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Hometown: Saskatchewan
Home country: Canada
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 20,582

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Food as a Commodity

Food as a Commodity
By Fred Magdoff

Source: Monthly ReviewTuesday, March 20, 2012


However, there is a critical contradiction when any basic human need is produced and sold as a commodity, whether we are considering food, health care, drinking water, or shelter. Capitalism naturally produces a stratification of wealth that includes the unemployed, the working poor, a better-off working class, a middle class, and a relatively small group of very rich individuals. The bottom strata of society—encompassing the members of what Marx called the reserve army of labor—are absolutely essential to the smooth working of the system. It allows easy access to labor when the economy expands and helps keep wages down, as workers are aware that they can easily be replaced.1 Even in a wealthy country such as the United States the numerous unemployed and those in low-paying jobs cannot afford all of their basic living costs—rent, electricity, transportation (irrational patterns of development plus inadequate public transportation means that cars are frequently needed to get to work), clothes, medical care, food, etc.

In some parts of the global South, of course, conditions are far worse. The commodity nature of food results in food price levels far above many people’s meager means, producing a lack of adequate nutrition. The United Nations estimates that there are close to one billion people worldwide who suffer from malnutrition. This leads to severe health problems and death for millions. Food deprivation, though falling short of severe malnutrition, is still a very serious condition. Hence, a sense of injustice associated with rising food prices and unequal access to food was a major factor spurring revolts in the Arab world over the last year.

Because food products are commodities, and the whole point of the food/agriculture system is to sell more and make more profits, there is massive advertising surrounding food, especially the most profitable sector—processed foods. High caloric but low nutritional-value foods, such as sugary breakfast cereals, are pushed on children. And because these processed foods are relatively inexpensive and available at local convenience stores that often do not carry higher quality food like fruits and vegetables, the commodity nature of food is part of the explanation for the surge in obesity, especially among the poor.

......However, the only way to guarantee that food reaches all people in sufficient quantity and quality is to develop a new system that considers food a human right and no longer considers it a commodity. Only then will we be able to fulfill the slogan, “Food for People, Not for Profit.”

No Justice Without Peace

No Justice Without Peace

By David Swanson

Source: Warisacrime.orgMonday, March 19, 2012


"The Military Industrial Complex is a banker bailout every year.
It's over a trillion dollars a year through various departments and as much as all other nations' militaries combined. It's over half of federal discretionary spending every year. And that's not counting the sales to foreign democracies and dictatorships that make the United States the top weapons supplier to the globe and allow our military the odd distinction of fighting most of its wars against weapons produced in the Homeland formerly known as our own country. But it IS counting the weapons we give to other countries. Yesterday even the Washington Post said we should stop arming Egypt. It made no mention of Israel. And it IS counting the transformation of our local police forces into mini-militaries. With due respect to Mayor Bloomberg the NYPD is not the seventh largest military in the world, but it thinks it is. And we don't get the trillion dollars a year back. In fact, we borrow it and pay interest on it, hollowing out our economy, creating a giant trade deficit with China, keeping interest rates super low, and periodically crashing Wall Street and bailing it out. And when we have big wars we borrow and spend more money on top of the standard budget. The trillion dollars is to make us ready in case we have a war, but then the war costs are extra.".....

Losing Fear

Losing Fear

By Robert Fisk and Paul Holmes

Source: TVNZMonday, March 19, 2012

A short time ago, about an hour ago, I spoke to Robert Fisk, Middle East expert, Middle East historian, author and columnist with Britains Independent newspaper, in Beirut, and I asked him about that suicide bombing overnight and the troops said to be massing outside Damascus. What did he make of it?


Dear Admins ....

I am posting to reiterate a request made by justiceischeap in H&M:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/124029420#post269 for the creation of a Feminism & Diversity Group.

There has been obvious interest in the creation of this group, with many more than the 10 necessary votes of support. The original thread has gotten quite long, and the message perhaps lost in some of the misunderstandings contained in it.

"Looking for a Group that expands on traditional definitions of feminism? We are seeking people interested in intersectionality--the concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. Intersectionality was developed as part of post-second wave feminist philosophy, including third wave feminism, in an effort to bring a wider and more inclusive focus to Feminism. We want to offer a safe haven that allows issues surrounding race, gender, orientation and class be the forefront of feminist discussion."

Anna Carastathis posted something that helped me to understand the need for consideration of the various forms of oppression from an intersectional viewpoint:


"So, to sum up.

We all have intersectional identities that are shaped through systems of power relations, and through experiences of oppression.

If feminism is to be a truly liberatory politics seeking the freedom of all oppressed people, it has to recognize this important insight: that “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own” – that I am not free as long as any oppressed person remains chained.
Privileged white feminists involved in the feminist movements in US and Canada failed to realize this, and instead continually overgeneralized their own specific experience as the experience of all women.

They fell prey to “divide and conquer” strategies that distracted them from realizing what is the real source of their oppression, and how the privileges they are granted in virtue of their race, class, heterosexuality and national status, are based on the oppression of other women.
Intersectionality helps us to understand how gender, class, race, and other factors in our experience fit together. It helps us come up with better feminist politics that seek the emancipation of all people – not just an élite minority of privileged women.

It helps us understand that some problems we share as women and girls, and others we don’t share. But what we all share as oppressed people is a common enemy: a shared oppressor.

Intersectional approaches to feminist theorizing and activism can help us overcome the “Oppression Olympics” problem and the problem of having to focus on one aspect of one’s identity at the expense of ignoring another."

This request, as was stated in the original thread requesting the group, would in no way take away from the valuable and necessary purpose of any existing group. Personally, I enjoy reading them all, but I don't necessarily feel that I 'fit' in any of them. I think it could be an interesting and educational opportunity to allow all ... Feminists, LGTB, those from the Men's Group, Women's Issues ... to come together and be able to discuss certain topics we all care about in a less restrictive (I don't mean restrictive as a negative here, I completely respect that every group needs the safety of its own existing SOP) ... perhaps, 'more inclusive' environment.

Thank you for your consideration.

I'm really going to miss the old DU homepage.

I originally loved the setup here and all the new features, but going back and forth between here and DU2 has been making me sad .... the old homepage had everything .... videos, journals, greatest ... all the news. It was all the best of DU in a single click, and felt like home. This feels sort of like moving from a tight, urban community to the burbs.

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