Imperialism and the world food crisis – Concluding part


If capitalism is allowed to continue to run amok all over our planet, scientific studies suggest that today’s adequate (albeit criminally ill-distributed) food production will by mid-century become woefully inadequate.  The fact of the matter is that today’s factory farming which is productive of bumper crops is carried out in most places of the world with scant regard to renewability. The result is that by 2050, by when the world population is expected to have increased by 50 percent, food supplies are likely to have declined, meaning that ever escalating numbers of people will be condemned to hunger – produced not just by profit-driven distribution, as at present, but also by actual shortage of food.  This in turn will give rise to social instability and war.

Concretely, what threatens the expansion of future food supplies are limits to the availability of water, land, oil – on the one hand – and the pollution of the environment arising from modern mass production methods (including the methods used for the production of food), on the other hand – all problems capable of solution, but which are not being properly addressed because of considerations of profit.

Looking specifically at each of these issues, it is really alarming to see the damage that has been wreaked and continues to be wreaked by capitalism. Indeed, with privatisation spreading like an aggressive and malignant cancer, the neglect of renewability is rampant.

Water

When looking at the question of the world water shortage brought about at least in part by the application of modern farming methods, one is straight away faced with a massive contradiction: annual world rainfall is approximately 27,000 cubic MILES, of which 8 percent is used in agriculture, while 1 percent is used in the cities (for industrial and domestic purposes combined). Over 90 percent is not used at all.  How can there be a water shortage when 90 percent of rainfall is untapped?

And yet Julian Cribb tells us (page 38): “In the last four decades of the twentieth century, the amount of fresh water available for each human being worldwide shrank by almost two-thirds.  It is expected to be halved again by 2025.  Such stark numbers have prompted a number of observers to assert that the world has already passed ‘peak water’ and that supply is now declining, both per capita and relative to demand.  This poses a serious hazard to our ability to maintain, let alone double, world food supplies”.

The problem is that some water is easily and readily available (such as river water or water that falls directly on to the fields that need it at the time it is needed).  Then there is water which requires relatively low cost human intervention (e.g., the building of reservoirs or aquifers, the sinking of wells, the application of pumps) to make it available.  It is this readily accessible water that is fast disappearing.  But there is plenty of other water, but this is water that is expensive to make available, such as that which is cleaned in desalination plants, diverted from uncultivable mountain areas by long canal systems or pipelines to areas where it can be used for agriculture, etc.

In a planned economy, then so long as water is needed, resources can be made available for even the most painstaking methods of water retrieval as there is no competition to make this activity ‘uneconomic’.  In a market economy, not only are the incentives weak for capitalists to pursue expensive production methods, but in addition the capitalists who control the sources of ‘easy water’, often help themselves without thought for either the future or for their neighbours. Magdoff et al are of the opinion that this is even more the case with the multinational conglomerates which are gradually taking over the world’s farmland, and their book eulogises ‘natural’ peasant farming, forgetting that peasants are both too poor and too dispersed to be able to take the necessary measures to preserve the world’s resources to the extent that is now necessary – even if they do better than the multinationals.

In a capitalist economy it is every man for himself.  For example, those rich enough to afford mechanical pumps to pump out groundwater are often extracting more than nature will readily replace.  This threatens water supply in future years and is, in any event, often done at the expense of neighbours who find their wells run dry as groundwater levels sink.  Besides, the pumping of groundwater has the effect of emptying rivers, lakes and wetlands; it kills landscapes on higher ground when the water table sinks too low for the roots of plants to reach.  In India, according to Cribb, groundwater is falling by 3 feet a year, leaving a great deal of land – especially that belonging to poorer farmers who cannot afford their own mechanical pump – to dry up, driving the farmers off their land most often to a life of destitution in the city.

In spite of this, Cribb is of the opinion that “there are many ways in which the looming global water crisis can be alleviated and most are within our technical abilities”. However, he is forced to recognise that even governments tend to fail to promote these measures and he bemoans the lack of “collective willpower”.  What he fails to appreciate is that “collective willpower” has no scope to assert itself under the conditions of capitalism where the dividend to the shareholders and the multi-million pound “salaries” and “bonuses” of management are the driving force of the capitalist enterprises, so that it is the lust for profit that determines action, not “collective willpower”. Both governments and international bodies such as the IMF and the World Bank are merely agents for the imposition of bourgeois willpower, and it is well known that through the IMF’s Structural Adjustment Programs that not only millions of individuals but also whole countries have been bankrupted to such an extent that neglect of the food production environment has been unavoidable, and measures that were previously taken by the governments of oppressed countries to support, for instance, peasant farmers in years of difficulty, have been permanently discontinued at the insistence of the IMF.  These measures have been stigmatised as anti-competitive, putting the products of the multinationals at a disadvantage, and have therefore been proscribed.

A very good example of how the ‘collective will’ is invariably bent into submission to the God of Large Profits is given by attempts to address Spain’s water shortages through desalination of sea water: “The award-winning €300m ($438m) desalination plant at Torrevieja on Spain’s arid south-east coast is Europe’s largest facility for converting seawater into fresh, and the second biggest in the world.

“Finished last year, the plant is idle, however, and likely to be so for at least another 18 months. Neither the pipes to the sea nor the power transmission lines have been approved or built. Even if it does begin to process seawater, the product may be so expensive nobody wants to buy it. …

“With a heated dispute brewing in Brussels over rising EU spending at a time of austerity, plus tensions between Europe’s fiscally self-righteous north and poorer neighbours in the south, the fate of the plant will be watched across the continent…

“Three years ago, Barcelona was so stricken by drought that it imported water by the shipload from Tarragona and Marseilles in France. Today it has a new desalination plant capable of producing a fifth of the area’s water supply.

“But with the price of oil high because of the political turmoil in the Middle East, and abundant rain having fallen across much of Spain over the past two years, the omens are not good in the short term for high-cost desalination plants on the Iberian peninsula.” (Victor Mallet and Caelainn Barr, ‘Spain’s desalination dreams run dry’, Financial Times, 27 April 2011).

There could hardly be a better example to show how the future of humanity is being sacrificed to considerations of profitability!

At the moment it is left to countries like China which still have a major planned sector to look ahead to the future: “China’s planners are keenly aware of the jeopardy their country faces: a network of mighty canals is urgently being built along three main routes to shift supplies from south to north”.

In the imperialist countries, however, and in the countries they oppress, the thirst for profit leads to neglect of such vital infrastructure, with existing facilities poorly maintained and new ones a rare luxury.

Land

With land as much as with water, for-profit exploitation results most frequently in failure to maintain soil quality – to the detriment of future crops.  And once that soil quality is lost, it becomes exceptionally difficult to replace it.  Land is obviously a finite resource, unlike the potential growth of the human population. It can therefore be quite alarming to note that whereas in 1960 there were 4.1 acres per person of cultivable land in the world, this has now declined to 0.6 acres and is expected to reduce to 0.4 by 2050.

Cultivable land is actually being lost as a result of accelerated soil degradation caused by capitalist conditions of production.  Currently 1 percent of productive land is degraded every year.  By 2050 this will add up to a 65% reduction in productive land in the world – if things carry on as they are.

An illustration is provided by the situation in the UK.

According to Andrew Hough writing in the TelegraphBritish farming soil could run out within 60 years”.  He was reporting on a Carbon Farming conference in Australia, attended by soil experts from around the world, and specifically noted the following:

Fertile soil is being lost faster than it can be replenished and will eventually lead to the ‘topsoil bank’ becoming empty…

“An estimated 75 billion tonnes of soil is lost annually with more than 80 per cent of the world’s farming land ‘moderately or severely eroded’…

“A University of Sydney study, presented to the conference, found soil is being lost in China 57 times faster than it can be replaced through natural processes.

“In Europe that figure is 17 times, in America 10 times while five times as much soil is being lost in Australia.

“Soil is also a valuable store of carbon and can release the greenhouse gas if it is ploughed or dug up.

“The conference heard world soil, including European and British soils, could vanish within about 60 years if drastic action was not taken…” (‘Britain facing food crisis as world’s soil “vanishes in 60 years”’, 3 January 2011).

Some soil degradation is related to the loss of groundwater that has already been noted above, since this apparently leads to a build-up of soluble arsenic in the soil which is released whenever it rains, making the land in question too toxic for agriculture.

Even attempts to increase cultivable land by felling rainforest may cause more problems than it solves, as the felling of rainforest is associated with soil over-acidity.  Acidic soil is sterile. No fewer than 750,000 square miles are estimated to be affected by this.

Soil is also taken out of cultivation in the spread of cities – often the best soil, as cities tend to be established in the centre of the most fertile areas. And of course, it is to a considerable extent the bankrupting of the world’s peasantry that is driving millions to the cities and cause the latter to sprawl ever wider.

Another factor that will eat into the availability of land is rising seawater levels due to global warming, a phenomenon that has already started.  This is bound to drown out some of the most fertile stretches of land in low lying areas such as the Nile Delta.

The Malthusians would of course claim that all this proves the thesis they have been putting forward for over a century that the human population is outgrowing the resources available to support it.  What the Malthusians fail to see, however, is that every human being can by his work, both physical and mental, produce more than enough not only to support himself and his dependants but also to preserve resources for the future.  The more human beings, the more solutions.

The problem is to ensure that this human resource is fully mobilised to solve the problems identified above, which is obviously not the case when billions are left languishing in unemployment and under-employment in the world’s slums.  Of all the resources that capitalism wastes in cavalier fashion, the human resource is far and away the most significant.  To win the war of competition, every capitalist, in order to keep costs to a minimum, mobilises as few workers as he possibly can, leaving vast numbers without any productive occupation.

In order to ensure that sufficient supplies of food are produced on limited land resources, it is necessary to keep increasing the output per acre.  It also requires a reversal of the soil degradation that has been taking place under conditions of capitalist farming – an onerous but essential task:

Prof Crawford, the former chair of the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s Agri-Food Committee, said restoring soil required several factors.

“These factors include minimum ploughing, improved management and ‘resting’ soil by covering crops which helps replace carbon in soil.

“It can however, take decades to significantly increase the amount of useful carbon in soil, which helps make it fertile.”  (Andrew Hough, ibid.)

As can be seen, what is required is the appliance of science and technology, research on how to increase yields without exhausting the land, and ultimately without resort to finite fossil fuel reserves.  Then those who farm the land must be given training and infrastructure must be built for them.  But the manpower to do all this work is languishing in ignorance and unemployment – because this is what capitalism has condemned them to.

How, then, is it remotely possible for the absolutely necessary work to be done without the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of planned economies throughout the world?

Fertiliser

There are also problems surrounding chemical fertiliser.  While chemical fertilisers have enormously increased the productivity of soil, nevertheless, apart from the fact that there is an increasing shortage, they are leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.  The first point to note is that chemical fertilisers leak into the environment, sometimes seriously polluting water sources, the sea, and/or causing soil acidity.  The second point is that much of the chemical fertiliser is made from finite (and gradually finishing) fossil fuels or other finite resources, and one cannot, therefore, expect to be able to increase fertiliser production at a rate equivalent to that of population growth. 

David Pilling writes: “The biggest constraint to ever-higher production may be energy, the proximate cause of the 2007-08 food-price shock. The more modern farming becomes, the more heavily it relies on hydrocarbons in the form of fertiliser, as well as fuel for tractors and transport. In the words of John Gray, a British political philosopher: ‘Intensive agriculture is the extraction of food from petroleum.’” (‘How oil affects the price of peas in China’, Financial Times. 13 January 2011).

Besides oil, which has almost certainly past its production peak, other finite resources are also intimately involved in the production of fertiliser.  Phosphate and potassium are mined from rock.  What will happen when there is none left of the particular rock required?  Whereas there may be alternatives to nitrogen and potassium, there are no possible alternatives for phosphates without which plants simply will not grow.

To overcome all these problems is again not impossible in absolute terms, but is almost certainly impossible under capitalism.

First of all, systems need to be developed and installed that ensure that fields receive only as much in the way of fertiliser as will be taken up, avoiding all future leakage, waste and pollution.

Secondly, alternative sources of fertiliser need to be developed, the most obvious being city waste, for which recycling plants need to be developed and built, together with delivery systems that are not heavily fuel dependent.

The possibilities presented by artificial photosynthesis need to be further explored and put into practice through the building of the appropriate infrastructure; and yet again research, training, etc., must be made widely available.  How can one expect profit-motivated private corporations to achieve this aim?

The sea

Finally, the sea – which could potentially be exploited as a massive new source of food, sea vegetables especially.  However, it is also being damaged, and severely so, by the profiteering of the capitalist system.

The problems of over-fishing are well known.  Clearly, if fish stocks are wiped out a valuable source of protein disappears forever.  If the issue of overfishing at is current rate is left unresolved, it is quite predictable that, taken in combination with a 50% increase in demand from projected population growth, the fish protein that could be made available would fall short of need  by 100 million tonnes.  To produce 100 million tonnes of protein on land would require available irrigation water to more than double to grow the extra billion tonnes of grain that would be needed to raise the livestock.  As has been explained above, however, doubling the availability of irrigation water is simply impossible and therefore, for the sake of the future of humanity, the overfishing problem must be solved.

Research and development is needed into how fish farming can be made less ecologically damaging, e.g., by combining it with the cultivation of marine plants that would protect water quality – but who under capitalism will finance the research into the development of what would in all probability be far more expensive ways of producing fish, albeit that they are ecologically sound?

Furthermore, the oceans have been polluted by the mass burning of fossil fuels.  Half the carbon dioxide this emits ends up in the sea and makes it more acidic and therefore less capable of supporting marine life.

This acidity only reverses itself very slowly with the gradual weathering of limestone mountain ranges.  Indeed, if all fossil fuel burning were to stop today, it is estimated that it would still take the world thousands of years to return its seas to the acid balance prevailing 200 years ago, before the industrial era.

Conclusion

There are those who believe that eventually all these problems will be solved by capitalism, which will very quickly find a solution once it becomes profitable to do so.

Let us quote, for instance, Tom Vilsak, US agriculture secretary, who is of course handsomely paid to defend capitalism: “But today, only a few years after a devastating food crisis, we can avoid the mistakes of 2007 and 2008 and respond to this challenge as a country and a globe. To do so we must work with other governments to help those most vulnerable to spikes in food prices and put in place the fundamentals to feed a rapidly growing population. This means encouraging all nations to pursue policies that limit price volatility, while identifying vulnerable populations and responding appropriately.

“In the short term, nations should embrace transparency and the free movement of food supplies. They should share information on stocks and production; abstain from export bans while using export quotas and taxes sparingly; avoid panic buying and hoarding; reduce import tariffs and taxes, and put in place targeted safety nets for the most vulnerable.

“In the long term, worldwide agriculture has a steep hill to climb. The global population is on the rise and strong economic growth in developing countries is expanding middle classes and increasing demand for agricultural products. We will have to increase food production by 70 per cent to feed a global population of 9bn by 2050. To prepare we need a concerted effort by the private sector, governments and multilateral institutions to increase transparency and market information, increase agricultural productivity and facilitate trade.” (‘How to avoid a global food price crisis’, Financial Times, 23 March 2011).

The World Bank is likewise upbeat: “Now, GAFSP [General Agricultural Food Security Program], for which the World Bank is trustee, is looking for longer-term, transformational change.

“The program is specifically targeted to supporting food security in countries that have made credible efforts to devise and fund inclusive and peer-reviewed agricultural investment plans, says Delgado.

“It will help people in rural areas by financing high-yield agricultural technologies, connecting farmers to markets, reducing risks and vulnerability to income shocks and weather events, improving off-farm livelihoods for people in rural areas, and providing technical assistance to help governments deal with food insecurity.” [see World Bank website].

It is noteworthy that although Vilsak’s article is entitled ‘How to avoid a global food price crisis’, all that is offered by way of solution is impracticable wishful thinking.  Item after item in the bourgeois media is available to demonstrate the fact that under capitalism, value is only capable of being measured in profit, never in terms of usefulness for humanity, even when the use in question is in fact the most dire need.  Moreover, as we saw above in relation to desalination plants in Spain, the cyclical economic crisis cuts away any economic slack that might otherwise have existed for non-for-profit investment in the future.  For instance, US imperialism feels constrained to cut back the aid to oppressed countries that might, at least in theory, have been available to develop infrastructure that facilitated more and better food production:

The Obama administration has proposed worthy initiatives, but even when Democrats controlled Congress it had a hard time getting the money. The administration has committed $570 million toward its pledge of $3.5 billion between 2010 and 2012. A World Bank fund that got $66 million from the United States will only administer part of the global aid effort.

“It is now asking for $408 million for the fund — part of a $1.64 billion request for its Feed the Future initiative, which aims to bolster poor countries’ food production capabilities. Congressional Republicans are determined to hack as much as they can out of foreign aid. The continuing resolution passed by the House cuts $800 million out of the food aid budget — bringing it down to about $1 billion, roughly where it was in 2001”. (‘The Food Crisis, New York Times, 24 February 2011).

In a crisis there is little will to cooperate among the world’s economic powers.  It is very much each country for itself.

For instance in 2008, the US criticised China for prohibiting the export of fertiliser and grain.  China needed to do this in order to keep Chinese food prices in check, so that food continued to be affordable for the Chinese people.  However, the result was that outside China fertiliser supply was greatly reduced in relation to demand and its price shot up by nearly $50 a bag, putting it out of reach for millions of small peasant farmers to the obvious detriment of food production. (See Ariana Eunjung Cha and Stephanie McCrumment, ‘As global prices soar, more people go hungry’, Washington Post, 26 October 2008).

Although the bourgeois media prefer to use the example of China to highlight this problem, protectionist activity is undertaken by the imperialist countries to a far greater extent.  For years both the US and Europe have been heavily subsidising their farmers to the detriment of the peasants of the third world.  They are virtually obliged to do it if they are to avoid social upheaval in their home countries, but this does not stop their bourgeois hacks mournfully bemoaning the protectionism of others.

And an additional destabilising factor militating against any kind of capitalist planning for the future is provided by the speculation that attains dizzying powers of disorientation when under imperialism the capitalist system becomes putrid:

The money tells the story. Since the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, there has been a 50-fold increase in dollars invested in commodity index funds. To put the phenomenon in real terms: In 2003, the commodities futures market still totaled a sleepy $13 billion. But when the global financial crisis sent investors running scared in early 2008, and as dollars, pounds, and euros evaded investor confidence, commodities — including food — seemed like the last, best place for hedge, pension, and sovereign wealth funds to park their cash. ‘You had people who had no clue what commodities were all about suddenly buying commodities,’ an analyst from the United States Department of Agriculture told me. In the first 55 days of 2008, speculators poured $55 billion into commodity markets, and by July, $318 billion was roiling the markets. Food inflation has remained steady since.

The money flowed, and the bankers were ready with a sparkling new casino of food derivatives. Spearheaded by oil and gas prices (the dominant commodities of the index funds) the new investment products ignited the markets of all the other indexed commodities, which led to a problem familiar to those versed in the history of tulips, dot-coms, and cheap real estate: a food bubble. … And so, from 2005 to 2008, the worldwide price of food rose 80 percent -and has kept rising. … But the boom in new speculative opportunities in global grain, edible oil, and livestock markets has created a vicious cycle. The more the price of food commodities increases, the more money pours into the sector, and the higher prices rise. Indeed, from 2003 to 2008, the volume of index fund speculation increased by 1,900 percent…

“The result of Wall Street’s venture into grain and feed and livestock has been a shock to the global food production and delivery system. Not only does the world’s food supply have to contend with constricted supply and increased demand for real grain, but investment bankers have engineered an artificial upward pull on the price of grain futures. The result: imaginary wheat dominates the price of real wheat, as speculators (traditionally one-fifth of the market) now outnumber bona-fide hedgers four-to-one.” (Frederick Kaufman, ‘How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis’, www.NewsNow.org, April 27, 2011).

In short we have seen how a market economy with the profit motive as its unavoidable driving force not only leaves a considerable proportion of the human population hungry despite the production of plenty, but is also relentlessly undermining future food supplies.  The activities of the speculators are the poisonous icing on the poisonous cake, and the cake would remain poisonous even if the icing were removed.

Petty-bourgeois reformists strive to present capitalism as capable of being moderated if not cured, and this is a position expressly or implicitly expressed by the various relatively progressive authors that have been quoted in this and the preceding article in the May-June issue of Lalkar.  Thus Peter Rosset, writing in Magdoff at pp.190-191 (‘Fixing our global food system: food sovereignty and redistributive land reform’):

“… What we find is a clash of two models of agricultural production.  The dominant model, which generated the recent crisis, consists of industrial monocultures produced by agribusinesses … Unfortunately for local consumers … agribusiness does not typically produce food for local populations; rather, agribusiness has an EXPORT VOCATION.  Either commodities are produced for export markets, or biomass is grown to produce ethanol or biodiesel to feed cars instead of human beings …

“Just as troubling is the technology that agribusiness uses … Soils are eroded, compacted sterilised and increasingly infertile, and pests become resistant to ever-rising doses of pesticides.  This kind of agriculture is heavily dependent on petroleum …

“In contrast to agribusiness, family farmers and peasants typically do produce food for local and national markets.  In country after country, the proportion of food coming from the small farm sector is far greater than – typically more than double – the proportion of land that is actually in the hands of small farmers.  These farmers are over-represented in food production, and under-represented in export and agrofuel production because they have a FOOD PRODUCING VOCATION.  Yet the continued growth of the dominant model directly undermines food production, driving small farmers off the land …

“In order to reverse these trends and provide a life with dignity for farming peoples, protect rural environments, and correct the structural causes of the food crisis, we need to revitalise family and peasant farming.  That means restoring the public sector rural budgets that were cut under neoliberal policies restoring minimum price guarantees, credit and other forms of support, and undertaking redistributive agrarian reform …”

These impassioned words, however, overlook the fact that if local farmers and peasants are producing for the home market, the agribusinesses are producing for the world market and are in fact feeding millions upon millions of people.  It does require large-scale farms to which the latest scientific methods can be applied to ensure maximum increase in yields.  Just because in a world dominated by imperialism the large-scale farms belong to, and are operated by, profiteering enterprises which in the pursuit of profit are driven to neglect the principles of good husbandry in the most egregious fashion, does not mean that large-scale farming has necessarily always and at all times to be blighted in this way. 

The good news is that while it takes capitalism in pursuit of its self-expansion to give rise to the mass socialisation of production in the world, the resulting contradiction that is introduced between social production and private appropriation lays the basis for humanity to resolve the contradiction by socialising appropriation, i.e., by expropriating the exploiting class, abolishing exploitation altogether and moving history forward to a new and more civilised stage where both war and hunger are phenomena of the past soon to be long-forgotten, as the whole of humanity co-operates in the struggle against the forces of nature.

Once capitalism has been abolished – a task which the facts put forward in this article indicate is extremely urgent – the best way of producing a decent livelihood for farmers and peasants at the same time as ensuring the optimum standards of husbandry and ever-increasing yields for a growing and more prosperous population is for food production to be concentrated in large state farms, whose production quotas are set by the planning authorities in consultation with the local producers, who will advise not only as to how much they can realistically be expected to produce but also on the measures that need to be taken to ensure sustainability and expansion of production in the future.

With an eye to the future, state planners are able to set aside resources, without the slightest consideration of any need to pay dividends or managerial bonuses, for research into ways of solving problems that have appeared in the course of practical food production; they are able to set up mass training programmes to ensure that farmers are well versed in the possibilities offered by modern science; they are able to mobilise farmers themselves to train other farmers; they are able to make available to the countryside new machinery of a kind that the farmers of small parcels of land could never afford; they can ensure that the latest seeds are freely available in the areas where they are most likely to thrive.  For massive problems, such as those facing food production at the present time, it is only through state planning that it is possible to be sure appropriately massive resources will be allocated to finding the solutions to these problems and then to putting that solution into effect in a thoroughgoing and comprehensive manner. 

It is absurd to look to capitalism to solve these problems.  Rosset’s dream of a system of subsidising small peasants producing on small farms simply lacks the means of solving the world’s food production problems.  Besides which, so long as there is capitalism, it is the rich who have the power, which they wield to maintain and increase their wealth.  This means that the small proprietor is doomed, while the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia stands sorrowfully by helplessly wringing its hands.

Harpal Brar in his book Imperialism – decadent, parasitic, moribund capitalism, although when he wrote it the likes of Magdoff and Cribb had not yet produced the texts referred to in this article, nevertheless was completely accurate in his description of the typical modern-day petty-bourgeois intellectual when he wrote:

The yoke of monopolies on the several billion inhabitants of our planet has become so unbearable that it has spawned an enormous amount of literature, written from an utterly petty-bourgeois standpoint, in criticism of monopolies.  This petty-bourgeois critique, even though it contains enormously valuable and irrefutable facts and statistics drawn from sources with solid bourgeois credentials, accompanied though it is with passionate denunciations of ‘corporate colonialism’ and a deeply-felt concern for the lives of billions of poor people around the world, nevertheless remains for all this impotent and reactionary.  Impotent because it appeals to the very forces which in the pursuit of profit cannot but devastate the lives of the overwhelming part of humanity and destroy the earth, beseeching them to act more responsibly and to take into account the interests of the people and ecological considerations when making their business decisions.  Reactionary because it harks back to the days of pre-monopoly, of free competition, to the times of Adam Smith and even earlier for a solution to the problems facing humanity today, totally oblivious to the fact that free competition, so beloved of the petty-bourgeois, gives rise to the concentration of production which in turn, at a certain stage of development, leads to monopoly.  Marx, by his theoretical and historical analysis proved this long ago…”

In the present situation of a worsening world economic crisis, we have seen that the exploiting classes are even less amenable to allowing good profit to be diverted into support of the exploited and oppressed masses.  Any kind of sentimentality on their part would only too likely lead to their financial ruin and would be a totally unaffordable luxury.  In a period of crisis, the bourgeoisie does everything to save itself from ruin at the expense of the masses, both at home and in the oppressed countries.  The wages and social benefits paid to the workers are reduced drastically, while taxes are increased both to pay for bank bail-outs, for the benefit of the rich, and for wars that the imperialists wage in order to maintain and extend their power and domination.  It is thus not only the world’s peasants who are being ruined but also the world’s proletarians whose lives are being made every day more unbearable as a result of intensifying poverty and endless war.  So the question is: do you support these workers and peasants in their efforts to put an end to capitalism and usher in the era that corresponds with fully social production as it exists today, i.e., the socialist era.  Rest assured that the contradictions of the capitalist system which drive the masses to ruin in the midst of plenty will continue to force the exploited and oppressed towards revolution, however vicious the repression unleashed upon them.  Utopian dreams and wishful thinking have no place in the raw confrontation between oppressor and oppressed.  History has decreed that the proletariat will sooner or later be finally victorious.  In view of the urgent necessity of replacing capitalism because of the damage being caused by its depredations to the ability of humanity to feed itself which our petty-bourgeois intellectuals have so comprehensively exposed, it is time for the petty-bourgeois to rise above their funk, stop endorsing ridiculously hopeless pipedreams of a rational, manageable and humanitarian imperialism, and start backing the proletariat as it fights to secure its historical right to seize the reins of state power.  The time has come for the meek to inherit the earth.  Let no one seek to impede their right to claim their inheritance.