Over at Sp!ked, Patrick Hayes reinforces what ag economists have been telling us for a few years now: China’s urbanizing population needs our agricultural exports.
Hayes says, “According to the Chinese statistics bureau, 691 million people now live in cities, amounting to just over 51 per cent of the [Chinese] population.”
That’s mind boggling in the way that so much of China is—sheer and massive statistics of humanity. Hayes goes on to say that the number of people living in cities could reach 70 per cent – approximately one billion people – by just 2030.
There are great implications of such movement. Obviously, commodity farmers in the United States see that demand as a light on the horizon, hopefully an underpinning demand that smooths the traditional boom and bust commodity price cycles. And yet, such huge demographic and economic shifts can also bring the kind of disruption that affects political and trade relationships.
Of that great shift, Hayes says:
The human implications of this are very real: over a short period of time, hundreds of millions of people have been freed from millennia of toiling on the land, farming wheat, rice and millet. They have been liberated from what Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels rightly described as ‘the idiocy of rural life’, and which Engels termed the state of ‘isolation and stupor in which [humankind] has vegetated almost unchanged for thousands of years’.
Hayes is writing from an overall human welfare bent. We understand the notion that some rural places haven’t evolved much over time, and we read Messrs. Marx and Engels with all the caution required given history’s refining lens. But, did they really “rightly describe,” as Hayes has it, “the idiocy of rural life”? Maybe, had it gone their way, the revolution would have rendered the description as apt, but those of us out here shudder when called idiots.
Oh…and how did Marx/Engels really write it? Just like this:
Only as uniform a distribution as possible of the population over the whole country, only an integral connection between industrial and agricultural production together with the thereby necessary extension of the means of communication — presupposing the abolition of the capitalist mode of production — would be able to save the rural population from the isolation and stupor in which it has vegetated almost unchanged for thousands of years. It is not utopian to declare that the emancipation of humanity from the chains which its historic past has forged will only be complete when the antithesis between town and country has been abolished; the utopia begins when one undertakes "from existing conditions" to prescribe the form in which this or any other of the antitheses of present-day society is to be solved.
We put the emphasis on “presupposing,” which we suppose is the key part of liberating that rural population from their isolation and stupor. Yet absent the realization of that presupposition, there has been a liberation by modern markets, technology and, yes, governmental guidance.
Something to ponder as you decide how to leverage your capital into the spring growing season, grease up that million-dollar line of equipment and decide what, how and where to plant your crop.
Power to the people.