Food part 4: Food Security, Free Trade, Fair Trade

I argued here that the majority of what western women know about feminism can be turned on its head because, for the most, part women have been relying on the information that men allow them access to. Men distort and skew facts and figures.

When I talk about “capitalist accumulation” or “economic exploitation” I am not talking about finance or the money system. I’m talking about: land, infrastructure, islands, a country or two. All the things women would have, if we hadn’t been severely economically exploited over the centuries. Just the other week I saw some ancient Italian beads on display, which had been used to barter with in the days before money. I have never researched the history of the money system, but it might be interesting.

Which brings me to the point about female biology not being enough for men to oppress us. It makes it easier for them to oppress us, it drives them to oppress us, but it’s not enough, in itself, for them to do it. This is why men are hell bent on destroying herstory– because they want us to believe we’ve always been dependent on them. I think excavating herstorical archives is an excellent use of women’s time. It was the witch craze that really drove it home for me, that in order to oppress us, men have to take us on like men, as they would in battle. Getting us to have babies really isn’t enough.

Men are desperate to hide from women that they took us seriously– and that’s why they killed so many of us. They’re desperate to hide the fact they deployed exactly the same tactics as they would in a war against men. It’s never just been a case of getting the little ladies pregnant and the rest will take care of itself. QUITE THE OPPOSITE. Oppressing women is an ongoing, full-time job that men can never take a rest from and they never ever take their eye off the ball, even though they pretend to.

And the reason I think economic oppression is so crucial is because if women were economically powerful we could protect ourselves. We could invest in our own weapons, we could use the infrastructure to make sure men don’t get access to us. I’m not saying economic oppression is the root, but it’s a bigger part of our oppression than men would have us believe. The men who admit women are oppressed downplay the economic side of things, because men can be economically oppressed too. Which flies in the face of female oppression being inevitable.

I would also argue that women were economically oppressed by men long before men were oppressed by other men. Every time a woman makes or gives something to a man she is transferring resources from women to men. And I have to thank the separatists and lesbian separatists for making this so abundantly clear to me.  Those of us who are in a position not to give to men should absolutely not do so. This point is so often overlooked and I’m glad the lesbian separatist writings I’ve read have enabled me to understand the ways women are able to tangibly make choices even inside our economic oppression.  Trust Your Perceptions recently asked: At what point did women start giving food and resources to men so that they wouldn’t hurt us?

Food Security

I saw some articles the other day that Scotland has made access to food a human right. All very admirable. I did notice a caveat at the bottom of one article stating something like “we understand that this policy would not strengthen our food security”.

An important caveat to be sure. Most of Scotland’s food is imported from third world countries, as I discussed here. How can Scotland guarantee food for its people, when most of that food is being imported from the third world? The answer is: by tacitly supporting violence and genocide overseas. (By not intervening and putting a stop to it, when it could)

When governments use the term “Food Security” they mean a couple of things. Food is always political. Japan has no food security because after the war it was forced to open up its markets and import American rice. Rice farmers in Japan were no longer viable because the imported rice was cheaper. The Japanese government tried to compensate by offering subsidies to farmers, so that they would keep producing, and in order to protect the country’s food security somewhat. It worked to an extent but most rice farmers stopped. Japan now imports almost all its rice from America and China. If it goes to war with either of these countries or their allies, Japan is fucked. All its enemies need to do is halt exports of rice and the Japanese die of starvation. (That’s the plan anyway– I’m sure most Japanese would be okay due to their ingenious ways of gathering local woodland and mountain food sources. But people in big cities would be in trouble).

Today food has become a tool of modern warfare.  “Food Security” in the West is very poor. Europe simply doesn’t produce enough food to sustain its people. Africa produces enough food to sustain not only  itself but also most of the Western World. That is why genocide will continue and why western governments will continue to support the most heinous war crimes around the world. If people in the countries they exploit gain power, they will turn off the food supply and Europeans will die. That’s what you get for killing most of your wise women in a witch-craze and letting local knowledge of woodlands, mountains and horticultural production die with their bodies.

European and American empires are frantic because they see it all unfolding. They see that the only way, now, that their populations will survive is by greater and greater violent oppression overseas.

During the height of Ethiopia’s famine, when western women were shown media images of starving children with distended bellies, weakly batting away flies, Ethiopia was exporting green beans to Europe.

Men in non-industrialized countries are keen to sell out their own countries and give up food security, because they can see how siding with western men disenfranchises women (who produce almost all of the food) and they want to be involved in the modern world by buying luxury goods, such as watches, cars or whatever. But I would be kind, and call these men handmaidens. If they don’t offer up their land freely, they might expect violence from the West.

Some articles detailing the Scottish initiative have outlined some ideas about getting Scottish farmers back in business and competing against international supermarkets.  A great idea– for men. But if you’re a woman it’s same old same old– dependency on men for food. When I see headlines like access to food being a “human” right, I have to remind myself they’re not talking about women.

Free Trade

Free Trade sounds wonderful. It’s got the word “free” in it, right?

Free trade policies generally promote the following features:

  • Trade of goods without taxes (including tariffs) or other trade barriers (e.g., quotas on imports or subsidies for producers)
  • Trade in services without taxes or other trade barriers
  • The absence of “trade-distorting” policies (such as taxes, subsidies, regulations, or laws) that give some firms, households, or factors of production an advantage over others
  • Unregulated access to markets
  • Unregulated access to market information
  • Trade agreements which encourage free trade.

The purpose of free trade is to force developing countries to open up their markets and accept western luxury goods, similar to how the Japanese were forced to accept American rice after the war.

Communist Russia was despised by the west in part because it would not participate in free trade. It protected its economy and its food production by refusing to freely engage with trade around the world. The thinking went like this: “We don’t care if we don’t have access to luxury and exotic food, we don’t care if we only have a limited range of food, but we care that our means of producing the food we do have is protected and sustainable”. Which I think is fairly reasonable. The Russians have always taken care of, and protected, local food production. And that means the old ladies who milk their goats and grow potatoes for their local market. Russia has protected this old lifestyle and therefore has retained”food security”. If the shit hits the fan it has enough food to take care of its people.

Iran is a country that refuses to trade freely with the west, preferring to protect its local economies. In punishment, western governments have imposed sanctions on Iran, which means it’s difficult for Iran to buy certain foreign goods. Notice that western governments have applied no sanctions on Saudi Arabia, and trade freely with this country. Let’s be clear: American and European men are happy to trade with a country that doesn’t allow women to drive.

“Trade Distorting Policies” are when governments try to protect their small-holdings. Europe uses a lot of trade distorting policies and tariffs to protect its traditional food producers, such as cheese makers, against foreign competitors. It’s ironic that Europe protects its own small food producers while simultaneously having a hand in destroying small food producers in developing countries.

“Unregulated access to markets” means TESCO being allowed to compete with women who have smallholdings and who grow crops on their own land, without her own government protecting her trade by keeping international companies away.

Fair Trade

The purpose of Fair Trade food on supermarket shelves, as far as I can see, is to make the millions of women in the U.K and U.S who can’t afford it, feel like shit. They see the coffee on the shelf, the expensive one is Fair Trade, the cheap one is not. They choose the cheap one.

Fair Trade is such a minuscule segment of the food market. Often the international companies who sell Fair Trade food, also sell non-fair trade food as well. So the Fair Trade dealers are making money from exploiting people anyway.

Fair Trade does exist, in that companies like Tesco will decide to pay growers a bit more than its usual breadline wages for the production of a particular food product, so that they can stamp the Fair Trade label on the tin. I wouldn’t be as cynical as to say it was entirely a marketing ploy. It is better, of course, to be paid more for your fruit, than to be paid less. But in many cases it’s not even the locals who own the food they’re picking. As in the case of coffee. “Fair Trade” usually doesn’t mean trading fairly with local farmers and producers. It means raising the wage a little. It might be different for Fair Trade goods such as clothes, but I’m mainly looking at food here.

Because the international food supply chain system is so vast, so utterly dominated by men, so thoroughly dependent on female economic exploitation, it is splitting hairs to argue whether Fair Trade products are beneficial or not. It doesn’t do any harm to buy them, but the system itself is rotten to the core, so it doesn’t help much either. It might even be a concession, to make western women feel like things are on the up. That “if I support fair trade products I’m helping third world farmers”. Nope. The only way to help them is to.. crush patriarchy?


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