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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 527)...

    Are the food race and totalitarian agriculture the same thing? Even if we stop increasing food production to respond to population growth, I still think that people will insist on keeping the food locked up and making people work for it. Whenever I suggest the idea that food should be as free as oxygen or sunlight, people look at me funny. What do you think is an approach for changing minds to end the "locking up" of food, rather than the food race?

    ...and the response:

    Totalitarian agriculture was a stimulus for population growth, which in turn was a stimulus for increased food production (which was a further stimulus for population growth), and so on. Totalitarian agriculture is to the food race was the atom bomb was to the arms race (so they are not "the same thing." I can think of no practical way to "unlock" the food. If all the shredded wheat on the shelves were suddenly free for the taking, would Post keep making it? Obviously not. And if they made it, would the supermarkets keep shelving it? Obviously not. If all the food were suddenly free for the taking, the vast machinery that presently makes it available would grind to a halt instantly--with calamitous results, obviously. It's important to understand that locking up the food was a unhealthy thing for the people of our culture (but not, of course, for the people who control the keys). Taking the food out from under lock and key is not, however, a place to begin to change our situation. If it ever occurs, it will be the result of many, many profound changes that have come before. It might take a hundred years of change to be READY to make food free for the taking--and I'm not sure it could ever happen in a population numbered in the billions. We got to BE billions because many people got rich making us INTO billions. That's not going to change overnight.


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