It can be argued that the culturally specific skills developed by farming and horticultural practices provide the foundations for the ‘higher level’ skills required to be a successful investor and capitalist.
Farming practices require those who practice them to undergo transformations of Being in order to be able to treat other forms of life as existing merely to meet human needs, and not as lives which exist in their own right.
The vexed issues of life rights for non-human species is very much a live one today, and hotly contested by those who benefit from the human expropriation of other forms of life.
Hugh Brody, working with Inuit peoples, has written about the problems caused for First Peoples by farmers and the cultural apparatus they bring with them and, by virtue of the exercise of power, have built into the legislation of colonial modern nation states.
Australia provides a rich vein for analysis in that respect, with the watering down of native title rights (by both sides of politics in Australia in the 1990s) to some phantom like creature is a classic case.
But , in many cases, the ‘progeny’ of successful farmers move on to take up new opportunities and professional occupations which operate on a ‘higher’ level – and take their unconscious-in-culture world view with them where it works away at a less visible – but equally lethal – level. Ethnocide replaces genocide.
Charles Darwin was not the son of a farmer, but of a successful Doctor. The Darwin’s were already on the rise, and married into one of the successful families of the industrial revolution. Charles’ mother, Susannah Wedgewood, brought with her an inheritance of 25,000 pounds. (See Desmond and Moore page 11).
Desmond and Moore say that the second generation of Wedgewoods and Darwins (Charles parents generation) were ‘ aspiring gentry’. New wealth and making it socially make for an interesting combination. New estates, manor houses, sons to Eton etc.
For every upwardly mobile family movement in these situations, as Marx and Engels documented, there were others whose lives were being ripped off.
This can be justified in the minds of those who benefit by a variety of means, and these means make sense by virtue of how they fit into a much larger and deep seated cultural complex.
Marx and Engels realised, for example, that when Darwin later opted for competition between individuals as the means of changing species, that he had inscribed the values of his England into the world of all other forms of life, including those at the very ‘lowest’ end of the scale.
Darwin was also quite explicit about what he cast as ‘natural selection’ being a rewrite of artificial selection.
The point which is to be made here is that, in being able to exercise the skills and talents which are part and parcel of a professional class have already transformed the Being who is exercising those skills – a sort of professional deformation on a macro scale.
The cost of this transformation is that it makes relating to country and to First Peoples extremely difficult (if possible at all). When your eye is out for the main chance in life – by virtue of making it socially – you become oblivious to your true surroundings.
Reading the record Darwin left of his time in Australia makes for interesting reading from this point of view. For a few examples, see below.
Jan 12 (Sydney)
My first feeling was to congratulate myself that I was born an Englishman: — Upon seeing more of the town on other days, perhaps it fell a little in my estimation; but yet it is a good town; the streets are regular, broad, clean & kept in excellent order; the houses are of a good size & the Shops
excellent well furnished. — It may be faithfully compared with full [illegible] to the large suburbs which stretch out from London & a few other great towns: — But but not even near London or Birmingham is there an aspect of such rapid growth; the number of large houses just finished & others building is truly surprising; & with this nevertheless every one complains of the high rents & difficulty in procuring a house. — In the streets gigs, Phaetons phaetons & Carriages carriages with livery servants are driving about; of the latter vehicles many are as neat as those in London extremely well equipped. Coming from S. America, where in the towns every man of property is known, no one thing surprised me more, than not readily being able to ascertain to whom this or that carriage belonged. — Many of the older Residents residents say that formerly they knew every face in the Colony, but now that in a morning’s ride, it is a chance if they know one. — Sydney has a population of 23,000 twenty-three thousand, & is as I have said rapidly increasing; it must contain much wealth; it appears a man of Business business can hardly fail to make a large fortune; I saw on all sides large fine houses, one built by the profits from steam-vessels, another from building, & so on. A convict An auctioneer who was a convict, it is said intends to return home & will take with him 100,000 £ pounds. — Another convict who is always driving about in his carriage, has an income so large that nobody scarcely anybody ventures to guess at it, the least assigned being fifteen thousand a year. — But the two crowning facts are, first that the public revenue has increased 60,000£ during this last year, & secondly that less than an acre of land within the town of Sydney sold for 8000 £ pounds sterling.
I found Mr Browne a sensitive well informed Scotchman had the kindness to ask me to stay the ensuing day, which I had much pleasure in doing. This place is a specimen offers an example of one of the large farming or rather sheep grazing establishments of the Colony; it would however be more appropriately called one for sheep-grazing, at this site. They have here rather more cattle & horses then what is common on account of cattle & horses are however in this case rather more numerous than usual, owing to some of the valleys being swampy & producing some right sort a coarser pasture. The sheep is were 15,000 in number, for the of which the greater part of them are were feeding under the care of different shepherds on unoccupied ground, at the distance of more than a hundred miles under beyond the limits of the Colony. Mr Browne had just finished this day the last of the shearing of seven thousand sheep; the rest being sheared in another place. — I believe the value of a quantity the average produce of wool from 15,000 sheep would be more than 5000£ sterling.
The secret of the rapidly growing prosperity of Bathurst is that the pasture, which appears to the stranger’s eye wretched, is for sheep grazing
the most excellent.
On the other hand, the capital of a person will without trouble produce him treble interest as compared to England: & with
trouble care he is sure to grow rich. The luxuries of life are in abundance, & very little dearer, as most articles of food are cheaper, than in England. The climate is splendid & most healthy, but to my mind its charms are lost by the uninviting aspect of the country. One Settlers possess one great advantage is that it is the custom to send in making use of their sons, when very young men from 16 — 20 sixteen to twenty years of age, to in taking charge of remote farming stations hence they directly provide for themselves; this however must happen at the expence of their boys associating entirely with convict servants. — I am not aware that the tone of Society has yet assumed any peculiar character; but with such habits & without intellectual pursuits, it can hardly fail to deteriorate. — & became like that of the people of the United States . The balance of my opinion is such, that nothing but rather severe necessity should compel me to emigrate. — (emphasis added – BR)