Food sovereignty, as originally proposed by La Via Campesina1, involves people cultivating self-determination, solidarity and social, political, economic, environmental and gender justice. It brings together and builds on different sensibilities, and counters the homogenising discourse of agribusiness, while resisting its physical expansion.
For Friends of the Earth International, strengthening food sovereignty is key to achieving peoples' emancipation. But how can we make progress in the current context of the unbridled expansion of fascism? To change the system, it is imperative to cast out fascism.
Fascism, according to Umberto Eco's characterisation, is a social, political and cultural ideology that it is racist, xenophobic, misogynist, male chauvinist, homo-lesbo-transphobic, acritical, simplistic, anti-pacifist, elitist and aporophobic, antipolitical and antidemocratic, totalitarian, and homogenising.2 It's a social practice that some European comrades describe as necropolitics, whereby those in power decide who should die and how people should live in order to sustain the system.
Resisting fascism is a categorical imperative and an urgent tactical necessity that requires organised unity. In this post-truth era, unified peoples must acknowledge the diversity of struggles, while avoiding falling into antagonistic traps.
'Post-truth' refers to the deliberate distortion of reality to influence public opinion and social behavior. Such distortions increase and strengthen the hold of agribusiness giants on the global food and agriculture system and its profits.
Undeniably, the agribusiness model has resoundingly failed, leaving in its wake a global swathe of social, economic, environmental and nutritional destruction. This has even been acknowledged by the director-general of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).3
The lie, repeated ad nauseam, that agribusiness is necessary to feed the world is no longer effective. The proponents of agribusiness are now recognising the failure of their model ‒ as the World Economic Forum recently did4 ‒ only to advance alternatives that further entrench their power.
This year's FAO State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report is illustrative. It acknowledges the links between the climate and food crises, but the 'alternative' it advances is climate-smart agriculture – agriculture with no people on the land. The report makes no mention of agroecology, which is a real alternative practised by those who grow the vast majority of the food we eat.
Another example is, as Filardi and Prato argue in this year's Right to Food and Nutrition Watch5, that we are facing "processes of dematerialization, digitalization and financialization [that] are deeply changing the character of the corporate food system. The result of this includes the shifting of power to new actors who are often increasingly distant from food production [and] are altering the conception of the food market, and food consumption habits within urban centers and beyond".
Social movements have been resisting agribusiness and its post-truths for decades, and instead promoting food sovereignty – a project by and for those always left behind: peasant, indigenous, family farmer, fisher folk, rural and urban men and women. Food sovereignty is an anti-capitalist and anti-patriarchy project that transforms the living conditions of the working and popular classes.
Peasant to peasant
We need to learn from Cuba, which reinvented its food production in the wake of the crisis of the socialist block and the aggravation of the inhumane US blockade. This reinvention was led by the knowledge and methodologies of "de campesino a campesina" (peasant to peasant), with supportive public policies and investments.
Cuba and its peasantry have become engines for the development of agroecology, demonstrating that this paradigm can indeed feed the masses and generate dignified living conditions in rural areas.6 A pathway by and for the peoples.
Fascist projects, on the other hand, always serve the interests of the elites and ignore or attack any form of organisation that defends the interests of the people they claim to represent and that proliferate with the consent (whether by active support or by omission) of the dominant mainstream media.
Strengthening the convergence of the peoples is essential to halt this expansion of fascism and transform our realities. It will require political will from organisations, and resources and dedication from every comrade, to work around the nuances and differences of opinion on the basis of the common agreements that unite us.
It also requires formation, and the generation of information and communication tools created by and for the people, powered with technological sovereignty and digital security that enable us to bypass the media responsible for spreading lies to serve the system's interests.
Can we not, now, recognise fascism when we see it coming? Do we need to put our bodies on the line ‒ the final frontier of adversity ‒ to resist the expansion of fascism?
We must take bold and solid steps towards unity, without forgetting the urgent threat we are facing. Fortunately, many voices in the popular camp are rising to the challenge. We may need to urgently build an international antifascist front, as Victor Baez, the secretary general of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas recently commented.
Let's make 'No Pasarán'7 (They shall not pass) a reality.
Martín Drago is Friends of the Earth International's program coordinator for Food Sovereignty. He is a member of REDES/Friends of the Earth Uruguay and works closely with La Via Campesina, TUCA, World March of Women and other social movements.
Published in Chain Reaction #134, December 2018. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia. www.foe.org.au/chain_reaction
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