What do you call an economic system where a relative few individuals own all the land and most of the people who live on that land do so at the sufferance of the landowner?
This was the economic system in most of Europe during the Middle Ages. The vast majority of the population was born into, lived and died in poverty. There was little hope for upward mobility unless one opted for a career in military service or the clergy. (From time to time, extraordinarily pretty peasant girls might be married off to a lesser lord.)
The rise of mercantilism and the guild system in northern Europe brought major changes to European feudalism. Poor youth could be apprenticed to merchants and artisans where they learned a skill and a trade. After a time, apprentices could establish shops of their own. This system eventually created a middle class, and the economic power achieved by the guilds and their members soon translated to political power as well.
Russia, however, lagged hundreds of years behind the rest of Europe. Tsar Alexander II finally freed the country's serfs in 1861, when the rest of the world had already entered the Industrial Revolution. The same wealthy Russians who had owned the farms soon owned the factories. The Russian poor went from being feudal peasants on rich farmland to half-starved factory workers in city tenements. Despair and hopelessness created by centuries of exploitation laid the groundwork for the appeal of Karl Marx's writings. Russia's failure to include its poorest citizens in the advances of industrialization was among the driving forces behind the revolutions that would thrust Russia into communism for the next 70-plus years.
America's trajectory has been quite different.
Our country was founded by men of faith with knowledge of history, politics and economics. We rejected monarchy and nobility. Our founding documents incorporate principles of universal human dignity and individual rights that not only formed the basis for a republican government elected by the people but also supported the notion of free enterprise. Unlike Russia (and plenty of other countries) where capitalism and the means of production have been controlled by a small group of wealthy people who use their political power to limit access to others, the United States has had a system of entrepreneurial capitalism. Anyone -- even noncitizens -- could come here and start their own business. And millions have.
America's system of entrepreneurial capitalism has been the breeding ground for the American Dream. It has done for this country what the guild system did for northern Europe, and then some. It has spawned unprecedented innovation, facilitated the creation and distribution of wealth, transformed the law of business enterprise and the widespread use of corporations, made investment and ownership of property and land accessible to the average person, and launched America's middle, upper-middle and even upper classes.
One would think that this extraordinarily successful system would be sought to be replicated around the globe. But that is not what appears to be happening. Instead, we have a new class of globalist elites who believe that they should control the planet and the lives of everyone on it. Economically secure and politically independent people are difficult to control, so we find ourselves in a situation where our economic security and our political independence are being threatened by those who have made their fortunes in the system they now seek to undermine.
There is no security without food. Global efforts to control farmland and farming, therefore, are creating worldwide worries.
Protests have erupted in the Netherlands in response to "green" regulations to reduce nitrogen emissions, which come mostly from farmers, by half. (Similar regulations imposed in Sri Lanka destroyed that country's agricultural output and its economy.) The Dutch government has stated that "there (will not be) a future for all farmers" to continue to operate, and EU politicians are calling for a certain percentage of farms to be closed or sold. "Solidarity" protests are now taking place in Germany, Poland, Italy and Spain.
China owns more than $2 billion in U.S. farmland. Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates is now the largest private owner of farmland in the United States, with more than 270,000 acres. Just this month, he acquired another 2,100 acres of farmland in North Dakota. The purchase was originally blocked, but the state's attorney general ultimately permitted the sale to go through because the farmland "will be leased back to farmers."
Owning land is quite different from leasing it. A lease is just a contract. Contract terms can be changed. And contracts can be breached, at which point the nonbreaching party must bring a lawsuit for enforcement -- assuming that he or she can even afford to do so. Imagine a tenant farmer going up against the attorneys Gates can afford to pay.
In other words, you're on the land at the sufferance of the landowner. Sound familiar?
Gates is an active member of the World Economic Forum and a zealous advocate of their so-called green policies to avert "climate change" disasters. Gates is pushing for wealthy countries to move to eating "synthetic meat." (And he is, unsurprisingly, a major investor in the companies that would produce it.) Of course, if plastibeef isn't your thing, his climate change compadres insist that we eat bugs. And this is without mentioning the push to end private ownership of cars and suburbs with their single-family homes and green yards, forcing the public into densely populated concrete high-rises and onto public transportation.
But will Gates & Co. live this way? You're joking. They'll still have their multiple homes, their yachts, their chauffeured limousines, private jets and their meals of Wagyu beef. They will be able to afford everything because they will own everything.
Don't take my word for it. In 2016, the WEF posted a video on Facebook and Twitter, titled "8 Predictions for 2030." The video states, "You'll own nothing and you'll be happy. Whatever you want, you'll rent, and it will be delivered by a drone."
Translation: "We'll own everything, and you'll be a serf."
To find out more about Laura Hollis and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.