Letters to the Editors from the June 1914 issue of the Socialist Standard
W. Searle writes from Sask., Canada, " I am a class conscious slave of the farm, having taken up a so called free homestead from the Government . . . If there existed the least suspicion of ‘justice’ in the present system, the homesteader would be highly compensated instead of being charged a ‘filing fee’ for bringing 160 acres of ‘God’s green earth’ under cultivation . . . I should like your assistance in explaining the farmer’s true position as a wage worker. I know that the farmer in selling his wheat sells it at its value I would like to know in what particular manner he is being robbed.”
The answer to this is quite simple. The farmer, in selling his wheat at its value, is not being robbed. The explanation of the (pioneer) farmer's “true position" is to he sought in our correspondent’s remark that be should be compensated for bringing 160 acres of land into cultivation. In this country farmers are robbed by the landowner, for though a few are prosperous men, in general it pans out so that anything and everything the farmer may secure as the result of his own efforts, or may squeeze out of these he employs, goes to the parasite who owns the land he (the farmer) tills.
In our correspondent's case, however, the process is rather different, though the result is very much the same. The man who enters upon the proposition of a “free” homestead is robbed of opportunity. He is driven, through the monopoly in land, to apply his labour-power in such circumstances as render it impossible for it to be rewarded with the ordinary social rate of productivity. To sell his wheat and other produce at its value, therefore, by no means gives him an adequate return for the enormous amount of labour which he in his particular circumstances, has been forced to embody in it. True, if the lonely years do not break his heart, and the Herculean labour does not break his health, and the extortions of a capitalist government do not bleed him to death, he may find himself, in the fulness of time, in possession of a freehold of considerable extent if of little value. It is only this hope, deferred until after years of arduous toil and lonely living, that extracts the "filing fee” from the homesteader’s pocket for the benefit of a capitalist government, and induces him to slave unceasingly for the benefit of elevator companies and railway trusts. These get their picking, whatever befalls the victims they lure into the lonely West.
A. E. Jacomb