People have been too kind. Online responses and an audience in Minneapolis have met my H5N2 commentary with the kind of reaction that marks as much a change in the cultural weather as anything in my presentation.
Stateside the outbreak has inspired many a suddenly impertinent child across scientific circles, op-ed pages and supermarkets. A growing murmur acknowledges the emperors of agribusiness are stripping themselves naked of their own rationale. The sector’s apologists, many wily as can be, and paid handsomely for the dupe, are appearing increasingly peddlers of an invisible cloth.
If I have added anything to the dawning realizations already underway, beyond whatever technical support conjoining epidemiology, evolution and economics, it is my lil’ bit in helping engender a sense, to turn around Gramsci, that the old order is dying and a new can indeed be born.
But are we ready for our own century?
I’ve been struck by the goodwilled’s repeated insistence this past week on relying on the market that has produced our present food system as some sort of universal organizing principle. As if the econometric measurements by which agribusiness prosper are the sole means by which any food system can exist.
Clem, one commenter, a nice guy, asks,
So next we should collectively look in a mirror and reflect on our personal poultry purchasing habits? If those chicken nuggets from a multinational restaurant chain we passed on the way home came from a bird in VERY large barn, are we not also part of the problem?
Clearly consumer choice structures the marketplace, but I don’t think demand is the panacea many in the food movement treat it.
First, ‘choice’ is routinely producer-led, and not just by advertisements. In controlling the means of production, capital routinely folds in its program all along the commodity chain. It squeezes value, yes, out of consumers, but also off the labor, for instance, of los lechugueros in the vid above, off lands expropriated and polluted and governments bought-and-sold.
So switching brand choices–-which I don’t entirely dismiss–-plays the game by rules capital has set. In its opposition even a conscious consumerism recapitulates the individualist (even reactionary) mindset underlying the present dysfunction. To agribusiness’s advantage.
Collective traps require collective interventions beyond looking at our separate selves in our collective mirrors.