Hunger Amid Plenty


Hunger Amid Plenty
from The People, October 25, 1986, page 4

Scientific and technological advances in agriculture have brought bountiful harvests, and record surpluses of grain -- some 320 million metric tons worldwide -- are taxing storage facilities. As a result of the glut, prices are depressed, and farmers are going bankrupt. The European Economic Community is even considering burning or dumping at sea surplus farm products because, as the London Observer reported, "there are no potential buyers." Yet 35 million people, mostly children, die each year from hunger-related diseases, and 700 million more suffer the ravages of chronic malnutrition.

Throughout the Third World, for example, transnational agricapitalists, sometimes collaborating with local landowners, have dispossessed peasants from subsistence farming. They have turned much of the best land over to producing cash crops for export to American and European markets because profits are higher than in producing foodstuffs for local consumption.

Compounding this capitalist-produced underdevelopment of the Third World, displaced peasants can't find jobs as wage workers. Millions starve, not because food isn't available, but because they don't have the income to buy it. To a lesser degree, the specter of hunger also haunts exploited workers in the advanced capitalist countries, especially the growing numbers of permanently unemployed.

Starvation amid plenty strikes many people as an absurd paradox. However, under a system in which commodities -- including food -- are produced for sale with a view toward profit, it is perfectly logical.

A socialist reconstruction of society is required to eliminate the cruel and preventable absurdity of people going hungry and starving in a world choking on "too much" grain. A socialist America would remove the vampire of imperialism from the throats of lesser developed countries, allowing them to complete their development as rapidly as possible and providing unstinted aid in the meanwhile to those in need.