Posted 11 months ago on June 19, 2012, 4:57 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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Democratic Unfreedom - Social Technique and the Manufacture of Control
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 10:32 By Kingsley Dennis, Truthout | News Analysis
A comfortable, smooth, reasonable, democratic unfreedom prevails in advanced industrial civilization, a token of technical progress. - Herbert Marcuse
As Noam Chomsky pointed out, in both "old" and "new" world orders the central goal has pivoted around the issue of control: "Control of the population is the major task of any state that is dominated by particular sectors of the domestic society and therefore functions primarily in their interest ..." Such "particular sectors" as referred to are the minority elite, who pursue controlling strategies to "engineer" nation and international affairs in line with their aims. And these aims are for the most part based on greed and power; and the need to keep the masses contented and docile.
The construction of what Marcuse refers to as democratic unfreedom is often implemented through scientific rationalism. The pattern often adopted is in parading rational thinking as the vehicle in which to present specific agendas most suitable to hierarchical power structures. And it is through the rationalism of the elite technocratic establishment that global governance has found its most articulate expression. One of these forms is corporatism and the rise of the conglomerates (media conglomerates were explored in a previous Truthout article). A particular example of corporatism and social control can be found within global food systems, the ways they are monopolized and managed.
The control and management of global food supplies has been a corporate and political priority for decades, with US-based conglomerates leading the charge. As elite establishment political figure Henry Kissinger remarked in 1970, "Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people." Recent research places multinational corporations behind the push toward controlling global food supplies.
The 1974 UN World Food Conference in Rome outlined the necessity of maintaining sufficient world grain reserves, especially since the price of world grain had shot up dramatically via the huge increase in oil price during the early 1970s oil crisis (at one point world oil prices had risen by 400 percent). US export strategy in the 1970s was to further control food supplies. This led to moves to consolidate power as 95 percent of all grain reserves in the world were under the control of six multinational agribusiness corporations - Cargill Grain Company; Continental Grain Company; Cook Industries, Inc; Dreyfus; Bunge Company; and Archer Daniels Midland - all US-based companies. The US long-term strategy was to dominate the global market in grain and agriculture commodities, as outlined in the early 1970s by Richard Nixon. This policy coincided with taking the dollar off the gold exchange standard in August 1971 to make US grain exports competitive in the rest of the world. However, in order for the US to become the world's most competitive agribusiness producer, it had to replace traditional American family-based farming with the now-widespread huge "factory-farm" production. In other words, traditional agriculture was systematically replaced with agribusiness production through changes in domestic policy. For example, domestic farm programs that had previously protected smaller farm incomes were phased out during Nixon's term in office. This policy was then exported to developing countries in a bid to make US agribusiness more competitive and to get a hold into foreign markets:
The Nixon Administration began the process of destroying the domestic food production of developing countries as the opening shot in an undeclared war to create a vast new global market in "efficient" American food exports. Nixon also used the post-war trade regime known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to advance this new global agribusiness export agenda.
In Henry Kissinger's 1974 report "National Security Study Memorandum 200" (NSSM 200), he directly targeted overseas food aid as an "instrument of national power." The policy shifts during the 1970s were toward increased deregulation, which meant increased private regulation by the large and powerful global corporations. This led to an increase in corporate mergers and the rise of transnational corporations (which today often have larger gross domestic products than many nation states).
As large corporate agribusinesses were creating their food production, storage and distribution monopoly, smaller domestic farms were going bankrupt and closing. (Although this trend was predominantly occurring within the US, it later spread to other developed nations, which were forced to "modernize" their agricultural industry to compete with global trade.) For example, between 1979 and 1998, the number of US farmers dropped by 300,000 and by the end of the 1990s, the agriculture (in the US at least) was dominated by large commercial agribusiness interests. The US also operated a foreign policy of offering financial assistance "to developing countries via the World Bank in return for these countries to open their markets up to cheap US food imports and hybridized seeds."
By the beginning of the 21st century, world supplies of cereal were under the control of a few US-based monopolies. Four large agrochemical/seed companies - Monsanto, Novartis, Dow Chemical and DuPont - controlled more than 75 percent of the US's seed corn sales and 60 percent of soybean seed sales. By the merging of giant agrochemical and seed companies, livestock could be fed on a huge diet of drugs in order to stimulate increased growth. It has been estimated that in recent years the largest users of antibiotics and similar pharmaceutical products are not humans, but animals, which consumed 70 percent of all pharmaceutical antibiotics. Statistics show, quite shockingly, that the use of antibiotics by US agribusiness increased from 500,000 pounds to 40 million pounds (an 80-fold increase by weight) from 1954 to 2005. As a consequence, the Center for Disease Control in the US has reported an "epidemic" rise in food-related diseases in humans as a result of eating meat containing large quantities of antibiotics. One Harvard University researcher, Ray Goldberg, who set up a research group to examine the revolution in agribusiness (including genetically modified organisms), reported: "the genetic revolution is leading to an industrial convergence of food, health, medicine, fiber and energy business."