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The Agrarian Revolution in the United States.

Published on July 30, 2022.

Most analyses of the United States from an ostensibly revolutionary position make a couple of fundamental errors:

The United States has always had a "land problem". It's quite literally defined the development of whatever we're calling the settler-colonial polity to exist on this continent; all growth has been manifested through an insatiable colonial hunger for land. Land is sacred, both to the nations that were forcibly displaced from it, and to the newly-created feudal lords of the West, and the polity that depends on them today. The dirt itself has always mattered more to historical developments here than the lines drawn on them.

I will leave the discussion around feudalism and semi-feudalism in the southeastern regions for another day, today focusing on:

Redoubtism as Dominant Ideology

The landlord class west of the Mississippi River arose through various waves. In the 19th century, homesteading was the term for the official federally-endorsed partitioning of Native national land, dividing up the United States's arable Midwest and West to be privately owned by whoever could pony up the money for it. Because the land was cheap, many of the homesteaders were migrants from Europe or poor settlers from east of the river looking for a new start. As a consequence, these homesteaders faced extreme poverty and hardship as a result of ill preparation for the harsh weather and growing conditions.

Contrary to a prevalent belief, smallholders in the United States have never been comparable to a peasantry. Smallholders, or "family farmers", or whatever they call themselves, are and always have been a landlord class. The first "populist" movements in the late 19th century, coming out of this new landlord class in the Great Plains and recently settled Mountain West, has been erroneously called a proto-socialist movement, or at least a forerunner of the "American socialist tradition". It was anger at the federal government, something that has not changed among this class, although the reasoning has shifted over time.

The underlying contradiction of this early conflict was that the smallholders then were angry at the federal government for not supporting them enough, leading them to support positions like nationalized rail and banking, but entirely out of class self-interest. The settler colonial project was always taken for granted, kneecapping the "socialist" movements to emerge from these populist electoral campaigns. Now, smallholders are a dying demographic, largely being replaced by agribusiness that directly owns massive tracts of land themselves, or large landlords with more money, who may or may not be in the pocket of agribusiness.

This "newer" landlord class, largely emerging out of a more recent wave of land ownership in the early 20th century, has redefined their conflict with the Old State to the opposite that the homesteaders arrived at: the Old State is interfering too much in their affairs. And now we reach redoubtism.

Redoubtism is a term that comes out of reactionary libertarian circles that has since become associated with a particular ideology, combining Christian dominionism (and everything that entails) with rank settler nationalism; at the end of the day, a peculiar form of fascism that has taken root among the landlord class in the West and their sympathizers. The Redoubt is a term that initially described a libertarian Cloud Cuckoo Land where landlords could do whatever they wanted with their property; this has recently gained popularity with the eternally present Christian dominionists and white supremacists in this part of the country.

The character of the rural areas of the West are already starting to resemble Warlord Era China, or the Peruvian countryside during that country's People's War, with landlords arming themselves to defend their land, with tens of thousands of fascist militiamen on standby as their rondos. Indeed, these militias and reactionary groups have already started embarking on terror campaigns in Western urban centers for several years at this point.

The primary contradiction in the countryside of the West is between the redoubtist settler-landlord alliance and the revolutionary movement of migrant farm workers and Native land restitution. The next section will answer questions about how to solve this.

Agrarian Revolution and Land Reform in the Western United States

I mentioned above that in the West, there isn't really a peasant class. Without a peasant class, there's no real need for land reform, right?

Chauvinist thinkers make this error. The entirety of the United States is not just an Old State in need of complete replacement, it is an illegal entity by the merit of being founded on the fundamental principal of eradication of the nations already living here and the subjugation of all it deems a hindrance to its goal of maintaining control over the land. As I said in the opening, land is and always has been the fundamental in the settler colonies of Canada and the United States, and for centuries before settlers arrived. Land has never, ever been about just borders here; what the land contains, in terms of soil and resources, and how those are used and conserved, has been a fundamental of every nation to live on this continent. No revolutionary movement can exist here that doesn't put the land question at the forefront.

With that out of the way, who is our revolutionary class in this scenario? Well, in the West (as it is everywhere in the US and Canada), that class is landless. This land, all of it, must be restituted to the people it was forcibly taken from. There is no settler "nation" on this continent, at least one that wasn't artificially created to justify its own existence. The various treaties signed under duress that displaced or eliminated entire nations are illegal and invalid. To make generic "socialist" paeans to "the right to self-determination" is chauvinist. The Native nations are not a junior partner to this revolutionary movement, they are the backbone of it, especially in the Agrarian Revolution. The Agrarian Revolution's first demand is Land Back.

In the West, migrant labor has always been the backbone of the agrarian proletariat. This migrant labor has been comprised of various types of people from different nations and class backgrounds over the decades, but overwhelmingly Chicanx/Latinx people since the mid-20th century. This class has been perpetually abused and held in near-serfdom, ignored by many, to the point where calling them equal to proletarians in other sectors feels cruel. Doing anything to jeopardize tenuous immigration stati is discouraged through unspoken (although sometimes very spoken) pressure, both from within and from the landlords. In the West, the Agrarian Revolution must also incorporate the liberation of the migrant farm laborers.

So what would a minimum program for land reform look like? Well, restitution of land is to be put under revolutionary control, with specifics of land control handed over to a Land Restitution Department, a department of the Party, which oversees proper liaison with relevant nations. All Native nations will be active participants in the formation of the revolutionary state and base areas. Old State recognition does not apply. Also of importance is transferring control of land outside revolutionary control to farm laborers and away from landlords.

These are, after all, just rough ideas. The actual analysis of the agrarian situation, and that of land reform, will be conducted by the revolutionary movement during its construction and continuously after as conditions shift and change. But these things must be thought about now, before the revolutionary movement's birth, in order to get our thinking on the right track and away from chauvinist settler modes of thinking that have dominated the discussion about agrarian revolution and reform for decades.