RURAL DEPOPULATION RESULTS FROM RURAL DECAPITALIZATION

Alastair Fraser; Canadian Rural Revitalization – Public Bank Coalition Canada

‘No Man is an Island’
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
John Donne

This is the third in a series of articles that is meant to highlight the need to revitalize Rural Canada. Agriculture is not an isolated industrial entity in itself. It exists in community within Rural Canada.

In many respects Rural Canada is diverse, prosperous and dynamic, being a prime source of Canada’s exports. In fact, our prized standard of living, which Canadians enjoy, is directly due to our Nations agricultural industrial product exports that originate in Rural Canada and help our nation’s Balance of Payment difficulties.

The concern which prompted this series of articles is the slow depopulation of Canada’s rural regions. This observed phenomenon naturally elicits the question of why. Why is depopulation occurring and what if anything can be done to halt the process? First, does the advancing depopulation need to be stopped and second, if possible, reversed, so people will start moving back to our rural townships, towns and villages. Glengarry County in Eastern Ontario has been touched by depopulation effects, yet it is actually late in experiencing the full ravages which have already transformed large areas of the Prairies into near cultural wastelands as towns and communities continue to die out. Also, I believe the rich tapestry of rural culture and way of life is worth saving.

Always, the first step in discovering a solution to a systemic condition is naming the problem; decapitalization. The word Capital has past elements referencing work, savings, wealth and ownership but also has future elemental properties; power, potential, material means and opportunity. Decapitalization does not mean loss of the past attributes of capital but it does refer to the future aspects of capital being severed and temporarily transferred so as the rural owner of the capital experiences a loss of ways, means and opportunity. Ownership does ensure the ability to recapture, at will, the elemental means of capital.

Once the real problem is named then a focused discussion on all aspects of the condition is possible. How the rural communities are affected by decapitalization is felt differently by everyone; business opportunities start to be diminished, governments establish industry focused banks, employment opportunities narrow, young people starting careers must move to cities, then services begin to disappear; specialty stores, grocery stores, personal services; dental and medical, then the police and courts move away, finally schools and other cultural institutions close. The elemental means of a community’s capital continues to exist. Only, it is being used to advantage elsewhere by entities other than the actual owners of the capital in their own rural communities.

Our thesis is that the observed depopulation of Rural Canada is directly caused by the banking and financial mechanisms which society has in place. These drive decapitalization. Capital financing institutions direct the evolution of business and influence the inevitable sculpturing of the landscape. The rise of the monoculture industry; cash crop, larger dairies and agriculture service businesses, is due more directly to the needs of the sourced credit capital’s operating policy and current government policy than by the commodity market demands.

A community then should not abdicate its responsibility for marshalling the future elemental means of their capital resources to enhance power, potential, material means and opportunity for their own future prosperity and for the continued existence as a community. Fundamentally, when a community recognizes systemic harm being self-inflicted then it behooves inspirational action on its own behalf to adopt a new more healthy positive financial system.