Based on extensive research conducted in Colombia since 2009, this book addresses the connection between land grabbing and agrarian capitalism, as well as the unfulfilled promises of peace and justice.
While land remains a key resource at the core of many contemporary civil wars, the impact of high-intensity armed violence on the formation of agrarian capitalism is seldom discussed. Drawing on nearly 200 interviews, archival research, and geographical data, this book examines land grabbing and the role of violence in capital with a particular focus on one key actor in the Colombian civil war: paramilitary militias. This book demonstrates how the intricate ties between armed conflict and economy formation are obscured by the widespread belief that violence is a radical form of action, breaking with the normal course of society and disconnected from the legal economy. Under this view, dispossession is perceived as diametrically opposed to capitalist accumulation. This belief is enormously influential in precisely those bureaucratic agencies that are in charge of peacebuilding, both domestically and internationally. However, this narrow view of the relationship between armed violence and capitalism belies the close ties between plunder and lawful profit, and obscures the continuity between violent dispossession and the free market. By the same token, it legitimizes post-war inequality in the name of capitalist development. The book concludes by arguing that the promotion of radical democracy in the government of land and rural development emerges as the only reasonable path for pacifying a violent polity.
The book is essential reading for students, scholars, and development aid practitioners interested in land and resource grabbing, agrarian capitalism, civil wars, and conflict resolution.
Table of Contents
1. The political production of inequality
2. The paths to paramilitary rule
3. Agribusiness economy and embedded dispossession
4. Forced displacement, humanitarian emergency, and land dispossession
5. The unfulfilled promises of the Havana peace agreement
6. Towards warless capitalism
Jacobo Grajales is Professor of Political Science at the University of Lille, France, and a Fellow of the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF).