Capitalism Takes Food from the Poor

Have you ever wondered how it is that capitalism causes malnourishment? Here’s one way.

“The global rush to buy farmland continues, and international investors are focusing on the poorest countries with weak land-rights security…Investor interest in land was triggered by the 2007-08 spike in food prices, and the long-term trends that drive deals are rising commodity prices, population growth, growing consumption and demand for biofuels and timber…The deals in the database amount to 83.2 million hectares (205.6 million acres) of land in developing countries…Most of the investors are private companies, accounting for 442 projects covering 30.3 million hectares, followed by state- owned companies with 172 projects and 11.5 million hectares, based on the data. Investment funds were behind 32 projects covering 3.3 million hectares….

 Governments often sell land already in use by smallholder farmers, according to the (research) group. About 45 percent of deals target cropland or crop-vegetation mosaics, where investors are competing for land with local farming communities, the group reported. ‘Investors are targeting countries with weak land tenure security, although they try to look for countries that at the same time offer relatively high levels of investor protection,’ the Land Matrix group said.”

Look at the Landportal Landmatrix data on capitalism incentivizing investors to steal arable land from the poor, that the moneyed might speculate on the dispossessed’s ensuing starvation.

Costs of War March 2012

Costs of current US imperial wars, courtesy Bill Moyers.

Lessons (Again, because we’re memoryless morons.) of military interventions, this time Libya: “Military interventions that topple repressive regimes invariably offer occasions to observe, though at others’ expense, the law of unintended consequences. Second, the constituencies that clamor for such campaigns move quickly to other matters once those malign consequences become manifest.”

Libya & Iraq

O’Connor, James. 1992. “Murder on the Orient Express: The political economy of the Gulf War.” Social Justice 19, 1 (47): 62-75.

In which the author shows how Iraq alienated itself from other, more tyrannical oil-producing countries and the US in spreading the oil wealth across Iraq society.

A story not unrelated to Libya, where Ghaddaffi promoted pan-Africanism and spread oil wealth across Libyan society.

The US supported both Hussein and Ghaddaffi, and both were not democratic leaders, and like other non-democratic leaders, they have authorized atrocities. And yet, overthrowing these leaders is not about aiding democracy. In the absence of intention and capacity to establish democracy–which is not US/Euro capitalist dominance–war and occupation assists Euro-American imperialism, not democracy, evidently in the case of Iraq (and probably Libya) at the expense of the welfare of the citizens of those countries.

Here is Liberal Juan Cole’s expert defense of Euro-American warfare in Libya.

Here is Liberal-leftist Glenn Greenwald’s well-argued defense of critical pacifism in the West, as regards Libya. And here is an anti-imperialist Monde Diplomatique perspective on Libya.

Capitalism Eats Africa Today

Articles on land grabs, food speculation, and biofuel colonialism in Africa:

1) Weinststein, L. 2008. “The new scramble for Africa.” International Socialist Review 60.
http://www.isreview.org/issues/60/feat-africa.shtml

2) Vidal, John. 2010. “How food and water are driving a 21st century African land grab.” The Guardian, March 7. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/07/food-water-africa-land-grab

3) Multiple articles in the Third World Network’s Resurgence: “A New Food Crisis”(2010) http://www.twnside.org.sg/title2/resurgence/2010/twr240-241.htm

4) Hari, Johann. 2010. “How Goldman Gambled on Starvation.” The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-how-goldman-gambled-on-starvation-2016088.html

5) From Hari’s blog, this may be a longer version of the #4 Hari article (originally published in The Independent) above: http://johannhari.com/2010/07/02/how-goldman-sachs-gambling-on-starving-the-worlds-poor-and-won

See also the work of economist John Loxley and
Ferguson, James. 2006. Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order. Duke University Press.

US Tentacles in Ugandan Homo-murderous Law

Bush-regime evangelical clientelism propelled Uganda to the homosexual hate hysteria it currently stews in.

The Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian, went undercover for 6 months in Uganda, to witness and report that US evangelicals, who thanks to the Bush regime wield enormous power in Uganda, provided the legitimacy and facade of expertise for the promotion of homophobic hysteria in Uganda and the country’s institution in 2009 of a death penalty for gay people.

With the turnover in US leadership, American conservative evangelicals, a major client of the Bush regime, were assured by the Obama administration that they would not face reduced public funding of their “social service” activities, which include campaigning against human and civil rights for gays, and proselytizing for their religious sects in countries like Uganda.

The recent relevation that conservative evangelicals (Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge, and Don Schmierer) have spurred murderous state policy in Uganda strengthens the case against ending remaining clientelistic relationships between the US state and the Republican clients, as conservative evangelicals had attempted to hide the nature of their activities in Uganda, presenting a more moderate face in the US. It is now much more difficult to see where “compassionate” conservatism ends and barbarous conservatism begins.

But for all their US-side claims to civility, as missionary Scott Lively blogged proudly, his campaign was ““a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Or a nuclear bomb against human rights, more accurately.

Rape of Somalia

Chris Floyd reports on the horror in Somalia:

“American military and security forces and their Ethiopian proxies invaded (Somalia) in December 2006, in a “regime change” operation to overthrow the first quasi-stable government Somalia had seen in 15 years. …American forces have bombed fleeing refugees, slaughtered innocent herdsmen and destroyed villages in attempts to assassinate a handful of individual alleged, on shaky and specious evidence, to be “part of” or “associated with” or “linked to” al Qaeda. American agents have seized refugees from the Somali war, including U.S. citizens, and had them “renditioned” to the notorious prisons of the Ethiopian dictatorship. And as we have noted here many times, the Bush Administration has sent in death squads to “kill anyone left alive” after American strikes.”

This, along with everything else, drives Floyd to consider what the Terror War looks like from a rational actor perspective: “The “War on Terror” has created so many vast new fertile fields for extremism and terrorism on all its fronts that a cynic might be forgiven for suspecting that the creation of more terrorism is, in fact, one of its principal aims. After all, who have been the chief beneficiaries of modern terrorism? Those who have reaped immeasurable riches and vastly augmented authoritarian power from “counter-terrorism.” If the “War on Terrorism” had not arisen — just in time to replace the Cold War — something else would have had to been invented to keep the loot and power flowing to (and from) the war machine. “

Floyd cites a report by Enough, a human rights group created by a cooperative effort between the International Crisis Group and the Center for American Progress. Written by Ken Menkhaus, a leading American expert on the region, the report is called “Somalia: A Country in Peril, a Policy Crisis”, which explains the US role in ratcheting up conflict in Somalia:

“This (2006-present civil) war (in Somalia) was precipitated by a U.S.-backed effort to create an alliance of clan militia leaders to capture a small number of foreign al Qaeda operatives believed to be enjoying safe haven in Mogadishu as guests of the hard-line Somalia Islamists, especially the jihadi militia known as the shabaab. The cynically named Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism, or ARPCT, as the U.S.-backed group was called, clashed with local Islamists and within months was decisively defeated. The clan militias’ defeat paved the way for the rise of the Islamic Courts Union, or ICU, which for seven months in 2006 came to control and govern all of Mogadishu and most of south-central Somalia.”

“(Ensuing f)actional disputes between (Somali) moderates and hardliners — with the latter taking increasingly strident public positions — gave Ethiopia the excuse for its long-planned, American-backed invasion,” reports Floyd.

“(N)eighboring Eritrea’s support for insurgents in Somalia and oppositionists in Ethiopia means that Somalia is further complicated by a proxy war between Ethiopia and Eritrea,” states Menkhaus.

Menkhaus’ report details the humanitarian tragedy spilling out from the machinations of the US and Ethiopia.