A critical analysis of theories of agricultural development and agrarian reform, with reference to agrarian reform policies in Chile (1962-1973)
This thesis is a work of theory; it is also historical. It attempts to provide a critique of the categories through which the phenomena of agricultural development and land reform are habitually grasped. It is divided into three parts. In the first part three main theoretical orientations to the study of capitalist agrarian development are discussed, both abstractly and with reference to their accounts of Latin American rural society in the 1960's. It is argued that all three are unable to explain adequately the process of social and agrarian change. This inability is traced to the fact that all three reduce social totalities to two or more distinct sub-entities or sub-totalities. The author calls this general position the social problematic of dualism. Its inability. to account for social change is, he argues, traceable to the fact that the existence of the sub-entities into which social totalities are divided, is posited as theoretically prior to the relations which connect them. These points are pursued in the second and third parts of the thesis. In the second part an alternative to dualism' with particular reference to its variants of the separation of a realm of industry from a realm of agriculture, and of the separation of a realm of the economic from a realm of the social, is provided through a detailed theorisation of capitalist social relations. It is argued that the existence of distinct realms of agriculture, industry, economy and society is a real effect of the essential relations of capitalist society, and that these divisions must be transcended through an elucidation of the character of such relations. This is done by distinguishing three forms of capitalist development which are produced by these essential relations. Further examples of a dualist analysis in contemporary theorisations of petty commodity production, the world economy and the articulation of modes of production are discussed. In the third part the author returns to an examination of the Latin American context through a discussion of the case of Chile. The theoretical insights developed in the earlier parts are systematically applied to various aspects of Chilean history from the conquest of Latin America to the 1960's, and to the processes of land reform which covered the decade 1962-1973. It is suggested that the agrarian social transformations which this country experienced are only explicable in terms of a position which systematically transcends all dualist assumptions.