The Periphery of Empire is a Huge Plantation Providing Food and Resources to the Imperial Center
That the periphery of empire functions as a huge plantation system providing agricultural products and resources to the imperial center can be determined by analyzing who consumes those agricultural products and resources.
While Somoza was kept in power in Nicaragua by America, 22 times more farm land was utilized to produce crops for exports than was used for domestic consumption and 90% of all agricultural credits financed those agricultural exports.
Running the same statistical analysis on the agriculture of many countries on the periphery of empire will expose similarly high percent-ages of their land providing food for the imperial center. The same analysis on natural re-sources—timber, iron, copper, diamonds, etc—on the periphery will show an even higher level of consumption by the imperial center and lower level of consumption by the periphery.
World hunger and poverty exists because:
1 Colonialism, mercantilism and neo-mercantilism (now transposed into corporate imperialism) dispossessed hundreds of millions of people from their land. The current owners are the new plantation managers producing for the mother countries.
2 The low-paid undeveloped countries sell to the highly-paid developed countries because there is no local market, the defeated, dispossessed, and underpaid have no money. Thus it is highly unequal pay for equally-productive work creating invisible borders guiding the world’s wealth to imperial centers of capital.
3 And, as the periphery producing food and resources for the developing world re-quires exports to the center to pay for those imports, cheap, subsidized, agriculture ex-ports from the wealthy world is part of the process of stripping the natural wealth from the impoverished world to provide exotic foods, lumber, minerals, and, so long as the developed world financiers and intermediaries still maintain control of the direction of the flow of money, even manufactured products for the imperial center. To eliminate hunger:
1 There must be equalizing managed trade to protect both the developing world and the developed world, so the dispossessed can reclaim use of their land. The simplest reclamation of those rights would be society collecting the resource rent. Under that philosophy of full and equal rights only the most productive would own that land, absentee ownership would disappear, and the funds collected would build infrastructure and initial crucial industry, see chapter 21.
2 The currently underfed people can then produce the high-protein, high-calorie, crops containing all ten essential amino acids.
3 Those societies must adapt dietary patterns so vegetables, grains, and fruits are consumed in the proper amino acid combinations, with small amounts of meat or fish for protein and flavor.
With highly-subsidized food exported from the wealthy world to the impoverished world leading to typically 40% to 70% of their food being imported and their local agriculture impoverished, developing world farmers and common labor understand well that, through the multiplier factor running in reverse, every hundred dollars of imports subtracts several hundred dollars from their economy and, through that multiplier factor in forward motion, adds several hundred dollars to the exporting nation’s economy.
Conceptually Reversing the Process of Free Food
If American farmers were undersold by subsidized agricultural surpluses from another society or that imported food was given to American consumers, U.S. farmers could not sell their crops.
They would go bankrupt, the tractor and machinery companies would go bankrupt, the millions of people depending on these jobs would be without work, resources and production of remaining industries would have to be sold to other societies to pay the import food bill, and America would quickly become impoverished.
In a country not yet industrialized, the natural resources must be sold to pay for food and consumer products from the industrialized world and debt traps are put in place to maintain that dependency.
This process is currently at work in Mexico. As their food imports rose to 60% of their needs, wages fell drastically, indus-trial production shrunk substantially, and debts increased dramatically.
Because they do not have industrial capital to produce manufactured wealth from their natural wealth, undeveloped countries have much bigger problems.
To pay for their “cheap” imported food, their natural resources must be sold to pay for that food and other consumer products from the industrialized world and trade rules and debt traps have been put in place to maintain that dependency.
Once those monopolies are in place, “free trade” is simply a method to siphon the wealth of the periphery, or even defeated powerful nations to the victorious imperial centers of capital.
Witness what happened to the former Soviet federation whose resources began pouring into the West to feed their industries.
Unequal Trades in Agriculture
From the perspective of winning trade wars, the United States has an insurmountable advantage in agriculture.
However, sales of most U.S. agricultural products are not only unnecessary, they are morally wrong. While multiplying the exporters GDP, these im-ports destroy native agriculture by usurping local markets.
The smaller level of circulat-ing money within the importing economy, the sabotage of the multiplier factor, due to paying for imported food limits the development of, or even destroys industries in, other sectors of the economy. Overseas markets are developed for U.S. farmers be-cause they must sell, not because others must buy
One of the most sacred illusions of America is that its agriculture is above all re-proach. Not only is the United States the “breadbasket of the world,” but the develop-ing world is somehow incapable of emulating America’s productive farming methods.
There is one thing Americans are sure about, without their food and generosity, much of the rest of the world would starve.
Yet 40% of the developing world once plagued by severe food shortages—China, Guinea-Bissau, Cuba and, until impoverished by embargoes, North Korea, produced and distributed the 2,300 to 2,400 calories per day required to sustain an adult. India has finally achieved and maintained self-sufficiency.
Angola, Mozambique, and Nicaragua had also achieved self-sufficiency, but their economic infrastructures were sabotaged by anti-government rebels organized, trained, and armed by U.S. or allied intelligence ser-vices.
Countries newly self-sufficient in food production have far less cultivable land per person than most of the countries still suffering from chronic food shortages.
China, for example, has only .13 hectares of arable land per person; the former North Vietnam had .10; and North Korea, self sufficient before devastation by the Korean War and the embargo, had .07. Despite having more arable land per person, their neighbors are un-able to feed themselves. Pakistan has .40 cultivable hectares per person; Bangladesh has .16; and Indonesia has .15 hectares.
The best-known example of a country continually faced with hunger is Bangladesh, where “two-thirds of the population suffers from protein and vitamin deficiencies.” Yet the country exists on a fertile plain blessed with plenty of water, and “grows enough in grain alone to provide everyone in the country with at least 2,600 calories a day.” It is obvious nature has provided this country with the ability to feed more than the present population.
The reasons for such anomalies become clearer when one studies Africa and South America, the two continents with the hungriest populations.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimate that only 60% of the world’s arable land is farmed. In Africa and South America, the figure averages 20%, and their grain yields are only one-half that of industrialized countries.
Brazil, for example, is burdened with a large hunger problem, but, even without the destruction of more rainforests, it has 2.3 cultivable acres per person. In Brazil, as well as most of South and Central America, one-half the acres being farmed, invariably the best land, currently grows crops for feed-ing cattle or for export. The masses are unable to feed themselves because their land is monopolized.
Brazil has ranches with up to 250,000 head of cattle, that one owned by the Rockefellers, which monopolizes land capable of feeding hundreds of millions of people. Latin Americans and Africans, despite rampant hunger, consume only a small percentage of their land’s agricultural potential while a substantial share is exported.
The remaining nations, once threatened with hunger, have such large populations that the land’s capacity to feed the people entails a much smaller margin of safety. Yet, if they controlled their land, these nations could also produce an adequate supply of food.
China, probably the best example of rational land reform, now adequately feeds 1.3-billion people. But when the population was one-third what it is today and the land was monopolized, there were massive famines.
Fifteen of the poorest countries in the world raise and export more agricultural products than they keep for their own use. Some of these countries, the exported crops, and the percentage of farmland thus removed from local consumption include: Guadeloupe, sugar, cocoa, and bananas, 66%; Martinique, bananas, coffee, cocoa, and sugar, 70%, and Barbados, sugar cane, 77%. Guatemala plants cotton for export in blocks of 50,000 acres.
These are all familiar developed world consumer items imported from these im-poverished countries. In 1973, the United States imported 7% of its beef, much of it from the Dominican Republic and Central America. Costa Rica alone exported 60-million pounds to the United States in 1975, even though its own per-capita beef con-sumption dropped from 49 pounds per year in 1950, to 33 pounds in 1971.
If Costa Ricans had not exported this increased production, their per-capita consumption would have been 3-times as high, or 98 pounds per year.
The impoverished world does not need America’s, or Europe’s, surplus food. They only need the right to control their own land, the right to industrial capital, and the right to grow their own food.
Given those rights, they will not generally be hungry. However, because only the affluent have money to purchase this production, monopolization of land diverts the production of social wealth to those already well off.
“The world can simply produce more than those who have money to pay for it can eat.” The results are small well-cared-for elite groups, primarily in the developed world, and hunger for the dispossessed.
Hunger is Determined by Who Controls the Land
The often-heard comment, “There are too many people in the world, and overpopula-tion is the cause of hunger,” is the same myth expounded in 16th-Century England and ever since this has been the governing belief system.
Through the enclosure acts, the peas-ants were pushed off the land so the gentry could raise more wool for the new and highly-productive power looms. They could not have done this and allowed the peasants to retain their historical entitlement to a share of production from the land. Massive starvation was the inevitable result of this expropriation.
There were serious discussions in learned circles deciding peasant overpopulation was the cause of poverty. This was the accepted reason because social and intellectual elites were doing the rationalizing and they controlled the educational institutions study-ing the problem.
Naturally the conclusions, at least those published, absolved the wealthy of any responsibility for the plight of the poor. The absurdity of suggesting England was overpopulated at that time is clear when one realizes “the total population of England in the sixteenth century was less than in any one of several present-day Eng-lish cities.”
The hunger in undeveloped countries today is equally tragic and unnecessary. The European colonizers understood well that ownership of land gives the owners control over what a society produces.
Military power is the foundation of all law and the more powerful colonizers redistributed the valuable land titles to themselves, eradicating mil-lennia-old traditions of common use.
If rights in common had ever been reestablished, the “rights” of the new owners would have been reduced. For this reason, much of the land was unused or under-used until the new owners could do so profitably.
Profits meant selling primarily to the developed world, the local populations, being far under-paid and having no buying power to purchase from each other, short-circuited the mul-tiplier factor.
This pattern of land use characterizes most developing world countries today. What causes hunger is external control guiding agricultural production to the wealthy devel-oped world, instead of internal control managing production for indigenous use.
These conquered people are kept in a state of relative impoverishment. Permitting them any meaningful share of social wealth would negate the historical reason for conquest, own-ership of that wealth.
The Market Economy Guides the World’s Production to Imperial centers of capital
Currently the purchasing power of the poor keeps falling further and further behind that of the wealthy and powerful. André Gorz, in his book Paths to Paradise, explains why a market economy can only work efficiently when the purchasing power of the poor is increased:
This is what we have to understand—growing soya for our [and other wealthy nations’] cows is more profitable for the big landowners of Brazil than growing black beans for the Brazilian masses. Because our cows’ purchasing power has risen above that of the Brazilian poor, soya itself has got so expensive in Brazil that a third of the population can no longer afford to buy either its beans or oil. This clearly shows that it is not enough to ensure the developing world gets ‘a fair price’ for its agricultural exports. The relatively high prices that we would guarantee might merely aggravate hunger in the developing world, by inciting the big landowners to evict their shareholders, buy agricultural machines, and produce for ex-port only. Guaranteed high prices have positive effects only if they can be effectively used to raise the purchasing power of the poor.
Thus the market guides the world’s production to those with money. The defeated, dispossessed, dependent, and impoverished have no money because their labor is far un-derpaid, and historically there has been no serious intent to let them have agricultural and industrial capital to produce their own wealth and pay themselves well.
The world’s natural wealth automatically flowed to the money-center countries where these basic commodities were processed into consumer products by high-paid industrial labor to produce both consumer products and buying power which is the essence of a wealthy society.
The industrialized world is the prime beneficiary of this well-established system.
Great universities search diligently for “the answer” to the problem of poverty and hunger. They invariably find it in “lack of motivation, inadequate or no education,” or some other self-serving belief system. They look at everything except the cause; the power-ful own the world’s natural wealth which, as a free gift of nature, each should have a roughly equal share.
The major beneficiaries have much to gain by perpetuating the myths of overpopu-lation and cultural and racial inferiority. The real causes of poverty must be ignored; how else can this systematic siphoning away of others’ wealth through inequality of trades be squared with what people are taught about democracy, rights, freedom, and justice?
If people have rights to their own land and the industrial capital to produce the tools to work it, every region in the world could feed itself. This access would have to be permanent and consistent. Any alienation of land rights, or underselling of regional agricultural production with cheap imports, disrupts food production, retards industrial development, and ensures hunger and poverty.
With capital and undisturbed access to their land, the developing world would have little need for the surplus food of the United States. Consequently, there would be no reason to plant the one-quarter of U.S. crops being exported.
The current U.S. agricultural export multiplier of possibly $100-billion—60% of $50-billion in exports which go to the developing world times an estimated multiplier of 3.5—would then be working its magic in developing countries as they produced, processed, and distributed their own food as well as other consumer products for which the increased buying power would create a market.
Beef: “A Protein Factory in Reverse”
In Diet for A Small Planet, Frances Moore Lappé teaches that:
1 The human body can manufacture all the 22 amino acids which are the building blocks of protein, except ten these are called the essential amino acids;
2 these nutrients are found in grains, vegetables, and fruits but not all ten essential amino acids exist in any one non-meat food;
3 any essential amino acid missing or deficient in a person’s diet sets the limit on the human body’s ability to build protein; when consuming vegetables, grains, and fruits that include all ten essential amino acids in adequate amounts, the body builds its own protein; to fulfill the need for human protein, an amino acid is an amino acid whether it is in meat or vegetables;
4 and chemically there is no difference between an essential amino acid, such as ly-sine, whether the source is meat, vegetables, grains, or fruits.
Ms. Lappé points out that vegetables, grains, and fruits, properly balanced for amino ac-ids, can provide more protein per acre than meat. Each 16 pounds of perfectly edible hu-man food in the form of grain fed to cattle produce only one pound of beef.
This is “a protein factory in reverse.” Lappé’s calculation is conservative; prime-fed cattle have 63% more fat than standard grade, and much of it is trimmed off, cooked away, or left on the plate. Even the fat eaten is usually not wanted. Subtracting the unwanted fat demonstrates it requires more than 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat.
Cattle are ruminants with multiple stomachs that efficiently convert roughage (grass) into muscle. But they are inefficient converters of grain to meat and, in that effort, consume large amounts of this human food. If the grains fed to cattle were consumed directly by the world’s hungry, the available protein from those foods would increase by 16-times, 1,600%.
But when fed to cattle, the overwhelming share of grain is converted into worthless fat, bone, intestines, and manure. Professor David Pimentel of Cornell University estimates the grain now being fed to livestock worldwide would feed 1-billion people.
While cattle are efficient consumers of roughage, the grain fed to them is subtracting from, not adding to, the already short supply of protein. With a digestive system designed by nature for that purpose, if cattle were fed only roughage, and the high-quality grains they once consumed were consumed by the human population, hunger would be eliminated while reducing the pressure on the environment.
If the developed world returned to the practice of growing cattle on roughage and feeding grain for only a short time before slaughter, the quality of the beef would be higher, measured by leanness, not by marbling, and the quantity available only slightly reduced. At 1991 prices, just eliminating the last two weeks of cattle feeding (called fin-ishing) would have saved American consumers at least 40-cents per pound.
Counting the grain required to produce the meat they eat, the consumption by the well to do of 8,000 to 10,000 calories per day is a major cause of world hunger. Global production exceeds 3000 calories of food per day for each person, while the daily need is only 2,300 to 2,400 calories, and the potential world calorie production could be raised much more by planting high-protein, high-calorie, crops.
On the average, the proper combination of leafy vegetables produces 15-times more protein per acre than grain-fed beef, while peas, beans, and other legumes pro-duce 10-times more, and grain produces only five-times more.
By ignoring the multiplier factor and subsidies, highly mechanized farms on large acre-ages can produce units of food cheaper than even the poorest paid farmers of the de-veloping world. When this cheap food is sold, or given, to the developing world, their local farm economy is destroyed.
Although the multiplier factor varies, for simplicity, 350% is a good figure to use. Because the circulation of money energizes production and creates wealth, reclaiming their land and utilizing the unemployed would cost these societies almost nothing, feed them well, and save far more money than they now pay for the so-called “cheap” imported foods.
On July 4, 2005, Der Speigal pointed out:
When there’s a drought in a region of Kenya, our corrupt politicians reflexively cry out for more help. This call then reaches the United Nations World Food Program — which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated. It’s only natural that they willingly accept the plea for more help. And it’s not uncommon that they demand a little more money than the respective African government originally requested. They then forward that re-quest to their headquarters, and before long, several thousands tons of corn are shipped to Africa … Corn that predominantly comes from highly-subsidized European and American farmers … and at some point, this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombassa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unscrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN’s World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It’s a simple but fatal cycle.
Zambia had 40 small industries producing clothes for Zambians. A flood of used clothes from America undersold those producers, those industries closed down, the economic multiplier went into reverse, and the number of impoverished Zambians rose rapidly.
The wealthy world feasts on chicken breasts while boatloads of imported chicken wings and drumsticks, supported by the high price the wealthy will pay for chicken breasts, undersell and devastate the meat industries of weak nations.
Not only are poor countries unable to compete against subsidized imported food and consumer products within their own countries, they are unable to export to the wealthy world due to both high supports and tariffs.
The wealthy world sells items for roughly half the cost of production. But the money spent producing that item circulates within the exporting economy lets say four times (the economic multiplier). Each million dollars worth of exports sold at half the cost of production, in this case $500,000, still generates $2 million of economic activity in the wealthy country.
Meantime, the wealthy world sells $1 million worth of highly-subsidized chicken wings and drumsticks for $500,000. The entire $1 million chicken business in the im-porting country disappears plus another three million dollars worth of business where those chicken farmers and butchers spent their money. The multiplier factor going into reverse destroyed possibly $4 million worth of local business.
We now turn to the Historical Struggle for Dominance in World Trade
Those crucial 170 words describing an honest, efficient, capitalist economy. Does anyone have the ear of President Barack Obama’s Economic Recovery Team?
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More pages in the “America Gains Economic Freedom” section
- Accumulation of Capital through Creation of Scarcity
- The Periphery of Empire is a Huge Plantation Providing Food and Resources to the Imperial Center
- Historical Struggle for Dominance in World Trade
- World Wars Decides Who Controls World Trade
- The World Breaking Free Frightened the Security Councils of Every Western Nation
- America Became a Full Fledged Empire
- America Protecting the Imperial Centers, Check A Globe
- Protection for the Imperial Centers, Free Trade for the Periphery of Empire
- The Unwitting Hand Their Wealth to the Cunning
- Orchestration of Death Squads and the Writing of History
- Who are the Powerful? Who are the Violent and Powerful Who Ordered and Oversaw These Atrocities?
- The Developing World Attaining Full and Equal Rights