The Peasants' Perspectives in the Underdeveloped Countries


  • Ernest Feder



Ecology, Imperialism


The following paragraphs are intended as a modest contribution to the discussion of the classical role of the peasantry as that sector of the working population which bears the major costs of progress, a role which the Third World now continues to assign to the rural masses. Precisely what are their perspectives in the underdeveloped non-socialist countries in the next 15 to 20 years? The economy of these countries is in nearly all cases based on agriculture, which provides much of the product, employment, and foreign exchange, so that the future seems to depend largely on what happens to these agricultures. By peasantry I mean the "peasants" who have some claim to a plot of land and the rural landless wage-workers. Although these groups have some divergent interests and ambitions, they both belong to the same mass, or perhaps class, of underprivileged rural poor, subject to the same or a very similar system of dependence and exploitation. They form the overwhelming majority—at least three fourths—of the rural labor force, and the proportion is growing. Their future looks dismal. To make my point, I have set out tentatively a few theses, which I will discuss in tum.

This article can also be found at the Monthly Review website, where most recent articles are published in full.

Click here to purchase a PDF version of this article at the Monthly Review website.