7

votes

How has Paleo thinking informed your political thinking?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 22, 2011 at 7:57 PM

OK, I know this can be a controversial topic, but I think it's very relevant to the whole idea of "Paleo". Because of reading about food I've been reading about food politics (e.g., the role of agriculture in the development of hierarchical and oppressive societies). I have to say it's a HUGE eye opener and I'm sure there's a big opportunity for a ton of heated discussion.

I've read some great books on this recently (and before my diet changes too). Off the top of my head some standouts include:

Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization, by Richard Manning - I highly, highly recommend this one!

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health, by Gary Taubes - most of us have read this. It might be a lot of wordage to those who already get the principles, but I thought the historical stuff was absolutely gripping when I read it as a newbie.

The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture, by Wendell Berry - I'm a big WB fan and this book had a huge impact on me when I read it years ago.

The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, by Wade Davis - he wrote the excellent The Serpent and the Rainbow which was made by Wes Craven into a horror film with NO relationship to the book... but if you like horror films it was a pretty good one :-)

Joel Salatin's books are great - although I disagree with some of his political conclusions. Lately Ray Peat has been very valuable to read - and not just because of his uncanny dietary knowledge: almost as an aside he constantly points out how much of our diet is designed to make people as fat as possible as quickly as possible - because the research is for animals in FEED LOTS not for real people... And of course there's Michael Pollan.

I could go on and on but you get the idea - and I'm sure you have your own suggestions (I'd be very interested...)

I started as a 'Liberal' but the more I do this and read about this, and learn how "they" have utterly manipulated our food supply and choices, I've taking on a somewhat more cynical and even paranoid angle. I could almost say "Libertarian" but it's NOTHING like Ron Paul; to me, whenever anyone advocates "getting rid of government" or "cut taxes - keep your own money" it's code for "let us enfeeble and manipulate you and make huge profits". Society - and government - HAS a role, and it's a role to protect and empower the individuals and social groups within it, NOT to protect and empower the predators that feed on and profit off those individuals and groups.

Said another way, whenever a political idea can be expressed in cheap feel-good slogans, stay as far away as possible. Wendell Berry once wrote a great essay on the difference between between "Complex" and "Complicated" - working social systems ARE COMPLEX. Broken ones are COMPLICATED.

What 'Paleo' has changed for me is that I see more clearly how the food systems are part of the political system, and how we and our government are manipulated by the industrial food system. I definitely think government SHOULD be participating in food choices - but would like all the corporate profit motives stripped out of it entirely. Is that likely to happen? Probably not.

I'm pretty cynical about any real progress - anytime the door is opened to change any part of the system, the powers-that-be rush in and tweak it to their advantage.

Frankly, I just don't see any way out of the dilemma, certainly not as individuals or small groups of enthusiasts. Right now all I can do is buy organic, pasture-fed products, cook my own meals and try to keep my daughter as healthy as possible because one day it will be her turn.

So, finally, to the Question: how has thinking about Paleo changed YOUR thinking about politics? I'm sure you all have different angles on this and some might even contradict mine and that's fine - I'd like to know.

Bcad307b240275ae3f5820ba6eb4a712

(923)

on July 22, 2011
at 10:38 PM

An example of my point about technological de-centralization in the food system. http://c4ss.org/content/7754

Bcad307b240275ae3f5820ba6eb4a712

(923)

on July 22, 2011
at 10:21 PM

I like some of what they've had to say. I've never been able to just pick one guru, and say "Aha! This!". Rothbard, Proudhon, Spooner, Goldman; they've all influenced me. Even Zerzan, at times. I would consider myself somewhat of a free-market anti-capitalist, if were defining capitalism as "actually existing capitalism". I like the anarcho-capitalist view in many things, but the mutualist view of property as defined by usage seems more logical to me.

Medium avatar

(207)

on July 22, 2011
at 10:05 PM

Are you an adherent to Proudhon (mutualism) and Bookchin (post-scarcity society)? I mean, both of these are anti-capitalists...

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:57 PM

"It has come to Bread and Circus in the form of Hot Pockets and Jersey Shore." i love this.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:45 PM

Me, I *totally* blame the food industry for getting me fat :-)

Bcad307b240275ae3f5820ba6eb4a712

(923)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:38 PM

For murder? Of course not. Its just speech. You can take it or leave it. If you choose to take it, then you are the murderer. I got fat in my early twenties. I've never blamed anyone but myself, because no one forced me to eat like shit. Advertising is speech. Lobbying is speech. Neither is inherently wrong.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:31 PM

And if someone paid you a million dollars to murder your neighbor, and you do, they don't have any responsibility?

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:28 PM

Joshua, that's like saying if a robber enters your house and you fail to stop him, you are the problem.

Bcad307b240275ae3f5820ba6eb4a712

(923)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:27 PM

Industry didn't FORCE anyone to pass any laws. That's blame shifting. The ultimate responsibility lies with the politician. If someone offers you a million dollars to murder your neighbor, are you going to blame them for you committing murder? "But, judge, he offered me money. Its his fault!". Everyone has the right to attempt to influence anyone else. Responsibility still lies with you.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:24 PM

Jim - sorry, I know that's a standard line and sounds really nice. You're framing the definition in a way you can knock it down, not looking at what it really means. So no, I'm not saying those things at all, and your subsequent mockery doesn't follow.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:17 PM

CaveRat, if those industries hold that much sway over our laws (which are ultimately defined by Government), then the government is *still* the problem.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:17 PM

I can't help but to think we are being very narrow here in that we aren't taking into account those on here who are from other countries. Sure, there is groupthink in other countries but nothing, nothing like we have here in the U.S.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:13 PM

Nicely said, baconsweetie! It does seem like people don't - or aren't able to - *think things through*. This also makes them more vulnerable to the sound bites. Maybe it's chronic lack of curiosity? Little exposure to different ideas? It seems like it's a problem of individuals but when you put all those individuals into a society...

Acc38052c1efe7fc4338dc55f2428bfe

(242)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:11 PM

"government - HAS a role, and it's a role to protect and empower the individuals and social groups within it, NOT to protect and empower the predators that feed on and profit off those individuals and groups" So you're saying it is the job of government to pick the winners? Where would we find these benevolent, selfless geniuses to make such decisions for the rest of us?

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 22, 2011
at 09:09 PM

I'm going to see if the PH cops shut this one down. If not, I'm so going to post "Who was more Paleo - Jesus, Muhammad, or Buddha?"

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:58 PM

Yes - the idea that it can exist independently is smoke-and-mirrors distraction. As long as they keep you thinking someone *else* is the problem (hippies, government, communists, immigrants, liberals, etc etc) they are safe.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:55 PM

btw don't get me started on the difference between the 'idealist' and the 'ideologue' - not without a soft bed or couch handy for dropping off asleep!

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:54 PM

I partially upvoted - but I think that amounts to the same thing :-)

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:53 PM

Best rant ever.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:53 PM

The *government* didn't decide that raw milk was bad, the dairy industry did, and government passed the laws. Without the dairy industry influence we'd be drinking raw milk as we wanted. Government didn't decide pot was bad, the alcohol industry did. The government didn't decide trains were obsolete, the auto industry did... And so on and on. The problem isn't a mythical thing called 'government', but its corruption by industry. I *totally* agree there ARE problems, but don't agree we'd be better off living in a vacuum.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:47 PM

I totally upvoted you. Whoever down-voted that pearl from Network is obviously a lost soul :)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:46 PM

Upvote for the Illich reference. Thanks for the Perelman recommendation too. I think I may have read that but obviously, I need to re-read. Capitalism presupposes a government that allows it to flourish.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:31 PM

@baconbitch--I'm more of an anarcho-capitalist: http://www.lewrockwell.com/hoppe/hoppe5.html

Medium avatar

(207)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:31 PM

I agree with a lot of what Salatin says. Regulation is a distraction. Gabriel Kolko has pointed out (http://us.history.wisc.edu/hist102/readings/kolko_meatinspection.pdf)that the big industrial trusts loved Upton Sinclair's book The Jungle, because regulation helped them create monopolies. The real issue is ACCESS to the means of subsistence (like land), and POWER to control your workplace. Upton Sinclair, by the way, couldn't manage to be a vegetarian and eventually switched to meat (http://books.google.com/books?id=bcoEAAAAYAAJ&q=vegetarian#v=onepage&q&f=false).

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:26 PM

@Mark - agreed. Though if we take our government in its literal sense - a government run by the people, then WE are the problem. Our gradual agreement to allow the government to speak and act on our behalf is what is killing our society. Democratically run governments never really existed though. So yes, it can be a gov't made problem since the govt can't run with the corporations any longer. What you described is free-market economics. See Karl Polyani: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Polanyi

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:21 PM

@baconbitch - you're right that corporations should receive no favorable treatment from government--they should sink or swim on their merits alone. Subsidies and tax breaks are just forms of social engineering that derive from government only--another government made problem.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:20 PM

Wendell Berry wrote the introduction to Salatin's "The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer", and he says (I ruthlessly paraphrase) "I don't agree with everything Joel said, but I sure hope we keep talking and learn something new"

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:17 PM

@Mark - it is one in the same. Corporations beget governments and governments beget corporations. No one can blame our government for what they've done without shouldering some of the culpability for allowing our "elected" officials to vote on our "behalf" to allow corps the tax incentives/breaks to spoil our food supply, health care, and education.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:08 PM

His stuff is great, and I've read that and liked it very much. And I'm still a Liberal :-) . We should have a paleo brew sometime and chat it over!

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:04 PM

If you believe that cutting taxes and letting you keep your own money is "enfeebling you," you're still a liberal. The government itself, not corporations, has turned our food supply into a toxic brew. See Joel Salatin's "Everything I Want to do is Illegal."

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6 Answers

5
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:02 PM

Caverat - paleo hasn't swayed my political thinking as I've always been a Marxist. I've also been an anti-corporatist since forever. The problem as you suggest, is that our politics has fallen to the evils of sound bites. Our people no longer have the mental capacity or energy to look at topics beyond the "either/or" construct. There is no discourse in our country.

It has come to Bread and Circus in the form of Hot Pockets and Jersey Shore. Even reading through the questions on PH I see that people ask the same damn questions without even looking through tags. People pose questions as "Is it this or this". Anything that challenges the "paleo" way of eating is quickly shuttered. Very few go the extra mile to really find an answer for themselves. Granted, there are some on here who are quick to say they mispoke or quoted faulty science. Yet the majority are looking for a quick and dirty solution. Those Paleo-ers who actually tweak their diets, track their nutrition, seek out new ways of eating and approaching the whole self (not just weight loss) are the people who are a minority in this country.

So excuse me, I retract the first statement. My political views HAVE changed in that I refuse to vilify any choice made by a person who is truly seeking a better way and challenges their thoughts about something. If that happens to be a vegetarian way of life, so be it. As long as they seek truth, not to prove themselves correct, but actual truth.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:17 PM

I can't help but to think we are being very narrow here in that we aren't taking into account those on here who are from other countries. Sure, there is groupthink in other countries but nothing, nothing like we have here in the U.S.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:57 PM

"It has come to Bread and Circus in the form of Hot Pockets and Jersey Shore." i love this.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:13 PM

Nicely said, baconsweetie! It does seem like people don't - or aren't able to - *think things through*. This also makes them more vulnerable to the sound bites. Maybe it's chronic lack of curiosity? Little exposure to different ideas? It seems like it's a problem of individuals but when you put all those individuals into a society...

3
Medium avatar

(19479)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:18 PM

The government (both parties) has no interest in our health, wealth, or safety. I think that this quote from the classic "Network" says it best...

"You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it! Is that clear? You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU... WILL... ATONE! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that... perfect world... in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel."

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:55 PM

btw don't get me started on the difference between the 'idealist' and the 'ideologue' - not without a soft bed or couch handy for dropping off asleep!

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:54 PM

I partially upvoted - but I think that amounts to the same thing :-)

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:53 PM

Best rant ever.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:47 PM

I totally upvoted you. Whoever down-voted that pearl from Network is obviously a lost soul :)

3
Medium avatar

on July 22, 2011
at 08:16 PM

CaveRat makes an excellent point. Everyone who likes Salatin should read Wendell Berry. They should also read Ivan Illich, who pointed out that the greatest obstacle to freedom is a society that relies on the commodity form. Hell, Salatin should read these guys.

I also gotta recommend Michael Perelman, who writes analysis of agriculture that is truly excellent. Here's an interview that is seriously worth reading. Check out his book on The Invention of Capitalism to see how history reveals that the state isn't an obstacle to capitalism, it brought capitalism into being.

Perelman teaches at Chico. Can we get him on Robb Wolf's podcast?

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:20 PM

Wendell Berry wrote the introduction to Salatin's "The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer", and he says (I ruthlessly paraphrase) "I don't agree with everything Joel said, but I sure hope we keep talking and learn something new"

Medium avatar

(207)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:31 PM

I agree with a lot of what Salatin says. Regulation is a distraction. Gabriel Kolko has pointed out (http://us.history.wisc.edu/hist102/readings/kolko_meatinspection.pdf)that the big industrial trusts loved Upton Sinclair's book The Jungle, because regulation helped them create monopolies. The real issue is ACCESS to the means of subsistence (like land), and POWER to control your workplace. Upton Sinclair, by the way, couldn't manage to be a vegetarian and eventually switched to meat (http://books.google.com/books?id=bcoEAAAAYAAJ&q=vegetarian#v=onepage&q&f=false).

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:58 PM

Yes - the idea that it can exist independently is smoke-and-mirrors distraction. As long as they keep you thinking someone *else* is the problem (hippies, government, communists, immigrants, liberals, etc etc) they are safe.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:46 PM

Upvote for the Illich reference. Thanks for the Perelman recommendation too. I think I may have read that but obviously, I need to re-read. Capitalism presupposes a government that allows it to flourish.

1
6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:19 PM

People need to be free to pursue happiness in their own uniquely individual way. To the extent government interferes with that it is wrong and it needs to stop doing it. The problem with most political parties is that they want control different aspect of our lives using the power of government. The purpose of political parties, therefore, is to wrest control of the government from everyone else. And the only reason to want to control government is to control people.

Paleo has not changed my political views, it has only cemented them. I don't do dairy, but who the hell is the government to tell me I can't drink raw milk? It's my body, and even if it hurts me, it won't hurt anyone else, so back off. Same thing with pot. This once common weed has been transformed by government into a sinister force for evil. I have never used any mind-altering substances, but again, it's my body. Same thing for vaccinations. I have always been vaccinated and always will be, but if others decide not to get them, that's their choice.

If you're not free enough to decide for yourself what to eat, you're not free. Viva la Ron Paul

Bcad307b240275ae3f5820ba6eb4a712

(923)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:27 PM

Industry didn't FORCE anyone to pass any laws. That's blame shifting. The ultimate responsibility lies with the politician. If someone offers you a million dollars to murder your neighbor, are you going to blame them for you committing murder? "But, judge, he offered me money. Its his fault!". Everyone has the right to attempt to influence anyone else. Responsibility still lies with you.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 08:53 PM

The *government* didn't decide that raw milk was bad, the dairy industry did, and government passed the laws. Without the dairy industry influence we'd be drinking raw milk as we wanted. Government didn't decide pot was bad, the alcohol industry did. The government didn't decide trains were obsolete, the auto industry did... And so on and on. The problem isn't a mythical thing called 'government', but its corruption by industry. I *totally* agree there ARE problems, but don't agree we'd be better off living in a vacuum.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:17 PM

CaveRat, if those industries hold that much sway over our laws (which are ultimately defined by Government), then the government is *still* the problem.

Bcad307b240275ae3f5820ba6eb4a712

(923)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:38 PM

For murder? Of course not. Its just speech. You can take it or leave it. If you choose to take it, then you are the murderer. I got fat in my early twenties. I've never blamed anyone but myself, because no one forced me to eat like shit. Advertising is speech. Lobbying is speech. Neither is inherently wrong.

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:31 PM

And if someone paid you a million dollars to murder your neighbor, and you do, they don't have any responsibility?

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:45 PM

Me, I *totally* blame the food industry for getting me fat :-)

Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:28 PM

Joshua, that's like saying if a robber enters your house and you fail to stop him, you are the problem.

0
27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79

(2038)

on July 22, 2011
at 10:15 PM

"Paleo" by itself hasn't changed my political views. However, what I've learned about how conventional wisdom regarding "healthy" foods came to be has made me more likely to look for hard facts behind decisions. I used to have this perception of the government having done its homework and made recommendations or decisions based on what has been proven to be best. Now I see my former blind trust (food pyramid, anyone?) as naivete and I understand that I need to be the one to do my homework.

0
Bcad307b240275ae3f5820ba6eb4a712

(923)

on July 22, 2011
at 09:56 PM

Paleo hasn't changed my political views. If anything, it was any easy fit into my mutualist/voluntaryist/anarchist outlook.

The State originally derived its power from agriculture and the scarcity that it created. Thus begun the large-scale centralization of all facets of life. But, I believe it to be a temporary phenomenon. As we draw closer to a post-scarcity society, it will be harder and harder for the State and its acolytes to justify its existence. I suspect a slow withering will occur as the means of self-sustainment become easier due to technological advancement. De-centralization of all life, including the food system, will become the norm; albeit in completely new ways.

Corporate power is derived directly from State power. Wither one, wither all.

Bcad307b240275ae3f5820ba6eb4a712

(923)

on July 22, 2011
at 10:38 PM

An example of my point about technological de-centralization in the food system. http://c4ss.org/content/7754

Bcad307b240275ae3f5820ba6eb4a712

(923)

on July 22, 2011
at 10:21 PM

I like some of what they've had to say. I've never been able to just pick one guru, and say "Aha! This!". Rothbard, Proudhon, Spooner, Goldman; they've all influenced me. Even Zerzan, at times. I would consider myself somewhat of a free-market anti-capitalist, if were defining capitalism as "actually existing capitalism". I like the anarcho-capitalist view in many things, but the mutualist view of property as defined by usage seems more logical to me.

Medium avatar

(207)

on July 22, 2011
at 10:05 PM

Are you an adherent to Proudhon (mutualism) and Bookchin (post-scarcity society)? I mean, both of these are anti-capitalists...

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