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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/27/12

Enclosure -- Understanding Capitalism And "Free Markets"

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Message Kent Welton presents a small portion of the text taken from my book Cap-Com, The Economics Of Balance, 1995 --  Reviewing the historical phenomenon of enclosure is essential to understanding the nature of our latter-day "free market" capitalism with its gross and growing imbalance of power between capital and labor, and the socio-economic impotence of the vast wage-laboring majority.


    Driven off the land, corralled in the urban economy, no exit from the daily grind, no refuge on a personal or communal plot, dissent and protest criminalized, fired for joining a union, job exported, surveillance everywhere, in the unemployment line for smoking off the job, imprisoned for smoking a plant, bankrupt from healthcare expense, no way to counter the power of employers or ability to escape the "free market" for any length of time?   Welcome to EnclosureUSA


                       - Enclosure Thru The Ages -

  "The royal policy of disafforestation and enclosure... involved disrupting a way of life, a brutal disregard for the rights of commoners... a consequence of the policy was to force men to sole dependence on wage labour, which many regarded as little better than slavery."

Christopher Hill 

   "In England, the beginnings of capitalism lie in the "Enclosure Movement' during which large landlords deprived peasants of tenant rights and right to use common land. This gave the landlords more property but made poor peasants property-less and drove them into the towns."

Arjun Makhijani

Enclosure is the historical term applied to the efforts over the centuries by the rich and powerful to drive local farmers and indigenous peoples off their land and commons, all in order to gain control and privatize in the hands of the already wealthy more fertile farm lands, water supplies, timber, oil, and mineral resources. In effect, it has meant an imperialism writ large in the name of "greater productivity" and ruling-class policies of outright theft and judicial piracy - ongoing for centuries and serving to eliminate natural freedom, diversity, democracy, and cooperative enterprise.

The reason for this re-examination of enclosure and its socio-economic implications is to better understand both the sordid history and oligarchy-tinged philosophy of the "free market," it's origins in English Aristocracy and imperialism, and to generally aid in discerning where we have come from and where we are headed today.

Of primary importance to free markets and democracy is the relative power of labor and capital. Wherever one "factor" is able to suppress the other then markets and democracies are neither free nor economic. Without a larger perspective and better understanding of history our very definitions of freedom and free markets are increasingly meaningless. As defined by capital these terms simply redound to the benefit of those who would enclose the world in their corrupt, self-interested, and empty meanings of "freedom" "liberty" and "democracy".

As a rule, apologists for "free market" economics (as defined and controlled by capital) have mostly ignored and buried the less glorious history of capitalism. In fact, all too many economists still see both history's, and our latter-day, enclosures as allowing for more economical and productive uses of the land and resources - i.e., a privatization uber alles. Of course, this is as if a greater and greater productivity - measured in amoral, ecologically corrupt, and labor-denying statistics - is somehow the Sina Qua Non of our existence, or even comes close to defining the root meaning and broader aspect of the word "economics."

" A wage-earner who had lost his common rights would be much more dependent on his employer than one who had not. Enclosure... will give the poor an interest in toiling, whom terror never yet could enure to travail."

Adam Moore, 1653

Clearly, capital's apologist's continue to ignore the effects of labor's diminished and disenfranchised estate, and its effects on economy and democracy. As a result of enclosure's long-lasting effects, economics and capitalism in all too many locales has become inherently fascist and "democracy" remains little more than a sham.

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