November 10, 2010

Food Sovereignty vs. the Final Stage of Neoliberalism


What is globalization, really? Among other things, it’s the replacement of national sovereignty by corporate anti-sovereignty. Their own cadre, Dani Rodrik, wrote of how national sovereignty and democracy are incompatible with the corporate pseudo-sovereignty, and how if you want to maximize the latter you must destroy the former. This association of nation and democracy as the twin targets of the “free trade” onslaught demonstrates how national sovereignty itself can only arise out of the people. We can deduce from this that the only way to defend either and maximize both is to eradicate corporatism and elitism completely. It’s democracy which must be maximized: Direct democracy.
Who are the globalizers? Don’t look first at the World Bank, IMF, WTO and so on. Those are just the power launderers, the stooge cadres. In America, the real globalizers are Wall Street, the Republican and Democratic Parties, the weapons rackets, and the Big Ag rackets – Monsanto, Cargill, ADM, Tyson, Smithfield, and others. These are the players who concoct the “agreements” among “countries” which are really turf deals among gangster elites. The politicians sign these agreements and set up special organizations like the WTO and IMF to serve as the point men. But the WTO, and for that matter most of the Dems and Reps, are the hired goons. The “free” trade treaties are really corporate contracts, written by the likes of Monsanto and Cargill. But these contracts aren’t actual agreements among free parties. They’re instruments of tyranny to be imposed by elite diktat, from the top down, from the highest, most concentrated power, as a hail of rocks, burning ash, and poison upon the disenfranchised people below.
The proper legal term for a “contract” imposed by thuggery is an unconscionable contract of adhesion. Where there’s a huge power and need differential between the parties, it’s obviously impossible for them to freely contract with one another. Such contracts clearly have no moral validity. In theory these are also supposed to be legally invalid. But in practice the whole endeavor of neoliberalism, at every level, from the basic employer-employee “negotiation” to the most univeralized global trade agreements, is to replace actual freedom of contract with these contracts of adhesion. It’s to replace true economic freedom with gangster-imposed and enforced protection rackets and direct plunder.
All this proves how freedom of contract is impossible under conditions of wealth inequality. It’s been proven a thousand times – you can have one or the other, but never both.
What’s the final stage of neoliberalism? The elites have imposed financialization and are manipulating it to amass all power and real assets. This is positioning them for neofeudalism.
What’s neofeudalism? This is the elites’ strategy to achieve corporate totalitarianism and maintain as much of their material luxury as possible under Peak Oil and energy descent. Their strategy has been to use the corporate form, the propaganda of “capitalism” and “democracy”, and the forms of representative pseudo-democracy, to monopolize ever growing portions of wealth and power. Having achieved this position of dominance, they will now use it to push the rest of us down into actual medieval conditions. Their preferred path for doing this will be debt slavery. If necessary they’ll try to use the police state whose skeleton they’ve assiduously constructed, and even classical fascism.
Meanwhile, in various ways, they’ll attempt the shift from fossil fuels to alternate fuels, for the sake of their own luxury consumption. We’ve already seen a larger-scale version of this, with the diversion of vast amounts of food from the already-hungry people of the world to the gas tanks of the Western personal car. This is the industrial agrofuel strategy. Just like all other liquidations, this one’s coming home as well. America itself already has ever growing numbers of the hungry while more and more corn is hijacked for agrofuels. Obama just doubled down on the ethanol scam. So here we can see one iteration of the basic pattern I’ve called resource fascism. All ideas along the lines of corporate renewable energy buildouts have the same basic goal. Picture a network of fortresses powered by the “smart grid”, biofueled private jets travelling between, while outside the walls permanently indentured debtors slave in the fields and sleep in shantytowns, their labor compelled by the draconian penalties dangling over the heads of all defaulters, their debt compounding every day. That’s the goal of the political and economic elites.
How is the barbed wire being strung around us? For example, where it comes to food policy? The Green Revolution itself was intended to eradicate food self-sufficiency and economic independence. It hooks the farmer on fossil fuels, proprietary seeds, and growing cash crops for export. This then plunges him into the age-old vicious circle of debt indenture. The elites used petrodollar recycling to leverage the GR-imposed need for oil (which had to be bought with dollars) into brute power over those countries. As they sank into hopeless debt (enriching the Western banks along the way), the goon IMF could deploy its structural adjustment programs to use the existence of this unilaterally imposed debt to completely loot the people of the country, who had already been dispossessed by the same corporate process which imposed the odious debt upon them.
Once again we see the basic fraudulence and tyranny of the corporate “contract”.
Other assaults include the globalization “treaties” whose only goal was to destroy all barriers civil society and democracy posed for naked corporate aggression. The WTO, NAFTA, and subsequent proposed assaults like the FTAA, CAFTA, and the SPP, right up to the bilateral “agreements” of today, are intended to prevent messy elections or protests, or meddling laws and regulations, or any archaic notions that public property belongs to the people, from interfering with the corporate rampage. (These, including the bilateral pacts like the one Obama’s trying to impose on India, are of course agreements only among elite gangs; the respective peoples of these countries are disenfranchised in principle and are regarded as the targets for plunder in practice.)
There’s also the quest for domination via “patents” over seeds and genes. And then we have the new colonial land grabs. These are the maneuvers of rich countries brazenly trying to lock up their future food and biofuel supply by directly stealing the land of poor countries.
All of this takes place under the supervision of the big banks, who use globalization to impose their ideal of ruthless commodification upon every part of the economy.
As Sophia Murphy puts it:

The AoA [globalized Agreement on Agriculture] presupposes a particular model for agriculture and reinforces that model through the rules it establishes. It is a model for wealthy countries pursuing industrial agriculture, and for developing country governments that wish to follow suit. It ignores the needs and interests of the billions of farmers who do not live in that world. Only 10 to 15 percent of food is traded internationally, yet the AoA pressures all of agriculture to be run as if it was a trade concern.

This brings us back to the essence of globalization itself. The goal is to take what according to the capitalists’ own textbooks should be a small appendage of the economy and ruthlessly, recklessly, destructively impose its morals and culture on all of life. Not just economic life, but political, social, cultural, and private life as well. These “morals” and “culture” are really sociopathy and barbarism. Their goal is the absolute eradication of all competing values, which means all moral and cultural value as such. The intent and the practice is literally totalitarian, and neoliberalism is a totalitarian ideology and strategy in the classical sense.
Today in America the Food Tyranny bill intends to formally bring this globalization regime home. It would explicitly subordinate all domestic food policy to the WTO:


Nothing in this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) shall be construed in a manner inconsistent with the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization or any other treaty or international agreement to which the United States is a party.

This overthrows the doctrine of “perfect protection”, enshrined in America from the outset of globalization, that these rules didn’t supersede our own domestic food sovereignty. (Perfect protection was of course hypocrisy on the part of US elites, since they were destroying the same principle elsewhere. But the point is that all peoples deserve food freedom, and should receive such protection if we’re to have “free trade” at all. But by now we know the very point of free trade was to wipe out all such protections. Now it’s coming home.)
The bill could also subordinate us to the Codex Alimentarius, which is a globalized version of the disaster capitalist “food safety” scam. Just as in America, so everywhere globalism reigns there’s the same pattern of allowing corporate agriculture to cause food outbreaks, then use these outbreaks as the pretext to impose further corporate domination. The Codex is one “legal” vehicle to empower administrative tyranny over food. Revolving door corporate bureaucrats could issue fiats banning medicinal herbs or vitamin supplements, while requiring all growers right down to the backyard gardener to use any kind of synthetic fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide, hormone in an animal, or GMO seed. (As always in this connection, let me remind the reader that if Obama’s health racket mandate is allowed to stand, that will provide another precedent for any and every corporate mandate. The exact same logic will allow the FDA or even the WTO to “constitutionally” force us to buy, for example, GMO seeds. I defy any Obama cultist to explain how that’s incorrect. But then, an Obama supporter probably also supports Monsanto. More here and here.)
The bill’s extended power of recall, forced destruction of animals and product based on the flimsiest allegations, and the goal of forcing all small producers to register their animals (via NAIS) and all the details of their land and facilities (via “traceability”) with corporate databases demonstrate how the plan is to bring all non-corporatized, independent food activity under the surveillance and then control of the big corporations.
These are a few examples of how the food bill seeks to impose the corporate anti-sovereign assault upon us in our own country. That this is being done as a bipartisan project of our own government proves that this is a rogue government which no longer serves the people but assaults the people on behalf of our enemies. And the bipartisanship of it is stark proof (as if we needed it by now) that both Parties are equally malevolent, criminal gangs out only to rob and hurt us.
We’ll never be free until we get rid of them completely.
So this food bill needs to be put in the big picture context of debt indenture, offshoring, Walmartization and the general destruction of jobs, the assault on civil liberties, “austerity”, and the ever-tightening stranglehold of corporatism everywhere.
What’s the common thread everywhere? They seek to steal what wealth is left and destroy all economic and political possibilities and our very freedom to try to improvise any way out of the trap.
Will we ever draw a line and say No Further? A good place to draw that line is at our food. We should resolve to be growers, farmers, seed savers, on our own and in tandem, to do it directly and to assist one another, in the direct act and in resisting criminal assaults upon us.
More affirmatively, we need the land. We must demand it in principle (demand it, not of the elites who stole it, but as exemplary toward reawakening the people to the fact that our land has been stolen, and that if we’re to survive and prosper we must redeem it) and flow like water onto all available land. Our tactics must embrace everything from guerrilla gardening to adverse possession and organized squatting to mass land reclamation movements. Food production stewardship, and any other mode of productive economic relocalization, must always be the basis.
This is the only road to growing the millions of small farmers America needs, and meeting the twin goals of growing sufficient food post-oil, and providing the economic and cultural basis for the redemption and flourishing of democracy itself.


  1. […] globalization cadres like the WTO in an upcoming post specifically about globalization. (See here.) For now I’ll just stress that food safety means greater recourse to food grown as close to […]

    Pingback by What’s For Dinner: Corporate Food Tyranny (1 of 2) « Volatility — November 10, 2010 @ 7:53 am

  2. Russ, This is a great piece. I encourage you to submit it to CounterPunch, Naked Capitalism, Truthout, globalresearch.ca, and Zero Hedge, that it may reach a wider audience. You pull all the primary threads together and weave into whole cloth. Please let your readers know how you believe we can best support a more equitable future. Sincerely, tawal

    Comment by tawal — November 10, 2010 @ 9:18 pm

    • Thanks, tawal. Maybe I should be more assertive about doing that.

      Comment by Russ — November 11, 2010 @ 5:51 am

      • You should.

        Comment by doggett — November 11, 2010 @ 10:44 am

  3. This is a complete non sequitur.

    I spent the vast majority of my day reviewing historical documents regarding patent and copyright law, including writings of Madison and Jefferson.

    Oddly, my sense was that Jefferson opposed patents as property (while supporting copyrights as property) because he felt he would benefit by being able to steal other people’s ideas (which he most likely did).

    From what I can tell, the big difference between Hamilton (who I despise) and Jefferson is that Hamilton was honest and said what he actually believed in.

    Generally, my takeaway about “classical liberalism” is that it was all a sham. Which is a shame.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — November 11, 2010 @ 3:41 am

    • Yes, I’ve come to that conclusion as well.

      Even when I was writing those pieces about the Federalist papers this past summer I was still mostly willing to stick with the idea that “they turned out to be wrong” rather than “they were malevolent from the start”. But by now I no longer believe that even about most of the framers.

      Jefferson’s sort of like McNamara in that he privately held jaundiced views of the whole transaction which he never publicized, and toward the end of his life expressed real pessimism about it, but again only in private letters.

      And of course as president he never acted upon his concerns, quite the opposite.

      Hamilton does seem to have been the most honest, most consistent, and most aggressive. (And in the Federalist his tone is often openly contemptuous.) Madison by contrast, although sharing the basic elitist ideology, still was more conciliatory and perhaps squeamish.

      All this is relative, though. I still think all the time of how Hamilton implies in #78 that a revolving door between the judiciary and private practice would on its face tend to mean the judiciary is illegitimate.

      Today even a “progressive” would laugh at that idea, and when I suggested at Naked Capitalism that private and public interest law should be two separate disciplines, as separated as law and e.g. medicine, people treated it as some exotic opinion specimen.

      But I think it’s common sense, and easily doable if people wanted to do it.

      Comment by Russ — November 11, 2010 @ 6:05 am

  4. Russ, another home run, yes, get more assertive about promotion.

    Some thoughts …

    The apex of the power triangle needs clearer delineation. I see it more as the wealthy few global elite with massive capital pools exerting global control through THEIR central banks, and through those global central banks they have co-opted and control; corporations, governments, nation state militaries, Mr. Global Propaganda, etc. The gangster alignment is always first financial and their is a unified collusion of ideology of the wealthiest elite at the top. If Monsanto suddenly found a conscience it would be shorted out in a heart beat and repopulated with new management.

    Regarding this …

    “Our tactics must embrace everything from guerrilla gardening to adverse possession and organized squatting to mass land reclamation movements. Food production stewardship, and any other mode of productive economic re-localization, must always be the basis.’

    We need some sort of an anchor plan [Plan Of Action — an abstract of the problems and suggested remedies.] that will appeal to all of the dissatisfaction, one that will show the common source of that dissatisfaction as you lay out well here, and channel and prioritize the various remedial tools for change, along with their pros and cons, both within and outside the system.

    I favor being prudent and working for self sufficiency and decentralization but that is a dead end unless it is coupled with an active and unified attempt with a range of tools to change the power structure. I know that your article close was not meant to be that end all be all, but maybe it is time to start formulating that sort of broadly comprehensive plan and growing it through reader input and it then could be used as a boiler plate by others for local actions and to link to for reference or carry on their own sites.

    I favor election boycotts and feel that working within the system is a major impediment to change and am tired of constantly saying that. That would go under the “working outside the system” tactics and could be supported with a few bulleted items of rationalizations and ways to implement the boycott.
    The Plan of Action page, what ever form it takes, should be visually prominent and as dominant as possible. Maybe it could go in your top right PAGES section.

    I don’t mean to be pushy here, and I am working on a future web site that will include such a page, but folks can not read my dream and I have yet to find such a page to link to.

    Keep hammering Russ. Kudos to you!

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    Comment by i on the ball patriot — November 11, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

    • Thanks, i ball. I agree on the plan of action, including summing it all up in one place.

      As you noted, the tactics I mentioned here (not an exhaustive list) were focused specifically on land redemption toward food production. There will be many other possibilities that fit within the same outside-the-system strategy.

      I just haven’t yet listed in one place, but I will do so soon:

      1. The basic principles and values upon which basis we’re acting (like food sovereignty).

      2. The political philosophy which comprehends those values.

      3. The major battlegrounds (like food freedom).

      4. The general strategy.

      5. The tactics for each battlefield (like the ones listed above for food).

      (Note that if relocalization is agreed upon as the general philosophy and strategy, that allows for a wide range of otherwise conflicting opinions and policies to nevertheless work together vs. the system, if the premise is that we’ll be forming our own communities on a local and regional basis.

      If two communities will interact on a truly federal basis, then there’s lots of room for them to differ in many other ways. That’s the real laboratory of democracy, not the sham version this sham federalism has often claimed to exalt.)

      Comment by Russ — November 11, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

  5. Quick question Russ… is this real or imaginary? A short confirmation if you could, thanks.

    Comment by rene — November 23, 2010 @ 10:33 am

    • Is which real? Unfortunately, it’s all real or prospectively real.

      Comment by Russ — November 23, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

  6. […] […]

    Pingback by The Revolution of Food « Volatility — February 10, 2011 @ 2:12 am

  7. […] now being exercised according to its full tyrannical logic.)   I’ve written before about how this weapon can be used against Food Sovereignty:   Revolving door corporate bureaucrats could issue fiats banning medicinal herbs or vitamin […]

    Pingback by Food Sovereignty, Raw Milk, and the Commerce Clause « Volatility — February 9, 2012 @ 7:21 am

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