August 5, 2012

Notes on the Food Sovereignty Revolution


Humanity is at a bottleneck. Reformism is proven not to work, and instead to be a misdirectional dead end. The only way forward is revolution.
So what’s to be the form of this revolution, its philosophical basis and the wellspring of its goals, strategy, and tactics? I think the basis is Food Sovereignty. The basics of this are summed up well in La Via Campesina’s Seven Principles of Food Sovereignty. I’ve written about these basics several times, for example here (suggesting how relocalization movement strategy can be applied to them), here (showing how they coordinate with the basic principles of a food freedom movement), and here (how they coordinate with a democratic view of constitutionalism).
The imperatives are clear. Industrial agriculture is based on cheap, plentiful fossil fuels, and on mining the soil. For both of these reasons it must soon collapse, dooming billions to hunger, malnutrition, and starvation. Corporate agriculture is also slated to be the basis of humanity’s enslavement under a restored feudalism, far more vicious and miserable than the medieval variety. This is how the 1% intends to survive and maintain its luxuries post-oil. These are the physical and political imperatives forcing the Food Sovereignty revolution.
Agronomic science has established that smallholder-based organic agriculture outproduces industrial agriculture, in terms of calories and nutrients, even now. Post-fossil fuels, this margin will become infinite. This smallholder and cooperative organic farming will also serve as the anchor of true democracy, since it’s the most difficult mode of social organization to force into a centralized top-down hierarchy. (Conversely, the total dependency and biological weakness fostered by industrial ag provides the most favorable basis for centralization and subjugation, far beyond the inherently hierarchical nature of industrial ag.)
I’ll add that with a society based on agroecology, for the first time in history humanity shall achieve full, permanent employment as self-proprietors, partners, and cooperatives. (But this revolution shall render “employment” itself an obsolete concept and term, as far as the way it’s used now.)
The Seven Principles express or imply the basic elements of our world view:
1. Humanity has the right to sufficient healthy food, as such.
2. Humanity has the right to democratic control (and “ownership”) of production, distribution, and consumption. This includes all natural resources.
3. These imply social justice and full political and economic democracy.
Since we have to undergo this post-oil, post-soil mining transformation anyway, let’s do it actively, exuberantly, to the full, and to the 99%’s benefit, rather than suffer it passively, horrifically, as slaves, for the 1%’s benefit. Let’s turn humanity’s final crisis into humanity’s great liberation and new beginning.
We’ll have to muster and actively assert the evidence, that this revolution is:
1. Practically, biologically necessary.
2. The only thing that makes sense rationally.
3. The only thing that makes sense morally, philosophically, spiritually.
4. How to do it.
The goal (as an initial goal) of creating tens of millions of small, autonomous farmers and growers in America (and elsewhere) shall provide:
1. A single focusing idea which is affirmative and inspiring, as well as rationally necessary.
2. A complex of day-to-day actions upon which economically and politically to build.
3. A righteous basis for any resistance action which is forced upon us.
The broad Food Sovereignty philosophy and goal shall in turn dictate the mindset and goal for every other issue. It shall define the form of the democratic movement. It shall be our guide and our beacon. While it won’t provide the full answer to every question, it will answer the biggest ones, and will be a necessary part of the answer to them all.
So this is the idea, the cause, and the struggle which humanity must embrace and see through to the end. There’s no other way forward, to survival and to prosperity, to subsistence and to abundance. We can have it all, or we can have nothing. There’s no longer any middle ground left. That space, if it ever existed, has been squeezed out of history. The only roads left are heroism and slavery. As I wrote once before, since we’re to be conscripts anyway, let’s be Volunteers.


  1. “I’ll add that with a society based on agroecology, for the first time in history humanity shall achieve full, permanent employment”

    Just a note: perpetuating the concept of “employment” is an inadvertent nod to those who “privatized” the commons to create the impetus of abject poverty so people would sell the sweat of their brow for less than its actual value. Labor (and, therefore, employment) is a fictitious commodity that should be assigned to the dustbin of history. “Employment” is just slavery by another name.

    Comment by Tao Jonesing — August 6, 2012 @ 12:47 am

  2. Hmmm…
    I wish that you could have been at my dinner table this weekend.
    My daughter in law’s family, who are subsisting in a French colony on allocations, eat RED MEAT every day. And not in small quantities, either.
    On the other hand… they go out and pick the fruit on the common trees (yes there are commons where I live), fruit that others disdain (or ignore) since we BELIEVE in buying our food in stores, are wary of eating what is OUT THERE and isn’t under plastic wrap of some sorts, and ARE CONSUMMATELY LAZY, as a result of feeling so VIRTUOUS about “earning a living” in a “job”. And have organized our lives so that we “don’t have time” to take care of our material world. Many of us, at least.
    When in France… the family makes a beeline for the shopping malls where they collect an unbelievable amount of stuff ? junk ? On sale, of course.
    This weekend my daughter in law went to her 100th garage sail, where she bought her third iron, which like the others, does not work.
    Will she give up on buying the irons, and other junk ? When ? I bite my tongue and smile. (My house is groaning under the the weight of her stuff, which she does not have room for.)
    SHE IS NOT DUMB BY ANY MEANS. And she is finishing the first part of medical school…. She will be… A TRUE ELITE in our current French society.
    She believes in the religion of paying the least for what you get. Absolute idolatry of money.
    Incidentally, although I sound hostile… I am ambivalent towards her.
    She is a lot like me, in some ways. (The apple never falls far from the tree, as they say.)
    I sometimes wonder how you are living, and what people you are PHYSICALLY ? hanging out with ? (Like Tao, by the way)
    You have lumped a myriad of very different people together under that convenient expression “99%”.
    I suppose that you are one of the 99%, in your own eyes ?
    I am not at all sure that my daughter in law’s family will.. FOLLOW YOU in your attempt to “liberate” them…
    Remember at the end, although he was idolized by “the people”, JESUS GOT CRUCIFIED, and.. “the people” were screaming for his blood.
    I ought to pull out the old, scandalous Kazantzakis novel, and reread it. “The Last Temptation of Christ”
    On the cross… did Jesus wonder if he had made a BIG MISTAKE ? (Frank Herbert in “Dune” paints a painfully lucid Paul Atreides who watches himself being inflated to revolutionary prophet status, and knows that whether he lives or dies, THE LEGEND/myth has already lifted anchor from his physical person.)
    Did he have any inkling of all the EVIL that would come out of his good intentions ?
    Would he have been so keen on.. evangelizing if he had had that inkling ?

    On a .. mincing note, take out a pencil, and underline the words “all” every” “must” “only” “full” “permanent” “true” in your post.
    They are pretty strong evidence of totalitarian thought. But then…the occult side of democracy IS totalitarian thought, isn’t it ? Can’t have those advantages without their accompanying disadvantages.
    Lucky thing that this blog has such a small audience, right ? (But that too, is probably due to the ongoing effects of democracy. Atomization.)
    I’m sure that there are lots of other blogs out there where I could read “all”, “must” in every other sentence.
    By the way, it’s pretty depressing to think that the original “ten words to live” became… “the ten commandments”, and that the Hebrew future mode/tense, which leaves the world.. OPEN, was laminated down to “you MUST” in our minds, at least.
    Very depressing.
    But… I am not depressed… 😉
    And I agree that our attitudes about food are top priority in our current dire situation.
    We.. differ in our perception of the methods though…
    I believe in cultivating my garden. Figuratively, of course. 😉
    And the power of fiction. And HUMOR, even though is may not be very perceptible in my posts here, I will grant you. God save me from “the truth”.
    And from the prophets.
    There ought to be a “prophets anonymous”…
    Signed.. a reformed (and ever reforming…) prophet. 😉

    Comment by Debra — August 6, 2012 @ 5:25 am

    • @Debra,

      “I sometimes wonder how you are living, and what people you are PHYSICALLY ? hanging out with ? (Like Tao, by the way)”

      Some things will forever remain a mystery. 🙂

      Comment by Tao Jonesing — August 7, 2012 @ 12:03 am

  3. And the struggle is right in our front yards, where chemically treated lawn grass (destruction) is required in place of trying to feed yourself (life). Anyone want to “mince words” about the grey areas? http://lucas2012infos.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/naturalnews-war-on-home-gardens-7-august-2012/#more-22136

    Comment by Pete — August 7, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

    • We need a dual-track tactic, “conventional” politics and coordinated resistance, to deal with this kind of petty fascism at the local level.

      Comment by Russ — August 7, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

  4. I took a rare stroll over to Golem’s place this morning.
    It was pretty interesting seeing how David has made a film that he initially called… “Hearts and Minds”, but someone ? something ? suggested to him that this title was… obscure, and his new title is… drum roll… “Heart vs. Mind”….
    I stuck down a… helpful comment at the end suggesting that just maybe… the simple.. activity ? of using the word “and” instead of “or”, or “versus” MIGHT be a form of quiet revolution…
    It COULD get the ball rolling.
    Isn’t that another way of putting things, concepts, and people together ? The word “and”…
    And it’s so easy.
    You don’t even have to have a constitution to do it…
    Can a door be anything besides open OR closed ?
    It can be.. ajar.
    Don’t forget quantum physics, right ?

    Comment by Debra — August 8, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

  5. Appeal for feedback and advice. I’ve posted here before about my quest to buy a small, tillable plot (10-20 acres) in Northern California. I’m looking at the Auburn, CA, area now. Anybody here have boots-on-ground experience living there who would be willing to field a few questions about local water, politics, best areas, challenges organic farming on a former horse ranch? If so, I will be forever grateful.

    Comment by Paul — August 13, 2012 @ 10:37 pm

    • Hi Paul, I remember the discussion, although I don’t recall which thread it was. I don’t know anything specific about buying land in California, but we’ll see if anyone knows more. If I can remember where it was, I’ll link the old discussion.

      Comment by Russ — August 14, 2012 @ 3:35 am

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