Rural-nationalist ideology and land ownership policy in the periphery of Europe
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In the underdeveloped countries of the periphery of Europe late and weak capitalist development, late land reforms, backward and overpopulated agriculture, rural poverty, extensively cultivated large farms and the scarcity of land for small holdings have been characteristic for a long time. In some countries both some landowners of large estates and some urban capitalists and intellectuals were of foreign origin. Given these circumstances, apparently a kind of rural nationalist ideology has emerged, and it has influenced some political tendencies and parties. What the representatives of the ideology have been demanding is land reforms, the development and modernisation of smallholder's agriculture and the reform of rural institutions. With all this one can detect a rejection of capitalism and industrial and urban development - they are seen as something alien to the interests of the so-called nation-maintaining peasantry. Land has had a crucial role in rural-nationalist ideology, especially with respect to its scarcity for small holders. In this ideology the land itself embodies a symbolic meaning which could be referred to as the 'national mother-earth' which must be protected from foreigners. The ideology has survived even after the disappearance of its bases, i.e. rural overpopulation and genuine land scarcity. This was the reason why the governments of the candidate countries, whatever their political line, needed to emphasise and sort out the land question in the EU negotiations.
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