Land reform as counter-revolution

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... Cold War foreign policy may appear more benign, but there was no dearth of evidence of their ill effects, especially when combined with counter-insurgency (e.g. McCoy 1971;Fitzgerald 1972). What was 'developed' was usually the economic and political power of friendly elites, while the living standards of the poor stagnated or declined. ...
This thesis examines the origins and impact of environmental conflict ideas. It focuses on the work of Canadian political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon, whose model of environmental conflict achieved considerable prominence in U.S. foreign policy circles in the 1990s. The thesis argues that this success was due in part to widely shared neo-Malthusian assumptions about the Third World, and to the support of private foundations and policymakers with a strategic interest in promoting these views. It analyzes how population control became an important feature of American foreign policy and environmentalism in the post-World War Two period. It then describes the role of the "degradation narrative" -- the belief that population pressures and poverty precipitate environmental degradation, migration, and violent conflict -- in the development of the environment and security field. Based on archival research and interviews with key policymakers, foundation officers, and scholars, the thesis identifies a process of "circumscribed heterodoxy" in which an illusion of openness to diverse views masks a politics of uniformity at both the project and policy level. It examines the intentional and unintentional effects of environmental conflict ideas on U.S. policy institutions, and considers the nature of the knowledge communities that formed around these ideas. In so doing, the thesis offers insights into the complex relationships between knowledge, power, and policy.
... These arguments have recently been tested in western social settings such as the US [Boyce et al 1999]. They, however, do not account for uneven distribution of key productive resources such as land, which are more relevant to non-western settings of developing economies, such as several south Asian ones, where income and asset distribution is highly skewed [Alavi 1989[Alavi , 1983aMcCoy 1971] and where environmental degradation is visibly evident [e g, Shiva 1991; Gadgil and Guha 1993]. Within south Asian economies, Pakistan represents the most skewed resource distribution [e g, World Bank 2002;Qureshi 2001;Arif and Munir 2001;Hussain 1984;Alavi 1976, 1974: Ahmad 1972. ...
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Many authors have offered causal explanations of environmental degradation in terms of structural behaviour such as the market economy, industrial production systems, demographic pressures and distributional inequities. This paper argues that the ecologically damaging resource use behaviour, which precedes environmental degradation, has to do with the user's access to natural resources. If access to natural resources is uneven, it can cause destructive use behaviour, motivated by surplus production and compelled by subsistence needs. Using the case of Pakistan, this paper shows that the size of holdings and tenurial status of farmers are two determinants of what has been termed "overshoot" of natural resource use. The deepening social divide in Pakistan, it appears, is worsening the "ecological divide", imperilling the country's economic growth in the near- and long-term. The paper makes an ecological argument that Pakistan can bridge the ecological divide by closing the social divide, which, in turn, requires it to widen the access of its land-short and landless farmers to farmland.
By looking at the life, travels, and work of Wolf Ladejinsky, one of the leading American experts and advisors on agrarian reforms in Asia during the postwar era, this article sheds light on the practices of development experts. Ladejinsky's work shows how the postwar period saw the emergence of a new kind of traveling economist whose task was to engineer and assess the implementation of modernization programs. In particular, the article analyzes the role of field trips in the career of Ladejinsky across Asia. The task of traveling experts was complicated. Ladejinsky's agenda was clear and his goals predetermined but they had to be adapted to different national and international frameworks. Adaptation had two sides: on the one hand, it meant fixing certain elements of the land reform plan, such as the maximum size of landowners' estates, according to local agricultural conditions; on the other, adaptation consisted of a form of institutional engineering, to harness political will, popular support, and bureaucratic structures for land reform. He developed, therefore, an array of methodological suggestions to collect relevant information during short visits.
Why did U.S.-assisted counterinsurgency (COIN) efforts succeed in the Philippines in the 1950s yet falter in Vietnam a decade later? Why were counterinsurgents able to score a quick victory in Venezuela in the early 1960s but confronted by a long and bloody conflict in El Salvador in the 1970s and 1980s? In seeking to answer these questions, this article provides theoretical motivation for the oft-made claim that U.S. counterinsurgency strategy has been most effective in countries in which the local government engaged in meaningful political and economic reforms to address a population's grievances. What determines whether a government is likely to engage in a reform process? The article proposes that reform is a function of the economic structure of elite assets. When assets are immobile and highly concentrated in one sector, as in heavily agricultural societies like Vietnam or El Salvador, redistributive reforms will prove more difficult, and counterinsurgency efforts will struggle as a result. Conversely, in countries in which the structure of elite assets is more diversified, reforms will prove more feasible, making it easier to undermine an insurgency's popular appeal.
When approaching the history of the modern Japanese state, which we take here to concern the period from 1945 onwards, one must be extremely cautious.1 Caution is required because many scholars within the broad field of Japanese studies appear to accept uncritically arguments suggestive of the fact that the American Occupation (1945–1952) changed the social and institutional fabric of Japan so fundamentally that there is little point in studying this period and what went before.2 Equipped with a democratic constitution and with the institutional trappings that normally accompany such a document, the Japanese people are assumed, within the space of a few decades, to have been able to throw off the social habits ingrained in them by centuries of feudal and oligarchic oppression, and to have taken to their hearts the democratic values and principles with which a formal constitution and institutions are normally associated. With this long history of disenfranchisement in mind, we might be forgiven for suggesting a certain amount of naïveté on behalf of US planners even if the Occupation had proceeded entirely along the lines and in the spirit of its original inception. However, it has been persuasively argued that the Occupation was not the turning point in Japan’s social and political history that it is often assumed to have been.
This paper explores the geopolitics surrounding the “modernization” of the formal property rights regime in land in Thailand (formerly Siam) from the mid 1850s to the late 1930s. The paper argues that this weak, peripheral state, in pursuit of international recognition of territorial and jurisdictional sovereignty, employed a strategy of “counter-spatialization” in order to mitigate or deny claims for control over natural resources and population groups by imperial powers. The intertextual dimensions of this “spatial” mode of resistance are elucidated through a close reading of the ways in which diplomatic negotiations of a series of unequal treaties, beginning with the Anglo-Siamese treaty of 1855, shaped—and were shaped by—the formulation and implementation of regulations governing formal property rights in land in Siam. The political economy of land rights at the large scale (local implementation of land titling) and the medium scale (enactment of national land laws) was nested within a process of geopolitical contestation over land rights at the small scale (international recognition of Siamese territorial sovereignty).
This article argues that the persistence of non-capitalist dimensions within land relations in the Philippines is basic to rural livelihood strategies, and has been a major but widely-neglected factor in the failure of land reform programmes. Addressing the issue of non-capitalist relationships brings into focus the indigenous or ‘customary’ land tenure relationships that exist in lowland land tenure arrangements, with the result that the conventional dichotomy between lowland and upland ‘cultural minority’ land relations becomes spurious. The article offers some suggestions as to why, for the major part of this century, the indigenous norms of lowlanders have been overlooked, with a discussion which links up to issues of national identity and nation building.
This paper explores two dynamic approaches to original accumulation, one “socialist” and one “capitalist”, in a search for clues to the developmental options available for pre-industrial predominantly agrarian nations. The comparative analysis of two cases which have been hailed in widely divergent literatures for their developmental implications highlights the human costs associated with each…indeed it suggests the necessity to rethink the categories of socialist and capitalist development paths. The analysis focuses on the relationships among the state, the peasantry and the dominant landed classes in the struggle to control and channel the agricultural surplus, and on state mechanisms to transfer resources from agriculture to industry and from the private sector to the state and the institutions it controls.
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