Self-government and Land Redistribution

The follow column,“Özyönetim ve toprak dağıtılması,” was written by Metin Yeğin for Özgür Gündem and published on 29 october of 2015. The translation in english was done by Rojava Report .

According to a recent news piece I read the Kobanê Agricultural Council has decided to redistribute more than 10.000 hectares to poor farmers. With this in mind I think it is just the time to share one of my essays about the question of the taking agricultural lands back into the hands of the public and their redistribution for use by the community.

The redistribution of land is in fact the redistribution of power. When land fall into the hands of a narrow few and its consolidation becomes a reality in all area then this is the first step toward the consolidation of power. In fact property is the birth of the ownership. According to the customs of various ‘primitive’ societies land could taken over for use by a certain group or individual but never become ‘property.’ Because then the means was, for example, and arrow and this arrow was known to those who used it as having its own personality, it existed as a subject. Within these same societies the relationship between animals and those who ‘took ownership’ of them was predicated along the same lines. If you give a name to your shoes or your pants they take on a personality. Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar discovered this thousands of years later using his novelistic perception. For this reason the redistribution of land is in every way the redistribution of consolidated power.

Therefore the redistribution of land, generally known as ‘land reform’, is the foundational concern of so many revolutions and the dynamic along which they unfold. For example one might consider the processes of ‘nationalization,’’ ‘redistribution,’ ‘democratization,’ ‘socialization,’ and how they ebb and flow between the redistributions of power and its subsequent restorations. Even in revolutions that have proceeded along these lines there is a complicated quality to the question of land reform. For example in general during the Soviet revolution anarchist defended the communists’ nationalization of the land even as they demanded its redistribution to the people. Whereas in Spain while the communists wanted to redistribute the lands of the church to the people the anarchists defended a model whereby all of the land would be cultivated by the people in a collective manner. Under these circumstances it is essential that we consider these debates and look at the practices that have been adopted in other parts of the world. For example consider the ‘socialist’ land policies of North Korea which causes such worry among the people, or the ‘land reform’ in South Korea which was successful even as it occurred under capitalist conditions. Or even more importantly let us look at the form of organization developed by Brazil MST landless movement or even the ‘land reform’ in Venezuela which has not gone through despite the demands of Chavez while he was in power…

Although these debates will continue for a long time yet I want to start by making this clear. If all that happens is that state lands are redistributed and the large estates of the great landowners are left untouched then these large landowners will swallow up the new small holdings in short order. Establish as many regulatory safeguards as you want and the result will still be the same. Indeed land reform does not only mean the redistribution of land. Land redistribution, when carried to its full extent, means also democratization and at the very least the collective processing and distribution of agricultural products; the unity of these three elements will mean the socialization of the land and the destruction of consolidated power. And yes of course it is easy to talk about such things on paper but if the Kobanê Agricultural Council will allow it is my obligation. That is to say this is an invitation to an invitation…

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