Center or Periphery: World Market Vs. Regional, Local Sovereignty

Center or Periphery: World Market Vs. Regional, Local Sovereignty

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By Luis E. Sabini Fernández

More and more "capacity" to modify the habitat is instead incapable of, in turn, not destroying it. A challenge that has been in the making for a long time, and that specific societies have refused to take on.

Let us see, even briefly, the dominant features of the planetary center, made up mainly of enriched countries, that is to say, those outside the colonial destiny (although such societies certainly do not include all their inhabitants). (1) In a word, we are referring to the balloon-colonizing circuit. , fundamentally matrified, configured since the middle of the 20th century, by the US power elite and more and more - since September 11, 2001 - by the geopolitical binomial US-Israel, increasingly inseparable , as well as the “integrated” layers of the already mentioned enriched countries, plus the circuits -much more restricted-, of the globalized elites of the impoverished countries.

Perhaps the most characteristic trait, structurally necessary for profitability and verifiable in this last half millennium, is the sustained tendency to scale up production along with expansion. It is a non-linear but progressive expansion, which is expanding not only production, markets and their modalities, but also the rate at which the same expansion occurs.

Let's list some such traits:

- production, supply and processing units, increasingly larger and consequently increasing consumption of raw materials and resources,

- reversal of the relationship between economics and finance and between science and technology,

- agrarian counter-reform underway, depopulation of fields, increasingly extensive and industrializing agricultural or livestock production units (even though the making of bricks or buttons should not be confused with raising pigs or plants)

- urban megalopolization and pollution increasingly out of control,

- deterioration in the quality of increasingly massive products, offset by their greater accessibility and more or less permanently accelerated replacement; planned obsolescence.

Productive units

Let's stop for a moment on the first item, focusing on a couple of examples; fishery and breeding of the most consumed animals.

Fishing. Humanity has been nourished since time immemorial on fish and aquatic living beings. It is estimated that 60% of the animal protein consumed by humanity has historically come from fishing. The other third of animal protein has been provided by land or air animals. Birds, deer, hares, goats, cows, guinea pigs, and the very long etcetera that varies from region to region. Fishing has been industrializing for centuries. And by "perfecting" their techniques to the point that today, with their trawl nets, depth pumps and many other resources, fishermen are in technical conditions to empty the sea. Every sea they "visit".

It would be a dazzling success if it weren't for the small detail that the fishery is thus managing to saw off the branch where it sits.

Their trawling techniques are so "perfect" as not to leave the seabed untouched. Which are, precisely, the nutritional base of many vital circuits. The nets are so profitable that they do not spare even the smallest fish, since the boats gobble up the large fish for human food and the small ones as food for animals raised or farmed by man, fish in ponds included.

So much technical quality and natural blindness or crisis of common sense, has made fishing have disappeared for example from the entire European environment. The Mediterranean Sea, once home to appetizing tunas and so many other species that have fed coastal populations for millennia, is now little more than the sink for the waste of the countries that surround it. The Baltic, for example, is so polluted that its marine species have dramatically decreased their fecundity. Reproduction is very low and waning. Because it is interconnected, it does not disappear, like the misnamed Aral Sea (the sixth largest lake on the planet, today reduced to a brackish pool thanks to the Soviet miracle); remains, but increasingly lifeless.

For a few years now, European fishing endowments have been looting African coasts, such as the Somali coast, where impunity is great due to the lack of a local state in a position to defend itself, but also that of other states that have the basic diet of fish, such as Namibia, which sees its catch thinned by incursions from overseas.

But as technical "perfection", the predatory scope in short, has not been abandoned, but, on the contrary, continues to exist, on the rise, sacrificing local fishermen by stealing their fish, for example, offshore (with what which fish do not reach the coasts), the destiny of planetary fishing is their disappearance. And with it, humanity's primary protein intake.

Can we imagine the celebration of some laboratories producing pills of? 3 u? 6 "for everyone" ...

And we have limited ourselves to talking about technical developments properly fishing. Not to mention, for example, that the plasticization of the seas, thanks to the invasion of another industry -the petrochemical industry- has meant the growth in geometric progression of microorganisms adhering to the plastic debris that are gradually deposited on the seabed, retaining the oxygen of the surface waters and at the same time blocking the biotic circuits of those sea beds that we saw already so mistreated ...

Poultry and suina. Let us now look at a couple of cases related to the first trait listed, that of sustained enlargement of production units, in the case of pigs and poultry.

As described in many documents, the treatment given to animals destined for human consumption is of unlimited indifference and cruelty. But so much "efficiency" has its rebound; we are damaging our health.

“[…] True industrial procedures are applied for the 'manufacture' of animals. Chickens, cows, sheep, rabbits and all those animals that westernizing standards determine as edible, are treated as tape recorders or DVD's, made in series. Farms have become true factories in which animals are handled the same as meters of cloth destined to make dresses. Through artificial hormonal and genetic processes, they are forced to over-reproduce, fed with their own excrement and "enriched" corpses, squeezed into very small areas, transported in cramped, drowning in their own heat and sweat, and he sacrifices them barbarically […]. " (2)

In these "living" conditions, the spread of diseases, of pandemics, is also rapid and explosive. For a few years now, we have been silenced and frightened by "avian flu", "swine flu" and other "biblical" pests.

The reference to “taking advantage of everything” is a curious perversion of a behavior so expensive to organic production, of not producing waste.

In the case of hyper-industrialized establishments, the desire not to waste anything in a production process that is not based on the health of the members or on composting purification steps, or on aerobic or anaerobic biodegradation or on biologically recognized food chains, but on the desire not to lose "not a gram of ingredients" has led, for example, to feed herbivorous animals with meat remains. Such was the well-known origin of the so-called “mad cow disease”. As an exponent, given its seriousness and mediate ramifications, it is enough, but it is good to know that it is just one example among many.

In August 2010, 500 million eggs infected or potentially infected with salmonellosis were removed in the US. They all came from just two establishments belonging, strictly speaking, to a single owner. (3) DeCoster. Of course, the eggs appeared in the gondolas as coming from different "competitors" in the market, because they reached or were going to reach the consumer, as usual, with very different brands and packaging.

But the factory in question works in a free zone regime, that is, without environmental or labor laws, at its discretion against wage earners and mainly against wage earners. “In 2002, DeCoster's company paid one and a half million dollars to settle a legal claim filed by the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Mexican women who reported being subjected to sexual harassment, including rape, abuse, and retaliation by their supervisors. ” DeCoster is a practical example of the philosophical observations of K. Marx. Everything is objectified: the animals, the employees, the customers.

This epidemic was stopped. How many come to us and then, in each hospital, each doctor will diagnose a pathology, of course of unknown origin?

Consider that farm animal production units used to be in the tens and now they are in the thousands or millions. A qualitative change in its treatment has been introduced with the great industry, a change of scale where man loses his human quality and the animal loses its animal quality.

The US has maintained a fairly stable pork consumption in recent decades, in any case increasing along with the demographic increase in population itself. From about 50 million pigs slaughtered annually in the mid-twentieth century, it has grown to about 65 million by the turn of the century.

But let's look at the transformation that must have taken place in the how. From having around two million establishments that slaughter a few dozen pigs per year each, to having just thousands of establishments that slaughter several thousand head annually each. This means a huge and brutal change in the care and attention of animals. Industrialization, standardization and substantial changes in diet. The pathogen also changed its nature and rhythm: pests have appeared, which have become "universal": "serial diseases" reproduce uncontrollably. (4)

In the case of hens and chickens, they are raised "paralyzed" so that they do not waste energy in movement, which also means sealing their beaks, making it blunt to prevent them from pecking each other in despair in their cubicles, and in The case of layers, so that they do not peck at the eggs they have just laid. “Modern” poultry houses deal with millions of birds.

The manure resulting from such "factory establishments" is no longer easily incorporated into the land where it would serve as an extraordinary and natural fertilizer for future crops. Now, the droppings of millions of birds no longer play a role in the rotation and fertilization cycles of the land. That's what labs are for! Instead, they create lakes of shit in the vicinity of the establishments, and the inhabitants of the neighboring towns testify that the fields stink 24 hours a day. In northern Germany, industrial poultry farming has created such an "olfactory" problem that traffickers in such meat have faced their "solution."

The reader should not think that there is in this a hint of self-criticism, recognition of the food virtues of the local, for example. No, simply a pragmatic solution, focused on modernity. Just as when such concentrations of animals generated a generalized madness in them and increased aggressiveness greatly, it did not occur to any breeder to return to less monumental dimensions, raising animals that relatively enjoy their lives, but simply saw the beaks of the chickens, Faced with the olfactory problem, the entrepreneurs of the sector organized such establishments with their millions of animals in pre-slaughterhouse in Brazil, on the North Atlantic coast - to cut freight costs - and that the chickens arrive in Germany ready for consumption, gutted, without feathers and without having to endure the population –German, of course–, the “collateral” smell of shit. We lack data on whether the establishments in Brazil have neighbors.

This agri-food system is not eternal. On the contrary, it has very few decades. It occurs with the hypertechnification of industrial processes and the "industrial use" of all "constituent elements."

This is how the GRAIN NGO ended a report that revealed the true origin of avian flu; the industrial animal husbandry system:

“A burning question is why are governments and international agencies like FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) doing nothing to investigate how factory farms and their products, such as manure and rations, extend the virus. On the contrary, they are using the crisis as an opportunity to deepen the industrialization of the sector. Initiatives are multiplying to ban free-range chicken production and eliminate small producers, and to replace farms with genetically modified chickens. The network of complicity with an industry involved in a string of lies and cover-ups seems complete.

"Peasants are losing their livelihoods, their native chicken breeds and are being driven off the market, and some experts say we are on the brink of a human pandemic that could kill millions of people […]." When will they find out Governments that to protect chickens and people from bird flu, we need to protect them from the global poultry industry? "(5)

Although the problematic knot raised by GRAIN's text is precise, your question is idle if we think of FAO. For a long time, this UN commission, like the UNDP, the UNEP, the WHO, the WFP, have been dedicated to legitimizing the system with its production model of large transnational consortia, accepting the paradigm of monopoly capitalism, as if it were the case. the only one that can make the world work, as if it were a celestial law of rotation and translation of planets and not of capitals; as if that doesn't simply reveal that the UN technical commissions belong to the world's privileged.

Investment of relationships. Financialization of the economy

Let us make a single reference to another of the indicated features; that of the aforementioned financialisation.

A thorough critique of the founding concepts of what we still call "economics" is absolutely necessary today; a web of concepts of performance, productivity, benefits, protected by cost outsourcing, validated by totally adocented environmental impact projects, legitimized by US government agencies, and therefore with a national geopolitics, but which function as if they were international, as is the case of the IMF, the World Bank and USAID (the latter does not declare itself "international", although its name "US Agency for International Development" would deserve to be renamed "US Agency for International Development"). .).

These "assessments" falsely endorse the appropriation of common goods to humanity, "cheapened", as Javier Rodríguez Pardo points out, (6) through the denomination of "natural" and commercializable through the device of considering them appropriable resources.

But on top of an ideological and selective construction of economic science is the radical, overwhelming, apparently irreversible fact that the economy is becoming increasingly satellite in the face of financial movements, the true motor nerve of current production and exchange.

The financial was in past centuries, the support, the complement of economic transactions. But today it "reigns" as a leading element. It is ashamed of others to hear politicians exalt the GNP as a reference for progress or quality of life. And if the politician is “from the left”, it is also sad.

Lordship of technologization; science bondage

Just as economics and finance have reversed their roles, so it has happened with science and technology: now science is at the service of technology, that is, of corporations that promote (systematically and permanently) new techniques, new technological configurations as a form of cultural, ideological, political and finally material domination. The one who was supposed to be the protagonist, owner of the situation; science is actually its servant, that is, it is developed under the “protection” of large corporations. It also bears fruit in the university sphere, but that is the least dynamic sector. Also, finally, in the heads of independent scientists, but these are the least.

The discipline that had the accessory role, has become the axis of techno-scientific activities, the engine of the "economic system." Technology is increasingly configured in huge civil (almost always commercial) or military consortia.

Let's go back to the question of the dimensions of the productive units. A corollary of the tendency to increase the productive scale is the consequent tendency to increasingly favorable catastrophism, inherent in the intensity and concentration of capital. Of which the BP drilling failure in the Gulf of Mexico is a good example. Along with this, the technological means to deal with them are certainly growing. The rescue of the 33 miners in Copiapó, Chile, clearly illustrates both aspects.

It is true that thanks to new vehicles and devices for penetrating the soil and rock, miners can suffer an accident and be isolated more than 700 meters deep. But it is also true that not well detected alive, in a very short time, in 24 hours it was possible to trace and send a probe, and in about two months they could be rescued by means of the now famous capsule that passed through the vertical tunnel drilled with enormous precision. . The probe allowed survival, making it even bearable, in those two months. And the rest, we've all seen it.

Technoscientific developments allow ever greater "feats", both in advance and in their remediation when necessary. The human being is increasingly capable of:

• pulverize mountains to carry out the so-called mega-mining,
• drilling geological layers,
• exploit underwater oil,
• establish transgenic plantations on an unprecedented scale,
• do aerial spraying of huge areas,
• carry out massive clearings of millions of ha (something that would have taken decades before and is now done in one season),
• Planetary expansion of motor racing with the consequent air pollution. Plans and designs for non-polluting vehicles, not moved on the basis of fossil fuels, for various reasons - commercial or ecological - have not prospered,
• develop nuclear energy, with its problematic irradiation, both in extraction and in its “final” deposition.

Let us mention even briefly the example of motor racing. Ever faster vehicles have been developed; walk more than 200 km. per hour, with the consequent risks, but also with the use of the air-bag and the advantage of “closer” distances, although only on the very careful routes of the First World. Automakers have also expanded their scale, and Toyotaism became the new technological bench "overtaking" Fordism of the first wave of automation.

Toyotism prides itself on just-in-time, that is to say, the savings that means the elimination of warehouses and their consequent stocks of waiting merchandise, but above all of the elimination of labor through new steps of automation.

Already involved as users in the large scale now prevailing in the automotive industry (as practically occurs in more and more branches of activity), the results have not been so exultant. Toyota, precisely, faces striking results: so far in 2010 it has called for a review of some ten million vehicles produced and put on the market between 2007 and 2010. These are not negligible figures; about a third of all its production. A million and a half of such checks come from the windshield cleaning system can cause fire. Half a million have been called for checks for imperfections in the brake system, no less. And so on.

Cars that "come out on their own" from factories do not seem as technologically perfect as they would have us believe. But the problem is not fixed by mere foresight, although late. In the meantime, with such imperfections, in the United States, where the largest automobile factory in the world operates -Toyota, precisely-, there are dozens of lawsuits for deaths in accidents linked to errors or failures in construction, or such time we have to say more and more, in the vehicle configuration. And thousands of lawsuits for various accidents related to the same. A dance of billions, but above all a dance of human lives destroyed or affected. (7)

Agrarian counter-reform underway in Argentina

It is in the world concert described in which the national economies are involved. Argentina is among the "advantaged" members of globalization if we measure it by the income of dollars to the economic circuit that we call Argentine. To the private and to the public. But its cost seems to be very high. As the Piuké Ecologist Association makes clear: “We are encouraged to add three more great poisons to the one indicated by our president [CFK was referring to the communication poison coming from certain media]: cyanide, glyphosate and uranium. Today all three constitute the sample buttons (and only the buttons) of a development system that destroys, plunders and makes us sick […]. ”

Although national statistics are anything but reliable, the economic flight of those who are said to be winners of the moment, such as soybean farmers - and a whole range of flourishing branches of activity: tourism, computing, real estate, the land, the seat of agribusiness , the automotive industry, laboratories supplying the new productive modalities, the small and medium-sized cities of the "country of soybeans" - they show us a country with a huge amount of working capital. From the presidency we are told about a number of reserves rarely seen. (8) Notwithstanding the above, the bad life in very broad sectors of the population cannot be hidden, the exclusion process seems unstoppable, the deterioration of the environment is seen. All this, invaluable in dollars.

Agribusiness, increasingly on a larger scale, continues to expel and corner small farmers, with or without land, excluding “arms” from their sophisticated production (although incorporating others, less, technologized). The cords of misery not only do not disappear but they seem to extend and all this in less and less "national" dimensions because the soybean emporium based in Argentina has been expanding, especially towards Uruguay, but also towards Bolivia or Paraguay and therefore Therefore, the expelled also increasingly come from beyond the border: they seek to mitigate exclusion through marginal tasks in the cities and among them, in the regional megalopolis, Buenos Aires.


Let us point out a single element linked to the problem of megalopolization. In Argentina, both the economists of the Civic Coalition and those of the government consider the uncontrollable production of zero km as a good omen. In a colonialized society that only data satisfies those who govern (or aspire to do so), with total disregard of a more structural observation, of a more nuanced thought, which takes into account, for example, that the elasticity of the vehicle fleet is not it corresponds to that of its base of material displacement, the streets, much more inelastic.

That divorce can lead us not to a better quality of life, as those in love with motor racing or the GNP statistics postulate, but to a worse quality of urban, daily life, on board in the clogged routes and avenues. We point it out as an example of how not to calibrate “progress”.

Modernizers agree. With neocon clothes or with progressive clothes, with liberal and capitalist philosophy or progressive, socialist and Marxian convictions, globalization continues its march. Triumphant and catastrophic. At once.

And a typically ecological connection is worth considering: megalopolization comes from the rural depopulation caused by monoculture and its profitability.


Several of the developments that we have just enumerated affect biodiversity in an increasing and progressive way, on a planetary basis. In other words, we are playing with fire.

More and more "capacity" to modify the habitat is instead incapable of, in turn, not destroying it. Can we humans, live, survive without natural habitat? It seems like a silly question, and yet there are those who are projecting how to do it.

We are Faustians, granted. Are we more clever or more crazy than Faust?

That is the challenge for humanity. A challenge that has been in the making for a long time, and that specific societies have refused to take on.

Because our knowledge advances to better understand nature and ourselves. Medicine, biology advances. The active life of humans advances, reaching more and more people for a longer life. And of a life that deserves its name. Engineering advances, cybernetics, all the disciplines of human knowledge, advances our understanding of the universe, of the giga and the nano, and of our role in all those universes. But at the same time our clumsiness advances, our increasingly wounding footprint on the planet.

Our unforgettable teacher Mario Sambarino reminded us of a thought of Blas Pascal at the dawn of modernity, facing the new deities, which we consider extremely current: “Man is made half god and half beast, and every time he wants to become totally god , he becomes totally a beast. "

The irreversibly damaged biodversity by man, the firing into the environment of a series of pathogens, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, mutagens that are endangering health, sexuality not of humans but of living beings, electromagnetic pollution every time more out of control, and so many other forms of contamination that are increasingly ungovernable and also irreversible, the ability of laboratories with their accomplices and assistants to increasingly medicalize life, the growing "capacity" of humans to produce waste and garbage and not being able to account for them, are all traits that we understand to be extremely dangerous and ominous.

Without trying to exhaust that panorama barely hinted at by A. E. Piuké with the three toxins mentioned, we understand that Argentina has not done but joyfully accept its role as colonized, or rather colonialized.

Because we are no longer a colony with a metropolitan flag; The new imperial modality takes great care that each territory under coloniality conserves a simile of nationality and statehood "equal" to that of the recognized nations. That is why so many “independent” states have flourished in the world today (the UN now has more than 200). And jealously, each with his flag, was missing more.

Arduous dialectic, now yes, we have between the center and the periphery, and we have to face it. It is not black and white, it is not easy. The center has its excluded; the periphery its privileged. And not only that; the very privileged of the First World also have a lot to deal with, to retain their privileges. And those excluded from the periphery also have a series of steps, sometimes to improve an atimo, or to worsen until they reach the cliff of metropolitan garbage dumps.

Because the globalization that we have called balloon colonization has given soybean farmers 4 × 4, but huge sectors of the population have been given open dumps or “under control”, where the dazzling wealth of modernity has ended up, from the rich world, rapidly degraded in the form of spent and discarded containers, shells and plastic bags (discarded but not thrown away, because they are not biodegradable).

Extracting oneself from the balloon colonization is arduous and problematic. Because it is about breaking with the consumerism that has become, by media hammering but also by self-education, second nature. Consume "soft drinks", or water in plastic bottles, which "is the most", tops of naked women, trips, models or km of cars or cell phones, fast foods -fats and sweets, so tempting-, consume medicines for all kinds of real or imaginary disease but easy to apply. All expressions of how we have been formed in the dominant culture.

The effort to escape such an imaginary, the one necessary to affirm a regional, cultural and food sovereignty, through a policy of respect for nature, implies an anti-consumerist policy that can only be anti-capitalist. And such would have a very high price: being harassed by the great world powers and diminishing the circulation of dollars. And with that, we lose not only the gadgets of the great world emporiums; we would earn the fury (unbridled?) of those who "are doing it with a shovel."

Change culturally; that is not easy.

Pero no veo otras opciones: seguir en la noria “global”, el culto al dólar y a las modalidades depredadoras del gran capital nacional y transnacional o resistir y ya no aceptar que la comodidad es el valor supremo, para encarar un proyecto de país, de sociedad, que realmente nos respete a todos.

Si el lavado cerebral de la tinelización sigue ocupando el tiempo de los argentinos, si se completa con la tele adocenada de Legrand o Jiménez; si los laboratorios siguen vendiendo lo que quieren o necesitan para su rentabilidad en nombre de la ciencia, la higiene, la seguridad o “el buen olor hogareño”; si seguimos creyendo que se puede “ir en auto al centro”, que nos podemos desentender de la indigencia de los que consideramos ajenos así como de nuestros propios desechos cotidianos, que la salud se defiende con medicamentos y no con nuestra forma de vivir, estamos lejos de un proyecto de país que consideramos deseable.

No aparecerán tales proyectos desde las opciones expuestas por Sader, sino precisamente desde el lugar que él subalternizara: la salud planetaria.

No vendrán con los políticos neocon, obviamente, pero tampoco con los progresistas. Si aparecen en nuestro horizonte será por esfuerzos desde abajo, desde adentro de nosotros mismos, desde la intemperie.

Luis E. Sabini Fernández – Periodista, editor de futuros del planeta, la sociedad y cada uno, docente del área de ecología de la Cátedra Libre de Derechos Humanos de la Facultad de Filosofìa y Letras de la Universidad de Buenos Aires. Noviembre de 2010.-


(1) Cuando nos referimos a países, sociedades o estados “ajenos al destino colonial”, acotamos en el tiempo histórico estos rasgos a los países de la modernidad, a los últimos 500 años, obviamente. E incluimos aquellos estados que habiendo tenido un origen colonial se han incorporado al área de los países enriquecidos (o centrales), como es el caso de los formados desde los asentamientos (settlements) anglosajones.

(2) Adán Salgado Andrade, “Fábricas de animales: enfermedades en serie”,, agosto 2010.

(3) Amy Goodman, “Huevos podridos y nuestra democracia rota”, Democracy Now, agosto 2010.

(4) Alfredo Embid, “Lo que no te cuentan sobre la gripe porcina”,

(5), marzo 2006.

(6) “¿Por qué bienes comunes?”, futuros, no 13, Río de la Plata, verano 2009-2010.

(7); Luis Faraoni, “Un récord de autos con fallas…”, Tiempo Argentino, Bs. As., 24/10/2010.

(8) Claro que habría ponderar tales entusiasmos relativizando la unidad de medida, pues aunque “siempre”, al menos desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial, hablamos de dólares, los dólares del 2010 valen menos de la doceava parte de lo que valían los dólares de 1950. La inflación también “come” al dólar.

Video: Economics at Cambridge (May 2022).