In recent years, governments have been demonstrating their subservience to their billionaire masters in Big Finance, the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations, BlackRock and the entire gamut of forces in the military-financial-industrial complex behind the ‘Great Reset’, ‘New Normal’ or whichever other benign-sounding term is used to disguise the crisis and current restructuring of capitalism and the brutal impacts on ordinary people.
In late 2019 and early 2020 (due to collapsing financial markets immediately prior to COVID) and during COVID (via COVID-relief packages), trillions of dollars were handed over to elite interests while lockdowns and restrictions were imposed on ordinary people and small businesses. The winners were the likes of Amazon, Big Pharma and the tech giants. The losers were small enterprises and the bulk of the population, deprived of their right to work and the entire panoply of civil rights their ancestors struggled for.
In August 2020, a report by the International Labour Organization stated that COVID policies had severely disrupted economies across the world with estimated losses of working hours equivalent to nearly 400 million full-time jobs in the second quarter of 2020.
The restrictions and closure of the global economy impacted the most vulnerable – the 1.6 billion informal (low-income) economy workers, representing half the global workforce.
In India, lockdown pushed around 230 million into poverty. A May 2021 report by Azim Premji University highlights how – to survive lockdown – the poorest 25% of households borrowed 3.8 times their median income, as against 1.4 times for the top 25%.
Meanwhile, the rich were well taken care of.
According to Left Voice:
The Modi government has handled the pandemic by prioritising the profits of big business and protecting the fortunes of billionaires over protecting the lives and livelihoods of workers.”
But this approach was not limited to India. Between April and July 2020, the total wealth held by billionaires around the world grew from by 25% to $10+ trillion.
Due to financial COVID ‘relief packages’, governments are now under the thumb of global creditors and the post-COVID era is seeing massive austerity measures due to strings-attached loans, especially in Africa and the Global South. This was the inevitable consequence of closing down the world economy. Something that was known beforehand and devised to benefit hegemonic interests and their geopolitical goals.
What we are witnessing is an economic reset – which policies carried out under the guise of preventing COVID helped set in motion. This reset includes energy and food ‘transitions’ and is tied to a ‘green’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda and emerging green bond financial markets that will be highly profitable for banks and investors.
Moreover, current sanctions placed on Russia are helping to disrupt food and energy markets thereby accelerating the planned changes.
As part of the ‘food transition’, we hear much talk of ‘precision’ agriculture driven by AI and cloud technology. Farmerless farms and driverless machines are to become the norm.
This transition involves commodity crops – patented, genetically engineered seeds doused with chemicals – cultivated for ‘biomatter’, manipulated by biotech companies and constituted in giant vats into something resembling food.
This is part of the brave new world being promoted by the self-labelled ‘visionaries’ associated with the World Economic Forum – an Orwellian future where capitalist ‘liberal democracy’ has run its course.
To sell this to people, ‘smart’ is key to the sales pitch – smart cities, smart interconnectivity, smart agriculture and so on. A ‘smart’ digital world encompassing almost everything, not least ‘precision’ surveillance of the population – its behaviour, its dissent or conformity, its digital money and its purchasing.
Integral to this is the financialisation of nature and an ESG agenda linked to the ‘green profiling’ of nations, companies and individuals and their carbon footprint. A green imperialism (no doubt forced through on the back of debt-related conditionalities) to ensure countries (and people) comply with sustainability/net-zero goals that are used to facilitate highly profitable technologies and fresh business models.
For instance, how could countries demonstrate their ESG ‘green’ credentials while maintaining their international credit ratings? Perhaps by allowing herbicide-resistant GMO commodity crop monocultures that the strategically influential GM industry and its lobbyists misleadingly portray as ‘climate friendly’.
Or maybe by displacing indigenous peoples and using their lands and forests under the guise of ‘carbon sinks’ for global corporations to ‘offset’ their pollution and claim ‘net-zero’ status.
With this in mind, let us turn to the current farmer protest in the Netherlands, where there is a plan to remove farmers from the land, using concerns over the environment as justification.
On one hand, there is the official government narrative that this ‘transition’ is needed to reduce animal-based agriculture and the meat industry’s dangerous emissions. This is where the ‘food transition’ comes in: ‘precision’ agriculture, fewer farmers and fake-meat made in a lab – sold as climate-friendly which is anything but, given that it will rely on intensive commodity cropping and long-line supply chains for biomatter.
On the other hand, however, the Dutch government’s official narrative of reducing nitrogen and ammonia emissions by transforming farming can easily be used as cover for a standard ‘land grab’ to line the pockets of property developers and investors as part of the vision for a mega ‘tristate’ city – mentioned in the 2017 article Dutch investors launch new marketing programme for NL: Tristate City.
Dutch campaigner Willem Engel is reported on the Rio Times website as saying that, under the guise of climate protection, the way to get there seems to be through forced expropriation. He claims that the Dutch government is not seeking to eliminate about a third of its farms for environmental reasons.
Instead, it is about the construction of Tristate City, a megalopolis with a population of around 45 million extending to areas of Germany and Belgium.
Engel says that the so-called ‘nitrogen crisis’ is fictional, a purely political issue to reshape the country’s landscape. He argues that the largest nitrogen emissions are not caused by agriculture but by industry.
This is not to imply that the Netherlands is to become a country totally buried under concrete. But much farmland is strategically important to industry and housing. The tristate concept is based on a giant unified ‘green’ urban region ‘smart’ enough to compete with the massive metropolises we see in Asia, not least in China.
Of course, the food transition and the tristate concept are not mutually exclusive and can both be regarded as integral to the overall ‘sustainability’ agenda. Either way, the type of corporate environmentalism, economic reset and corporate-led ‘food transition’ currently being promoted globally has little to do with protecting the environment. It is a financially lucrative agenda that has co-opted the terms and concerns of genuine environmentalists.
That much has been made clear by investigative journalist Corey Morningstar who has described the nature of and links between the corporate-billionaire interests driving this process in her revealing multi-part article ‘The Manufacture of Greta Thunberg’.
In finishing, let’s turn to the official tristate city website where it states:
“Dit model heeft geen enkele relatie met het stikstofbeleid van de Nederlandse overheid!”
“This model has no relation to the nitrogen policy of the Dutch government!”
And lab-made pigs might one day fly.
Colin Todhunter specialises in development, food and agriculture and is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal. You can read his “mini e-book”, Food, Dependency and Dispossession: Cultivating Resistance, here.
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