The Dispossessed and The Ghost of Tom Joad*

"All Men are created Equal. But some are more Equal than others"
~George Orwell

What's the connection between the Dispossessed and The Ghost of Tom Joad?

They have one thing in common. They have something they "do not own" that is common to the lowest class of the current capitalistic structure of our society. They simply do not own a land. Landless farmers/workers, or Peasants in short.

2009 International Edition
This book written by Walden Bello is an eye opener and a paradigm shifter for any pedestrian and bourgeois reader who might still having that NEOLIBERAL GLOBALIZATION and FREE TRADE hangover. Dood, it's 2010 already and hours from now it will be 2011. If you're still wondering why the 2003 WTO meltdown in Cancun Mexico or the recent 2008 Global Financial Crisis and the Doha Round meltdown of WTO happened, or why the continuing rise of global food prices including food shortages in developing countries, the answer is here in this thin (176-pager) book.

Bello presents his points in a simplistic but heavily-cited and cross-referenced manner that no economy nor history expert will be able to refute easily. His findings based on historical and actual studies by non-government groups are no-nonsense and very essential as an antithesis of Neoliberal Globalization and Restructuring.

How on earth had the Mexicans who live in the land where corn was first domesticated, become dependent on imports of US corn? How did the Philippines---a once primary rice exporter, became the world's biggest importer of rice, regularly sourcing 1-2 million tons of its annual rice requirement in the international market? Why did the structural adjustment in Africa failed so miserably, a contention that is no longer disputed by the World Bank? Why did the Chinese Communist Party need to regain the peasant confidence after joining the World Trade Organization? These questions are actually not mine. But any geopolitical eyes can percieve it, and it's in the book carefully dissected, analyzed, and ultimately answered by the professor from UP.

Though I deeply sympathize with the displaced and dispossessed peasants and farmers(including the Korean farmer Lee Kyung Hae who took his own life in protest against the WTO in 2003), there are still a lot of "new" thoughts (or maybe late realizations) in this book that really made me think again of my personal views on this currently hyped Global Age. Perhaps, this might be the best description of this book and I encourage you all to read this one.

Here are examples of those points:

---Agrofuel (biodiesel, ethanol, etc.) as a renewable source of energy still contributes to global warming and cannot be considered as a solution (or the lesser evil, if you want to push it) to climate change.
---The best solution to Global Warming is still, cut the energy consumption. We are all guilty of overconsumption.
---Unless they make policies in favor of the peasants, the World Trade Organization will always be nasty. And the World Bank-IMF, nastier.
---The biggest investor in the Philippines is...the government itself!
---There are double standards in the international free trade rules and it sucked.
---The Food Sovereignty paradigm proposed by Via Campesina and their advocates is a sound plan that values the back-to-nature principles of farming and the community-centered food production. This will be the biggest headache of the transnational capitalists and profit-centered policymakers.
---Agrarian Reform Program in the Philippines will never succeed as long as the lawmakers (Members of the House of Representatives) are landlords themselves. The President PNOY himself is also a landlord!
---Land is now the desired commodity

More points to ponder:

"This stance combines support for the domestic subsidies with an aggressive drive to open up developed-and developing-country markets to US exports. In other words, free trade for the rest of the world and protectionism for the United States."

"Unable to deny the obvious, the Bank has finally acknowledged that the whole structural adjustment enterprise was a mistake, though it smuggled this concession into the middle of the 2008 World Development Report, perhaps in the hope that it would not attract too much attention."

"It has been estimated that global industrial agriculture employs three calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of food energy."

"There is no easy solution to climate change. Nuclear power is simply dangerous. CCST (carbon capture and storage technology) is science fiction at this stage. And the trade-off between the expansion of agrofuel production and the exacerbation of the food crisis and the displacement of small farmers is simply too high a price."

"The Via Campesina insists that an alternative model must be based on certain ethics and values in which culture and social justice count for something and concrete mechanisms are put in place to ensure a future without hunger. The Via Campesina's alternative model entails recapturing aspects of traditional, local, or farmer's knowledge, and combining that knowledge with new technology when and where it is appropriate to do so."

Genre: Historical Theories, Global Food Production
Rating: 4.5 cavans of hoarded rice

*with apologies to Ursula LeGuin, Bruce Springsteen, and Rage Against the Machine

1 comment:

  1. This is not a big surprise, really...



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