Our peasant …
Origin: from late Middle English paissaunt, from Anglo-French paisant, pesaunt, from pais, paiis country, from Late Latin pagensis inhabitant of a district … [Webster]
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 we use the term to mean smallholders and family farmers using artisinal methods for self-provisioning, plus all of us ‘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 agro-giants.
So … our use of peasant signifies a call to transform both farm and fiscal systems into globally sustainable models.
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 exchange resource relating sustainable self-provisioning activities, perspectives and values to the issues of neoliberalised governance – for the New Zealand context.
2. To formally register an organisation in New Zealand which will …
i. be recognised by the international peasant body La Via Campesina
to provide liaison and representation for New Zealand in that sphere.
ii. be able to lobby the NZ government on behalf of the poor, landless and dispossessed people of New Zealand.
3. To invite all New Zealanders to help by simply registering as a peasant.
Market forces - offered as the sword of freedom upheld, but revealed by scarcity as the downward driven dagger of debt – has proven itself an anti-civilising fundament. It makes, then takes, advantage by normalising exploitation, isolation, degradation and exclusion with total disregard, causing a perpetual race to the bottom.
The winners and bullies in this future are rewriting the rules to hasten that outcome in their own image. But the wheel is turning, and the grassroots movements are globalising too. The alchemy of their success will not depend on lead and gold as of the present empire, but on the principles they use to build their organisations from the bottom up.
We cannot project the possibilities for that kind of civilisation but 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.