Category Archives: World Bank

The Fear Pandemic and the Crisis of Capitalism

In October 2019, in a speech at an International Monetary Fund conference, former Bank of England governor Mervyn King warned that the world was sleepwalking towards a fresh economic and financial crisis that would have devastating consequences for what he called the “democratic market system”.

According to King, the global economy was stuck in a low growth trap and recovery from the crisis of 2008 was weaker than that after the Great Depression. He concluded that it was time for the Federal Reserve and other central banks to begin talks behind closed doors with politicians.

In the repurchase agreement (repo) market, interest rates soared on 16 September. The Federal Reserve stepped in by intervening to the tune of $75 billion per day over four days, a sum not seen since the 2008 crisis.

At that time, according to Fabio Vighi, professor of critical theory at Cardiff University, the Fed began an emergency monetary programme that saw hundreds of billions of dollars per week pumped into Wall Street.

Over the last 18 months or so, under the guise of a ‘pandemic’, we have seen economies closed down, small businesses being crushed, workers being made unemployed and people’s rights being destroyed. Lockdowns and restrictions have facilitated this process. The purpose of these so-called ‘public health measures’ has little to do with public health and much to do with managing a crisis of capitalism and ultimately the restructuring of the economy.

Neoliberalism has squeezed workers income and benefits, offshored key sectors of economies and has used every tool at its disposal to maintain demand and create financial Ponzi schemes in which the rich can still invest in and profit from. The bailouts to the banking sector following the 2008 crash provided only temporary respite. The crash returned with a much bigger bang pre-Covid along with multi-billion-dollar bailouts.

The dystopian ‘great reset’ that we are currently witnessing is a response to this crisis. This reset envisages a transformation of capitalism.

Fabio Vighi sheds light on the role of the ‘pandemic’ in all of this:

… some may have started wondering why the usually unscrupulous ruling elites decided to freeze the global profit-making machine in the face of a pathogen that targets almost exclusively the unproductive (over 80s).

Vighi describes how, in pre-Covid times, the world economy was on the verge of another colossal meltdown and chronicles how the Swiss Bank of International Settlements, BlackRock (the world’s most powerful investment fund), G7 central bankers and others worked to avert a massive impending financial meltdown.

The world economy was suffocating under an unsustainable mountain of debt. Many companies could not generate enough profit to cover interest payments on their own debts and were staying afloat only by taking on new loans. Falling turnover, squeezed margins, limited cash flows and highly leveraged balance sheets were rising everywhere.

Lockdowns and the global suspension of economic transactions were intended to allow the Fed to flood the ailing financial markets (under the guise of COVID) with freshly printed money while shutting down the real economy to avoid hyperinflation.

Vighi says:

… the stock market did not collapse (in March 2020) because lockdowns had to be imposed; rather, lockdowns had to be imposed because financial markets were collapsing. With lockdowns came the suspension of business transactions, which drained the demand for credit and stopped the contagion. In other words, restructuring the financial architecture through extraordinary monetary policy was contingent on the economy’s engine being turned off.

It all amounted to a multi-trillion bailout for Wall Street under the guise of COVID ‘relief’ followed by an ongoing plan to fundamentally restructure capitalism that involves smaller enterprises being driven to bankruptcy or bought up by monopolies and global chains, thereby ensuring continued viable profits for these predatory corporations, and the eradication of millions of jobs resulting from lockdowns and accelerated automation.

Author and journalist Matt Taibbi noted in 2020:

It retains all the cruelties of the free market for those who live and work in the real world, but turns the paper economy into a state protectorate, surrounded by a kind of Trumpian Money Wall that is designed to keep the investor class safe from fear of loss. This financial economy is a fantasy casino, where the winnings are real but free chips cover the losses. For a rarefied segment of society, failure is being written out of the capitalist bargain.

The World Economic Forum says that by 2030 the public will ‘rent’ everything they require. This means undermining the right of ownership (or possibly seizing personal assets) and restricting consumer choice underpinned by the rhetoric of reducing public debt or ‘sustainable consumption’, which will be used to legitimise impending austerity as a result of the economic meltdown. Ordinary people will foot the bill for the ‘COVID relief’ packages.

If the financial bailouts do not go according to plan, we could see further lockdowns imposed, perhaps justified under the pretext of  ‘the virus’ but also ‘climate emergency’.

It is not only Big Finance that has been saved. A previously ailing pharmaceuticals industry has also received a massive bailout (public funds to develop and purchase the vaccines) and lifeline thanks to the money-making COVID jabs.

The lockdowns and restrictions we have seen since March 2020 have helped boost the bottom line of global chains and the e-commerce giants as well and have cemented their dominance. At the same time, fundamental rights have been eradicated under COVID government measures.

Capitalism and labour

Essential to this ‘new normal’ is the compulsion to remove individual liberties and personal freedoms. A significant part of the working class has long been deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ – such people were sacrificed on the altar of neo-liberalism. They lost their jobs due to automation and offshoring. Since then, this section of the population has had to rely on meagre state welfare and run-down public services or, if ‘lucky’, insecure low-paid service sector jobs.

What we saw following the 2008 crash was ordinary people being pushed further to the edge. After a decade of ‘austerity’ in the UK – a neoliberal assault on the living conditions of ordinary people carried out under the guise of reining in public debt following the bank bail outs – a leading UN poverty expert compared Conservative welfare policies to the creation of 19th-century workhouses and warned that, unless austerity is ended, the UK’s poorest people face lives that are “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.

Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty, accused ministers of being in a state of denial about the impact of policies. He accused them of the “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population”.

In another 2019 report, the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank laid the blame for more than 130,000 deaths in the UK since 2012 at the door of government policies. It claimed that these deaths could have been prevented if improvements in public health policy had not stalled as a direct result of austerity cuts.

Over the past 10 years in the UK, according to the Trussell Group, there has been rising food poverty and increasing reliance on food banks.

And in a damning report on poverty in the UK by Professor David Gordon of the University of Bristol, it was found that almost 18 million cannot afford adequate housing conditions, 12 million are too poor to engage in common social activities, one in three cannot afford to heat their homes adequately in winter and four million children and adults are not properly fed (Britain’s population is estimated at around 66 million).

Moreover, a 2015 report by the New Policy Institute noted that the total number of people in poverty in the UK had increased by 800,000, from 13.2 to 14.0 million in just two to three years.

Meanwhile, The Equality Trust in 2018 reported that the ‘austerity’ years were anything but austere for the richest 1,000 people in the UK. They had increased their wealth by £66 billion in one year alone (2017-2018), by £274 billion in five years (2013-2018) and had increased their total wealth to £724 billion – significantly more than the poorest 40% of households combined (£567 billion).

Just some of the cruelties of the ‘free market’ for those who live and work in the real world. And all of this hardship prior to lockdowns that have subsequently devastated lives, livelihoods and health, with cancer diagnoses and treatments and other conditions having been neglected due to the shutdown of health services.

During the current economic crisis, what we are seeing is many millions around the world being robbed of their livelihoods. With AI and advanced automation of production, distribution and service provision on the immediate horizon, a mass labour force will no longer be required.

It raises fundamental questions about the need for and the future of mass education, welfare and healthcare provision and systems that have traditionally served to reproduce and maintain labour that capitalist economic activity has required.

As the economy is restructured, labour’s relationship to capital is being transformed. If work is a condition of the existence of the labouring classes, then, in the eyes of capitalists, why maintain a pool of (surplus) labour that is no longer needed?

A concentration of wealth power and ownership is taking place as a result of COVID-related policies: according to research by Oxfam, the world’s billionaires gained $3.9 trillion while working people lost $3.7 trillion in 2020. At the same time, as large sections of the population head into a state of permanent unemployment, the rulers are weary of mass dissent and resistance. We are witnessing an emerging biosecurity surveillance state designed to curtail liberties ranging from freedom of movement and assembly to political protest and free speech.

The global implications are immense too. Barely a month into the COVID agenda, the IMF and World Bank were already facing a deluge of aid requests from developing countries that were asking for bailouts and loans. Ideal cover for rebooting the global economy via a massive debt crisis and the subsequent privatisation of national assets.

In 2020, World Bank Group President David Malpass stated that poorer countries will be ‘helped’ to get back on their feet after the various lockdowns but such ‘help’ would be on condition that neoliberal reforms become further embedded. In other words, the de facto privatisation of states (affecting all nations, rich and poor alike), the (complete) erosion of national sovereignty and dollar-denominated debt leading to a further strengthening of US leverage and power.

In a system of top-down surveillance capitalism with an increasing section of the population deemed ‘unproductive’ and ‘useless eaters’, notions of individualism, liberal democracy and the ideology of free choice and consumerism are regarded by the elite as ‘unnecessary luxuries’ along with political and civil rights and freedoms.

We need only look at the ongoing tyranny in Australia to see where other countries could be heading. How quickly Australia was transformed from a ‘liberal democracy’ to a brutal totalitarian police state of endless lockdowns where gathering and protests are not to be tolerated.

Being beaten and thrown to the ground and fired at with rubber bullets in the name of protecting health makes as much sense as devastating entire societies through socially and economically destructive lockdowns to ‘save lives’.

It makes as much sense as mask-wearing and social-distancing mandates unsupported by science, misused and flawed PCR tests, perfectly healthy people being labelled as ‘cases’, deliberately inflated COVID death figures, pushing dangerous experimental vaccines in the name of health, ramping up fear, relying on Neil Ferguson’s bogus modelling, censoring debate about any of this and the WHO declaring a worldwide ‘pandemic’ based on a very low number of global ‘cases’ back in early 2020 (44,279 ‘cases’ and 1,440 supposed COVID deaths outside China out of a population of 6.4 billion).

There is little if any logic to this. But of course, If we view what is happening in terms of a crisis of capitalism, it might begin to make a lot more sense.

The austerity measures that followed the 2008 crash were bad enough for ordinary people who were still reeling from the impacts when the first lockdown was imposed.

The authorities are aware that deeper, harsher impacts as well as much more wide-ranging changes will be experienced this time around and seem adamant that the masses must become more tightly controlled and conditioned to their coming servitude.

The post The Fear Pandemic and the Crisis of Capitalism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The WEF’s Great Reset:  Euphemism for a WWIII Scenario?

Let’s make no mistake, we are already in WWIII. A more noble term is “The Great Reset” – the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) eloquent description of a devastated worldwide economy, countless bankruptcies and unemployment, abject misery, famine, death by starvation, disease and suicide. Hundreds of millions of people have already been affected by this “collateral” damage of the “covid-19” fear-propaganda bio-war, with a death-toll maybe already in the tens of millions, but which in reality cannot even be assessed at this time.

And this only one year into this criminal madness, a diabolical elite of multi-multi billionaires has pushed upon us, We the People. We are only in the first year of the war which by the Reset’s plan is to last the entire decade 2020-2030. The agenda is supposed to be completed by 2030.  it’s also called UN Agenda 2030.  See also here.

The WEF is, in fact, nothing more than an NGO, registered in a lush suburb of Geneva, Switzerland. Its members are, however, a collection of dirty-rich people: High-ranking politicians, heads of corporations, banking gnomes, artists and Hollywood personalities – none of them are people’s elected officials with a mandate to rule the world. Yet, they are effectively ruling the world, by coopting, coercing, or threatening the entire UN system and its 193 member countries into their obedience. Because they think they have all the money in the world, and they can. Mind you, money acquired in a fraudulent system designed by them. – But more importantly, because We, the People, let them.

The Great Reset has three major goals, all of equal importance (i) massive depopulation, (ii) shifting all assets from the bottom and the middle to the top; following the motto for the masses, at the end “You will own nothing and be happy”. That is Klaus Schwab’s conclusion for the completion of The Great Reset; and (iii) a complete digitized control over everything – money, mind, personal records and behaviors – a combination of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, and George Orwell’s “1984”.  See Mike Whitney’s article “The COVID-19 Vaccine; Is the Goal Immunity or Depopulation?”.

As we can see, the WEF is involved at every level in the Plandemic and its consequences, especially the consequences that favor the Great Reset. As Klaus Schwab in the Great Reset so revealingly says, the pandemic opens a “small window of opportunity” during which these consequences (meaning the reshaping of the world) have to be realized. Everything has to work like clockwork.

So far, it seems to be on track. Though, as more people are waking up and scientists consciousness make them leaving their straight-jacketed matrix-jobs, resistance is growing exponentially.

The NGO, trillion-dollar members-powerhouse, WEF, is outranking the world’s peoples designed and implemented UN system by far. Recently the WEF, now in association with Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was warning of a cyber-attack on the western monetary system. To emphasize their point, they said, it is “Not a Question of If but When.

According to the Last American Vagabond (LAV), areport published last year by the WEF-Carnegie Cyber Policy Initiative, calls for the merging of Wall Street banks, their regulators and intelligence agencies as necessary to confront an allegedly imminent cyber-attack that will collapse the existing financial system.

The LAV article goes on saying

In 2019, the same year as Event 201 took place (Event 201 – 18 October 2019, in NYC, simulating the current SARS-CoV-2 plandemic and destruction of the world economy), the Endowment launched its Cyber Policy Initiative with the goal of producing an “International Strategy for Cybersecurity and the Global Financial System 2021-2024.” That strategy was released just months ago, in November 2020 and, according to the Endowment, was authored by “leading experts in governments, central banks, industry and the technical community” in order to provide a “longer-term international cybersecurity strategy”, specifically for the financial system.

The Cyber Policy Initiative emanating from the joint venture’s WEF- Carnegie Endowment report of  November 2020, is contained in a paper titled International Strategy to Better Protect the Financial System.” It begins by noting that the global financial system, like many other systems, are “going through unprecedented digital transformation, which is being accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.” It concludes with the warning that:

Malicious actors are taking advantage of this digital transformation and pose a growing threat to the global financial system, financial stability, and confidence in the integrity of the financial system. Malign actors are using cyber capabilities to steal from, disrupt, or otherwise threaten financial institutions, investors and the public. These actors include not only increasingly daring criminals, but also states and state-sponsored attackers.

A fully digitized monetary system has been on the WEF’s and IMF’s agenda for years. They cannot wait to implement it. So, if indeed, a cyber-attack on the western monetary system actually will take place, there is no question, who has planned and implemented it.

The drive for total digitization of everything, but foremost the (western) world’s monetary system, is an integral part of The Great Reset. It is supported, of course, by the banking and finance sector, including western central banks. Its implementation is to be accelerated by the covid-fraud, but encounters fierce resistance in many countries, especially in the Global South but also in the western industrialized countries, where intellectual groups realize what this means for the resources and assets worked for and owned by the people – it will be easily ‘expropriated’ so to speak, for example, for disobedience, as the control will be fully with the banks.

And this leads to the conclusion of the nefarious Great Reset“You will own nothing and be happy”.

Luckily, the East, led by China and Russia, has gradually withdrawn from the western monetary system and are largely independent, monetary-sovereign countries. Therefore the western digitization drive does not apply to the East which is further enhanced by the China-Russia led Shanghai Cooperation Organization – SCO – accounting for about half the world’s population and a third of the world’s economic output – GDP.

See the full LAV article here.

If Klaus Schwab and the WEF’s “Illuminati” would have their way, by 2030 the grand flock of humans will be transformed into “transhumans” – a kind of semi-robots that responds to AI signals controlled by The Great Reset’s masterminds (sic), which by then will have become the leaders of a tyranny, called the New or One World Order – OWO. We, the People, would then have become the new AI-directed serfs. Or, as per Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the “epsilon people”.

Let that not happen.
Let’s unite and resist with all our powers.
We are – still – 7.8 billion people against a few pathological soulless multi-billionaires.

The post The WEF’s Great Reset:  Euphemism for a WWIII Scenario? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Big Picture is Ignored in the Covid Debate

What is the “Big Picture” of Covid-19, alias SARS-CoV-2 ?  Is it what we could also call the end-game, or what Aldous Huxley called the “Brave New World” (1932), science-fiction – gradually turning into reality in the form of the UN Agenda 2030 – with the implementing tool of the Bill Gates created Agenda ID2020 (see here) ?

We are at the beginning of the end-game. We are in what the 2010 Rockefeller Report calls “The Lockstep” scenario. This is the first one of four scenarios, prompted by an invisible enemy, a virus, a corona virus, akin to the one that was at the origin of the SARS outbreak in China in 2002 to 2004. This virus is to be propagated as a huge deadly danger. It’s a brainwashing fear campaign. The decision for the launch was taken during Event 201, in NYC on 18 October 2019, a few weeks before the actual SAES-CoV-2 outbreak. And it was confirmed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) conference in January 2020 in Davos, Switzerland.

Event 201, hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (funded and created by the  Rockefeller Foundation) and the WEF, was chiefly a computer simulation of a SARS-like pandemic, killing some 65 million people in 18 months and destroying the world’s economy as we know it (see here).

What was foreseen was a bio-warfare against humanity. The virus was called SARS-Cov-2, later for reasons of disguising from its creators, was renamed by WHO to “Covid-19”. The close companion of the virus was FEAR — weaponized Fear.

Together, with a huge propaganda and brainwashing effort, the entire world – 193 UN member countries were called a covid risk – and WHO declared a pandemic — as we later found out, it was a plandemic — on 11 March 2020. Imagine! With only about 4,600 “cases” worldwide, the World Health Organization calls it a pandemic. The world fell in shock. When people are in shock, they are gullible to accept anything – see Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine (2008).

A worldwide lockdown was ordered by an invisible Globalist Cabal to all 193 UN member governments at once, by mid-March 2020. Governments were bought, corrupted, coopted or threatened into behaving as ordered by a worldwide common must-narrative. The entire UN system was, and is as of today, part and parcel of this worldwide fraud. Indeed, those government leaders, who did not follow the narrative, who defied the plandemic, risked severe “punishment”.

The President of Burundi, Mr. Pierre Nkurunziza, died unexpectedly on 8 June 2020 shortly before the official end of his term. He was the longest-ruling president in Burundian history. His death was diagnosed as a heart attack. He was known for defying the official narrative of covid-19, and of kicking WHO out of his country shortly before his death.

Tanzania’s popular President John Magufuli, died on March 17, 2021, from “heart complications”, in a hospital in Dar es Salaam. Mr. Magufuli was one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus sceptics. He called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus. Shortly before his death, he said that he had PCR tests carried out on a papaya and a goat and the tests came back positive, implying that the notorious PCR test kits were pre-tainted with the virus.

The public at large is being kept in the dark about what the Deep State, the corporate, banking and high-tech communication oligarchs, or simply the Globalist Cabal’s real plan is behind the covid fraud.

The so far almost invisible Big Picture, also called The Great Reset, or in the UN Agenda 2030 jargon, “Build Back Better” – consists of a threefold objective:

(i) Taking over total control of humanity, as in One World Order (OWO); by electromagnetic manipulation (that’s where 5G, later 6G come in); by digitizing everything, including all money; by converting humans into transhumans; they – Mr. Klaus Schwab, the co-author of the Great Reset, and his cabal, call it the 4th Industrial Revolution;

(ii) Shifting assets and resources from the middle and the bottom of society to the top few; and,

(iii) Drastically reducing world population, via a eugenist massive depopulation agenda. Eventually, a small globalist elite – all those associated with managing and governing the OWO-tyranny – plus a relatively small world population of serfs – or what Aldous Huxley called the “Epsilon people” (the lowest cast working people) – in today’s world, “transhumans”, would survive. The serfs or Epsilon people would all be electronically controlled and manipulated, so they would not transgress into seeking their erstwhile “freedom” lost.

The Rockefeller-led Bilderberg Society and Rockefeller’s protégé Henry Kissinger, have been propagating a reduced world population for decades. Remember Henry Kissinger’s infamous saying: Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”

Bill Gates is today’s chief proponent of a reduced world population. He has also recently become the largest private farmland owner in the United States. He reportedly owns 242,000 acres (about 980 square kilometers) of farmland across 18 states. What does he intend to do with this farmland? – Well, who controls the food, controls the people. Gates is also a significant shareholder and partner in (Bayer-)Monsanto’s GMO seed- and pesticides branch.

At this point we can only speculate. But some of the not so farfetched speculations would indicate that Bill Gates, under the guise of environmental protection (i. e. the good-old “climate change agenda”) and the New Green Deal, he may want to produce synthetic food, laboratory produced meat and GMO (genetically modified) grains and vegetables. This synthetic GMO-food, spiked with toxic pesticides, will then compete with ‘real food’ which – under the neoliberal market forces will become ever rarer – affordable only by the elite.

Synthetic food may include all kinds of “health and disease agents” to regulate population. The Epsilon people will, of course, have no clue. As the Great Reset concludes – They will own nothing and be happy.

While this is going on in the shadows, invisible for most people, the media make sure that the debate – official by governments, and unofficial by anti-covid protesters – is entirely focused on covid, the infection, the invisible atrocious enemy, the fear-mongering, plus all the repressive covid-measures, masking, social distancing, semi- versus full lockdowns, travel restrictions, vaxxing or not vaxxing – and the so-called obligatory electronic vaccination passports, akin to the Agenda ID2020.

All are concentrating on the covid-virus. Almost nothing lets you suspect that there is a Big Picture, a much larger, much deadlier agenda behind all this, that the virus and the atrocious Fear it promotes, is but an instrument to reach the larger objectives, those listed above.

Hardly does any public or unofficial debate, even massive anti-covid measures protests, like the “Wake up the World“ demo by the World Freedom Alliance in Copenhagen on February 4, 2021 touch the Big Picture, what awaits us at the end of the UN Agenda 2030: You own nothing and are happy.

We are at war. Not just against an invisible enemy, the corona virus and the weaponized factor of FEAR, but also against our own ignorance and unconsciousness. Plus, against the Global Cabal – the WEF and its Great Reset with its treacherous, fake New Green Deal, a new ultra-neoliberal capitalism, painted green – and intent of swallowing us all under the fakeness of climate change and environmental protection, the rebirth of the Greta-agenda.

The British PM, Boris Johnson, addressed on 8 October 2020 via video his conservative Tory Party with about these words:

We have lost too much, mourned too long and life cannot continue like before. History shows us that events of this dimension  — wars, pandemics — don’t just come and go. Most often they are triggers for social and economic changes. We see these instances as a period to learn and to become better. Hence, this government wants to “build back better” (UN slogan for Great Reset).

Let’s compare this with the words of Klaus Schwab in his “Covid-19 – The Great Reset”:

Many of us ask when will we return to normality? The short answer is NEVER. Nothing will return to the rotten feeling of normality that existed before the crisis, because the corona-pandemic marks a fundamental change in our global development. Many analysts call it a crossroads, others a crisis of biblical dimensions, but in essence this shows us that the world we still knew in the first months of 2020 doesn’t exist anymore. It dissolved in the context of the pandemic.

Wow! This is strong and quite insensitive language for the many people who died on covid-19 and especially for those hundreds of millions, if not billions, who have lost everything — their jobs, their homes, their income, their families and friends, those who suffer from famine, who now live in misery, at the edge of sheer existence, those who are driven to commit suicide.

The grandiose WEF, the Rockefellers, Gates, Prince Charles, the Director General of WHO, the Chief of the IMF, the UN Secretary General, and all those who participated in the planning of this “pandemic” during Event 201, never mention these people. In other words, for this small elite, the planners and organizers of the Great Reset, those who represent the concept: You own nothing and are happy – these dumped-into-poverty “epsilon people” are dispensable.

If we cannot master the covid fraud, put an end to it, even unseating and bringing to justice the 193 lying, cheating and eventually murderous UN member governments, how can we come to grips with, and escape the fangs of, the “Big Picture”, The Great Reset, that eventually will deprive us of our daily nutrition, rendering us infertile and sterile with toxic artificial food with the forced vaccines, and bring about a mass genocide through genome-altering mRNA-type vaccines, pesticide-GMO food – with a soulless, masked life in solitude?

The post The Big Picture is Ignored in the Covid Debate first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Walmart, Amazon and the Colonial Deindustrialisation of India

In June 2018, the Joint Action Committee against Foreign Retail and E-commerce (JACAFRE) issued a statement on Walmart’s acquisition of Flipkart. It argued that it undermines India’s economic and digital sovereignty and the livelihood of millions in India.

The deal would lead to Walmart and Amazon dominating India’s e-retail sector. These two US companies would also own India’s key consumer and other economic data, making them the country’s digital overlords, joining the ranks of Google and Facebook.

JACAFRE was formed to resist the entry of foreign corporations like Walmart and Amazon into India’s e-commerce market. Its members represent more than 100 national groups, including major trade, workers and farmers organisations.

On 8 January 2021, JACAFRE published an open letter saying that the three new farm laws, passed by parliament in September 2020, centre on enabling and facilitating the unregulated corporatisation of agriculture value chains. This will effectively make farmers and small traders of agricultural produce become subservient to the interests of a few agrifood and e-commerce giants or will eradicate them completely.

The government is facilitating the dominance of giant corporations, not least through digital or e-commerce platforms, to control the entire value chain. The letter states that if the new farm laws are closely examined, it will be evident that unregulated digitalisation is an important aspect of them.

And this is not lost on Parminder Jeet Singh from IT for Change (a member of JACAFRE). Referring to Walmart’s takeover of online retailer Flipkart, Singh notes that there was strong resistance to Walmart entering India with its physical stores; however, online and offline worlds are now merged.

That is because, today, e-commerce companies not only control data about consumption but also control data on production, logistics, who needs what, when they need it, who should produce it, who should move it and when it should be moved.

Through the control of data (knowledge), e-commerce platforms can shape the entire physical economy. What is concerning is that Amazon and Walmart have sufficient global clout to ensure they become a duopoly, more or less controlling much of India’s economy.

Singh says that whereas you can regulate an Indian company, this cannot be done with foreign players who have global data, global power and will be near-impossible to regulate.

While China succeeded in digital industrialisation by building up its own firms, Singh observes that the EU is now a digital colony of the US. The danger is clear for India. He states that India has its own skills and digital forms, so why is the government letting in US companies to dominate and buy India’s digital platforms?

And ‘platform’ is a key word here. We are seeing the eradication of the marketplace. Platforms will control everything from production to logistics to even primary activities like agriculture and farming. Data gives power to platforms to dictate what needs to be manufactured and in what quantities.

Singh argues that the digital platform is the brain of the whole system. The farmer will be told how much production is expected, how much rain is expected, what type of soil quality there is, what type of (genetically engineered) seeds and are inputs are required and when the produce needs to be ready.

This is not idle speculation. The recent article ‘Digital control: how big tech moves into food and farming (and what it means)’ on the grain.org website, describes how Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and others are moving in on the global agrifood sector.

Those traders, manufacturers and primary producers who survive will become slaves to platforms and lose their independence. Moreover, e-commerce platforms will become permanently embedded once artificial intelligence begins to plan and determine all of the above.

It is a clear concern that India will cede control of its economy, politics and culture to these all-powerful, modern-day East India companies.

Of course, things have been moving in this direction for a long time, especially since India began capitulating to the tenets of neoliberalism in the early 1990s and all that entails, not least an increasing dependence on borrowing and foreign capital inflows and subservience to destructive World Bank-IMF economic directives.

But what we are currently witnessing with the three farm bills and the growing role of (foreign) e-commerce will bring about the ultimate knock-out blow to the peasantry and many small independent enterprises. This has been the objective of powerful players who have regarded India as the potential jewel in the crown of their corporate empires for a long time.

The process resembles the structural adjustment programmes that were imposed on African countries some decades ago. Economics Professor Michel Chossudovsky notes in his 1997 book ‘The Globalization of Poverty’ that economies are:

opened up through the concurrent displacement of a pre-existing productive system. Small and medium-sized enterprises are pushed into bankruptcy or obliged to produce for a global distributor, state enterprises are privatised or closed down, independent agricultural producers are impoverished. (p. 16)

The game plan is clear and JACAFRE says the government should urgently consult all stakeholders – traders, farmers and other small and medium size players – towards a holistic new economic model where all economic actors are assured their due and appropriately valued role. Small and medium size economic actors cannot be allowed to be reduced to being helpless agents of a few digitally enabled mega-corporations.

JACAFRE concludes:

We appeal to the government that it should urgently address the issues raised by those farmers asking for the three laws to be repealed. Specifically, from a traders’ point of view, the role of small and medium traders all along the agri produce value chain has to be strengthened and protected against its unmitigated corporatisation.

The struggle for democracy

It is clear that the ongoing farmers’ protest in India is not just about farming. It represents a struggle for the heart and soul of the country. As the organisation GRAIN says on its website, there is an intensifying fight for space between local and territorial markets and global markets. The former are the domain of small-scale independent producers and enterprises; the latter are dominated by large-scale international retailers, traders and the rapidly growing influential e-commerce companies.

It is therefore essential to protect and strengthen local markets and indigenous, independent small-scale enterprises, whether farmers, hawkers, food processers or mom and pop corner stores. This will ensure that India has more control over its food supply, the ability to determine its own policies and economic independence: in other words, the protection of food and national sovereignty and a greater ability to pursue genuine democratic development.

Instead of this, we could, for instance, see India eradicating its buffer food stocks at the behest of global traders and agrifood players. India would then bid for them with borrowed funds on the open market. Instead of continuing to physically hold and control its own buffer stocks, thereby ensuring a degree of food security, India would hold foreign exchange reserves. It would need to attract foreign reserves and maintain ‘market confidence’ to ensure this inflow.

This is one intention of the recent farm legislation and constitutes a recipe for further dependency on foreign finance, unpredictable global events and unaccountable corporations. But mainstream economic thinking passes this subjugation off as ‘liberalisation’.

How is an inability to determine your own economic policies and surrendering food security to outside forces in any way liberating?

It is interesting to note that the BBC recently reported that, in its annual report on global political rights and liberties, the US-based non-profit Freedom House has downgraded India from a free democracy to a “partially free democracy”. It also reported that Sweden-based V-Dem Institute says India is now an “electoral autocracy”. India did not fare any better in a report by The Economist Intelligent Unit’s Democracy Index.

The BBC’s neglect of Britain’s own slide towards COVID-related authoritarianism aside, the report on India was not without substance. It focused on the increase in anti-Muslim feeling, diminishing of freedom of expression, the role of the media and the restrictions on civil society since PM Narendra Modi took power.

The undermining of liberties in all these areas is cause for concern in its own right. But this trend towards divisiveness and authoritarianism serves another purpose: it helps smooth the path for the corporate takeover of the country.

Whether it involves a ‘divide and rule’ strategy along religious lines to divert attention, the suppression of free speech or pushing unpopular farm bills through parliament without proper debate while using the police and the media to undermine the farmers’ protest, a major undemocratic heist is under way that will fundamentally adversely impact people’s livelihoods and the cultural and social fabric of India.

On one side, there are the interests of a handful of multi-billionaires who own the corporations and platforms that seek to control India. On the other, there are the interests of hundreds of millions of cultivators, vendors and various small-scale enterprises who are regarded by these rich individuals as mere collateral damage to be displaced in their quest for ever greater profit.

Indian farmers are currently on the front-line against global capitalism and the colonial-style deindustrialisation of the economy. This is where ultimately the struggle for democracy and the future of India is taking place.

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Opening the CIA’s Can of Worms

“The CIA and the media are part of the same criminal conspiracy,” wrote Douglas Valentine in his important book, The CIA As Organized Crime

This is true.  The corporate mainstream media are stenographers for the national security state’s ongoing psychological operations aimed at the American people, just as they have done the same for an international audience.  We have long been subjected to this “information warfare,” whose purpose is to win the hearts and minds of the American people and pacify them into victims of their own complicity, just as it was practiced long ago by the CIA in Vietnam and by The New York Times, CBS, etc. on the American people then and over the years as the American warfare state waged endless wars, coups, false flag operations, and assassinations at home and abroad.

Another way of putting this is to say for all practical purposes when it comes to matters that bear on important foreign and domestic matters, the CIA and the corporate mainstream media cannot be distinguished.

For those who read and study history, it has long been known that the CIA has placed their operatives throughout every agency of the U.S. government, as explained by Fletcher Prouty in The Secret Team, The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World; that CIA officers Cord Myer and Frank Wisner operated secret programs to get some of the most vocal exponents of intellectual freedom among intellectuals, journalists, and writers to be their voices for unfreedom and censorship, as explained by Frances Stonor Saunders in The Cultural Cold War and Joel Whitney in Finks, among others; that Cord Myer was especially focused on and successful in “courting the Compatible Left” since right wingers were already in the Agency’s pocket.  All this is documented and not disputed.  It is shocking only to those who don’t do their homework and see what is happening today outside a broad historical context.

With the rise of alternate media and a wide array of dissenting voices on the internet, the establishment felt threatened and went on the defensive.  It therefore should come as no surprise that those same elite corporate media are now leading the charge for increased censorship and the denial of free speech to those they deem dangerous, whether that involves wars, rigged elections, foreign coups, COVID-19, vaccinations, or the lies of the corporate media themselves. Having already banned critics from writing in their pages and/or talking on their screens, these media giants want to make the quieting of dissenting voices complete.

Just the other day The New York Times had this headline:

Robert Kennedy Jr. Barred From Instagram Over False Virus Claims.

Notice the lack of the word alleged before “false virus claims.”  This is guilt by headline.  It is a perfect piece of propaganda posing as reporting, since it accuses Kennedy, a brilliant and honorable man, of falsity and stupidity, thus justifying Instagram’s ban, and it is an inducement to further censorship of Mr. Kennedy by Facebook that owns Instagram. That ban should follow soon, as the Times’ reporter Jennifer Jett hopes, since she accusingly writes that RFK, Jr. “makes many of the same baseless claims to more than 300,000 followers” at Facebook.  Jett made sure her report also went to msn.com and The Boston Globe.

This is one example of the censorship underway with much, much more to follow.  What was once done under the cover of omission is now done openly and brazenly, cheered on by those who, in an act of bad faith, claim to be upholders of the First Amendment and the importance of free debate in a democracy.  We are quickly slipping into an unreal totalitarian social order.

Which brings me to the recent work of Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, both of whom have strongly and rightly decried this censorship. As I understand their arguments, they go like this.

First, the corporate media have today divided up the territory and speak only to their own audiences in echo chambers: liberal to liberals (read: the “allegedly” liberal Democratic Party), such as The New York Times, NBC, etc., and conservative to conservatives (read” the “allegedly” conservative Donald Trump), such as Fox News, Breitbart, etc.  They have abandoned old school journalism that, despite its shortcomings, involved objectivity and the reporting of disparate facts and perspectives, but within limits. Since the digitization of news, their new business models are geared to these separate audiences since they are highly lucrative choices. It’s business driven since electronic media have replaced paper as advertising revenues have shifted and people’s ability to focus on complicated issues has diminished drastically.  Old school journalism is suffering as a result and thus writers such as Greenwald and Taibbi and Chris Hedges (who interviewed Taibbi and concurs: part one here) have taken their work to the internet to escape such restrictive categories and the accompanying censorship.

Secondly, the great call for censorship is not something the Silicon Valley companies want because they want more people using their media since it means more money for them, but they are being pressured to do it by the traditional old school media, such as The New York Times, who now employ “tattletales and censors,” people who are power hungry jerks, to sniff out dissenting voices that they can recommend should be banned. Greenwald says:

They do it in part for power: to ensure nobody but they can control the flow of information. They do it partly for ideology and out of hubris: the belief that their worldview is so indisputably right that all dissent is inherently dangerous ‘disinformation.’

Thus, the old school print and television media are not on the same page as Facebook, Twitter, etc. but have opposing agendas.

In short, these shifts and the censorship are about money and power within the media world as the business has been transformed by the digital revolution.

I think this is a half-truth that conceals a larger issue. The censorship is not being driven by power hungry reporters at the Times or CNN or any media outlet. All these media and their employees are but the outer layer of the onion, the means by which messages are sent and people controlled.  These companies and their employees do what they are told, whether explicitly or implicitly, for they know it is in their financial interest to do so.  If they do not play their part in this twisted and intricate propaganda game, they will suffer. They will be eliminated, as are pesky individuals who dare peel the onion to its core. For each media company is one part of a large interconnected intelligence apparatus – a system, a complex – whose purpose is power, wealth, and domination for the very few at the expense of the many.  The CIA and media as parts of the same criminal conspiracy.

To argue that the Silicon valley companies do not want to censor but are being pressured by the legacy corporate media does not make sense.  These companies are deeply connected to U.S. intelligence agencies, as are the NY Times, CNN, NBC, etc.  They too are part of what was once called Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s program to control, use, and infiltrate the media.  Only the most naïve would think that such a program does not exist today.

In Surveillance Valley, investigative reporter Yasha Levine documents how Silicon valley tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google are tied to the military-industrial-intelligence-media complex in surveillance and censorship; how the Internet was created by the Pentagon; and even how these shadowy players are deeply involved in the so-called privacy movement that developed after Edward Snowden’s revelations.  Like Valentine, and in very detailed ways, Levine shows how the military-industrial-intelligence-digital-media complex is part of the same criminal conspiracy as is the traditional media with their CIA overlords. It is one club.

Many people, however, might find this hard to believe because it bursts so many bubbles, including the one that claims that these tech companies are pressured into censorship by the likes of The New York Times, etc.  The truth is the Internet was a military and intelligence tool from the very beginning and it is not the traditional corporate media that gives it its marching orders.

That being so, it is not the owners of the corporate media or their employees who are the ultimate controllers behind the current vast crackdown on dissent, but the intelligence agencies who control the mainstream media and the Silicon valley monopolies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.  All these media companies are but the outer layer of the onion, the means by which messages are sent and people controlled.

But for whom do these intelligence agencies work?  Not for themselves.

They work for their overlords, the super wealthy people, the banks, financial institutions, and corporations that own the United States and always have. In a simple twist of fate, such super wealthy naturally own the media corporations that are essential to their control of the majority of the world’s wealth through the stories they tell.  It is a symbiotic relationship. As FDR put it bluntly in 1933, this coterie of wealthy forces is the “financial element in the larger centers [that] has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.” Their wealth and power has increased exponentially since then, and their connected tentacles have further spread to create what is an international deep state that involves such entities as the IMF, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, those who meet yearly at Davos, etc.  They are the international overlords who are pushing hard to move the world toward a global dictatorship.

As is well known, or should be, the CIA was the creation of Wall St. and serves the interests of the wealthy owners. Peter Dale Scott, in “The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld,” says of Allen Dulles, the nefarious longest running Director of the CIA and Wall St. lawyer for Sullivan and Cromwell:

There seems to be little difference in Allen Dulles’s influence whether he was a Wall Street lawyer or a CIA director.

It was Dulles, long connected to  Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, international corporations, and a friend of Nazi agents and scientists, who was tasked with drawing up proposals for the CIA.  He was ably assisted by five Wall St. bankers or investors, including the aforementioned Frank Wisner who later, as a CIA officer, said his “Mighty Wurlitzer” was “capable of playing any propaganda tune he desired.”  This he did by recruiting intellectuals, writers, reporters, labor organizations, and the mainstream corporate media, etc. to propagate the CIA’s messages.

Greenwald, Taibbi, and Hedges are correct up to a point, but they stop short.  Their critique of old school journalism à la Edward Herman’s and Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing of Consent model, while true as far as it goes, fails to pin the tail on the real donkey.  Like old school journalists who knew implicitly how far they could go, these guys know it too, as if there is an invisible electronic gate that keeps them from wandering into dangerous territory.

The censorship of Robert Kennedy, Jr. is an exemplary case.  His banishment from Instagram and the ridicule the mainstream media have heaped upon him for years is not simply because he raises deeply informed questions about vaccines, Bill Gates, the pharmaceutical companies, etc. His critiques suggest something far more dangerous is afoot: the demise of democracy and the rise of a totalitarian order that involves total surveillance, control, eugenics, etc. by the wealthy led by their intelligence propagandists.

To call him a super spreader of hoaxes and a conspiracy theorist is aimed at not only silencing him on specific medical issues, but to silence his powerful and articulate voice on all issues.  To give thoughtful consideration to his deeply informed scientific thinking concerning vaccines, the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, etc., is to open a can of worms that the powerful want shut tight.

This is because RFK, Jr. is also a severe critic of the enormous power of the CIA and its propaganda that goes back so many decades and was used to cover up the national security state’s assassinations of his father and uncle, JFK.  It is why his wonderful recent book American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family that contains not one word about vaccines, was shunned by mainstream book reviewers; for the picture he paints fiercely indicts the CIA in multiple ways while also indicting the mass media that have been its mouthpieces. These worms must be kept in the can, just as the power of the international overlords represented by the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum with its Great Reset must be.  They must be dismissed as crackpot conspiracy theories not worthy of debate or exposure.

Robert Kennedy, Jr., by name and dedication to truth seeking, conjures up his father’s ghost, the last politician who, because of his vast support across racial and class divides, could have united the country and tamed the power of the CIA to control the narrative that has allowed for the plundering of the world and the country for the wealthy overlords.

So they killed him.

There is a reason Noam Chomsky is an exemplar for Hedges, Greenwald, and Taibbi.  He controls the can opener for so many. He has set the parameters for what is considered acceptable to be considered a serious journalist or intellectual.  The assassinations of the Kennedys, 9/11, or a questioning of the official Covid-19 story are not among them, and so they are eschewed.

To denounce censorship, as they have done, is admirable. But now Greenwald, Taibbi, and Hedges need go up to the forbidden gate with the sign that says – “This far and no further” – and jump over it.  That’s where the true stories lie.  That’s when they’ll see the worms squirm.

The post Opening the CIA’s Can of Worms first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Farmers’ Protest in India: Price of Failure Will Be immense

Globally, there is an ongoing trend of a handful of big companies determining what food is grown, how it is grown, what is in it and who sells it. This model involves highly processed food adulterated with chemical inputs ending up in large near-monopoly supermarket chains or fast-food outlets that rely on industrial-scale farming.

While the brands lining the shelves of giant retail outlets seem vast, a handful of food companies own these brands which, in turn, rely on a relatively narrow range of produce for ingredients. At the same time, this illusion of choice often comes at the expense of food security in poorer countries that were compelled to restructure their agriculture to facilitate agro-exports courtesy of the World Bank, IMF, the WTO and global agribusiness interests.

In Mexico, transnational food retail and processing companies have taken over food distribution channels, replacing local foods with cheap processed items, often with the direct support of the government. Free trade and investment agreements have been critical to this process and the consequences for public health have been catastrophic.

Mexico’s National Institute for Public Health released the results of a national survey of food security and nutrition in 2012. Between 1988 and 2012, the proportion of overweight women between the ages of 20 and 49 increased from 25 to 35 per cent and the number of obese women in this age group increased from 9 to 37 per cent. Some 29 per cent of Mexican children between the ages of 5 and 11 were found to be overweight, as were 35 per cent of the youngsters between 11 and 19, while one in ten school age children experienced anaemia.

Former Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, concludes that trade policies had favoured a greater reliance on heavily processed and refined foods with a long shelf life rather than on the consumption of fresh and more perishable foods, particularly fruit and vegetables. He added that the overweight and obesity emergency that Mexico faces could have been avoided.

In 2015, the non-profit organisation GRAIN reported that the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) led to the direct investment in food processing and a change in Mexico’s retail structure (towards supermarkets and convenience stores) as well as the emergence of global agribusiness and transnational food companies in the country.

NAFTA eliminated rules preventing foreign investors from owning more than 49 per cent of a company. It also prohibited minimum amounts of domestic content in production and increased rights for foreign investors to retain profits and returns from initial investments. By 1999, US companies had invested 5.3 billion dollars in Mexico’s food processing industry, a 25-fold increase in just 12 years.

US food corporations began to colonise the dominant food distribution networks of small-scale vendors, known as tiendas (corner shops). This helped spread nutritionally poor food as they allowed these corporations to sell and promote their foods to poorer populations in small towns and communities. By 2012, retail chains had displaced tiendas as Mexico’s main source of food sales.

In Mexico, the loss of food sovereignty induced catastrophic changes to the nation’s diet and many small-scale farmers lost their livelihoods, which was accelerated by the dumping of surplus commodities (produced at below the cost of production due to subsidies) from the US. NAFTA rapidly drove millions of Mexican farmers, ranchers and small business people into bankruptcy, leading to the flight of millions of immigrant workers.

Warning for India

What happened in Mexico should serve as a warning as Indian farmers continue their protest against three recent farm bills that are designed to fully corporatize the agrifood sector through contract farming, the massive roll-back of public sector support systems, a reliance on imports (boosted by a future US trade deal) and the acceleration of large-scale (online) retail.

If you want to know the eventual fate of India’s local markets and small retailers, look no further than what US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in 2019. He stated that Amazon had “destroyed the retail industry across the United States.”

And if you want to know the eventual fate of India’s farmers, look no further than the 1990s when the IMF and World Bank advised India to shift hundreds of millions out of agriculture in return for up to more than $120 billion in loans at the time.

India was directed to dismantle its state-owned seed supply system, reduce subsidies, run down public agriculture institutions and offer incentives for the growing of cash crops for export to earn foreign exchange. Part of the strategy would also involve changing land laws so that land could be sold and amalgamated for industrial-scale farming.

The plan was for foreign corporations to capture the sector, with the aforementioned policies having effectively weakened or displaced independent cultivators.

To date, this process has been slow but the recent legislation could finally deliver a knock-out blow to tens of millions of farmers and give what the likes of Amazon, Walmart, Facebook, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midlands, Louis Dreyfus, Bunge and the global agritech, seed and agrochemical corporations have wanted all along. It will also serve the retail/agribusiness/logistics interests of India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, and its sixth richest, Gautam Adani.

During their ongoing protests, farmers have been teargassed, smeared and beaten. Journalist Satya Sagar notes that government advisors fear that seeming to appear weak with the agitating farmers would not sit well with foreign agrifood investors and could stop the flow of big money into the sector – and the economy as a whole.

And it is indeed ‘big’ money. Facebook invested 5.5 billion dollars last year in Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms (e-commerce retail). Google has also invested 4.5 billion dollars. Currently, Amazon and Flipkart (Walmart has an 81% stake) together control over 60% of the country’s overall e-commerce market. These and other international investors have a great deal to lose if the recent farm legislation is repealed. So does the Indian government.

Since the 1990s, when India opened up to neoliberal economics, the country has become increasingly dependent on inflows of foreign capital. Policies are being governed by the drive to attract and retain foreign investment and maintain ‘market confidence’ by ceding to the demands of international capital. ‘Foreign direct investment’ has thus become the holy grail of the Modi-led administration.

Little wonder the government needs to be seen as acting ‘tough’ on protesting farmers because now, more than ever, attracting and retaining foreign reserves will be required to purchase food on the international market once India surrenders responsibility for its food policy to private players by eliminating its buffer stocks.

The plan to radically restructure agrifood in the country is being sold to the public under the guise of ‘modernising’ the sector. And this is to be carried out by self-proclaimed ‘wealth creators’ like Zuckerberg, Bezos and Ambani who are highly experienced at creating wealth – for themselves.

According to the recent Oxfam report ‘The Inequality Virus’, Mukesh Ambani doubled his wealth between March and October 2020. The coronavirus-related lockdown in India resulted in the country’s billionaires increasing their wealth by around 35 per cent, while 170,000 people lost their jobs every hour in April 2020 alone.

Prior to the lockdown, Oxfam reported that 73 per cent of the wealth generated in 2017 went to the richest 1 per cent, while 670 million Indians, the poorest half of the population, saw only a 1 per cent increase in their wealth.

Moreover, the fortunes of India’s billionaires increased by almost 10 times over a decade and their total wealth was higher than the entire Union budget of India for the fiscal year 2018-19.

It is clear who these ‘wealth creators’ create wealth for. On the People’s Review site, Tanmoy Ibrahim writes a piece on India’s billionaire class, with a strong focus on Ambani and Adani. By outlining the nature of crony capitalism in India, it is clear that Modi’s ‘wealth creators’ are given carte blanche to plunder the public purse, people and the environment, while real wealth creators – not least the farmers – are fighting for existence.

The current struggle should not be regarded as a battle between the government and farmers. If what happened in Mexico is anything to go by, the outcome will adversely affect the entire nation in terms of the further deterioration of public health and the loss of livelihoods.

Consider that rates of obesity in India have already tripled in the last two decades and the nation is fast becoming the diabetes and heart disease capital of the world. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), between 2005 and 2015 the number of obese people doubled, even though one in five children in the 5-9 year age group were found to be stunted.

This will be just part of the cost of handing over the sector to billionaire (comprador) capitalists Mukesh Ambani and Gautum Adani and Jeff Bezos (world’s richest person), Mark Zukerberg (world’s fourth richest person), the Cargill business family (14 billionaires) and the Walmart business family (richest in the US).

These individuals are poised to siphon off the wealth of India’s agrifood sector while denying the livelihoods of many millions of small-scale farmers and local mom and pop retailers while undermining the health of the nation.

The post Farmers’ Protest in India: Price of Failure Will Be immense first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Vaccine Will Not Reverse Economic Problems

No matter how many vaccines are rush-produced by large for-profit corporations with a long record of malpractice, vaccines will not reverse severe economic deterioration because the economic collapse, nationally and internationally, was not caused by any virus.1

The economic depression that is unfolding was a long time in the making and was accelerated and intensified by the “COVID Pandemic” but not the direct result of it. A severe economic collapse was going to take place with or without a virus. If anything, the virus provided convenient cover for what was inevitable.

It is well-known that the unplanned chaotic capitalist economic system habitually goes through violent upheavals, leaving millions perpetually insecure, poor, unemployed, and stressed. This is not news to anyone. Equally disturbing, we are routinely told that the so-called “business cycle” is inevitable and normal—just a “natural” part of life, as if the economy is beyond human comprehension and conscious control. There is supposedly no alternative to the “invisible hand” of the so-called “free market” regularly wreaking havoc on us. We are all to feel helpless against “forces larger than us.” We are to believe that there is no economic science that can ensure stability and prosperity for all. The “law of the jungle” is allegedly the best humanity can muster and no alternative to this inhuman system is to be considered.

Long after vaccines have come and gone the economy will continue to deteriorate because the economy is in the hands of competing owners of capital who treat the socialized economy as theirs to plunder for private gain, no matter the damage to the social and natural environment. The tendency for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer was going on for decades before the “COVID Pandemic” and will continue so long as those who actually produce the wealth in society remain disempowered and marginalized, alienated from and unable to deploy the very wealth they produce for the benefit of society.

Economic crises, recessions, and depressions—including wars—are usually how the obsolete capitalist economic system temporarily “resets” itself before crashing again. During periods of over-production and under-consumption, labor and production are destroyed until a “new zero” can be established. “De-leveraging” has to take place, sometimes for years, before capitalism can establish a temporary “new equilibrium” again. Carnage is unavoidable in this historically-exhausted economic system that privileges a tiny ruling elite. The problem is that each crisis, recession, and depression sets the stage for a deeper crisis, recession, and depression the next time. Just look at the number of long-term unemployed, inequality, the labor force participation rate, the number of homeless, the “gig economy,” and debt at all levels. All keep steadily worsening, leaving many anxious about the future. In June 2020 the Congressional Budget Office went so far as to say it would take ten years to return to pre-pandemic economic conditions, which were not that great to begin with. Recall as well that after the 2008 economic collapse most countries ran on gas fumes for years, there was no real and meaningful “comeback” for most countries. International imperialist organizations like the IMF and World Bank continually revised not-so-rosy growth predictions downward. The economy has been stagnant and lackluster for a long time and this is not about to suddenly change in the final and highest stage of capitalism. Without organized working class resistance, more parasitism and decay is in store for the economy. The rich and their representatives have no solutions.

The economy will not serve people and the general interests of society until there is a change in the aim, direction, and control of the economy. It does not matter what “plan” is put forward by establishment politicians or “leaders.” So long as maximizing profits as fast as possible for a tiny ruling elite and depriving workers of any say in anything remains the norm, problems will keep going from bad to worse. Things will not magically improve on their own or when left in the hands of a few billionaires. There is no scenario in which the economy serves people and society while the actual producers of wealth remain sidelined and removed from the levers of power. Lofty words, phrases, and promises from politicians and “leaders” are designed to dupe the gullible and prevent people from engaging in action with analysis that favors them. The rich and their representatives do not want people to break free from capital-centered thinking and think and act independently. All thinking and action is to take place from a capital-centered reference point.

The main thing the “COVID Pandemic” revealed very sharply is that the richest and most powerful countries are not set-up to serve the basic needs of the people. In these and other countries where the neoliberal antisocial offensive has been wreaking havoc for decades, the “COVID Pandemic” left millions sick, dead, unemployed, depressed, dehumanized, and poor while the rich got much richer. Does this make sense to anyone? Would this happen if sovereignty was vested in the people and they decided the affairs of society? “Representative democracy” is increasingly revealing itself to be defunct, corrupted, and ineffective. There is no mechanism for people to effectively direct affairs in their own vision and interests. Existing institutions block people from affirming their rights. The so-called “social contract” underpinning economic and political arrangements for decades in the U.S. died long ago, and “leaders” and politicians have left everyone rudderless and disillusioned.

A main task confronting working people is how to open the path of progress to society under very difficult conditions. Already it can be seen from a variety of events and actions that unfolded in 2020 and early 2021 that people from all walks of life are in motion on several fronts. People are striving to affirm their rights and are gradually developing better actions and better analyses. Many are fed up with an outmoded system that keeps making life more difficult for them. This sentiment can be seen and felt worldwide. One can sense a change in the energy of the world’s people and a more robust pro-social thrust and desire among people. It is critical to nurture this drive so that it is not continually sabotaged by the anticonsciousness and disinformation of the rich and their political and media representatives. The current heroic struggles of farmers in India is a good example of workers defending their rights in the context of defending the rights of all.

Health crises, economic crises, and social crises cannot be resolved so long as society and the economy are dominated by a handful of billionaires. Only when defunct liberal governance arrangements are rejected and social consciousness and the human factor are unleashed can problems be solved effectively by the people themselves who already know what is needed to move society forward.

  1. It is even said that covid-19 vaccines will not prevent virus transmission and everyone still has to wear masks and socially distance. And many continue to experience a range of side effects from covid-19 vaccines.
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Indian Farmers on the Frontline Against Global Capitalism

In a short video on the empirediaries.com YouTube channel, a protesting farmer camped near Delhi says that during lockdown and times of crisis farmers are treated like “gods”, but when they ask for their rights, they are smeared and labelled as “terrorists”.

He, along with thousands of other farmers, are mobilising against three important pieces of farm legislation that were recently forced through parliament. To all intents and purposes, these laws sound a neoliberal death knell for most of India’s cultivators and its small farms, the backbone of the nation’s food production.

The farmer says:

Corporates invested in Modi before the election and brought him to power. He has sold out and is an agent of Ambani and Adani. He is unable to repeal the bills because his owners will scold him. He is trapped. But we are not backing down either.

He then asks whether ministers know how many seeds are needed to grow wheat on an acre of land:

We farmers know. They made these farm laws sitting in air-conditioned rooms. And they are teaching us the benefits!

While the corporations that will move in on the sector due to the legislation will initially pay good money for crops, once the public sector markets (mandis) are gone, the farmer says they will become the only buyers and will beat prices down.

He asks why, in other sectors, do sellers get to put price tags on their products but not farmers:

Why can’t farmers put minimum prices on the crops we produce? A law must be brought to guarantee MSP [minimum support prices]. Whoever buys below MSP must be punished by law.

The recent agriculture legislation represents the final pieces of a 30-year-old plan which will benefit a handful of billionaires in the US and in India. It means the livelihoods of hundreds of millions (the majority of the population) who still (directly or indirectly) rely on agriculture for a living are to be sacrificed at the behest of these elite interests.

Consider that much of the UK’s wealth came from sucking $45 trillion from India alone according to renowned economist Utsa Patnaik. Britain grew rich by underdeveloping India. What amounts to little more than modern-day East India-type corporations are now in the process of helping themselves to the country’s most valuable asset – agriculture.

According to the World Bank’s lending report, based on data compiled up to 2015, India was easily the largest recipient of its loans in the history of the institution. The World Bank thus exerts a certain hold over India: on the back of India’s foreign exchange crisis in the 1990s, the IMF and World Bank wanted India to shift hundreds of millions out of agriculture.

In return for up to more than $120 billion in loans at the time, India was directed to dismantle its state-owned seed supply system, reduce subsidies, run down public agriculture institutions and offer incentives for the growing of cash crops to earn foreign exchange.

The plan involves shifting at least 400 million from the countryside into cities.

The details of this plan appear in a January 2021 article by the Research Unit for Political Economy, ‘Modi’s Farm Produce Act Was Authored Thirty Years Ago, in Washington DC’. The piece says that the current agricultural ‘reforms’ are part of a broader process of imperialism’s increasing capture of the Indian economy:

Indian business giants such as Reliance and Adani are major recipients of foreign investment, as we have seen in sectors such as telecom, retail, and energy. At the same time, multinational corporations and other financial investors in the sectors of agriculture, logistics and retail are also setting up their own operations in India. Multinational trading corporations dominate global trade in agricultural commodities. For all these reasons, international capital has a major stake in the restructuring of India’s agriculture… The opening of India’s agriculture and food economy to foreign investors and global agribusinesses is a longstanding project of the imperialist countries.”

The article provides details of a 1991 World Bank memorandum which set out the programme for India. It adds:

At the time, India was still in its foreign exchange crisis of 1990-91 and had just submitted itself to an IMF-monitored ‘structural adjustment’ programme. Thus, India’s July 1991 budget marked the fateful start of India’s neoliberal era.

It states that now the Modi government is dramatically advancing the implementation of the above programme, using the Covid-19 crisis as cover: the dismantling of the public procurement and distribution of food is to be implemented by the three agriculture-related acts passed by parliament.

The drive is to drastically dilute the role of the public sector in agriculture, reducing it to a facilitator of private capital and leading to the entrenchment of industrial farming and the replacement of small-scale farms. The norm will be industrial (GMO) commodity-crop agriculture suited to the needs of the likes of Cargill, Archer Daniels Midlands, Louis Dreyfus, Bunge and India’s retail and agribusiness giants as well as the global agritech, seed and agrochemical corporations. It could result in hundreds of millions of former rural dwellers without any work given that India is heading (has already reached) jobless growth.

As a result of the ongoing programme, more than 300,000 farmers in India have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to cash crops and economic liberalisation. The number of cultivators in India declined from 166 million to 146 million between 2004 and 2011. Some 6,700 left farming each day. Between 2015 and 2022, the number of cultivators is likely to decrease to around 127 million.

We have seen the running down of the sector for decades, spiraling input costs, withdrawal of government assistance and the impacts of cheap, subsidised imports which depress farmers’ incomes.

Take the cultivation of pulses, for instance. According to a report in the Indian Express (September 2017), pulses production increased by 40% during the previous 12 months (a year of record production). At the same time, however, imports also rose resulting in black gram selling at 4,000 rupees per quintal (much less than during the previous 12 months). This effectively pushed down prices thereby reducing farmers already meagre incomes.

We have already witnessed a running down of the indigenous edible oils sector thanks to Indonesian palm oil imports (which benefits Cargill) on the back of World Bank pressure to reduce tariffs (India was virtually self-sufficient in edible oils in the 1990s but now faces increasing import costs).

The pressure from the richer nations for the Indian government to further reduce support given to farmers and open up to imports and export-oriented ‘free market’ trade is based on nothing but hypocrisy.

On the ‘Down to Earth’ website in late 2017, it was stated some 3.2 million people were engaged in agriculture in the US in 2015. The US government provided them each with a subsidy of $7,860 on average. Japan provides a subsidy of $14,136 and New Zealand $2,623 to its farmers. In 2015, a British farmer earned $2,800 and $37,000 was added through subsidies. The Indian government provides on average a subsidy of $873 to farmers. However, between 2012 and 2014, India reduced the subsidy on agriculture and food security by $3 billion.

According to policy analyst Devinder Sharma subsidies provided to US wheat and rice farmers are more than the market worth of these two crops. He also notes that, per day, each cow in Europe receives subsidy worth more than an Indian farmer’s daily income.

The Indian farmer simply cannot compete with this. The World Bank, World Trade Organisation and the IMF have effectively served to undermine the indigenous farm sector in India. The long-term goal has been to displace the peasantry and consolidate a corporate-controlled model.

And now, by reducing public sector buffer stocks and introducing corporate-dictated contract farming and full-scale neoliberal marketisation for the sale and procurement of produce, India will be sacrificing its farmers and its own food security for the benefit of a handful of billionaires.

The post Indian Farmers on the Frontline Against Global Capitalism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Reimagining the World: Agroecology and Post-COVID Plunder

Contingent on World Bank aid to be given to poorer countries in the wake of coronavirus lockdowns, agrifood conglomerates will aim to further expand their influence. These firms have been integral to the consolidation of a global food regime that has emerged in recent decades based on chemical- and proprietary-input-dependent agriculture which incurs massive externalised social, environmental and health costs.

Reliance on commodity monocropping for global markets, long supply chains and dependency on external inputs for cultivation make the food system vulnerable to shocks, whether resulting from public health scares, oil price spikes (the global food system is fossil-fuel dependent) or conflict and war. An increasing number of countries are recognising the need to respond by becoming more food self-sufficient, preferably by securing control over their own food and reducing supply chain lengths.

The various coronavirus lockdowns have disrupted many transport and production activities, exposing the weaknesses of the food system. If the current situation tells us anything, it is that structural solutions are needed to transform food production, not further strengthen the status quo.

Agroecology

During the Disappearing World Forum in 2013, author Arundhati Roy was asked by an audience member, what is the alternative to the mainstream development narrative?

She responded by saying:

You can ask the question of alternatives in two ways. One way is a genuine way and the other is a sort of aggressive way. And the genuine way would take into account that today we are where we are because there has been a series of decisions taken about everything; whether it’s about hybrid seeds, whether it’s about big dams. Whatever it’s about, every time there’s a decision that has been taken, there’s always been an alternative… There was an alternative to every way you chose to develop. When you have a system that’s been created with a layer – with thousands of decisions – and you want me now to tell you an alternative in one sentence, it isn’t possible.

In a world where the ‘good life’ is associated with GDP growth, endless consumption and increasing urbanisation, there is a price to be paid in terms of environmental destruction, devastating resource conflicts, population displacements, a destructive arrogance that sees humans apart from and above nature and the degradation of our most fundamental need – food and our ability to produce it.

The solution cannot be expressed in one sentence, but a vital – perhaps central – component of ‘the alternative’ involves prioritising an agrarian-centric development paradigm based on a wide-ranging shift to agroecology. The agroecological paradigm is not just about growing food; it involves reimagining our relationship with nature and with each other and the type of actions and activities that give meaning to life.

In 2014, UN special rapporteur Olivier De Schutter’s report concluded that by applying agroecological principles to democratically controlled agricultural systems we can help to put an end to food crises and poverty challenges. He argued that agroecological approaches could tackle food needs in critical regions and could double food production in 10 years.

The 2009 IAASTD peer-reviewed report, produced by 400 scientists and supported by 60 countries, recommended agroecology to maintain and increase the productivity of global agriculture. And the recent UN FAO High Level Panel of Experts concluded that agroecology provides greatly improved food security and nutritional, gender, environmental and yield benefits compared to industrial agriculture.

Agroecology is based on traditional knowledge and modern agricultural research, utilising elements of contemporary ecology, soil biology and the biological control of pests. This system employs sound ecological management by using on-farm solutions to manage pests and disease without the use of agrochemicals and corporate seeds. It outperforms the prevailing industrial food system in terms of diversity of food output, nutrition per acre, soil health, water table stability and climate resilience.

Academic Raj Patel outlines some of the basic practices of agroecology by saying that nitrogen-fixing beans are grown instead of using inorganic fertilizer, flowers are used to attract beneficial insects to manage pests and weeds are crowded out with more intensive planting. The result is a sophisticated polyculture: many crops are produced simultaneously, instead of just one.

Much has been written about agroecology, its successes and the challenges it faces, not least in the 2017 book Fertile Ground: Scaling agroecology from the ground up, published by Food First. Agroecology can offer concrete, practical solutions to many of the world’s problems. It challenges – and offers alternatives to – the prevailing moribund doctrinaire economics of a neoliberalism that drives a failing system of industrial agriculture.

By creating securely paid labour-intensive agricultural work in both richer and poorer countries, it can address the interrelated links between labour offshoring by rich countries and the removal of rural populations elsewhere who end up in sweat shops to carry out offshored jobs: the two-pronged process of neoliberal, globalised capitalism that has hollowed out the economies of the US and UK and which is displacing existing indigenous food production systems and undermining the rural infrastructure in places like India.

Agroecology is based on food sovereignty, which encompasses the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food and the right of people to define their own food and agriculture systems. ‘Culturally appropriate’ is a nod to the foods people have traditionally produced and eaten as well as the associated socially embedded practices which underpin community and a sense of communality. But it goes beyond that.

Modern food system

People have a deep microbiological connection to soils, food processing practices and fermentation processes which affect the gut microbiome – up to six pounds of bacteria, viruses and microbes akin to human soil. And as with actual soil, the microbiome can become degraded according to what we ingest (or fail to ingest). Many nerve endings from major organs are located in the gut and the microbiome effectively nourishes them. There is ongoing research taking place into how the microbiome is disrupted by the modern globalised food production/processing system and the chemical bombardment it is subjected to.

Capitalism colonises (and degrades) all aspects of life but is colonising the very essence of our being – even on a physiological level. With their agrochemicals and food additives, powerful companies are attacking this ‘soil’ and with it the human body. As soon as agri-food corporations undermined the capacity for eating locally grown, traditionally processed food, cultivated in healthy soils and began imposing long-line supply chains and food subjected to chemical-laden cultivation and processing activities, we not only lost our cultural connections to food production and the seasons, but we also lost our deep-rooted microbiological connection with our localities. Corporate chemicals and seeds and global food chains dominated by the likes of Monsanto (now Bayer), Nestle and Cargill took over.

Aside from affecting the functioning of major organs, neurotransmitters in the gut affect our moods and thinking. Alterations in the composition of the gut microbiome have been implicated in a wide range of neurological and psychiatric conditions, including autism, chronic pain, depression and Parkinson’s Disease. In addition, increasing levels of obesity are associated with low bacterial richness in the gut. Indeed, it has been noted that tribes not exposed to the modern food system have richer microbiomes.

To ensure genuine food security and good health, humanity must transition to a notion of food sovereignty based on optimal self-sufficiency, agroecological principles and local ownership and stewardship of common resources – land, water, soil, seeds, etc.

However, what we are seeing is a trend towards genetically engineered and biosynthetic lab-based food controlled by corporations. The billionaire class who are pushing this agenda think they can own nature and all humans and can control both. As part of an economic, cultural and social ‘great reset’, they seek to impose their cold dystopian vision that wants to eradicate thousands of years of culture, tradition and farming practices virtually overnight.

Consider that many of the ancient rituals and celebrations of our forebears were built around stories and myths that helped them come to terms with some of the most basic issues of existence, from death to rebirth and fertility. These culturally embedded beliefs and practices served to sanctify their practical relationship with nature and its role in sustaining human life.

As agriculture became key to human survival, the planting and harvesting of crops and other seasonal activities associated with food production were central to these customs. Freyfaxi marks the beginning of the harvest in Norse paganism, for example, while Lammas or Lughnasadh is the celebration of the first harvest/grain harvest in Paganism.

Humans celebrated nature and the life it gave birth to. Ancient beliefs and rituals were imbued with hope and renewal and people had a necessary and immediate relationship with the sun, seeds, animals, wind, fire, soil and rain and the changing seasons that nourished and brought life. In addition to our physiological connection, our cultural and social relationships with agrarian production and associated deities had a sound practical base.

We need look no further than India to appreciate the important relationship between culture, agriculture and ecology, not least the vital importance of the monsoon and seasonal planting and harvesting. Rural-based beliefs and rituals steeped in nature persist, even among urban Indians. These are bound to traditional knowledge systems where livelihoods, the seasons, food, cooking, processing, seed exchange, healthcare and the passing on of knowledge are all inter-related and form the essence of cultural diversity within India itself.

Although the industrial age resulted in a diminution of the connection between food and the natural environment as people moved to cities, traditional ‘food cultures’ – the practices, attitudes and beliefs surrounding the production, distribution and consumption of food – still thrive and highlight our ongoing connection to agriculture and nature.

If we go back to the 1950s, it is interesting to note Union Carbide’s corporate narrative based on a series of images that depicted the company as a ‘hand of god’ coming out of the sky to ‘solve’ some of the issues facing humanity. One of the most famous images is of the hand pouring the firm’s agrochemicals on Indian soils as if traditional farming practices were somehow ‘backward’.

Despite well-publicised claims to the contrary, this chemical-driven approach did not lead to higher food production according to the paper “New Histories of the Green Revolution” written by Prof Glenn Stone. However, it has had long-term devastating ecological, social and economic consequences as we saw in Vandana Shiva’s book The Violence of the Green Revolution and Bhaskar Save’s now famous and highly insightful open letter to Indian officials.

In the book Food and Cultural Studies’ (Bob Ashley et al), we see how, some years ago, a Coca Cola TV ad campaign sold its product to an audience which associated modernity with a sugary drink and depicted ancient Aboriginal beliefs as harmful, ignorant and outdated. Coke and not rain became the giver of life to the parched. This type of ideology forms part of a wider strategy to discredit traditional cultures and portray them as being deficient and in need of assistance from ‘god-like’ corporations.

Post-COVID plunder

What we are seeing in 2020, is an acceleration of such processes. In terms of food and agriculture, traditional farming in places like India will be under increasing pressure from the big-tech giants and agribusiness to open up to lab-grown food, GMOs, genetically engineered soil microbes, data harvesting tools and drones and other ‘disruptive’ technologies.

This vision includes farmerless farms being manned by driverless machines, monitored by drones and doused with chemicals to produce commodity crops from patented GM seeds for industrial ‘biomatter’ to be processed and constituted into something resembling food. What will happen to the farmers?

Post-COVID, the World Bank talks about helping countries get back on track in return for structural reforms. Are tens of millions of smallholder farmers to be enticed from their land in return for individual debt relief and universal basic income? The displacement of these farmers and the subsequent destruction of rural communities and their cultures was something the Gates Foundation once called for and cynically termed “land mobility”.

Cut through the euphemisms and it is clear that Bill Gates – and the other incredibly rich individuals behind the great reset with their ‘white saviour’ mindset – is an old-fashioned colonialist who supports the time-honoured dispossessive strategies of imperialism, whether this involves mining, appropriating and commodifying farmer knowledge, accelerating the transfer of research and seeds to corporations or facilitating intellectual property piracy and seed monopolies created through IP laws and seed regulations.

In India – still an agrarian-based society – will the land of these already (prior to COVID) heavily indebted farmers then be handed over to the tech giants, the financial institutions and global agribusiness to churn out their high-tech industrial sludge?

With the link completely severed between food production, nature and culturally embedded beliefs that give meaning and expression to life, we will be left with the individual, isolated human who exists on lab-based food, who is reliant on income from the state and who is stripped of satisfying productive endeavour and genuine self-fulfilment.

Technocratic meddling has already destroyed or undermined cultural diversity, meaningful social connections and agrarian ecosystems that draw on centuries of traditional knowledge and are increasingly recognised as valid approaches to secure food security, as outlined, for example, in the 2017 article “Food Security and Traditional Knowledge in India” in the Journal of South Asian Studies.

Such a pity that prominent commentators like George Monbiot, who writes for the UK’s Guardian newspaper, seems fully on board with this ‘great reset’. In his 2020 article ‘Lab-grown food will soon destroy farming – and save the planet’, he sees farmerless farms and ‘fake’ food produced in giant industrial factories from microbes as a good thing.

But Vandana Shiva says:

The notion that high-tech ‘farm free’ lab food will save the planet is simply a continuation of the same mechanistic mindset which has brought us to where we are today – the idea that we are separate from and outside of nature… it is the basis of industrial agriculture which has destroyed the planet, farmers livelihoods and our health.

She adds:

Turning ‘water into food’ is an echo from the times of the second world war, when it was claimed that fossil-fuel-based chemical fertilisers would produce ‘Bread from Air’. Instead we have dead zones in the ocean, greenhouse gases – including nitrous oxide which is 300 times more damaging to the environment than CO2 – and desertified soils and land. We are part of nature, not separate from and outside of nature. Food is what connects us to the earth, its diverse beings, including the forests around us — through the trillions of microorganisms that are in our gut microbiome and which keep our bodies healthy, both inside and out.

As an environmentalist, Monbiot supports lab-based food because he only sees a distorted method of industrial farming; he is blind to agroecological methods which do not have the disastrous environmental consequences of chemical-dependent industrial agriculture. Monbiot’s ‘solution’ is to replace one model of corporate controlled farming with another, thereby robbing us of our connection to the land, to each other and making us wholly dependent on profiteering, unscrupulous interests that have no time for concepts like food democracy or food sovereignty.

Moreover, certain lab-engineered ‘food’ will require biomatter in the form of commodity crops. This in itself raises issues related to the colonisation of land in faraway countries and the implications for food security there. We may look no further to see the adverse health, social and environmental impacts of pesticide-dependent GMO seed monocropping in Argentina as it produces soy for the global market, not least for animal feed in Europe.

Instead of pandering to the needs of corporations, prominent commentators would do better by getting behind initiatives like the anti-imperialist Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology, produced by Nyeleni in 2015. It argues for building grass-root local food systems that create new rural-urban links, based on genuine agroecological food production. It adds that agroecology requires local producers and communities to challenge and transform structures of power in society, not least by putting the control of seeds, biodiversity, land and territories, waters, knowledge, culture and the commons in the hands of those who feed the world.

It would mean that what ends up in our food and how it is grown is determined by the public good and not powerful private interests driven by patents, control and commercial gain and the compulsion to subjugate farmers, consumers and entire regions to their global supply chains and questionable products (whether unhealthy food or proprietary pesticides and seeds). For consumers, the public good includes more diverse diets leading to better nutrition and enhanced immunity when faced with any future pandemic.

Across the world, decentralised and local community-owned food systems based on short(er) food supply chains that can cope with future shocks are now needed more than ever. But there are major obstacles given the power of agrifood concerns whose business models are based on industrial farming and global chains with all the devastating consequences this entails.

Following the devastation caused by coronavirus-related lockdowns, World Bank Group President David Malpass has stated that poorer countries will be ‘helped’ to get back on their feet – on the condition that further neoliberal reforms and the undermining of public services are implemented and become further embedded.

He says that countries will need to implement structural reforms to help shorten the time to recovery and create confidence that the recovery can be strong:

For those countries that have excessive regulations, subsidies, licensing regimes, trade protection or litigiousness as obstacles, we will work with them to foster markets, choice and faster growth prospects during the recovery.

For agriculture, this means the further opening of markets to benefit the richer nations. What journalists like George Monbiot fail to acknowledge is that emerging technology in agriculture (AI drones, gene-edited crops, synthetic food, etc) is first and foremost an instrument of corporate power. Indeed, agriculture has for a long time been central to US foreign policy to boost the bottom line of its agribusiness interests and their control over the global food chain.

In the words of economics professor Michael Hudson:

It is by agriculture and control of the food supply that American diplomacy has been able to control most of the Third World. The World Bank’s geopolitical lending strategy has been to turn countries into food deficit areas by convincing them to grow cash crops – plantation export crops – not to feed themselves with their own food crops.

It is naïve to suggest that in the brave new world of farmerless farms and lab-based food, things would be different. In the face of economic crisis and stagnation at home, exacerbated by COVID lockdowns and restrictions, whether through new technologies or older Green Revolution methods, Western agricapital will seek to further entrench its position across the globe.

The post Reimagining the World: Agroecology and Post-COVID Plunder first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Agroecology and Post-COVID Plunder

Contingent on World Bank aid to be given to poorer countries in the wake of coronavirus lockdowns, agrifood conglomerates will aim to further expand their influence. These firms have been integral to the consolidation of a global food regime that has emerged in recent decades based on chemical- and proprietary-input-dependent agriculture which incurs massive externalised social, environmental and health costs.

Reliance on commodity monocropping for global markets, long supply chains and dependency on external inputs for cultivation make the food system vulnerable to shocks, whether resulting from public health scares, oil price spikes (the global food system is fossil-fuel dependent) or conflict and war. An increasing number of countries are recognising the need to respond by becoming more food self-sufficient, preferably by securing control over their own food and reducing supply chain lengths.

The various coronavirus lockdowns have disrupted many transport and production activities, exposing the weaknesses of the food system. If the current situation tells us anything, it is that structural solutions are needed to transform food production, not further strengthen the status quo.

Agroecology

In 2014, UN special rapporteur Olivier De Schutter’s report concluded that by applying agroecological principles to democratically controlled agricultural systems we can help to put an end to food crises and poverty challenges. He argued that agroecological approaches could tackle food needs in critical regions and could double food production in 10 years.

The 2009 IAASTD peer-reviewed report, produced by 400 scientists and supported by 60 countries, recommended agroecology to maintain and increase the productivity of global agriculture. And the recent UN FAO High Level Panel of Experts concluded that agroecology provides greatly improved food security and nutritional, gender, environmental and yield benefits compared to industrial agriculture.

Agroecology is based on traditional knowledge and modern agricultural research, utilising elements of contemporary ecology, soil biology and the biological control of pests. This system employs sound ecological management by using on-farm solutions to manage pests and disease without the use of agrochemicals and corporate seeds. It outperforms the prevailing industrial food system in terms of diversity of food output, nutrition per acre, soil health, water table stability and climate resilience.

Academic Raj Patel outlines some of the basic practices of agroecology by saying that nitrogen-fixing beans are grown instead of using inorganic fertilizer, flowers are used to attract beneficial insects to manage pests and weeds are crowded out with more intensive planting. The result is a sophisticated polyculture: many crops are produced simultaneously, instead of just one.

Much has been written about agroecology, its successes and the challenges it faces, not least in the 2017 book Fertile Ground: Scaling agroecology from the ground up, published by Food First. Agroecology can offer concrete, practical solutions to many of the world’s problems. It challenges – and offers alternatives to – the prevailing moribund doctrinaire economics of a neoliberalism that drives a failing system of industrial agriculture.

By creating securely paid labour-intensive agricultural work in both richer and poorer countries, it can address the interrelated links between labour offshoring by rich countries and the removal of rural populations elsewhere who end up in sweat shops to carry out offshored jobs: the two-pronged process of neoliberal, globalised capitalism that has hollowed out the economies of the US and UK and which is displacing existing indigenous food production systems and undermining the rural infrastructure in places like India.

Agroecology is based on the principle of food sovereignty, which encompasses the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food and the right of people to define their own food and agriculture systems. ‘Culturally appropriate’ is a nod to the foods people have traditionally produced and eaten as well as the associated socially embedded practices which underpin community and a sense of communality. But it goes beyond that.

Modern food system

People have a deep microbiological connection to soils, food processing practices and fermentation processes which affect the gut microbiome – up to six pounds of bacteria, viruses and microbes akin to human soil. And as with actual soil, the microbiome can become degraded according to what we ingest (or fail to ingest). Many nerve endings from major organs are located in the gut and the microbiome effectively nourishes them. There is ongoing research taking place into how the microbiome is disrupted by the modern globalised food production/processing system and the chemical bombardment it is subjected to.

Capitalism colonises (and degrades) all aspects of life but is colonising the very essence of our being – even on a physiological level. With their agrochemicals and food additives, powerful companies are attacking this ‘soil’ and with it the human body. As soon as agri-food corporations undermined the capacity for eating locally grown, traditionally processed food, cultivated in healthy soils and began imposing long-line supply chains and food subjected to chemical-laden cultivation and processing activities, we not only lost our cultural connections to food production and the seasons, but we also lost our deep-rooted microbiological connection with our localities. Corporate chemicals and seeds and global food chains dominated by the likes of Monsanto (now Bayer), Nestle and Cargill took over.

Aside from affecting the functioning of major organs, neurotransmitters in the gut affect our moods and thinking. Alterations in the composition of the gut microbiome have been implicated in a wide range of neurological and psychiatric conditions, including autism, chronic pain, depression and Parkinson’s Disease. In addition, increasing levels of obesity are associated with low bacterial richness in the gut. Indeed, it has been noted that tribes not exposed to the modern food system have richer microbiomes.

To ensure genuine food security and good health, humanity must transition to a notion of food sovereignty based on optimal self-sufficiency, agroecological principles and local ownership and stewardship of common resources – land, water, soil, seeds, etc.

However, what we are seeing is a trend towards genetically engineered and biosynthetic lab-based food controlled by corporations. The billionaire class who are pushing this agenda think they can own nature and all humans and can control both. As part of an economic, cultural and social ‘great reset’, they seek to impose their cold dystopian vision that wants to eradicate thousands of years of culture, tradition and farming practices virtually overnight.

Consider that many of the ancient rituals and celebrations of our forebears were built around stories and myths that helped them come to terms with some of the most basic issues of existence, from death to rebirth and fertility. These culturally embedded beliefs and practices served to sanctify their practical relationship with nature and its role in sustaining human life.

As agriculture became key to human survival, the planting and harvesting of crops and other seasonal activities associated with food production were central to these customs. Freyfaxi marks the beginning of the harvest in Norse paganism, for example, while Lammas or Lughnasadh is the celebration of the first harvest/grain harvest in Paganism.

Humans celebrated nature and the life it gave birth to. Ancient beliefs and rituals were imbued with hope and renewal and people had a necessary and immediate relationship with the sun, seeds, animals, wind, fire, soil and rain and the changing seasons that nourished and brought life. In addition to our physiological connection, our cultural and social relationships with agrarian production and associated deities had a sound practical base.

We need look no further than India to appreciate the important relationship between culture, agriculture and ecology, not least the vital importance of the monsoon and seasonal planting and harvesting. Rural-based beliefs and rituals steeped in nature persist, even among urban Indians. These are bound to traditional knowledge systems where livelihoods, the seasons, food, cooking, processing, seed exchange, healthcare and the passing on of knowledge are all inter-related and form the essence of cultural diversity within India itself.

Although the industrial age resulted in a diminution of the connection between food and the natural environment as people moved to cities, traditional ‘food cultures’ – the practices, attitudes and beliefs surrounding the production, distribution and consumption of food – still thrive and highlight our ongoing connection to agriculture and nature.

If we go back to the 1950s, it is interesting to note Union Carbide’s corporate narrative based on a series of images that depicted the company as a ‘hand of god’ coming out of the sky to ‘solve’ some of the issues facing humanity. One of the most famous images is of the hand pouring the firm’s agrochemicals on Indian soils as if traditional farming practices were somehow ‘backward’.

Despite well-publicised claims to the contrary, this chemical-driven approach did not lead to higher food production according to the paper “New Histories of the Green Revolution” written by Prof Glenn Stone. However, it has had long-term devastating ecological, social and economic consequences as we saw in Vandana Shiva’s book The Violence of the Green Revolution and Bhaskar Save’s now famous and highly insightful open letter to Indian officials.

In the book Food and Cultural Studies (Bob Ashley et al), we see how, some years ago, a Coca Cola TV ad campaign sold its product to an audience which associated modernity with a sugary drink and depicted ancient Aboriginal beliefs as harmful, ignorant and outdated. Coke and not rain became the giver of life to the parched. This type of ideology forms part of a wider strategy to discredit traditional cultures and portray them as being deficient and in need of assistance from ‘god-like’ corporations.

Post-COVID plunder

What we are seeing in 2020, is an acceleration of such processes. In terms of food and agriculture, traditional farming in places like India will be under increasing pressure from the big-tech giants and agribusiness to open up to lab-grown food, GMOs, genetically engineered soil microbes, data harvesting tools and drones and other ‘disruptive’ technologies.

This vision includes farmerless farms being manned by driverless machines, monitored by drones and doused with chemicals to produce commodity crops from patented GM seeds for industrial ‘biomatter’ to be processed and constituted into something resembling food. What will happen to the farmers?

Post-COVID, the World Bank talks about helping countries get back on track in return for structural reforms. Are tens of millions of smallholder farmers to be enticed from their land in return for individual debt relief and universal basic income? The displacement of these farmers and the subsequent destruction of rural communities and their cultures was something the Gates Foundation once called for and cynically termed “land mobility”.

Cut through the euphemisms and it is clear that Bill Gates – and the other incredibly rich individuals behind the great reset with their ‘white saviour’ mindset – is an old-fashioned colonialist who supports the time-honoured dispossessive strategies of imperialism, whether this involves mining, appropriating and commodifying farmer knowledge, accelerating the transfer of research and seeds to corporations or facilitating intellectual property piracy and seed monopolies created through IP laws and seed regulations.

In India – still an agrarian-based society – will the land of these already (prior to COVID) heavily indebted farmers then be handed over to the tech giants, the financial institutions and global agribusiness to churn out their high-tech industrial sludge?

With the link completely severed between food production, nature and culturally embedded beliefs that give meaning and expression to life, we will be left with the individual human who exists on lab-based food, who is reliant on income from the state and who is stripped of satisfying productive endeavour and genuine self-fulfilment.

Technocratic meddling has already destroyed or undermined cultural diversity, meaningful social connections and agrarian ecosystems that draw on centuries of traditional knowledge and are increasingly recognised as valid approaches to secure food security, as outlined, for example, in the 2017 article “Food Security and Traditional Knowledge in India” in the Journal of South Asian Studies.

Such a pity that prominent commentators like George Monbiot, who writes for the UK’s Guardian newspaper, seems fully on board with this ‘great reset’. In his 2020 article ‘Lab-grown food will soon destroy farming – and save the planet’, he sees farmerless farms and ‘fake’ food produced in giant industrial factories from microbes as a good thing.

But Vandana Shiva says:

The notion that high-tech ‘farm free’ lab food will save the planet is simply a continuation of the same mechanistic mindset which has brought us to where we are today – the idea that we are separate from and outside of nature… it is the basis of industrial agriculture which has destroyed the planet, farmers livelihoods and our health.

She adds:

Turning ‘water into food’ is an echo from the times of the second world war, when it was claimed that fossil-fuel-based chemical fertilisers would produce ‘Bread from Air’. Instead we have dead zones in the ocean, greenhouse gases – including nitrous oxide which is 300 times more damaging to the environment than CO2 – and desertified soils and land. We are part of nature, not separate from and outside of nature. Food is what connects us to the earth, its diverse beings, including the forests around us — through the trillions of microorganisms that are in our gut microbiome and which keep our bodies healthy, both inside and out.

As an environmentalist, Monbiot supports lab-based food because he only sees a distorted method of industrial farming; he is blind to agroecological methods which do not have the disastrous environmental consequences of chemical-dependent industrial agriculture. Monbiot’s ‘solution’ is to replace one model of corporate controlled farming with another, thereby robbing us of our connection to the land, to each other and making us wholly dependent on profiteering, unscrupulous interests that have no time for concepts like food democracy or food sovereignty.

Moreover, certain lab-engineered ‘food’ will require biomatter in the form of commodity crops. This in itself raises issues related to the colonisation of land in faraway countries and the implications for food security there. We may look no further to see the adverse health, social and environmental impacts of pesticide-dependent GMO seed monocropping in Argentina as it produces soy for the global market, not least for animal feed in Europe.

Instead of pandering to the needs of corporations, prominent commentators would do better by getting behind initiatives like the anti-imperialist Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology, produced by Nyeleni in 2015. It argues for building grass-root local food systems that create new rural-urban links, based on genuine agroecological food production. It adds that agroecology requires local producers and communities to challenge and transform structures of power in society, not least by putting the control of seeds, biodiversity, land and territories, waters, knowledge, culture and the commons in the hands of those who feed the world.

It would mean that what ends up in our food and how it is grown is determined by the public good and not powerful private interests driven by patents, control and commercial gain and the compulsion to subjugate farmers, consumers and entire regions to their global supply chains and questionable products (whether unhealthy food or proprietary pesticides and seeds). For consumers, the public good includes more diverse diets leading to better nutrition and enhanced immunity when faced with any future pandemic.

Across the world, decentralised, regional and local community-owned food systems based on short(er) food supply chains that can cope with future shocks are now needed more than ever. But there are major obstacles given the power of agrifood concerns whose business models are based on industrial farming and global chains with all the devastating consequences this entails.

Following the devastation caused by coronavirus-related lockdowns, World Bank Group President David Malpass has stated that poorer countries will be ‘helped’ to get back on their feet – on the condition that further neoliberal reforms and the undermining of public services are implemented and become further embedded.

He says that countries will need to implement structural reforms to help shorten the time to recovery and create confidence that the recovery can be strong:

For those countries that have excessive regulations, subsidies, licensing regimes, trade protection or litigiousness as obstacles, we will work with them to foster markets, choice and faster growth prospects during the recovery.

For agriculture, this means the further opening of markets to benefit the richer nations. What journalists like George Monbiot fail to acknowledge is that emerging technology in agriculture (AI drones, gene-edited crops, synthetic food, etc) is first and foremost an instrument of corporate power. Indeed, agriculture has for a long time been central to US foreign policy to boost the bottom line of its agribusiness interests and their control over the global food chain.

In the words of economics professor Michael Hudson:

It is by agriculture and control of the food supply that American diplomacy has been able to control most of the Third World. The World Bank’s geopolitical lending strategy has been to turn countries into food deficit areas by convincing them to grow cash crops – plantation export crops – not to feed themselves with their own food crops.

It is naïve to suggest that in the brave new world of farmerless farms and lab-based food, things would be different. In the face of economic crisis and stagnation at home, exacerbated by COVID lockdowns and restrictions, whether through new technologies or older Green Revolution methods, Western agricapital will seek to further entrench its position across the globe.

The post Agroecology and Post-COVID Plunder first appeared on Dissident Voice.