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New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Friday, April 18

an inconvenient ruth


Main Entry: ruth
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English ruthe, from ruen to rue
Date: 13th century

1 : compassion for the misery of another
2 : sorrow for one's own faults : REMORSE

~ Merriam Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary

The latest issue of The Economist, published yesterday, includes an article titled The new face of hunger. Here's a clip...

"World agriculture has entered a new, unsustainable and politically risky period," says Joachim von Braun, the head of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC. To prove it, food riots have erupted in countries all along the equator. In Haiti, protesters chanting "We're hungry" forced the prime minister to resign; 24 people were killed in riots in Cameroon; Egypt's president ordered the army to start baking bread; the Philippines made hoarding rice punishable by life imprisonment. "It's an explosive situation and threatens political stability," worries Jean-Louis Billon, president of Côte d'Ivoire's chamber of commerce.
Gosh, why is this happening? The article suggests a couple reasons, high among which is this:
The prices mainly reflect changes in demand -- not problems of supply, such as harvest failure. The changes include... the sudden, voracious appetites of western biofuels programmes, which convert cereals into fuel. This year the share of the maize (corn) crop going into ethanol in America has risen and the European Union is implementing its own biofuels targets.

Googling around a bit, I find that Oxfam Policy Adviser, Robert Bailey said: "People in poor countries are being driven off their land to make way for new plantations. They are working in punishing conditions for pittance. The price of food is spiralling rapidly out of their reach and rainforests are being destroyed."

And on November 6 last year, George Monbiot wrote in The Guardian...

It doesn't get madder than this. Swaziland is in the grip of a famine and receiving emergency food aid. Forty per cent of its people are facing acute food shortages. So what has the government decided to export? Biofuel made from one of its staple crops, cassava. The government has allocated several thousand hectares of farmland to ethanol production in the district of Lavumisa, which happens to be the place worst hit by drought. It would surely be quicker and more humane to refine the Swazi people and put them in our tanks. Doubtless a team of development consultants is already doing the sums.

I have long suspected that much of the populist bandwagon boosterism for "the ecology" (sorta like the Iraq and such as) has been driven by a turning away from deeper and more difficult social issues -- like the poverty and such as -- and instead toward a burning spiritual desire to get a pat on the head and a gold star from Goddess Gaia.

But hey, you know me. I'm just saying.

The following is from an article by Gray Brechin titled Conserving The Race: Natural Aristocracies, Eugenics, and the U.S. Conservation Movement, first published in Antipode in July 1996.

Kühl's book [The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism], when read in conjunction with Ronald Rainger's An Agenda for Antiquity, reveals that complicity took place at the very highest social, political, and academic levels; Rainger's suggests that intense racism extending well beyond anti-Semitism was intimately linked to the early conservation movement in America.

Zygmunt Bauman shows that the problem of coping with "wasted lives" — the "superfluous" populations of migrants, refugees and other outcasts — provides a key for understanding some otherwise baffling features of our shared life, from the strategies of global domination to the most intimate aspects of human relationships.



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