Agriculture and the Social State Subsidies or Commons?

By Friedmann, Harriet | Journal of International Law & International Relations, Fall 2015 | Go to article overview

Agriculture and the Social State Subsidies or Commons?


Friedmann, Harriet, Journal of International Law & International Relations


I.   THE RISE OF A MERCANTILE FOOD REGIME II.  HOW US DOMESTIC FARM PROGRAMS SHAPED A MERCANTILE      INTERNATIONAL REGIME III. THE MERCANTILE CRISIS AND TWO PROJECTS TO RESOLVE IT  IV. BRINGING THE SOCIAL  

**********

Anne Orford challenges us to reinterpret histories of international trade law within the wider historical context of power and property. Her analysis illuminates the origins of present day discourses of free trade and protection in 18th and 19th century political economy. The pivotal abolition of grain import controls in 1846, often taken to mark the end of mercantile trade policies, expressed imperial relations linking English social classes with colonial subjects; both were linked with land laws, namely enclosure of common lands in England and eviction of indigenous peoples to make way for European colonial settlement. She tracks the lineages of practices and ideas that created a new world of interlinked rights--to enclose property, to engage in labour contracts, to trade. She shows the shadow side of those lineages: to violently extract a distinct sphere we now call economy from the web of responsibility and control linking mercantile states to customary ways of life. Only the experience of many generations living within this fraught double history of institutions and ideas could permit the false but widely shared belief that state and market are naturally opposed, and worse, that there is an intrinsic tension between economic wellbeing and the many protective roles of what Orford calls the social state.

It is this third term social that underpins my critique of Orford's analysis, which sustains the dichotomy between state and market. This bipolar tension, which she shares with those she criticizes, makes it difficult to envision a way out of the destructive neoliberal course except by returning to something before it. Yet she fails to give a fraction of her attention to the actual dynamics of the food regime of the 1950s-70s. I will take up her bewilderment at the apparent mental colonization of agricultural trade critics, who seem to her inconsistent in their criticism of farm and export subsidies inherited from a golden age when food was cheap for consumers and farmers were supported by government regulations. But analysis of the real relations of that period shows it to be full of contradictions, leading to a crisis from which at least two exits were possible. Of course, neither option was a return to pre-1980 regulatory structures. Indeed, subsidies which initially supported small farmers had become part of a new field of power.

To move past the state-market dichotomy in which Orford remains caught, I will first address this imbalance in her historical account. International laws and institutions marginalized food and agriculture in specific agreements made or rejected in 1947-48. The mechanisms implicitly governing that food regime are accurately called neo-mercantile. It was the very attempt to bring them into an Agreement on Agriculture at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that constituted the neoliberal project of freeing markets. Resistance, as critics eventually acknowledged, amounted to efforts to save a disintegrating regime. A decade after the Seattle meetings to found and oppose the WTO, Oxfam International issued a report called Rigged. Rules and Double Standards: Trade, globalisation and the fight against poverty, insisting that Northern states agree to abide by the same open trade rules imposed on the South. (1) The shift in historical context between 1950 and 1980 makes sense of the eventual convergence of views regarding specific regulations, such as farm and export subsidies, between advocates and critics of free trade. I will end by suggesting new places to look for an emergent third way of organizing state-market relations in agriculture and food, centered on issues that were barely related to them in the past--ecosystem integrity, health, and intellectual property--and rules and institutions centered on renewing ideas and practices of commons. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Agriculture and the Social State Subsidies or Commons?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.