Friday, June 11, 2010

A sort-of book review

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability
Somebody made mention of this somewhere a while back(yeah, I know, but I can't remember where) and I checked: yes, the library had it. Very short version: dedicated vegan wrecks her health, not realizing until she saw a doctor who’d dealt with the problem before that it was her diet doing it. Researches heavily, finds that not only is a vegan diet a bad idea, but a vegetarian diet, due to costs either not recognized or ignored, has a far heavier price on the environment than generally accepted.

None of that’s going to be a surprise to most of you, but for a vegetarian or vegan to not only dig this up but to come to accept it as fact is somewhat striking in a True Believer. It’s the rest of the book that gets my hackles up.

The first section goes over how she came to her conclusions, along with a whole lot of general “Man has ruined Eden, and if you care about Earth and about Justice we must change man and the entire way we live.” Which includes
No eating fruits or veggies not grown locally.
No eating animals not grown locally and in proper manner.
No artificial fertilizers.
No artificial herbicides.
No artificial pesticides.
And no commercial farming or ranching of modern type.
Yes, you do see some problems there; I’m working my way along to them.

She strikes me as just about a model ‘progressive’ in the current meaning: “We must end the patriarchy, we must end militarism and conquest, we must have Justice For All” and so forth. Lots of that going around. She combines this with a level of enviroweenie you don’t run across that much; it’s out there, but not many(more as time has gone by) like to say it flat-out where non-believers can hear: ‘We need to get rid of most of the human race so the rest can live in a truly Sustainable way on the Earth.’ Her view is that humans race outstripped the proper carrying capacity of the earth when agriculture began; therefore, we need to end agriculture and go back to a hunter/gatherer existence, the whole remaining few million of the human race. No actual farms, gardens are ok(sort of), NO growing of annual crops like corn and wheat and soybeans and rice. At all. They use too much land, too much water, wreck the soil, etc. Preferably no growing of things like tomatoes in most of the US; they’re a tropical plant and don’t belong here. And lots of ‘Virtually all our nasty diseases are due to agriculture, eating foods we were not meant to’ in a later section(no, I'm not going into that).

Unlike most of her type she’s quite open about the costs of her plan: babies being exposed to die when there’s not enough food, old people being sent out to die, starvation in a bad growing season or bad winter when you couldn’t put enough by. Unlike most she doesn’t gloss over the nasties of a hunter/gatherer existence.

Now I get to something I don’t know if she hasn’t actually thought of, or just doesn’t want to talk about, and it’s the kind of thing that makes the hair on your neck stand up when listening to the plans of progressives: enforcement.

I think she plans/hopes for people becoming so close to perfected, so much changed in heart and soul that once convinced her plan is for the better, nobody will ever go against it(Capt. Mal's quote comes to mind); that would fit with the ‘We can/MUST perfect people’ attitude of lots of liberals and progressives. Or else she doesn’t want to think about- or speak about- the level of control that would be required to carry out her plan.

You’re the head of a family group/village/clan. You’re sick to death of seeing your children/your elders/yourself sicken and starve and die because there’s not enough food, so you and yours have done some work and found- or remembered- that you can grow a lot of food if you stay around one area and plant some things. Damn hard work, but done well you have a much greater chance of having not just enough food for now, but storing enough to make getting through the winter easier. And it works; squash and beans and peas and all kinds of stuff can be grown, which means enough to eat, which means generally better health. Then…

Is there going to be a special class allowed to keep technology beyond the flint age? Enforcers(by a more friendly name, of course) who have the surveillance and travel tech to keep an eye on things and stop advancement? What happens when they spot this group?

Assuming a nice, friendly “We must explain to you How You Are Doing Wrong, and you must stop doing it” attitude, they show up and inform you that you are in violation of the Accords, and must destroy the fields immediately. They’ll allow you to keep the food stored, and use the stuff you can harvest right now(maybe), but you have to destroy the fields and never, ever do such again.


You know exactly how that’s going to go over. The only way to enforce the edicts is with force; tell them to stop, kill any leaders who argue for going on and destroy any village or clan that won‘t stop. You’d have to, you know; once somebody knows they can better feed their people with a little ground work, they’re not going to stop voluntarily(that‘s what helped get agriculture started). They may try to hide it, but they won’t stop just because you say "Your children will have arthritis someday!" or "You were not meant to eat this way!". So you’ll have to make them. And in the end, that means you’re going to have to kill at least some of them.

Which might not be all that easy: people who depend on hunting skills to get a lot of their food tend to be quite good at ambushes. You show up to find the village/clan leaders and make examples of them, you’re just liable to get a arrow or spear or javelin in your back. And now they’ve really defied The Authority, which means you have to punish them for that, too.

It wasn’t specifically mentioned, but I’d think that metalworking beyond the small-village level(at most) would be forbidden: after all, if you’re going to make more than some spear and arrow points, maybe a few needles, you’re having to either mine coal(Mining Bad! Requires tunneling and trees for braces!) or make a lot of charcoal(Charcoal Bad! Have to cut down and burn trees!) So you’d also have to make sure nobody got snooty and started any larger-scale effort than ‘just barely enough’; otherwise you have people making enough to trade with other villages/clans, and doing really disgusting things like making plow parts. Which would also help keep any hidden planting down; ever worked a garden of any size with nothing but a shovel, hoe and rake? I know some of you have; backbreaking work. Now figure on having to use only wood, bone, antler and stone tools… be downright discouraging. But some of them would do it, because hunger is a strong incentive. The hunger of your young even more so.

So. All but a few million of the human race has to die. And the rest have to be controlled to make sure they never rise beyond hunter/gather culture. I wonder if she’s thought about just how much control over everyone- every single remaining human, in all ways- is required by her vision? And if she has, how that fits into her concepts of freedom and justice? (I know, ‘freedom’ means you’re free to do the approved things; ‘justice’ means punishment for those who don’t carry on only in the approved ways(which means the enforcers and death).

Which seems to be what progressives take for granted: not only is their way the Better or Best Way, but because of that they’re justified in doing whatever is necessary to make everyone else do it. Like letting at least 9/10s of the human race die(for the Truest Believers, helping them along) and forbidding them to do any of the nasty old things that caused Ma Gaia to cry. Like farming. Better you should watch your children die than that you should plant a field, after all.


Shy Wolf said...

Should send this to the author and publisher as a real critique of her book and suggested lifestyle for all who inhabit her mother earth.
Most excellent review, BTW.

Anonymous said...

What those wastes-of-air always assume is that THEY will have priority to any food, etc.
What they fail to realize is that if conditions that she and her ilk desire came to pass, drones would not exist.