Villages Can Solve Our Social Problems
by Richard Hunt
by Richard Hunt
His curriculum vitae is one of principled radicalism. Former Editor of GREEN ANARCHIST, present Editor of ALTERNATIVE GREEN and ground-breaking author of TO END POVERTY: THE STARVATION OF THE PERIPHERY BY THE CORE, there is little doubt that RICHARD HUNT is one of the most stimulating and original thinkers of the last decade.
THE welfare state isn’t working. We are approaching social breakdown. Young people are running out of control. Our people are living out their last years totally alone and vulnerable. Orphanages are now known to be honey pots to paedophiles. Old peoples’ homes, I know from personal experience, can be just as cruel. The incompetent, the inadequate and the just plain mad are thrown onto the streets with occasional help from burnt-out carers. We know you can’t buy love. Well, you can’t buy care either.
It is becoming clear that the State can never provide the care that it claims. Because of its high taxation, labour costs are high. In a welfare state caring has to be paid for. The State can never afford to pay for the care that the extended family used to provide, free.
The breakdown of the extended family and now the nuclear family means that control of the young has disappeared. Bad behaviour used to reflect on the whole extended family, so there was considerable pressure on children to behave. Grandparents would wield the strongest but tolerant influence, particularly grandmothers. It is the female in rearing the children who sets the standards of behaviour. And the oldest have the most moral authority. ‘Matriarch’ is the wrong term, meaning a woman who rules. It is not power she has but influence.
The extended family is able to ease marital difficulties. If a man is beating his wife, the wife’s father and brothers will come steaming down and put heavy pressure on him to stop. Nowadays fathers and brothers are miles away. If a child is being raised by inadequate parents, it will be gently moved up the road to aunts, cousins or grandparents, not into ‘care’.
The extended family has vanished because of Mobility of Labour. Once the crops were sold out of the village, they were no longer able to provide jobs within the village. Workers with no land had to move to the cities where the crops had been taken to (because of the higher cost of living and therefore higher wages, the core can always out-bid the villages for the crops, as we out-bid the Third World for its crops).
Another cause of the breakdown of the extended family is the State itself. In attempting to provide welfare it undermines the influence of the extended family. Family pressure can sometimes be irksome. Knowing that the State will provide anonymous welfare, pensions etc., the individualist may opt for State care, but this weakens family pressure to behave.
To rebuild a caring society we have to rebuild the extended family. But this is not possible in towns and cities.
Continual rebuilding caused by growing population and changing land values, destroys any geographical concentration of families. A famous study of London’s Bethnal Green showed how the last groups of extended families were dispersed by re-housing.
So it is only the villages where we can re-build the extended families and a caring society. To do this we have to cut the population, cut taxation, cut the size of the political unit and cut free trade.
The first thing to do is to provide jobs in villages, to replace machinery with people on the farms. This means reducing labour costs, the reason the machines replaced the people. High labour costs are caused by high taxation. So to provide jobs in the villages we have to cut the taxation on trade and traders, indirect taxation, which will directly reduce the cost of living (the taxes on trade are passed directly on to the consumer, an extra penny on a pint) so wages can be reduced, maintaining buying power, so that people can be cheaper to hire than expensive machines.
Cutting the cost of living will enable craft-based industries like pottery and weaving to return to the villages because the craftsmen will not have to make such a large turnover to make a living.
Ultimately, what provides jobs is the food grown in the villages. So the less food sold out of the village the more jobs. When the cost of living has gone down, the smallholder would be able to make a living selling his produce locally.
On the periphery in the hills of Scotland, Wales and northern England, where they can be self-sufficient because of their low population, they can use taxes on imported goods from the core to protect their local craftsmen, or less formally use community pressure not to buy imported goods to protect their own family’s craftsmen.
To bring final control back to the village we have to progressively break up the political unit, first to England, Ulster, Scotland and Wales, then to the regions with their own coinage and Final Appeal, then the counties, the towns and finally autonomous, self-sufficient armed villages.
But this can only be achieved when we’ve cut the population. And when we’ve cut the population sufficiently no one will need jobs. We’ll all have our own plot of land.
And when we’ve got our own plot of land there’ll be no television because there will be no one prepared to work in a television factory taking orders from a foreman, when we can be our own boss on our own land.
There’ll be no computers or telephones, not because we won’t want them, but because we won’t be able to get the buggers into factories to make them. If we want to communicate, it’s back to fire signals.
The loss of technology is the price we pay for a just and caring society.