This was part of an essay I wrote back in Fall of 2008 on the concepts of Marxism and how it contrast with today’s ideologies of modern Canadian lifestyles. This analogy was written well before the economic collapse of the latter half of that year and proves that there was enough forecasters during that time to properly estimate that an economic disaster was eminent. The main thesis was on ethics and professional conduct, although many portions of the assay are omitted, the general tone of the it was to compare the clashes in thinking between the left and right and to see if social harmony was possible without any compromise.
About a five minute drive outside of town was the Smith’s farm, a 100 acer plot of land that had some of the most suited agricultural space in the valley. Nearly all of it was on flat well irrigated land with the river running along it’s northern edge, and gentle rolling hills along the Eastern side. The farm had been part of the same family for five generations, and was well known with its produce sold at the local markets. During the first settlers, the town nearest to the farm was just a small village consisting of a few buildings and a dozen homes. The road at the time was nothing more than just a trail, big enough for a horse drawn wagon to move the various food crops to market with.
Over the years the population of the town grew, at first a few hundred, but in the last decade it surpassed 5000 residence. Land was a scares commodity as the town lay between the river and the steep hills to the South, and a narrow strip of land along the river that has the railway running along it. The rest of the valley grew in population as the rewards of the bountiful natural resources and the rise of industrialization spread, the farms and other outlying land gave way to urban sprawl, roads and industrial parks. It was clear that land that once was used for agriculture was now prime real estate for new subdivisions and commercial uses.
The farm land was expropriated to make way for a multi lane express way that would aid commuters with a shorter distance from the main highway to the metropolitan region along the valley. With only a fifth of the land that was allocated for the construction of the highway, the remainder of the property became municipal land, part of which was used as a permanent maintenance site for road crews to service the highway year round. The rest of the land stayed vacant.
The land was forgotten about for several years as road, commercial and housing construction reach it completion during the boom period. All that remained as undeveloped land from the farm was this sizeable piece of property, but its accessibility was what made it unattractive because of its proximity to the newly built highway for residential use. Industrial businesses could not use it because it lay beside the watershed, and commercial uses was very restricted due to the many environmental impact provisions the various levels of government put in place.
After a series of back room discussions, each level of government had decided that this parcel of land would be very well suited for a prison. The motion to have a multi use correctional facility was quickly adopted by the municipality as the federal government was going to add several hundred million dollars into the local economy, such as construction jobs and aid local suppliers. Many long term jobs would be added as well. The added boon to the service industry would add an increase of business for the general day to day operations of the prison too within the community.
The praises of the government were instead met with protests and opposition as a movement quickly developed to have the prison relocated. “Not in my back yard,” cries rang out over the media, on the streets and at every water-cooler throughout the community, as it seems that none of the residence wanted it near them.
Through a series of signed decelerations and land transfers that had occurred within the last decade, little did the municipality know that once the major highway was built, this now designated the land usage as part of the regional government’s responsibility; and as such, the local community had very little to say with the wishes of the higher government as far as federal services goes. The prison was long finished before the bureaucracy allowed for the start of the hearings to take place on the matter. The community’s voting power was to little to late before anyone could do anything about it, as the prison was seen as a vital service for the region.
Like both the first post from August 30, “One Box To Many,” and this one, “Wheat to Bars,” these are examples of how we coexists within the social setting but our thirst for personal control is not as what we claim it to be. The first story looked at how business and labour tried to advance itself forward, but until the balance shifted, as in this case, lack of revenue for resources, the eventual collapse of the economic cycle took hold. This is not to say that it completely collapsed into oblivion, but that it slowed until market demands restarted itself. In this post the story is about how land is seemingly controlled by more than one vested stakeholder. Here, farm land lost its value as its agricultural usefulness made way for demands of urban sprawl, and this was taken away, usually in the form of a changing tax-base, or land expropriation, to make way for the expanding communities and population growth.
Although I wrote these stories as a work of fiction, they are based on a collection of actual events that have happened in the course of my life time. Telling stories that try to weave the threads of a certain perspective is far more complex that I originally thought. Because of this I see Marxism as an interesting ideological perspective in that it takes classism to a very basic level: rich versus poor, employer versus employee, landlord versus tenant, but nothing is as black and white in a constantly changing society moving theough time. Although Marxism is useful in comparing the contrasts of our society, in Canada it is more difficult to fully apply it to a macro view because of our complex and interdependent society, and even at a micro view you miss some of the vital pieces needed to explain the whole story. You just cannot view the employer and employee as one side being more beneficial than the other without looking at the full scope of the market economy and social implications that are tied to each other. Nor could you see the land owner and the tenant as one being more disadvantaged over the other until you examine the real estate markets, taxation and population migration of workers throughout the country over time.
Added: Next post I will talk more about the conclution of the stary, “One Box To Many,” and see if I can add a cliff hanger ending to it. This was not part of my origonal essay, but something for my sister, J.M., who just celebrated her birthday. I still have the third story from my essay, but it deals more with the criminal asspects of today as compared to when Carl Marx was alive, and doesn’t deal with the economy.