Archive for the 'Famine' Category
Wheat production in sub-Saharan Africa is at only 10 to 25 percent of its potential and nations can easily grow more to limit hunger, price shocks and political instability, a study showed on Tuesday.
The report, examining environmental conditions of 12 nations from Ethiopia to Zimbabwe, said that farmers south of the Sahara grew only 44 percent of the wheat consumed locally, meaning dependence on international markets prone to price spikes.
“Sub-Saharan Africa has extensive areas of land that are suitable for profitably producing wheat under rain-fed conditions,” according to the study by the non-profit International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
It said countries in the region were producing only between 10 and 25 percent of the amounts that the Center’s research suggested was “biologically possible and economically profitable” with a net return of $200 per hectare (2.5 acres).
The 89-page study, issued at a wheat conference in Ethiopia, said it aimed to identify ways to raise wheat production as “a hedge against food insecurity, political instability and price shocks.” (Read more)
Some of the 230 defectors interviewed by the Korean Institute for National Unification told of witnessing executions of people who had either eaten or sold human flesh.
There were reports of outbreaks of cannibalism in the isolated state in the late 1990s after a disastrous famine led to the deaths of an estimated 2 million people, but the new reports are more recent, according to the Yonhap news agency.
The most recent case occurred in 2011 in the town of Musan, a defector told the institute, while a father and his son were executed by a firing squad in the town of Doksong in 2006 after being found guilty of consuming human flesh.
In a third case, a man was executed in Hyesan in December 2009 for killing a girl and eating her. The man reportedly resorted to cannibalism after supplies to the city dwindled in the wake of the government’s disastrous efforts to reform the currency triggered rampant inflation and worsened already critical food shortages. (Read more)
The real evil – this crusading spirit itself – first swept over America in the late 1820s in the form of what is technically called “post-millennial pietism” (PMP). . . . It very quickly became clear that sin was not going to be stamped out very quickly by purely voluntary means, and so the PMPers rapidly turned to government to do the stamping out and the creating and the uplifting. In short, as one historian perceptively put it, for the PMPers, “government became God’s major instrument of salvation.
. . .
Slowly but surely over the decades since 1830, this mainstream Yankee Protestantism became secularized into an only vaguely Christian but passionately held Social Gospel. After all, with this sort of mindset, it was easy for God to gradually drop from sight, and for government to assume a quasi-divine role. It was left to the monster Woodrow Wilson, a PMPer to his very bones and a Ph.D. as well, to take this domestic creed and extend it to foreign policy. It was essentially a “today the U.S., tomorrow the world” credo. Once the PMPers took over the U.S. government and imposed a Kingdom of God at home, their religious duty got raised to the planetary level. As the historian James Timberlake put it, once the Kingdom of God was being established in the United States, it became “America’s mission to spread these ideals and institutions abroad so that the Kingdom could be established throughout the world. American Protestants were accordingly not content merely to work for the kingdom of God in America, but felt compelled to assist in the reformation of the rest of the world.” (James Timberlake, Prohibition and the Progressive Movement, 1900-1920, New York, Atheneum, 1970, pp. 37-38)
. . .
Since Woodrow Wilson, every American president has followed faithfully in the footsteps of the Wilsonian creed. The content of the Kingdom of God to be imposed on other nations may have changed slightly (from alcohol prohibition and coerced global “democracy” in Wilson’s day to smoking prohibition, free condoms, and global democracy in our own) but the form and the spirit remain all too much the same.
. . .
Second, the number of refugees was deliberately highly inflated by the Somali government, in order to sucker Americans into sending aid. Barre was claiming two million refugees when there were far less (he had originally claimed half a million). Thus, Maren found that one camp, Amalow, which was supposed to have 18,503 refugees, and had food allotted for that many, really had only about 3,500. As a result, far too much food was being shipped into Somalia and into the camps by the bamboozled Americans.
Not only that: just as occurred eleven years later, the American excess of food was inspired by duplicitous journalists, “who took pictures of the sick and the hungry, and the relief agencies arrived on the scene with food. And the food was being stolen.”
Moreover, Maren reveals, despite the massive theft, “no one was starving to death in the refugee camps.” Oh, there was plenty of death all right, but the death was caused by disease: malaria, measles, dysentery, diphtheria, pneumonia, river blindness. But food, though not the problem, kept pouring in and being stolen.
There was more method to this madness than simply providing free American food for Barre’s army and for the Ogaden guerrillas. As Maren perceptively points out, the Somalian government, like the Kenyan government, hates nomads. Even though the nomadic Somali refugees weren’t starving, they were attracted to settling in the refugee camps by the promise of free food. After all, it’s easier to sit in a camp and receive food for free than to have to hunt and work for it. As Maren puts it:
“Somalis are nomads who spend most of their time looking for food. If you put a pile of food in the desert they will come and get it…The famine camps were set up and they came.”
And so the American food unwittingly played into the hands of Barre and later Somali rulers: helping to build a modern socialist state by settling nomads. Maren puts the point trenchantly:
“African leaders like to settle nomads. Nomads make it hard to build a modern state, and even harder to build a socialist state. Nomads can’t be taxed, they can’t be drafted, and they can’t be controlled. They also can’t be used to attract foreign aid, unless you can get them to stay in one place.
“In addition, many African leaders, trying hard to be modern, view nomads as an embarrassment and a nuisance. Anything ‘primitive’ is an embarrassment and a nuisance. From Bamko to Nairobi I’ve listened to Africa’s elite discuss nomads as if they were vermin.”
Maren then concludes about the American relief program of the early 1980s:
“So not only was the refugee relief program feeding Barre’s army, it was settling his population of nomads…And all this was happening with the assistance of energetic young foreigners who were helping to build the infrastructure of those new, refugee-populated towns, setting up clinics, drilling wells, trying to teach the former nomads how to settle down and grow food.”
. . .
Maren and his colleague Doug Grice, who was performing the same task in the Bardera region and near the Kenyan border, sat down and wrote reports to their bosses in the USAID program. The reports concluded that the relief program was killing at least as many people as it was saving, and that the net result was to ship food to Somali soldiers who added to their income by selling food, and to enable the WSLF to use the food as rations to conduct the guerrilla war in the Ogaden. Their boss rejected the report, saying: “You guys know you can’t write this stuff. Stick to the facts,” i.e., to the amount of food missing and stolen. And, too, keep the reports technical and boring, so that no critics of the program might figure out what’s going on.
In his final report to his bosses before quitting the program, Michael Maren pointed out an economic absurdity created by the program: people in the towns wanted to know why they were not entitled to the food and health care handed out free to those refugees who had settled in the camps. A man in the town of Belet Huen – the headquarters town in the Hiran region – working for the very high salary of 800 shillings a month, could not supply his family with the amount of food the refugees in the camp received for free.
Maren concluded his report with a prophetic insight into the future: he noted that the American Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs) were submitting hundreds of proposals to improve services to the refugees. But Maren warned:
“Expanded services to the refugees will only aggravate the problem by encouraging them to stay, and more refugees to arrive. It will spread more thinly the resource base leaving the door open for a real emergency situation in the future. The future for refugees in the camps holds only years of relief.” Instead, Maren declared, the efforts of the international community should be to get the refugees out of the camps, not to attract more.
A study of the Somali economy at the time discovered that the relief industry constituted no less than two-thirds of the Somalian economy. No way that the Somali government would give that up. And now, twelve years later, the 1981 camps are still there, “the residents of those camps are still dependent on relief food and still have no way to earn a living on their own.”
. . .
Cassidy told Maren recently:
“One of the things that got Barre and his henchmen pCCd off was when you wrote reports saying that Somalia was self-sufficient in food. That was because free food is what controls the place. The mentality is, ‘Why should we let people produce their own food and control their own lives when we can keep them under our thumbs and under the gun? We claim famine, flood, and refugees and get the food shipped in here for free. Now we’ll tell you when to eat and when you can’t eat!’”
In short, the food “crisis” has been deliberately created by the Somalian government – by Barre and his successors – in order to exert control over the Somali population, to tell them when and who shall or shall not eat. The humanitarian, said Isabel Paterson, is only happy when a country is filled with breadlines and hospitals. The humanitarian with the guillotine!
. . .
By the fall of 1989, Barre’s massacres could no longer be overlooked, and the U.S. cut off its aid to his regime.
Maren’s analysis of the current situation is that this is simply more of the same ills that have created the problem. The U.S. marines are handing everything over to the PVOs, the relief people, who aggravate the problem still more by pouring in more free food. And what do the PVOs get out of it? Fat government contracts, as well as fat donations by deluded humanitarians who think that these reliefers are doing good and helping to solve the problem. Journalists help the PVOs by getting their information from them and featuring these heads of CARE, Catholic Relief Services, and World Vision on television. The press assumes “that these are humanitarian agencies whose only goal is to help people.” In fact, warns Maren, “they are organizations that stand to reap huge benefits in the form of lucrative contracts to deliver food.”
. . .
These are the do-good relief organizations that have only made all the problems worse: “These are the same organizations that have failed for the past 10 years in Somalia and all over Africa. (Hundreds of billions of dollars of aid in Africa over the last thirty years have left the continent more famine-prone and dependent on outside relief than ever.) They had thousands of refugees in camps in 1981, and they failed to get them out of the camps. They didn’t get them their cattle back. They didn’t teach them to grow food and to be independent. They just delivered food and collected grants for development projects.” These relief agencies, Maren declares, want to fail, for “failure means a chance to try again with new grants, new film footage for fundraising campaigns, and fresh new volunteers who haven’t learned yet that aid kills.”
For the real objective of these agencies, Maren has concluded, is to raise money. . . . “Aid,” Maren declares, “is a business. It is a business in which people make careers, earn a good living, get to see interesting places, and have great stories to tell when they get stateside. It’s a business that has to earn money to pay its executives, pay for retreats and for officials to attend conferences in Rome, buy four-wheel drive vehicles, buy advertising time on television. It’s a business that makes money by attracting clients, i.e., starving, needy people.”
. . .
The crucial point, Maren concludes, is that “reckless use of food aid causes famine. It depresses local market prices and provides disincentive for farmers to grow crops.” . . . The only way to solve the problem, Maren declares, “is a way that may seem cruel”: it is to stop the food – to “wean Somalia from dependence on donated food.”
Many modern day communist wannabe’s cling to the idea that the catastrophic, mass murdering failures of communism can be blamed on bad people being put in charge in the system. “If only Trotsky had risen to power instead of Stalin,” they lament.
This essay is for them. Is is largely a critique of the book “Leon Trotsky” by Irving Howe, Viking Press, 1978, which offers a very tepid criticism of the mass murderer.
Leon Trotsky has always had a certain appeal for intellectuals that the other Bolshevik leaders lacked. The reasons for this are clear enough. He was a writer, an occasional literary critic — according to Irving Howe, a very good one — and an historian (of the revolutions of 1905 and 1917). He had an interest in psychoanalysis and modern developments in physics, and, even when in power, suggested that the new Communist thought-controllers shouldn’t be too harsh on writers with such ideas — not exactly a Nat Hentoff position on freedom of expression, but about as good as one can expect among Communists.
Above all, Trotsky was himself an intellectual, and one who played a great part in what many of that breed have considered to be the real world — the world of revolutionary bloodshed and terror. He was second only to Lenin in 1917; in the Civil War he was the leader of the Red Army and the Organizer of Victory.
. . . .
Trotsky lost out to Stalin in the power struggle of the 1920s, and in exile became a severe and knowledgeable critic of his great antagonist; thus, for intellectuals with no access to other critics of Stalinism — classical liberal, anarchist, or conservative — Trotsky’s writings in the 1930s opened their eyes to some aspects at least of the charnel-house that was Stalin’s Russia. During the period of the Great Purge and the Moscow show trials, Trotsky was placed at the center of the myth of treason and collaboration with Germany and Japan that Stalin spun as a pretext for eliminating his old comrades.
In analyzing the Tsarist regime, Trotsky had picked up on the strand of Marxist thought that saw the state as an independent parasitic body, feeding on all the social classes engaged in the process of production. This was a view that Marx expressed, for instance, in his Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.
More importantly, the class character of Marxism itself — as well as the probable consequences of the coming to power of a Marxist Party — had been identified well before Trotsky’s time. The great 19th-century anarchist Michael Bakunin — whose name does not even appear in Howe’s book, just as not a single other anarchist is even mentioned anywhere in it — had already subjected Marxism to critical scrutiny in the 1870s. In the course of this, Bakunin had uncovered the dirty little secret of the future Marxist state:
The State has always been the patrimony of some privileged class or other; a priestly class, an aristocratic class, a bourgeois class, and finally a bureaucratic class…. But in the People’s State of Marx, there will be, we are told, no privileged class at all … but there will be a government, which will not content itself with governing and administering the masses politically, as all governments do today, but which will also administer them economically, concentrating in its own hands the production and the just division of wealth, the cultivation of land, the establishment and development of factories, the organization and direction of commerce, finally the application of capital to production by the only banker, the State. All that will demand an immense knowledge and many “heads overflowing with brains” in this government. It will be the reign of scientific intelligence, the most aristocratic, despotic, arrogant, and contemptuous of all regimes. There will be a new class, a new hierarchy of real and pretended scientists and scholars. [Emphasis added.]
This perspective was taken up somewhat later by the Polish-Russian revolutionist, Waclaw Machajski, who held, in the words of Max Nomad, that — “nineteenth century socialism was not the expression of the interests of the manual workers but the ideology of the impecunious, malcontent, lower middle-class intellectual workers … behind the socialist ‘ideal’ was a new form of exploitation for the benefit of the officeholders and managers of the socialized state.”
Thus, that Marxism in power would mean the rule of state functionaries was not merely intrinsically probable — given the massive increment of state power envisaged by Marxists, what else could it be? — but it had also been predicted by writers well known to a revolutionary like Trotsky. Trotsky, however, had not permitted himself to take this analysis seriously before committing himself to the Marxist revolutionary enterprise. More than that: “To the end of his days,” as Howe writes, he “held that Stalinist Russia should still be designated as a ‘degenerated workers’ state’ because it preserved the nationalized property forms that were a ‘conquest’ of the Russian Revolution” — as if nationalized property and the planned economy were not the very instruments of rule of the new class in Soviet Russia!
It remained for some of Trotsky’s more critical disciples, especially Max Shachtman in the United States, to point out to their master what had actually happened in Russia: that the Revolution had not produced a “workers’ State,” nor was there any danger that “capitalism” would be restored, as Trotsky continued to fret it would. Instead, there had come into an existence in Russia a “bureaucratic collectivism” even more reactionary and oppressive than what had gone before.
. . . .
One slight obstacle was encountered, however, on the road to the abolition of the price system and the market: “Reality,” as Trotsky noted, “came into increasing conflict” with the economic “system” that the Bolshevik rulers had fastened on Russia. After a few years of misery and famine for the Russian masses — there is no record of any Bolshevik leader having died of starvation in this period — the rulers thought again, and a New Economic Policy (NEP) — including elements of private ownership and allowing for market transactions — was decreed.
The significance of all this cannot be exaggerated. What we have with Trotsky and his comrades in the Great October Revolution is the spectacle of a few literary-philosophical intellectuals seizing power in a great country with the aim of overturning the whole economic system — but without the slightest idea of how an economic system works. In State and Revolution, written just before he took power, Lenin wrote,
The accounting and control necessary [for the operation of a national economy] have been simplified by capitalism to the utmost, till they have become the extraordinarily simple operations of watching, recording and issuing receipts, within the reach of anybody who can read and write and knows the first four rules of arithmetic.
With this piece of cretinism Trotsky doubtless agreed. And why wouldn’t he? Lenin, Trotsky, and the rest had all their lives been professional revolutionaries, with no connection at all to the process of production and, except for Bukharin, little interest in the real workings of an economic system. Their concerns had been the strategy and tactics of revolution and the perpetual, monkish exegesis of the holy books of Marxism.
The nitty-gritty of how an economic system functions — how, in our world, men and women work, produce, exchange, and survive — was something from which they prudishly averted their eyes, as pertaining to the nether-regions. These “materialists” and “scientific socialists” lived in a mental world where understanding Hegel, Feuerbach, and the hideousness of Eugen Duehring’s philosophical errors was infinitely more important than understanding what might be the meaning of a price.
Of the actual operations of social production and exchange they had about the same appreciation as John Henry Newman or, indeed, St. Bernard of Clairvaux. This is a common enough circumstance among intellectuals; the tragedy here is that the Bolsheviks came to rule over millions of real workers, real peasants, and real businessmen.
Howe puts the matter rather too sweetly: once in power, he says, “Trotsky was trying to think his way through difficulties no Russian Marxist had quite foreseen.” And what did the brilliant intellectual propose as a solution to the problems Russia now faced? “In December 1919 Trotsky put forward a series of ‘theses’ [sic] before the party’s Central Committee in which he argued for compulsory work and labor armies ruled through military discipline….”
So, forced labor, and not just for political opponents, but for the Russian working class. Let Daniel and Gabriel Cohn-Bendit, the left-anarchists from the May days of 1968 in Paris, take up the argument:
“Was it so true,” Trotsky asked, “that compulsory labor was always unproductive?” He denounced this view as “wretched and miserable liberal prejudice,” learnedly pointing out that “chattel slavery, too, was productive” and that compulsory serf labor was in its times “a progressive phenomenon.” He told the unions [at the Third Congress of Trade Unions] that “coercion, regimentation, and militarization of labor were no mere emergency measures and that the workers’ State normally had the right to coerce any citizen to perform any work at any place of its choosing.”
And why not? Hadn’t Marx and Engels, in their ten-point program for revolutionary government in The Communist Manifesto, demanded as point eight, “Equal liability for all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture”? Neither Marx nor Engels ever disavowed their claim that those in charge of “the workers’ state” had the right to enslave the workers and peasants whenever the need might arise. Now, having annihilated the hated market, the Bolsheviks found that the need for enslavement had, indeed, arisen. And of all the Bolshevik leaders, the most ardent and aggressive advocate of forced labor was Leon Trotsky.
. . . .
He [Howe] says that in the struggle with Stalin, Trotsky was at a disadvantage, because he “fought on the terrain of the enemy, accepting the damaging assumption of a Bolshevik monopoly of power.” But why is this assumption located on the enemy’s terrain? Trotsky shared that view with Stalin. He no more believed that a supporter of capitalism had a right to propagate his ideas than a medieval inquisitor believed in a witch’s right to her own personal style. And as for the rights even of other socialists — Trotsky in 1921 had led the attack on the Kronstadt rebels, who merely demanded freedom for socialists other than the Bolsheviks. At the time, Trotsky boasted that the rebels would be shot “like partridges” — as, pursuant to his orders, they were.
. . . .
When Trotsky promoted the formation of worker-slave armies in industry, he believed that his own will was the will of the Proletarian Man. It is easy to guess whose will would stand in for that of Communist Man when the time came to direct the collective experiments on the physiological life, the complicated methods of artificial selection and psycho-physiological training, the reconstruction of the traditional family, the substitution of “something else” for blind sexual selection in the reproduction of human beings, and the creation of the superhuman.
This, then, is Trotsky’s final goal: a world where mankind is “free” in the sense that Marxism understands the term — where all of human life, starting from the economics, but going on to embrace everything, even the most private and intimate parts of human existence — is consciously planned by “society,” which is assumed to have a single will. And it is this — this disgusting positivist nightmare — that, for him, made all the enslavement and killings acceptable!
Surely, this was another dirty little secret that Howe had an obligation to let us in on.
Howe ends by saying of Trotsky that “the example of his energy and heroism is likely to grip the imagination of generations to come,” adding that, “even those of us who cannot heed his word may recognize that Leon Trotsky, in his power and his fall, is one of the titans of our century.”
This is the kind of writing that covers the great issues of right and wrong in human affairs with a blanket of historicist snow. The fact is that Trotsky used his talents to take power in order to impose his willful dream — the abolition of the market, private property, and the bourgeoisie. His actions brought untold misery and death to his country.
Happy holiday’s everyone.
The Great Thanksgiving Hoax
1999 by Richard J. Maybury
The official story has the pilgrims boarding the Mayflower, coming to America and establishing the Plymouth colony in the winter of 1620-21. This first winter is hard, and half the colonists die. But the survivors are hard working and tenacious, and they learn new farming techniques from the Indians. The harvest of 1621 is bountiful. The Pilgrims hold a celebration, and give thanks to God. They are grateful for the wonderful new abundant land He has given them.
. . . .
The problem with this official story is that the harvest of 1621 was not bountiful, nor were the colonists hardworking or tenacious. 1621 was a famine year and many of the colonists were lazy thieves.
In his ‘History of Plymouth Plantation,’ the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years, because they refused to work in the fields. They preferred instead to steal food. He says the colony was riddled with “corruption,” and with “confusion and discontent.” The crops were small because “much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable.”
In the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622, “all had their hungry bellies filled,” but only briefly. The prevailing condition during those years was not the abundance the official story claims, it was famine and death. The first “Thanksgiving” was not so much a celebration as it was the last meal of condemned men.
But in subsequent years something changes. The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.
After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.
This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.
This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that are most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.
To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.
Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results. At Jamestown, established in 1607, out of every shipload of settlers that arrived, less than half would survive their first twelve months in America. Most of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the men, the other four-fifths choosing to be parasites. In the winter of 1609-10, called “The Starving Time,” the population fell from five-hundred to sixty.
Then the Jamestown colony was converted to a free market, and the results were every bit as dramatic as those at Plymouth. In 1614, Colony Secretary Ralph Hamor wrote that after the switch there was “plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure.” He said that when the socialist system had prevailed, “we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men as three men have done for themselves now.”