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Capitalism, Hunger and Globalization

Capitalism, Hunger and Globalization


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By Renan Vega Castor

Globalization has been presented as the miracle medicine that would solve all of humanity's problems, including hunger. However, this globalization has increased it, generating a deeply unjust reality in terms of food, where at the same time a few consume their fill, while millions of human beings endure malnutrition or die of hunger.


Globalization, that benign nickname for imperialism, has been presented for a quarter of a century as the miracle medicine that would solve all of humanity's problems, including hunger. However, this globalization has increased it, generating a deeply unfair reality in terms of food, where at the same time a few consume their fill (as can be seen in the "slim bodies" of millions of Americans, chubby and plump, who cannot or walking around from eating junk food so much), while millions of human beings endure malnutrition or die of hunger, on all continents.

That capitalism produces hungry people is not new, since, at all times, its world expansion has invariably generated hunger on a vast scale, as a result of the destruction of local economies, subjected to new demands so that they " adapt ”to the requirements of the world market, as the orthodox economists formulate.

First globalization: the bloody conquest of America

After 1492, when the European powers bloody conquered and colonized the American continent, the first famines took place on the soils of the “new world”. That conquest encompassed all the social, cultural and environmental spheres of the life of the indigenous communities, which destroyed the structures that allowed these societies to function. The Europeans brought with them diseases and pests that altered and destroyed the native ecosystems, which made it possible for the indigenous people to survive. The smallpox, measles and plague epidemics killed millions of human beings, along with the famines produced by the devastation of the crops, destroyed by the introduction of cows, sheep and rats that came in the ships of the invaders.

The European conquest of America brought hunger and disease as a consequence to indigenous societies that had not endured the scourge of hunger on a vast scale, as happened in the Antilles, Mesoamerica and South America. One of the most dramatic examples of this impact can be seen in the current Peruvian territory, where the Inca empire guaranteed the feeding of all the peoples it subdued, through adequate food storage systems, such as potatoes and corn, which were redistributed in the dominions of the empire. In that same place, ten thousand varieties of potato were grown –the same one that will save Europe years later from the scourge of permanent famines-, but today Peru buys part of the potato it consumes from Holland. This is not the product of historical fatality, but of the imposition of the colonial system, which destroyed indigenous farming systems, transforming fertile valleys into parched patches of land. At the same time that the foundations of the indigenous societies were being destroyed, men were enslaved in the gold and silver mines and women were subjected to domestic servitude. This is how famine came to these lands, brought from outside like smallpox and like the cross and the sword.

Second globalization: capitalist expansion and mass death in the European colonies in the 19th century.

During the second half of the 19th century, England, competing with France and other European powers, led the conquest of territories in Africa and Asia, which brings famines on a scale never seen before. In India and other territories colonized by England, populations were forced to produce not for themselves but for the English market. This form of export agriculture meant that local communities, self-sufficient before the violent incorporation to capitalism, suffered a sudden break in their forms of agricultural production, now directed to the European market, with the consequent death of millions of human beings in the second middle of the 19th century. Some estimates indicate that in the last 25 years of that century around 50 million people died of starvation in the world. While in the capitalist countries of Europe the specter of hunger disappeared, on the other side of the world men, women and children were dying like flies.

These people did not die because they were outside capitalism, but because they were violently incorporated into it. In fact, they died in the golden age of liberal capitalism, or more accurately they were killed by the application of liberal market theology by authors such as Adam Smith, Jeremias Benthan or Jhon S. Mill. This theology argued that it was more optimal than cereals of the colonies were exported to England, which, it is not known how, would ultimately benefit the local inhabitants through the invisible hand of the market. The practical application of this announcement, which had nothing to do with reality, produced the hunger of those who produced the cereals that were sent to Europe. The increase in food prices prevented the humble inhabitants of China, India, Brazil and many other territories, with miserable income due to the impoverishment to which they were subjected, from acquiring basic subsistence products.

Precisely, the conversion of food into a commodity and the application of the criminal principles of free trade destroyed the mechanisms of production, distribution, commercialization and consumption that made the survival of the colonized peoples possible, among which mutual aid, solidarity stood out. , the gift and reciprocity, mechanisms all devastated by free trade, which killed millions of people from physical starvation.

Third globalization: agribusiness, the cornering of peasants and widespread famines

Today the macabre cycle of using land to grow export crops is repeating itself, while subsistence products from peasant economies are appropriated by agricultural monopolies. Under these conditions, the famine that runs through the world has the same causes of the two periods considered above, although now its consequences are more destructive as it is global in nature. In recent decades, peasants have been expelled from the land, where crops are grown that exclusively benefit the world's large agricultural companies. Now land is no longer the fundamental means of production to feed the people, but the instrument to enrich a few multinational agricultural companies and their few local figureheads.


Free trade, as in the past, has served to deprive small farmers by eliminating subsidies and protectionist mechanisms that the States had, with specialization in the production of agricultural products for the world market (coffee, banana, oil palm, exotic fruits), with the conversion of the best lands into livestock areas or forest crops and lately of crops that produce necro-fuels (fuels of death is its true name, since biofuels that are frequently used is a lie). All this has led to the loss of food security in poor countries, in which basic foods are no longer produced, which must be bought on the world market, at the prices set by multinational companies and imperialist countries, such as the U.S.

This agricultural model is responsible for the hunger that, at the moment, is spreading throughout the world and that has caused rebellions of humble people in dozens of countries, criminally affected by free trade. The peasants have ceased to be producers, since their lands were taken away from them, and now they are consumers, although they do not have a penny with which to buy the expensive food that they used to produce, precisely because they have been deprived of land, water and their resources. crops.

As the United States announced almost three decades ago, in the Santafe 1 document, food has become a weapon of war, to subdue poor countries, to destroy their peasants and indigenous peoples, and to experiment with transgenic crops, which are they provide as part of the "help" to the hungry. To this must be added that capitalist agriculture is petro-dependent (due to the use of fertilizers and agrochemical inputs) and in the face of the increase in oil prices, the prices of basic products rise in parallel, also converted into a booty for financial speculators.

For all this, the hunger of millions of human beings - it is estimated that 1200 million will endure chronic hunger between now and 2025 - is a product of capitalism and a juicy business that simultaneously enriches the large food, oil and gas companies. automotive. As in the 18th century, for capitalism the best way to solve the problem of hunger is by devouring the poor, as suggested by Jonathan Swift in A Modest Proposal (1729), when he satirically proposed that the poor Irish devour their own children, which, apart from avoiding famine, would save the children more suffering; or, as graphically, a graffiti in the city of Buenos Aires said: “Fight hunger and poverty! Eat a poor man! ”. That is what actually happens when corn or cane is planted to produce gasoline. When a car is being supplied with fuel, originating from food, it is devouring a poor person, because, due to an unnatural metabolism that can only be the result of capitalism, food is no longer intended to satisfy the hunger of human beings but that of the voracious four-wheeled machines, the highest expression of the American way of death.


* Renan Vega Castor He is an economist, Master in History from the National University of Colombia. Author of numerous works on economics and political history. His latest book (in two volumes) is "An uncertain world, a world to learn and teach. The world transformations and their impact on the teaching of Social Sciences". National Pedagogical University, Bogotá, 2007. - Article sent by the author for Agenda Radical - International Edition of the Militant Collective - For the Revolutionary Unit - Gaboto 1305 - Telephone (5982) 4003298 - Montevideo - Uruguay


Video: If You Hate Poverty, You Should Love Capitalism (May 2022).


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