[Translated from April 2, 2008 broadcast by Gegenstandpunkt Marburg]
Hunger riots in Haiti, protests in Egypt, flour and bread rationing in Pakistan, a corn shortage making tortillas exorbitantly expensive in Mexico, rice shortages in Thailand and the USA, etc....In the world of the free market economy, food has a price. It determines whether the immediate need for food and drink is at all satisfied, to what extent and in what quality. This seemingly solid and self-evident economic fact is a devastating disclosure about the provision of humankind with food: it takes place only and if a business can be made from it, thus increases the money wealth of the food producers – or it is just dropped. This sort of economic extortion lives from the fact that the needy population is fundamentally subject to this capitalist way of accounting – pretty much every corner of the world is inspected for its relevant business suitability, whether it has been made useful for it or is discarded. Famine, with victims amounting in the millions, therefore accompanies the “growth sector” of food, whose capitalist way of accounting also regularly gives the wage-earning masses reasons to be thrifty in matters of nutrition and includes in their meals one or another cost-cutting component, i.e. “food scandal” (mad cow disease, salmonella and e.coli in vegetables, etc.).
The democratic world public takes regular account of the victims of its free-market economy and, in view of a topically detected “new famine” in food, nails the main culprits – these are primarily “price fluctuations.” With this small shift in emphasis from price to its fluctuations, the real reason for the recent famine is theoretically disposed of once and for all:
“Demand for biofuel in one country means hunger in the supplier country” – so this equation, discovered by the bourgeois experts, announces the need for explanation and discovers a disproportion between supply and demand and holds this responsible for the rise in prices. A disproportion? Is it not rather an arch-capitalistic price calculation that makes prices fluctuate, if the financially stronger alternative energy demand of a capitalist nation immolates the food supply of the population of another country, because it increases the state monetary wealth of Mexico?
“Increased food demand in one country means hunger in another country” – another such apparently commonplace equation from the world of market-economy thinking. This also is supposed to call attention to a failure in matters of economic arithmetic. Again a disproportion? More like information about the market strategies of the free entrepreneurs with food! The necessities of life that don't make much money are slashed for a “new market” someplace else with greater “profit expectations,” the prices of which then go up “sky high,” as precisely thereby higher profits can be obtained someplace else.
And another self-evident fact of free market economics: “A country that promotes agriculture, for example in the form of the EU agricultural market with its subsidies, means that farmers in Africa can not get rid of their products" – well, well! First, African living conditions get ruined for decades, so that raw materials from the continent can service the world market, and afterwards the leftover farmland is revived for a rudimentary agricultural production; at the same time, in a completely different league of states, the world market ambitions of the EU are promoted in Europe with state subsidies, and the production and consumption of whole regions of the world are sacrificed for it. Maybe underlying such “fluctuating” prices and living conditions is the simple fact that the survival of human beings in capitalism has a price ...
Its agents do not at all want to deal with such explanations of the consequences of the capitalistic business with food. Instead, it is bemoaned that supply and demand, unfortunately, do not fit properly together on the world market. Thereby the false picture is put forward of a mechanism whose parts only have to be set into proper relationship to end the state of affairs as imbalances – to the bliss of business and to the well being of the global economic situation. Their welfare is issued as the very first precondition for a chance to eliminate hunger. So the partisan perception of the political and theoretical agents of the world market simply changes world hunger into a problem of the world economic conjuncture, complete with its capitalistic “solutions.”
Above all, however, hunger is an “order problem” – so say the responsible supervisors of global misery. Not that managing this “problem” would be anything but routine – their globe is full of potentates who are well equipped with means of violence for use against their populations – but the number of candidates is growing. World supervisory authorities, like the IMF and the leading imperialistic nations, recently designated 20-30 states, which previously were located in the relatively “trouble free” center zone of the 3rd World, into new potential cases for management. They see that feeding the masses in the familiar miserable, pacifying capacity is endangered. And that is a threat, not to the vital needs of the affected population, but a threat to the existing local conditions of rule that are useful for business – and this generates the need for action among the successful players on the world market.
An answer to the question:
Why are many people in developing countries poor?