Food for Thought

Thought for Food

Posted on August 7, 2016

Food is necessary for a thinking man or woman to come up with a creative thought. Food comes, morality follows, as Brecht famously quipped, having added almost instantly that a man (or a woman) prefers to be good rather than bad, but circumstances conspire with bad consequences.  They do. A single madman or a terrorist mobilizes world media who spread the news and pour fear into the hearts and minds of citizens who forgot to be afraid of the nuclear weapons.

Nor is it all. Media love seasoning words and images of terrorist acts with a sermon. Sermons are for the converted to a political correctness, media noise is for a concerned and informed citizen. He (a concerned and informed male citizen) or she (a concerned and informed female citizen) should feel encouraged by the media in his or her daily struggle against the ideologies of the states and made resistant to the subtle massages of market messages. There is the cleft between the state and the market, claim the gurus and in this cleavage a civil society flourishes as a ghost between two machines. The ghost of a civil society flourishes because enlightened individuals (they come to Davos for spiritual food) exercise a coercion-free dialogue. Well, this is what the neoliberal dream was all about. Leave the market alone to perform the daily miracle of invisible hand, leave the state as a night watchman alone and citizens will talk their democratic community up between a day full of shopping and a night full of preventing crime.

At least some citizens will. Educated, moneyed, networked and discreetly helped by the visible links of invisible hand. This is what failed to happen. Invisible hand became more visible and then caused a world financial crisis. The world poor said that they would rather be less poor than the rich want them to stay. Visible state pretended to withdraw and then failed to prevent terrorist attacks on innocent citizens.  The world political forces refused to accept the democracy as a carnival of voting for one day with an organized repentance for four or five years afterwards. Why did it happen? Many reasons, some of them already visible with naked eye. The media made themselves too ridiculous to prevent a cynical backlash.

It is not that the media ignore the truly important messages and milestone news. Most world media did report on the decision of the Chinese government to cut the meat consumption of over a billion consumers by half in the next decades. But they drowned it quietly by more noisy messages. But they left it unattended while playing totally irrelevant publicity stunts. Let us stop the media noise and reflect on what it means. What does it mean that the Chinese will eat 50% less meat in foreseeable future?

First, it means that less meat will be sold to the largest market in the world. Chinese consumers will not be free to vote with their purchasing power no matter what the planetary damage follows. They will be forced to behave more responsibly and ecologically friendly than their European, Indian or US counterparts. Let us notice: neither the political top of the EU, nor the Indian government nor the one on the Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. followed the suit. Why? Shouldn’t Europe love this gesture and follow it?

Second, it means that a more ecologically responsible pattern of food production and consumption will be imposed on a large segment of world population. Shouldn’t the UNO take notice? And more to the point: shouldn’t the Pope notice? If Christians fast, if they eat only fish on Fridays and if the 3 million young people live to practice what they preached in Krakow in August 2016 – could not the Beijing and Rome form a formidable axis of good against the axis of evil?

Third, this is just food for thought, which starts with Chinese thinking about food. See it as a take-away. Way out. But not weight out.

Poznan, August 6, 2016