-high now, the shadow spirit of a sleek mule surveys him insolently. Who can deny that the mule was the best farm friend? The mule carries no patent; the farmer gets no protection.

In the face of this situation the business interests of America have the nerve to talk to farmers of rugged individualism, democracy, freedom, and the merits of thrift. In reality there is a rugged individualism among the farmers, and it is their misfortune. They are rugged, and they are unwilling as a whole to co-operate, either in the conduct of their affairs or in politics. As individualists they stand, unorganized and practically inarticulate, against the greatest organized forces of the world. They furnish the best soil in which these organized forces can grow. They are the manure at the roots of the corporate tree.


[1] "How Farmers Became Slaves to the Corporate Masters", The Deliberate Agrarian (blog)

[2] Divided We Stand: The Crisis of a Frontierless Democracy, Walter Prescott Webb

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