LABOR'S LAND POLICY.
Maoriland Worker, Volume 10, Issue 444, 10 September 1919, Page 4
LABOR'S LAND POLICY.
By J. RflbertsoD, Ex-MLP.
NO. 5 STATE FARMING OB FARMING FOR THE STATE.
Objection h-*s been expros-sed to th* Party's land policy on the grouni that, tbe only solution of tbe land question ilea iv the State undertaking the whole of the faj-xw-ag' industry, and ia~if» ressuruption of th© whoi© of the land for that purpot-e. It i_ contended tlat this wonld result "in niCre scientific funming and would m«ian a system of production for use i_j_t/<*ad of ior profit. ii such a proposal were sufficiently practicable for a political party wtoch meant to "do*"' thing-, and no merely to talk about there, _o adopt it, there would -till bo too many objectionable features in it to make it desirable. The advantage, claimed for a State monopoly oi" terming are that it would be on a large scale, and, consequently more scientific than when carried on by a. system of fi-uali fur jus. It i_ true i !•_-*. '._, il-*, textile ar.'i a-ew! indraca-_ -jciK-raiiy, ._e larger the plaut the uiero econotnical the production, aud the tendency is towards concentration in larger establishments, in*oiving larger capital outlay and a .vricjiopoly oi' i>roduction. Hence has» .arisen th*, _,e__ai_d for the State owher.vi-.ip al ihe monopolised industries. On t'::•:' land, _w>-svevei, experience shows )■,_.■•, -,-t, most, skilful and scientific • f,i ."•_■*. ■..-.:•; is carr*je_ on on the smaller , by iv tensive n-etliod-, and the ; XA.-..'(if*.-cy under luodern methods, has b-.-tJii 10 cons-antly subdivide into yoi-iier areas, involving larger applications of capital and consequently more intensive cultivation. There is a fundamental difference between the inaunfacturer and tbe farmer. The manufacturer gets his production from machine-, usually of a definitely ascertained character; the farmer has to deal directly with Nature, to 6tudy her wMrfls and moods, and his production varies owing to cause, largely, if acrfc entirely beyond human control. The man who lives on hia farm, close to nature, in touch) with the soil wftkich he cultivates, learning its peculiarities and finding out its wants, will achieve" better results "to the acre, fchkn co.uld be achieved by the regimentation of large number- bf men on large farms run under a system of State bureaucracy. The "production for us© instead Instead of for pro-fit" .deal is one "to which all Socialist- subscribe, but State action does not necessarily mean the elimination of profit. . The Imperial Government at the present moment makes a profit from th© distribution of New Zealand meat. Profit is, however, an appanage of the merchant, not*of the work«r (farmer or otherwise), and its elimination is only to b© achieved by a methed of distribution which will eliminate it. Cur land policy socialises rent, and, so far a_ the farming industry is concerned, will bring about, automatically, a system of production for use and not for profit. The mosfc important abjection, h-/w ever, to any proposal that farming should be a State monopoly, is -hat it perpetuates the wages system. Justas men revolted in the past against chattel slavery, so to-day, the v hoiworld over, there is a revolt _G_ihst th© wages system. The fact beinjj that it is felt to be fundamentally contrary to the nature of man. There hag always been a revolt against, it, active and passive; the Socialist Government is the expression of the active -revolt, and proof of the passive revolt is contained in the fact that individual v-ageearners are always willing to exchange their condition to one of econamio independence, even if the change involved a permanent reduction of financial income. • •■.■•■• It, is generally agreed that the life of the average working farmer is one of hard toil. He has to work for long hours, and often under conditions which mean isolation and the sacrifice of most of the amenities of social life. Nevertheless, men constantly leave tbe ranks of the wage-earners, where they worked shorter hours for fixed wages, to go on the laud with all its hardships. Why? Because they want"to •sscape from the wages system, where t_tey ar c only so much labor power to be bought at market rates. It i» the endeavor of the individual proletarian: to emancipate himself, aud iv that endeavor men leave tbe industrial centres of the old world and travel even to the uttermost parts of the -earth. The Labor Party, therefore, cannot' stand for the perpetuation of the wages system by proposing to* create a fresh new class of wage-earners ou State farms. Still less can it propose 'to emancipate (?) the burdened small farmer from the hardness of hia lot by throwing him back to* the statue of a■wage-ear-ring ploughtman or what-not on a State-owned farm. The Labor Party's present policy, Instead, proposes to free him from the mortgage curse, and to give him hope and encouragement in his labor by "securing its results to him. The tenniw proposed makes the development of co-operative undertaking- by farmers natural and inevitable, and it l«y» a secure foundation for the development of the farming Cruild of farmers, whioh some day will control the whole of our agricultural and pastoral industries, just a-s the Mining Guild of Miners will control the mining industries. It is ' in this direction that the industrial movement tends to-day. The wages system (State or private)i_ doomed, and the right of those engaged in an industry to control that industry is more and more being recognised. The New Zealand Labor ParyV land policy carries us in the direct lin© of advance towards that objective.