Land Reform and Democracy

Land Reform and Democracy

Land Reform and Democracy

Land Reform and Democracy

Excerpt

Nothing was left for the peasant; he owned neither earth nor water nor fire, nor even the air he breathed. . . . Suffering came to him from all quarters--from man, from nature, from himself. . . .

Then, when his sufferings grew unbearable, Jacques Bonhomme rose in revolt. Behind him lay centuries of fear and resignation, his shoulders had been hardened by blows, his heart was so broken that he did not realise his degradation. He could be beaten for a long time, famished, robbed of all his possessions without being driven out of his shell of caution. . . . He could go on thus until one last injustice, one last pang made him suddenly leap at the throat of his masters like a tamed animal that had been maddened by overbeating. Again and again, century after century, the same desperate uprisings took place. . . .

--The Martyrdom of Jacques Bonhomme, from Earth, by Emile Zola

ZOLA'S SEARING PHRASES describing the calvary of the earthbound people of France may seem "dated" to most of us living in the comfort of the modern world. The echoes of African and Asian peasant revolts, the news of land reforms in Bolivia and Guatemala, reach our ears only faintly. But farsighted analysts of the world scene show no complacency on agrarian matters, which is one of the fundamental aspects of "the world revolution of our time." Associate Justice William C. Douglas of the United States Supreme Court even proposes that this country promote "peasant revolutions" in underdeveloped areas to end "economic serfdom" and open the way to democracy. We, as a nation, are committed to "further the secure growth of democratic ways of life" by the 1950 Act for International Development and subsequent policy decisions.

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