[OPE-L:2994] Zimbabwe

From: P.J.Wells@open.ac.uk
Date: Wed May 03 2000 - 07:54:17 EDT

[ show plain text ]

I've been mentally composing a reply to Nicky for some days now, and feeling
rather guilty for not responding more promptly. Luckily, I can now take into
account her #2989, which bears on the most important analytical point I
wanted to raise.

However, I'll start with the last comment in her #2822, responding to my
remark that

>Most of what the petition coyly refers to as "commercial farmers" in fact
>deserve to be hung as traitors, and numbers of them will have war records
>that would probably still be vulnerable to charges of crimes against

You are entitled to your opinion. Members of my own family were courageous
enough to stand up to racist regimes, and two were imprisoned for it. If
they are willing to stand up again to the self-serving whims of dictators,
then as far as I'm concerned they deserve all the support I can give them.

I wrote "most" because" I wanted to imply "but not all" -- I didn't mean to
overlook the bravery of those Europeans who supported the opposition to the
settler regime, and sorry if I gave offence by seeming to do so.

On the rule of law: yes, the UK govt. was the colonial power -- but the
whole point of the settler rebellion was that the colonial power was trying,
in however a half-baked way, to transfer power to a democratic regime.

What I wanted to get across was the unsatisfactory nature of this concept as
a guide in deciding what to support -- for example, it was the rule of law,
in this case the sanctity of commercial contracts, that was appealed to by
the UK govt. when it sold Mugabe spares for the air force earlier this year.

There are plenty of good arguments against the present occupations -- e.g.,
that they create conflict between workers and peasants -- without appealing
to the rule of law. From a UK perspective it's crystal clear that the
objective of the British government is to ensure that the constitution
continues under all circumstances to forbid expropriation, which is clearly
its major worry -- the occupation campaign is continually derided as an
"election gimmick", an argument which makes no sense if the campaign had no
popular appeal.

Coming back to # 2989, the point which I'd been pondering was this; if, as
present events make clear and Nicky's new message emphasises, the
*immediate* interests of different sections of the Zimbabwean masses are at
odds, what constructive policy can one put forward to the country's

Does one have to choose between breaking up large-scale agriculture to make
land re-distribution possible, on the one hand, and on the other a policy
directed at eliminating small-scale agriculture? If the latter, is there any
(currently feasible) alternative to continued capitalist farming and
proletarianisation of the peasantry?


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed May 31 2000 - 00:00:07 EDT