Farm worker rights to land – Another perspective
16 June, 2018
Farm workers and their families have lived on the land where they work sometimes for generations. The farm workers have no rights of ownership and, until recently, no rights of tenure. The farmers themselves have ownership rights to the land and have passed these on to their subsequent generations. The farm workers often know little else about the world other than their place on the farm. The farmers have carried the risks, and rewards, of the farming activities over the time in consideration. Some farm workers have added real value to the farms that they have worked on but some have not. Some farmers have developed the farm and the work opportunities while others have squandered all this away. So how can one make sense of all this and find a long term viable conceptual base on which to base decisions that, if applied consistently, will lead to a structure that will provide sustainable farming and social stability?
The concepts underpinning the Threefold Social Order provide real insight and possibility for solutions in this area. Firstly, we need to distil out of the farming question, from the current Unitary view of farming, a Threefold view. The confusion of the Unitary view is experienced in us when we read the opening paragraph above. A Threefold view will give us the following clarity. The farm, as land alone, is just that, a piece of land within the womb of nature. Only nature takes place there. When human consciousness, all the human qualities, are focussed on the land, it can become a farm that directs the forces of nature in a specific way to yield crops or meat or eggs. The human consciousness is requirement and reality one. Reality two is that the farm enters the economic sphere, the sphere of brotherhood, and provides for the needs of others. If the human consciousness withdraws, there is no longer an economic activity as nature takes over in its own way and serves nature as a whole rather than the needs of people. Reality three is that certain rights are required to be agreed, made known and enforced between the land ownership, the risk takers, and the labourers. This is the third reality. From a confused, Unitary, all in one pot, the Threefold view makes it possible to bring three different realities, the liberty, fraternity and equality spheres into a separated awareness of each. Can we now use this Threefold view to assist us to bring the three independent realities into a mutually beneficial relationship? I believe that we can.
Current Unitary thinking has led us to passing land ownership rights to descendants or via sale on the free market, rather than to the best possible human consciousness appropriate for the land and the community. It has also led to the current land owner being laboured with the housing of farm workers no longer required or not suitable for work on the farm. This should surely be a responsibility of society as a whole via the rights sphere and not handed to individual farmers as a kind of current retribution based on historical retribution. This gets us nowhere. We need to find an ideal that will lead us forward.
The Threefold concept could lead to us dealing with the farming issue as follows:
- Farms are economic activities and should be allowed and encouraged to be as effective as possible in delivering produce to the market. We should all want this as it brings stability, jobs, and food. We should keep this element very clear in our thinking as a necessary part of the Threefold view. Without an effective economic activity, our needs will not be met and the other two elements of the Threefold will suffer from food shortages, high prices, lower taxes, less opportunities for human development.
- The second element is that the farm itself, the economic activity, needs to be run by the right people. This does not mean family or race. It means the right people. Local communities need to have a say in this and must consider both skill, experience, and moral and social strength and commitment of the person selected to run the farm. A healthy liberty sphere will want sustainable farming as well as relevant and efficient farming.
- They will want taxes to come back to the community to develop schools, training centres, sustain religious and humanity consciousness and so on. They will want the rights sphere, the third sphere, to be effective, consistent, and to act in the interests of the working of the whole. They will want the rights sphere to provide for the basic needs of all people associated with farms and the towns in the area. The farmers, in their economic role, will recognise this need for human dignity and support it. They can only do this if the very best people are selected to run these farms and are given the rights, within parameters, to make the most of the land in the area. The change over to the next ‘generation’ will be based again on collaboration rather than unbalanced rights or economic or political power.
The lie of the land, having exercised the above concepts and thinking, could look like this:
The farms will be run by really competent people who are supported and cherished by their communities because they are simply good and because they are moral and accountable to the land too.
They generate taxes that come back into the community to educate, train, develop people and infrastructure for the future.
The rights sphere takes real care in making sure that things work and that agreements made between the communities, the farmers, and themselves are policed and enforced fairly in the interests of the community as a whole.
Everyone working on the farms will know that they work for the whole and not themselves.
The teachers, priests and artists will know that they are also able to live from the financial support that they get from the whole system functioning. They will immerse themselves in trying to be more relevant to the quality of person that is able to spring from a Threefold community like this. They will want better people to end up in charge of the farms and in charge of the rights sphere. They will want ‘humanity’ to play an ever bigger part in who we are as this is what brings about selflessness, clarity, love, objectiveness and so on.
So, our lives all become meaningful as we work for each other, for healing and material and social prosperity.