Thursday, October 15, 2009

what could be worse?

Within this blog, I have not concealed my frustrations (to put it lightly) with capitalism. I came across yet another case which has been perpetuated for a long time but is creeping into "developing nations" with little surprise.....

On October 14, 2009, Devinder Sharma, a writer and activist from India was on Democracy Now! (here is the link). He was discussing the problems with India's exploding agricultural industry. Among some of the things discussed was the present "Land Grab" going on in Ethiopia. As is widely known, Ethiopia was had widespread starvation and malnutrition since the Industrial Revolution, would be my guess. Just as Britain did to India, India is not doing to Ethiopia. The difference is instead of Imperialistic conquest, India is using money to systematically contribute the to food crisis that plagues this north African country. Agricultural corporations from India and elsewhere are buying up HUGE portions of land to cultivate. At first glance this could seem like a potential way to alleviate the food shortage there. The fact is, is that these companies are producing food to export out of Ethiopia. The poverty of Ethiopia, which no doubt contributes to it's starvation epidemic, disallows Indian agro-business to even consider keeping the produce grown from Ethiopian soil to feed those sharing the same soil.

Industrial farming is killing, literally, small farmers in India. They can not compete with the prices. As was stated in the Dem. Now! interview an estimated 200,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide in the last 15 years!!! The Indian government is not doing anything about it, more than likely because they are getting kick backs from the agro-industry. Britain used to do the same thing to India. Set up shop, grow food, rice, etc, and ship it back to the UK as millions of Indians went hungry. I used to have this romantic view of non-Western humans as more compassionate and egalitarian. The white man is the kind of person to enslave, to spread corruption with the barrel of a gun, to rape with a smile, this is what I used to think. It is becoming abundantly clear that he is not alone in the inclusive group of racial oppressive class.

Disguising capitalist ventures so that they do not surface as the reason for war or cultural mistreatment is nothing new. It is the reason that the U.S. went to war with the Philippines around the beginning of the 20th century, to gain a foothold on the Chinese market so that surplus U.S. goods could be sold there. Boy, how that has been reversed. This practice by India came at a time when I read a quote in Howard Zinn's amazing A People's History of the United States 1492 - present (you can read it HERE!! and I would recommend at least skimming through any part of it). Written in the late 1800's/early 1900's, Zinn quotes an account of NYC, I looked for the quote but could not find it so I will paraphrase,

"We are in a city where thousands go hungry everyday. In the same city it can be seen that the pets of the aristocracy are adorned with jewels."

Or something to that effect. So this is not a new phenomenon. None the less a terrible one. This is the effects of capitalism and population explosion. Urban life does not enable a true hospitable community. Smaller communities enable intimate relationships among the majority and thus a willingness to help out fellow man or woman. Capitalism's first executive decision was to throw that idea to the waist side.

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