The Occupy Movement is unquestionably disturbing. Not only do they routinely engage in trespassing and other similar offenses, but they also routinely commit acts of vandalism and are intent on undermining law and order. Although with the Occupiers, the focus should not be entirely on what they are doing now, but what they will be doing in the future.
To this point, the Occupy Movement has been mostly an urban movement, focusing on gathering in parks in cities. Their next front will not be in the cities, but in the rural farming communities. This is not far-fetched, nor is it an unlikely prediction. Take for instance this editorial from Willie Nelson (appearing in the Huffington Post) on the Occupy Movement, and its relation to American’s farmers. The warm reception is not just restricted to Willie’s own personal opinion, but also to his organization Farm Aid:
“[the Occupy Movement] was a much welcomed megaphone for what we’ve said for the last 27 years, as hundreds of thousands of family farmers have been forced off the land: our food belongs in the hands of family farmers, not multinational corporations.”
Just as student debt was a major focus of the Occupy Movement at its start, so will be the debt of farmers. According to this report from the USDA, the debt of farms is projected to increase. These increases do not just encompass one area of debt measured by the Department of Agriculture, but in all areas (business, real-estate, and non-real estate debt). Merge this anger about being in debt with both a belief that the farmers have a divine right to their land and the demand for government to meet their needs, and the conditions become ripe for a radical movement.
In history, farmers have been an important demographic for political movements. In American history, consider the organization, The Grange. While having good intentions, The Grange—an organization of farmers—brought about several changes to the United States government that were in stark contradiction to the ideas of the Founders. Some these included the 17th Amendment to the Constitution—bringing about the election of senators, rather than the original concept of their appointments belonging to state legislatures, the “Granger laws,” and prohibition.
Progressives have also happily taken up the banner of the farmers, and vice versa. The People’s Party was one of the most prominent examples. Originally having ties to various agricultural organizations, the People’s Party advocated absurd and dangerous policies. Some of these policies included an abandonment of the gold standard, government policies specifically aimed to help agriculture (rather than a free market approach), “free silver,” and the income tax. The ideology of Populism (to which the People’s Party belonged) also had close ties to agriculture.
The examples noted, though they damaged liberty and the free market, were not the cause of any direct physical violence. However, one event went above and beyond mere political lobbying and organization—Shay’s Rebellion. In a simple overview, the participants in Shay’s Rebellion were farmers, heavily in debt, many of whom were owed pay from the government for military service. Taxes were an issue as well. The Rebellion did not lead to a massive uprising, though there were deaths and property damage. Shay’s Rebellion is the most glaring example of what may happen when radical forces organize.
Why are farms—considered a part of “traditional” America—important to the Occupy Movement?
Farms would potentially play an important role in the Occupy Movement’s “collapse the system” tactics. While they initially wanted to collapse the banking system to facilitate their radical changes to the United States, consider the crisis caused by a collapse of a financial system, something even beyond a market crash or meltdown. Then, in comparison, consider the effect of an agricultural “collapse.” Such an event could entail a number of different scenarios, though all possible ones end in a massive crisis.
The “collapse the system” scenario will lead into two choices. As there would be such great anarchy and chaos, the American people would be forced to choose who would save them, each having negative repercussions. When looking to the government, safety would be regained, but through a permanent loss of liberty. In siding with the Occupiers, anarchy and the tyranny of the mob would reign resulting in a loss of liberty and life. Overall, in a “farm situation” such would be even worse because man needs food more than money.
Secondly, the Occupy Movement, up to this point, has almost exclusively been an urban movement. While there may be supporters of it in rural communities, there have been no major demonstrations or organizations including rural areas. By establishing ties with farmers, they would be embedded in both urban and rural environments.
Finally, there is another possible reason why the Occupy Movement will be so interested in farmers. If they decide to take a page out of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and separate themselves from mainstream society, it is likely that they will need food. If alliances were made with farmers, this would be facilitated.
I realize that some lovers of liberty may see what I am doing as dangerous. “You’re giving them ideas,” some might say. This is a valid point that needs to be addressed. The left—whether Progressive, Marxist, or collective anarchism—has been plotting for decades. They failed in the 1960’s, but they have come back stronger, better organized, and with better plans. I do not think that these groups have not already considered agriculture and farmers in their plans. Look no further than China, where its communist system originated in rural/agrarian areas. It is for this reason that the farmers of America must flee from anything like the Occupy Movement and stand with liberty manifested in the Constitution.