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By Jorge Eduardo Rulli
Burdened by monocultures, the consequences of fumigations and growing food insecurity, we consider the need to think about new agricultural models for our Latin America. These models lead to the appropriation of natural resources, with devastation of ecosystems and strong impacts on rural populations, who are dragged into forced urbanization.
We need to find the intellectual elements that allow us to visualize and face these new situations; we need to rethink the relations of the city and the countryside in times of globalization; demonstrate that the advancement of agribusiness and industrial agriculture models with transgenic crops are not inescapable as we are taught and are naturalized through pedagogical and academic colonization.
We need to become aware that these roles that were assigned to us by global markets, configure an attack on the cultural identity of our Peoples, the roots of populations, their food heritages and their immediate possibilities of survival in a society transcolonized by corporations. . Especially now, in the face of horizons of climatic changes and banking and financial catastrophes like never before.
For one or two generations prior to ours, wondering about the origin of the foods that made up the family table would not have made more sense. In fact, everyone knew where the food they were eating came from; What was not produced in the home itself came from the home of some relatives, from the networks of friends or nearby places of production or marketing, where families used to stock up on what was necessary, but always knowing who and how they produced it.
This situation has changed substantially in a couple of generations: they have imposed the industrialization of food on us; concern about expiration dates, which relate only to added chemicals; the habit of eating junk food; a depersonalized commercialization in which we stock up on the gondolas; lastly, the immense waste of energy caused by the enormous distances traveled by the products, the cold chains, conservation, packaging and marketing, until they reach our table. If to this we add all that they have achieved through advertising to modify our consumption habits, we are facing the hijacking of our lives by corporations.
Both the many small farmers, peasants and native populations, as well as various neo-rural sectors from the city, summoned by a vocation of life in the countryside, naturally tend to preserve ecosystems and their fundamental elements. However, the pressure of consumerism and the models of input-dependence on them, together with the temptations of so-called cutting-edge technologies, the demands of exports and urban lifestyles, are constant and growing. Furthermore, the insane proposals to urbanize the countryside and industrialize rural areas are explicitly made explicit from the highest levels of government and as State policies.
The PEAA or Agrifood and Agroindustrial Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as many other plans for small farmers, both from INTA and other organizations concealed in the need for a strong state presence or in the fallacies of adding value, point directly to liquidate what remains of rural life. At this end of the epoch, those proposals typical of a late and neo-colonized modernity, would directly attack the cultural processes that for hundreds of thousands of years allowed human beings to build themselves as such and in society. In Argentina, on the contrary and paradoxically, agricultural projects without farmers are emphasized as progressive and the apology is made - as in the case of Gustavo Grobocopatel - for the promotion of supposedly democratized agricultural practices, because they can still be carried out from a department of the big city, to the extent that it is contributed to the trust funds of the new pools and business consortia that produce soybeans.
Towards new paradigms of rural development
It is urgent then, the need to install criteria and paradigms that make local rural development possible. We need to generate ways of life that allow us to recover self-esteem from working on the land and especially from the so impaired self-subsistence crops, while imagining production models that are increasingly friendly to Nature; models that make it possible to recover those intelligent relationships of observation and use of resources, which have been lost in the prolonged processes of acculturation, as a consequence of the practices of chemical and large-scale agriculture.
One of the main causes of contempt for peasant traditions and / or those related to the land or the countryside is that all the experiences of revolutionary change that took place in Latin America after the Mexican Revolution come from readings of Marxism. With important exceptions such as that of José Carlos Mariátegui in Peru, there have not been Marxist intellectuals who have delved sufficiently into our cultural roots to inquire about their own needs, trying to adapt those thoughts to them.
On the contrary, most of the left currents were constituted in expressions of a universality that shaped us in the light of their reasons and turned us into objects, without being able to even attend to the own hidden voices of culture and traditions. Only at the end of the 20th century, after the collapse of the USSR and Zapatismo had risen in Mexico, stirring up the great anti-global demonstrations in the main capitals of the world, did a peasant movement re-emerge in Latin America that, with marked autonomy from the political parties, He made an effort to generate proposals as important as that of Food Sovereignty.
This resurgence of peasant experiences has shown its strengths and also its weaknesses in the last ten years. In fact, a new role was imposed in the field of popular struggles, albeit defensive and subsidiary to progressive urban ideologies. For many citizen social movements, born in the heat of massive depopulation as a result of compulsive soybeanization, joining these peasant movements was a way of exorcising their own rural memories, while at the same time affirming their recent peripheral urbanity to the extreme of proposing as a human right and without any shame, to live in the city and especially to have one's own minimum lot, as happened in the last land occupations at the Ledesma sugar mill.
Over the last few years, social incidents due to land clearing or occupation, in the areas of impact of what is called the expansion area of the agricultural frontier, operated as distracting scenarios that allowed, on the one hand, to reaffirm the feelings of urbanization in the new megalopolises and, on the other, to ignore the imposed soyization model, or in any case to be deluded that it was possible to defeat this model by giving it battle in Santiago del Estero; not at the heart of State policies or in the academic promotion of Biotechnology and a business science put at the service of patents and the privatization of knowledge.
In no way am I proposing a look from Buenos Aires, since in each province a similar pattern was repeated like fractals. In Córdoba, many agronomy students who did not give or did not know how to give the academic fight against corporations in the field of the University itself, once they graduated they emigrated to rural areas and became peasant leaders. Of course, the conviction that, in the absence of an industrial proletariat, the so-called peasants, in general no more than shepherds or small producers, would make up for the absence of a historical subject to guide social processes in the sense of a growing modernity, just as the manuals had taught them.
Without a doubt, the way in which socialism was installed, at least in its urban, industrial and militaristic version in the old Soviet Union, was decisive for Humanity: I mean the way in which in Bolshevik Russia the Red Army, the electric lines and the railroad swept away the last resistance to peasant autonomy. Recall the slogan "socialism equals Soviet power plus electrification."
The victory of this version of Marxism, later converted into a worldview, also sealed a continuity and adherence of the thought and proposals of the oppressed of the world with the universe of European science of the 19th century, with its positivist materialism and its Mechanistic and unilinear vision of the revolution and, especially, with that Eurocentric look that tried to reorder reality from its own parameters and during the 20th century accompanied from leftist positions, the colonial advances on the periphery of the world.
Unfortunately, those options also included turning our backs on ecology and taking charge of an inexcusable mandate, which we can rediscover in Latin American socialisms and even in Che's letter to his children: that of dominating Nature. That heritage still colors the progressive and left-wing thoughts with which we must live and debate on a daily basis. It is not possible to imagine that the Latin American left has not yet realized the importance of preserving the environment or perhaps local developments that are friendly to Nature, the value of healthy eating or living in a more harmonious way with the environment.
It would be naive on our part not to understand that the old paradigms that sustain these progressive thoughts prevail on that left, the infatuation with chimneys as a symbol of industrialization and those constant choices for the categories of large-scale and employment, along with the deep certainties of unlimited progress.
Today our continent is experiencing a concert of various popular or perhaps populist, renovating or perhaps reformist governments, some of them calling themselves socialists and in general strongly anti-imperialist in the sense of the slogans that were in force forty years ago. As a consequence of the strong persistence of seventies ideologies and their logic of construction of thought, it is evident that this anti-imperialism whose objective is the North American does not usually include the North American ways of life that are proposed to us, nor the large corporations with which they are negotiate or agree, without major conflicts of conscience.
Our leadership elites are paradoxically anti-imperialist, but at the same time globalized and globalizing; they continue, ultimately, trusting in unlimited Progress and Growth. At the same time, they consider that, in the absence of a determined bourgeoisie, it would be the old revolutionaries, today in the role of progressive civil servants, who carry out the pending tasks of capitalism, even at the cost of the investments being in charge of the corporations. transnationals.
Worse still, although it is grotesque, they tend to equate the CEOs and executives of the local offices of these corporations, as substitutes for the old national bourgeoisies responsible for accompanying the growth processes. In the Argentine case there are also, in a similar way to the so-called Russian nomenclature, cases of a new oligarchy of progressive thoughts and of left-wing extraction and formation, whose assets usually have origins in the companies of the old Communist Party or in the revolutionary expropriations from the seventies.
That the left shares many of the same paradigms regarding the so-called Growth and therefore the ideas of Progress, with the political right and even neoliberal, allows the global forms of the new dependencies to be generally viewed as irrelevant or not consider in political speeches.
Monoculture models; the massive productions of commodities; Biotechnology and GM seeds; cyanidation mining; the planted forests of exotic trees; the feeding of animals in confinement with transgenic soybeans and industrial balanced; the advancement of the frontiers of industrial agriculture on peasant lands and native forests; the disappearance of native grasslands and wetlands under the logic of greater profitability; the conversion of local producers into links in large agri-food chains; as well as the production of biofuels for automobiles in Europe from agriculture in Latin America; they are considered aspects of an inevitable price that must be paid to modernity.
Campaigns in defense of Ecology mobilize more and more of the population committed against the policies of devastation, but they have not yet managed to get onto the agendas of parties or governments. Meanwhile, peasant movements are debated in confusion and fluctuate between the growing cornered of their bases by the policies of Agribusiness and the anachronistic ideological teams of their leaders, if not the important seduction of subsidies or official positions offered by progressive governments. , which make it impossible for them to face these situations; and if not, from biased perspectives of localized social demands, which end up being functional to the productive model.
It would only try to recognize that the situation is extremely complex and that we should face a complex situation, not with binary or fragmentary thoughts, but with thoughts that are also complex; But that is not easy for many, as it would require relearning how to think or perhaps incorporate the new paradigms of decoloniality and degrowth. We are faced with the urgent need to advance in a project of a different type, a project capable of recovering other perspectives, of thinking both the global and the local, to give primacy to an ecological vision and to agriculture with the capacity to repair ecosystems and include biodiversity conservation as a priority issue. Ultimately, what we should propose is to seek agricultural models that are capable of generating local developments, that root families in the land and enable the recovery of genetic heritage and cultural knowledge.
Free ourselves from the new colonialities
Perhaps searching and surveying these projects throughout the continent and highlighting their common lines in order to transform them into paradigms of a better agriculture, is the way to begin to install another model of life, alternative and non-extractive, non-consumerist and more. in harmony with what is now known in Bolivia as good living, which we Argentines knew how to ensure the happiness of our People. Perhaps the most delicate thing to carry out in the debates that lie ahead, is to establish the reasons why the effort to innovate and to seek originality from own developments outside of Modernity is justified, thus freeing ourselves from the new colonialities. This would absolutely escape the merely economic and would lead us to a revaluation of Culture as a manifestation of identity within the framework of the given symbolic horizons.
Rodolfo Kusch, an inescapable American thinker to rethink the American, said that the European and especially its philosophy - and when he said it included the North American, which is nothing more than a transplant of Europe into America - he said then that, "European philosophy, it is a constant search for Being, as well as an enormous inability to recognize Being itself, lost throughout the development of its history ”. He also said that: "the American, on the other hand, was a prolonged stay in the Being, without allowing us to reach our own Being." To be able to define one's own Being in the being of the Being of America, would be for us to unravel these models and apply them. These models must arise from the very existence of cultural miscegenation, where the various currents that make us meet, always from their existential installation on the soil of America: the work of investigation that we owe ourselves is only to find them, to highlight them and join us to them with our own existence, with our roots and our dreams for a better world.
Jorge Eduardo Rulli - Article published in the Causa Sur Magazine