Wednesday, April 13, 2016

the food, poverty, and power dialectic - how has the hunger to obesity transformation evolved?


bnarchives |  Food is still a crucial form of social control – only that now it comes in a very different guise. Whereas until recently – and even today in parts of China, South Asia and Africa – the main threat for the underlying population was having too little to eat, nowadays it is having too much. The poor, traditionally punished by hunger, are now much more likely to be penalized by obesity.

This massive, ongoing transformation is reshaping the heart, mind and body of the capitalist subject. The undernourished, underweight, work-till-you-drop poor are gradually being replaced by their overfed, overweight, shop-till-you-drop descendants. And this inversion is hardly for the better. Although the adipose poor live longer than their scrawny predecessors, they are not necessarily healthier. They tend to suffer from non-communicable diseases – primarily diabetes, hypertension, strokes, cancer, heart attacks, atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular ailments Diamond 2012: Ch. 11. And having been born into a hyper-capitalized complex of cheap industrial food, accessible pharmaceutical drugs and a highly intoxicating mass media, many of them are gradually losing their ability to control their inflating bodies and liberate their captured souls.

Ironically, this obesity revolution has been driven by wheat, rice, corn and potatoes – the very same crops that leveraged food power in the earlier hunger era. The plants that forced and lured hunters and gatherers into centralized state structures are now used – together with numerous supplements, both chemical and mental – to enslave capitalist subjects to their own irresistible cravings. And as the sedated, junk-food eating subjects become bigger and heavier, their previously ‘fat cat’ capitalist rulers eat organic, go to the gym and grow leaner and meaner.