Wednesday, 22 October 2014

You fellows are all doomed

Gustave Doré -The fourth horseman,
Death on the Pale Horse (1865)
From Wikipedia

In this quote from Emile Zola's La Terre, a group of French peasant farmers are arguing about the relative merits of protectionism versus free trade. They are desperately worried about the import of cheap American corn. Suddenly Lequeu, the schoolmaster, joins in. He thinks the farmers are finished:- 
"Nothing can be more certain,” he continued, "if corn con­tinues to be imported from America, in a hundred years from now there won’t be a single peasant left in all France. Do you think that our land can contend with yonder one? Long before we have had time to put these new plans in practice, the foreigners will have inundated us with grain.  I have read a book which tells all about it. You fellows are all doomed."
Emile Zola - La Terre (1887)

Apart from what it might tell us about the origins of the CAP, I'm particularly attracted to the last two sentences. They chime so deliciously with the mores of our modern chattering classes. An updated version might read:-

I read a piece in the Guardian which tells all about it. You fellows are all doomed.


Sam Vega said...

The Guardian has always been a bit odd, but lately has become even more so. Its hypocrisy is more apparent than before. All that desperate reference to humanism, scientism, universalism, etc., which masks the usual self-serving emotive rubbish. The love-child of useless Oxbridge graduates and Mr. Pooter. I really hope it goes under soon.

A K Haart said...

Sam - I visit the online edition more often than I used to, mainly to enjoy the demented comments.

Demetrius said...

Have a look at Jules Meline in Wiki and also the Long Depression of 1873-79 American and Canadian corn did for agriculture over many parts of Britain and Ireland, not least because of its higher gluten content.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - yes, Zola was highlighting a problem where farms were divided up when left to sons and daughters until after a few generations they became too small to compete.