In his book Small Farm Future Chris Smaje worries about some problems that might arise in a society in which these kinds of farms meet most food demand.  This area is also targeted by Alex Heffron and Kai Heron in their critique of the book, which their Marxist position leads them to see as only advocating a “petite-bourgeoise” vision and thus no satisfactory solution to the problems capitalism is causing. It seems to me that both are overlooking the fact that in the future conditions will be radically different to what they are now and will determine that the problems under discussion will be minimal if they arise at all.

The concerns are firstly to do with whether or not small farms mostly run by families will generate the kinds of conflicts that have been common in peasant societies in the past, especially to do with patriarchal domination and marginalisation of women and children, and secondly to do with whether it is satisfactory to leave the farming sector in the hands of private enterprise.  Heffron and Heron do not make clear what they would want but it would seem that the core Marxist principle of eliminating private ownership of the means of production would lead them to advocate state ownership of the farming sector.

Both parties are analysing these issues in terms of how things worked in peasant societies and how things are organised and thought about in present society. My argument is that this is not the right approach, because things will be very different in the near future. So I must first take some space to explain my reasons for thinking this.

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