Monday, March 9, 2009
Gonna Sew My Old Shirts, Patch My Jeans, Shop at Thrift Shops
Subsistence food crops for local consumption are good. Monocrops for trade and debt are bad. Sometimes things are actually as simple as a childlike morality would suggest. Why dig for nuance when the situation is so stark? I have to buy less new cotton. I simply have to buy less new cotton. I can buy less new cotton. Then Uzbekistani overlords will lose profits, and... fall from power? The rural people would immediately stop growing cotton if they could. The problem is the regime and its international commercial clients. The Uzbeki state is supported by the US as an ally in a regional chessgame intended to encircle Russia. Uzbekistan recently tossed out a U.S. military base, however, so Uncle Sam may not have a lot of pull over there, even if he suddenly discovered the Uzbek / Tajik predicament.
Everyone else in the "3rd world" seems to be enslaved to one cash crop or another --coffee, opium, coca, cotton, the Nile Perch fish in Lake Victoria, bananas, and so on. Whenever this happens, the traditional skills for growing a balanced diet of foodcrops disappear in a generation or two, and everyone is left helpless under the cash economy. Then some other country dumps the same crop on the market at a lower price, and the domestic monocrop industry --rice in Haiti, for one famous example-- crashes. At that point it's either starve in the fields, or wander into the shantytowns of places like Mumbai and Port-au-Prince.
Subsistence food crops for local consumption are good. Monocrops for trade and debt are bad. What am I missing here? Free trade is toxic. Globalization is slavery. It increases the velocity of money (upward), circulates capital (among a shrinking circle of capos), builds opportunity (to wreck unique cultures, lost forever to McWorld), fosters innovation (in shit like Monsanto's "terminator seeds," one of the deadliest threats to food security the world has ever seen), and lifts people out of poverty (where "poverty" is an unmonetized economy based on local relationships and human needs, and "uplift" is wage slavery to absentee Supermen and their little rightist werewolves, like the Contras and the ARVM). The one good thing about Peak Oil is that it may force the "developed world" to leave other people the hell alone.