January 16, 2003

Don't let them eat cake

It's come to this: faced with their increasing irrelevance and a populace that ignores their heartfelt cries of doom, the idiots of the world have started condemning the availability of low-priced food. Down with abundant food! cries one Magnus Linklater. You really have to read his opening paragraph -- it's a beaut; the rest is mere gilding the lily:

Death to the superstore. Death to its Disney-style architecture, its endless corridors, its cavernous trolleys, its rock-bottom prices, its choice, convenience, and soulless car parks. Above all, death to its sheer, unstoppable success. I do not care whether Morrison, Wal-Mart or Sainsbury’s wins the battle for the Safeway chain, because all of them share one aim, the need to grow bigger and faster and persuade us all to eat more, in order to survive. Instead, all we do is get fatter and sicker. The time has come to curb our appetite for cheap food, not to encourage it.
The following paragraph, wherein he reveals his abject terror at the variety of choices facing him every day at the supermarket, would be hysterically funny if it weren't so pathetic:
Consider this: the big supermarket chains offer us on any one day an average of 30,000 different “lines” to choose from, 30,000 items with which to load our boots and sustain the rapidly expanding girths of our families. Each year, to tempt us to further excess, they have to find some 16,000 new lines, replacing and discarding the old, packaging and presenting the new. Out go yesterday’s kumquats, sweet potato and oven-ready chicken korma, in come vine tomatoes, Mexican persimmon, and three kinds of salsa verde.
The horror! The horror! Something tells me this is Mr. Linklater's roundabout way of getting out of having to do the grocery shopping. But seriously, just what sort of mind is it that says something like "The cut-throat competitiveness of the big food chains means that although we spend less of our income on food than we ever did, we eat far more of it" and means it as a bad thing? We are spending less on food! Oh no! We are eating more! Oh n--- Half a mo'. You're not serious, are you mate?

Oh yes, he is. Here we see the panic of self-proclaimed do-gooders who see the objects of their do-gooding drying up. What sight is guaranteed to open the wallets of all but the hardest-hearted human being? The sight of a starving child. What will happen when these starving children are no longer available, because they've all got access to cheap, abundant food? The wallets will close, and do-gooders will have one less source of income as well as one less thing to hold out against the cruel capitalist running dogs. But I think that mostly it's all about the bling-bling.

Via AtlanticBlog.

Posted by Andrea Harris at January 16, 2003 12:40 AM

It becomes difficult not to imagine that such persons as this Magnus Linklater actively hate humanity -- including themselves.

I am reminded of a passage from Isabel Paterson's marvelous tirade, The God Of The Machine:

--- The philanthropist, the politician, and the pimp are inevitably found in alliance because they have the same motives, they seek the same ends, to exist for, through, and by others. And the good people cannot be exonerated for supporting them. Neither can it be believed that the good people are wholly unaware of what actually happens. But when the good people do know, as they certainly do, that three million persons (at the least estimate) were starved to death in one year by the methods they approve, why do they still fraternize with the murderers and support the their measures? Because they have been told that the lingering death of the three millions might ultimately benefit a greater number. The argument applies equally well to cannibalism. ---

Miss Paterson was grappling with the profound moral failings of the would-be social engineers of her day, but her observations apply equally well to anyone who, "for our own good" or for any other reason, would restrict the choices available to us.

Best Wishes for the New Year.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at January 16, 2003 at 07:48 AM

VIVA BULGARIA! I refuse to apologize for being successful. I will not bow my head in shame because America works. Sure, we've got fast food, big stores and Cadillac Eldorados. But we also ended two world wars and put some guys on the moon. Don't like Big Macs and Wal-Mart? Then avoid them- but don't tell me what to eat and where to shop. If I wanted to live in your perfect world, I'd move to Bulgaria. Hmph!

Posted by: Chip Haynes at January 16, 2003 at 08:05 AM

Mmmmmm...cheap, plentiful food...(drool)

Posted by: DavidMSC at January 16, 2003 at 08:23 AM

I don't know WHAT Linklater's problem is. To people in the lower economic bracket and to poor students, cheap food is GOOD... except that in the UK, most food in the supermarkets are NOT cheap. Buying direct from farmers in the town farmers' market and the weekly open-air markets is much cheaper... and you help eliminate the middleman too.

However, if supermarkets can supply cheap, affordable food, I'm all for it.

Posted by: glovefox at January 16, 2003 at 08:46 AM

Actually, Chip, it looks as if Bulgaria is trying its best to embrace capitalism. Check out this blog: Sofia Sideshow. In fact, it is the Eastern European countries (the ones in the former Soviet Bloc, the ones who actually experienced real communism and lived to tell about it) that are our best friends right now.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 16, 2003 at 09:39 AM

Ok, I admnit it: I used "Bulgaria" more for it's implication of implied soviet-styled blandness than any actual (and current) reality. Most Americans have a rather unflattering mental image of what Bulgaria must be like (without having been there), so the "Viva Bulgaria" thing sounded about right. In reality, I'll betcha there's probably already a McDonald's there. That would be cool.

Posted by: Chip Haynes at January 16, 2003 at 09:50 AM


For further reference, I think you should use Albania instead of Bulgaria. They're the ones who are really still totally fucked.

Posted by: David Jaroslav at January 16, 2003 at 10:19 AM

He's got to be making a joke. Right?

Or maybe this is one of those assignments in "logical thought" that Humanities professors love to make first year philosophy students do.

"In X words defend a position that is obviously nonsensical."

Posted by: Tom at January 16, 2003 at 10:25 AM

He's got to be making a joke. Right?

Or maybe this is one of those assignments in "logical thought" that Humanities professors love to make first year philosophy students do.

"In X words defend a position that is obviously nonsensical."

Posted by: Tom at January 16, 2003 at 10:25 AM


Posted by: Chip Haynes at January 16, 2003 at 11:05 AM

Too bad Magnus didn't get to spend a few years of his childhood eating damaged chickens in tins and drinking powdered milk.

Frelling moron!

Posted by: Ith at January 16, 2003 at 04:13 PM

This is pure, sustained comedy from start to finish. I really, really must go and post on this now before my head explodes.

Posted by: Steven Chapman at January 17, 2003 at 09:46 PM