The land is ours
10 December 2014
This week the Scottish Land Action Movement launched and added itself to a growing global movement of activists, small-scale farmers, landless workers, indigenous communities and many others all working to shift control of land from the hands of the few to the hands of the many.
We were really pleased to add our support to this launch. While land is obviously an absolutely vital resource for human sustenance and survival, land ownership patterns are also highly symbolic of a wider social and economic system. Where land ownership is concentrated in the hands of the wealthy (individuals and corporations) so too are other resources and, crucially, so is power. Land ownership is a totem of systemic inequality. For too long in Scotland this has been the case.
In a post-referendum Scotland, however, there is greater engagement with politics and a much louder voice calling for social justice and equality. Scottish people are angry to see food banks on the one hand and hundreds of acres of land held by the wealthy on the other.
Where land is in the hands of the many, the chances of reducing poverty, increasing access to food and energy and achieving environmental sustainability are surely greater. Shifting the balance of power around land ownership is a vital part of shifting the balance of power elsewhere in society. On a global scale, La Via Campesina, for example, demonstrates this in its work on land rights and food sovereignty, and in its fight for justice and dignity for small-scale farmers and land workers.
The Scottish Land Action Movement, with its focus on radical and comprehensive land reform here in Scotland, is a very welcome addition to the global movement to take back power over land.