Monday, September 24, 2012

the voice of the turtle

Turn around, go back down,
Back the way you came...

Quicksilver Messenger Service, "Pride of Man"

Look at this big basket of beautiful, nutritious food, grown by hand somewhere in this country, with only such "inputs" as animal manure, earth made from composted organic wastes, and human labor. Like it or not, we're looking at the future here, both of food and labor in the United States.

Of course, our "leaders" and "thinkers" don't know this yet, and will be left standing in the station when the train pulls out of the so-called "post-modern" age. Jim Kunstler contemptuously calls out not only "our junk politics and the junk ceremony of the present election," but the entire array of professional "thinkers" such as "Tom Friedman over at The New York Times (who) still thinks that the petroleum-saturated present he calls 'the global economy' is a permanent condition of human life, and so does virtually every elected and appointed official in Washington, not to mention every broadcaster in Manhattan."

But this "global economy" or for that matter macro-economics is not a permanent condition of life, even in the United States. That's because an essential component of the macro-global economic regime is a time bomb called industrial-style agribusiness. Yesterday at Common Dreams, the Indian ecological activist and feminist Vendana Shiva explained in a wide-ranging and very informative (but not particularly well written) essay the nutritional, ecological, and financial consequences of large-scale industrial farming, as practiced in this country by corporations like Monsanto, Cargill, and Archer-Daniels-Midland.

Our dependence on industrial-style agriculture has grown more all-encompassing with every decade since 1920, but that will end in this decade as the price of petroleum "inputs" necessary to the process, chemical fertilizers and petroleum-based pesticides, gets too steep for agribusiness to function economically. Plus, changes occurring within agribusiness itself -- the fact that only corporate profits matter, and nutrition not all -- doom this type of enterprise to extinction, as more people wake up to the reality of manufactured food making us fat, diabetic, unable to exercise.

When agribusiness goes under, we'll have to feed ourselves. Fortunately, this country is rich in land and other components of a muscular ag sector. We have plenty of animals and endless organic wastes to build new, rich soil in places where industrial farming has depleted and/or poisoned the ground. We have millions of able-bodied unemployed -- the makings of a peasant class.

America in 2025 will still have lots of workers and many big cities, but where we live and the work we do will have reversed direction from what they were in modern times, away from cities and industrial production, back to the land and pre-modern ways of doing a lot of things, especially food production.

And the voice of the turtle will be heard in our land.

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