“Peasant” comes from late Middle English paissaunt; that from Anglo-French paisant, pesaunt – from French pais, paiis country; and that from Late Latin pagensis inhabitant of a district … [Webster]
English French Spanish country pays pais peasant paysan campesina countryside campagne campiña
Only during the last century as capital-led, chemical-based farming became the norm has the word ‘peasant’ come to have a derogatory meaning – ‘an uneducated person of little financial means‘.
On this site, ‘peasant’ includes smallholders, family farmers using artisinal methods for self-provisioning, and people ‘of little financial means’. These days the environmental limits of so-called ‘conventional’ (agrichemical) farming have become increasingly unacceptable to producers and consumers alike, and the traditional organic farming methods – agroecology – are returning to favour, though fiercely resisted by corporate agri-giants.
New Zealand was founded upon egalitarian ideals by pioneers escaping the clench of oligarchic privilege – now revisited upon us by the witless adoption of global treaties. Export-led, growth-based prosperity is unsustainable. Our politicians need a broader vision to work towards than that being imposed by the corporate-directed International Organisations (IOs) – like WTO, FAO, UNDP, IMF and the World Bank, etc.
There are many articles describing the seriousness of the global situation. Our aim is to bring the grassroots into that discussion in practical ways by examining the issues underlying the three main difficulties facing poor people everywhere:
loss of rights to healthy choices
dispossession of the poor, soil erosion, ecological degradation
social alienation, financial isolation, oppression of the vulnerable
To extend these practical aspects of ordinary life into the necessary moral and political framework, we offer the term ‘PEASANTSHIP’ encompassing …
1. To develop an information exchange resource for examining issues relevant to sustainable self-provisioning under neo-liberalised governance – especially the New Zealand situtation.
2. To formally register an organisation in New Zealand which will …
i. be recognised by the international peasant body La Via Campesina
for liaison and representation of New Zealand in that sphere.
ii. be able to lobby the NZ government on behalf of the poor, landless and dispossessed.
3. To invite New Zealanders to help by simply registering themselves as a peasant.
The principle of market forces – offered as the sword of freedom upheld, but revealed by mock scarcity as the downward driven dagger of debt – has proven itself an anti-civilising fundament. It seeks then takes advantage by normalising exploitation, isolation, degradation and exclusion with total disregard, inducing a perpetual race to the bottom.
The winners and bullies in this future are rewriting the rules of encounter in their own image to hasten such an outcome. But the wheel is turning, and the grassroots movements are globalising too. The alchemy of success for the grassroots will not depend on the coercions of lead and gold (the foundations of the Corpioun* empire), but rather upon whichever principles they use to build their organisations from the ground up.
We cannot envision the possibilities for that kind of civilisation but with principled critique we can lay bare, through research and refinement, the simple rules upon which peace and prosperity will always depend.
“Systemic critique could lead to policy changes that would challenge corporate power and profits in a really major way,” noted Joseph Huff-Hannon, recently-promoted Director of Policy Analysis for the Yes Lab.
So if you want:
- to see New Zealand become a safer, more egalitarian society
- a universal economic democracy that is founded in: quality of life, global sustainability, and agro-ecological food production methods
- to help the poorest of the poor from all over the world
* Corpioun = an acronym formed from ‘corporation’ + ‘IOs’ (international organisations; e.g. WTO, WB, IMF…) + ‘UN’ (United Nations)