SPEAKER: This is a production of Cornell University Library.
SARAH WRIGHT: OK, I've going to get a few more people who've logged in here. So I think we'll go ahead and get started. So welcome, everybody. I'm Sarah Wright, the director of Mann Library at Cornell University. And I'm delighted to be welcoming you to today's Chats and Stack Book Talk with Dr. Philip McMichael.
This is Mann's second Book Talk for the fall 2021 semester. And we still have a few more lined up before the semester concludes. The see what's lined up next, please visit the Book Talk link that my colleague is posting in the chat now. Due to ongoing COVID-19 infection mitigation efforts at Cornell, all Library Book Talks for the fall semester are being held virtually.
They all do still include an opportunity for questions, though, so please feel free to submit your questions using the chat function at any time during today's presentation. And my colleague and co-panelist, Eveline Ferretti, will be presenting them to our speaker in the Q&A portion of the webinar.
Before proceeding to my introduction, I'd like to include acknowledgment. Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogoho:no'. The Gayogoho:no' are members of the Haudenosee-- oops, I think I pronounced that wrong-- Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York state, and the United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogoho:no' dispossession and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogoho:no' people, past and present, to these lands and waters.
And now onto our speaker. Philip McMichael is Professor Emeritus of Global Development at Cornell University. Known as one of the world's most influential scholars in food studies and international development, Professor McMichael began his teaching and research career at Cornell's department of Rural Sociology in 1988, where he taught international development at the undergraduate level, and co-developed the popular Community Food Systems Miner that engages Cornell undergraduate students with issues related to food security, food sovereignty, and food justice.
At the graduate level, he led seminars in both sociological theory and historical methods for understanding the interrelationships between state, society, economy, and agrarian change. Trained as a historical sociologist, Professor McMichael's research has focused on questions of development and social change and the role played by agrifood structuring in the restructuring of the modern world.
A hallmark of Professor McMichael's scholarship has been a consistent commitment to engagement, both with colleagues in the field of sociology and with policymakers and practitioners, from the local to international levels. He has served as President of the International Rural Sociological Association's Food and Agriculture Research Committee as fellow faculty fellow in Cornell's Atkinson Center for Sustainable Future, and as director of the International Political Economy Program at the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.
His outreach has included working with the Civil Society Mechanism in the UN's Committee on World Food Security, focusing on issues of land rights and responsible agricultural investment in developing countries. Here in Ithaca, Philip has served on the advisory board of the Groundswell Ithaca, which is dedicated to assisting new farmers in shaping an equitable, sustainable, local food system in Finger Lakes.
In recognition of as many achievements and contributions, Dr. McMichael is being honored later this week with the Cornell College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Research and Extension Award for Career Accomplishment. Dr. McMichael has a prolific publishing record. In addition to a very long list of articles in leading social science journals, it includes authoring, editing, and co-editing over eight books, starting with his award winning title, Settlers and the Agrarian Question, published by Cambridge University Press in 1984. And more recently, including the 2020 title, Finance or Food-- The Role of Cultures, Values, and Ethics in Land Use Negotiations, published by the University of Toronto Press.
The book that Philip will be discussing with us today, Development and Social Change-- A Global Perspective, first came out in 1996. Published this year in its seventh edition with co-author Heloise Weber, this title has now been translated into five additional languages and is widely recognized as a classic text in international development.
We are so delighted to be featuring this important book as part of our Chats in the Stack series this semester. And I invite you to join me in giving Philip Michael a very warm welcome.
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: Thank you very much, Sarah, for that terrific introduction. And I would like to thank Eveline Ferretti also for helping me get this show on the road, as well as Sean Taylor and Matt Hayes. So welcome, everybody.
And I don't have very long to talk. So I'm going to try to sort of pick off some of the particular dimensions in the way in which I put this book together back in the early '90s. I was asked by the series editor at SAGE Publishers to join a new series called Sociology for a New Century. And the idea was to prepare a book on development that redefined the field and brought it up to date with what was going on in the '90s globalization, et cetera.
So the first thing I thought of was to take the Zapatista rebellion, which had just occurred in 1994 when NAFTA, North American Free Trade Agreement, was established. And the Indigenous people in Chiapas rose up in an armed rebellion against the Mexican government. And this was referred to at the time as the first postmodern social movement.
And it was focusing on critiquing the rise of globalization, which at that point was relatively young, at least in people's minds and in the textbooks, particularly the economics textbooks, but also to challenge transnational investment and trade, now that it was opening up through NAFTA and grabbing resources in Southern Mexico and affecting the life world, essentially, of the Indigenous people living there.
So it was a very interesting anti-colonial, as well as anti-globalization, rebellion. And in many ways it embodied a number of different dimensions of globalization that we've seen over the last quarter of a century.
And at the time, they said, "We rose up against the national government. We found that it did not exist. In reality we are up against great financial capital, against speculation and investment, which makes all decisions in Mexico, as well as everywhere else."
And so what this was doing, this rebellion, was drawing attention to globalization's impacts, not just in Mexico but elsewhere in the world, and anticipating a lot of the things that we've seen occur over the last quarter century. It's interesting that today probably the most well-known Indigenous uprising locally has been the Standing Rock protest in South Dakota protest by Indigenous peoples trying to protect their lands there. And of course, indigeneity is now becoming a much followed and observed identity issue as well as a rights issue across the world
And it's interesting that very recently the Brazilian President Bolsonaro, in opening the Indigenous reserves in the Amazon forest to logging, mining, ranching, claimed that prehistoric forest dwellers need jobs in the modern economy. Now, of course, this is the irony of destroying the world's largest rainforest in the name of development at a time of climate emergency. And I was interested to see this morning in the paper that governments have agreed to end deforestation by 2030, which is far too late. Nevertheless, this kind of Zapatista-like rebellion will continue, obviously, through this whole process.
So when I told the editor that's how I'd like to start and kind of unpeel, like an onion or Russian doll, the Zapatista rebellion to capture some of the key issues of development at the time, he said, no way, you've got to introduce a textbook that has more of a historical dimension. Of course, he didn't really understand what I was getting at.
But anyway, I resolved then to reorganize my proposal along the lines of organizing the book around three particular projects to frame the historical periods. So there was the colonial project, the development project, and the globalization project.
And each of them embodied a period of time. Of course, the colonial project-- from the 15th century through to 20th century. That's World War II. The development project-- President Truman declared in 1949-- of course, the US was the dominant power in the world at the time.
And of course, the economic nationalist model that the US represented as its model of development became the model to be adopted across the world, even in the Soviet era-- in the Soviet bloc, rather. This was the Cold War era, of course.
And then the third project was the globalization project, which in many ways began with the World Bank announcing in 1980 that the development was now participation in the world market. In other words, anything but economic nationalism. And then 15 years later, the director general of the WTO, the World Trade Organization, by which trade and foreign investment was liberalized much more drastically across the world. And the director general was arguing that we were writing the Constitution of a global economy.
So these three periods helped to frame the way in which development has played out across the world. And of course, has each project has very different dimensions building on the preceding and affecting the succeeding project. And of course, the possibility of a sustainable project of development is now in the works. And we'll see where that goes. I have to get to talk about that a little bit towards the end of this discussion.
The reason I was doing this ordering of the world ordering of projects was to introduce students to ways of seeing and being in the world, so epistemic process. And to see that development is a historical project. It's not necessarily inevitable. And it requires certain sets of political structures, power structures, institutions, and so forth, to actually organize these three particular projects.
Each project embodies various tensions, key tensions, which are part of the process of change making. So of course, the first project was subject to the anti-colonial movement beginning in the late 18th century with the San Domingo rebellion and the Black Jacobins, as they were called, who rose up, enslaved people, demanding independence, just like the French Constitution was laying out for human rights, et cetera.
And that came right through to the 1980s. We still have one or two colonial setups in place. I'm thinking there of the Palestinian situation, as well as Tibet. And there are others, of course.
So these tensions played out in their different ways in the second development projects, the non-aligned movement where certain set of Third World countries were attempting to play the two sides of the Cold War against each other, and to gain a certain amount of independence within the world economy.
The rise of the consolidation of unionism from the 1930s and '40s, pushing up wages. And of course, the corporate response was to then attempt to open up the world to go offshore to look for cheaper labor. And of course, that began to occur in the 1980s, following the World Bank's proclamation, also during the debt crisis.
And let me see where we are now. So in the third globalization project, I've mentioned the Zapatistas as one dramatic response. The food sovereignty movement began to emerge in the 1990s, demanding that countries, nations, retain sovereignty over their farm sectors and support small farming cultures with subsidies, et cetera.
The Battle in Seattle in 2000 when the Turtles and Teamsters came together, the environmentalists and the unions. Austerity protests-- we've seen right through the 21st century.
White supremacy in both senses against immigration, as well as anti-white supremacy as dramatized by the Black Lives Matter movement.
And then finally, Greta Thunberg and the environmentalists and the climate change emergency.
So the big question, I think, we could talk about is how will current tensions play out. We see a mixture of populism. So we see left populisms and we see right wing populisms. We see job losses, automation threatening jobs. We see the rise of digital surveillance and digitalization of many parts of the material economy. So how this is going to play out is open to question.
And then, thirdly, I wanted to emphasize with students that the present is history to understand that many of the issues that we are facing today derive from the longer term. And two, in particular, I can think of is racism, starting with colonialism, as well as the issue of climate change and the rise of temperatures and the deterioration of the atmosphere, et cetera.
So moving on to the third slide, one of the ways in which I like to get across the idea of development is to argue that it's a paradox. And this helps to encourage evaluation of how development is presented, how it works and how it plays out. And of course, its presentation, of course, is dominated by those people who have the power, the voice to present it in a particular kind of way.
How it works, of course, has to do with power structures and how it plays out. Has to do with the tensions, the contradictions within the development process across time.
So one of the issues here that's really important is the linear representation of development that was formalized essentially around the late 1950s when Walt Rostow, pretty famous economist at the time and had some connection with the State Department, formulated stages of growth as a series of five stages, starting with traditional society and ending in what he called the terminal stage, the high mass consumption stage, which, of course, the United States was embodying at that time and showcasing to the world.
And I always like to point out that the notion of the terminal stage can be thought in two different ways. And I think we're seeing that particular problem coming home to roost today. Part of the paradox also draws on Karl Polanyi, Hungarian economist-philosopher during the 1940s, who wrote about the economistic concept of self-regulating markets. And this is dominant in economics theory, as you know. And that is that the market is the invisible hand that manages supply and demand and well-being on a social scale.
Now Polanyi critiqued that particular positioning of self-regulating markets by arguing that when markets begin to dominate and degrade human existence and the environment and the social contract, as the United Nations had formulated back in 1948, that this requires movements of social protection. And we see this pretty frequently. I mentioned the austerity protests one of the best examples, I guess, that we've seen cascading across the world during this particular century to protect people from shitty jobs, from a declining social contract from a privatization of public services, and so forth.
And let me move on now to slide 4. Now this is one of the key paradoxes, I think, in development. Back in 1934, Simon Kuznets, a pretty well-known economist, was talking to a congressional committee. And he said, "no income measurement undertakes to estimate the reverse side of income. The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income," as claimed in the gross domestic product concept.
And Joseph Stiglitz, much more recently, is saying pretty much the same thing, except in ways in which we measure economic performance give absolutely no hint we may be facing a problem. Because GDP didn't include resource depletion and environmental degradation, we typically get an excessively rosy picture.
So those two quotes, I think, capture what I meant earlier is how development is represented. It's an epistemic issue. It's measured in a certain kind of way that has to do with income, with price, with commodification, and so forth. But it doesn't address the non-commodified processes and relationships that exist in human society, such as care, such as social reproduction, largely by women, such as environmental regeneration and renewal, and/or environmental destruction.
Moving on, I'm moving fairly quickly as I mentioned at the beginning. One of the things that's interesting about the development project was that it wasn't too long before conservative economists began organizing through the Mount Pelerin Society against the attempt to use public embedding of the market. In other words, regulation of corporations and finance, et cetera.
And Milton Friedman wrote, "Few trends could so thoroughly undermine the very foundations of our free society as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than to make as much money for their shareholders as possible." So that particular theme was very early, but it was picked up pretty quickly. Of course, Friedman was one of the intellectual architects of the overthrow of President Allende in 1973 in Chile.
He was a socialist president, a very popular socialist president in a largely dominantly middle class society in Chile. And they were trying to nationalize copper. The United States didn't like it. The British didn't like it either. And they resolved to get rid of Allende.
So Friedman was part of that process of shock therapy. And to introduce privatization on a large scale, Chile became the model before privatization was fashionable. And of course, that became fashionable in the 1980s, the era of President Reagan and Margaret Thatcher from England, following the World Bank's dictum that development was now participation in the world market.
One of the consequences, just very quickly, has been the subdivision of the world population. Ankie Hoogvelt was a famous Dutch social economist, put this graph together. And I think it captures some of the issues in a dramatic way, came out of this power structure around Friedman's dictum.
So actually, I'm going to go back. So what I want to do now is I've got eight paradoxes I just want to run through, hopefully to promote discussion. And I'll go through them pretty quickly.
But the first one, I think, was articulated by Wolfgang Sachs at the moment of decolonization when he argued that post-colonial societies traded self-definition for self-determination. And that, I think, captured the idea that post-colonial societies were given essentially no choice, despite the pan-African movement to attempt to avoid that, avoid the subdivision of Africa into individual nation states with borders that crossed tribal lands and structures.
So that's the first paradox, trading self-definition for self-determination. And the second one-- the past shapes the present. And here I'm talking about the unraveling of the economist narrative that I mentioned a little bit earlier with the kind of public dissatisfaction with global elites that we've seen cascading across the world today, including racial and gender mobilizations at the same time.
And those protests go back a long way. They have their roots in colonialism. And they have a lot to do with feeling left out, left behind, feeling excluded, such as in the Hoogvelt diagram there.
The third paradox is the environmental paradox. Rising living standards at the same time as planetary health is declining. That's pretty straightforward. Technology decouples well-being and nature.
Back in 2008, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science, Technology, and Development, which was sponsored by the World Bank, argued back then markets cannot value social and environmental harm. Therefore, business as usual is no longer an option. So that's the third paradox I wanted to throw out there.
And related to that, a couple of things that just came about recently in the press-- McKibben's comment, "The fossil fuel lobby suffered damage in recent years-- global divestment campaign, portfolio is beyond its reach, it builds little now on that resistance, people increasingly see through the fossil fuel lobby's attempts at greenwashing. But it maintains its hold on too many capitals." And he's referring there to financial capital, to corporate capital, and so forth.
Meanwhile, just today I think it was, Godelnik points out, "In 2020, 96% of the world's largest companies by revenue, known as the G250, released details about their sustainability efforts. But that rise in sustainability reporting was not accompanied by actual improvement in key environmental and social issues. Global greenhouse gas emissions continued to grow."
So what I'm getting at there is that there's a lot of talk about green capitalism. There's a lot of talk about sustainability. And some of it is happening. But a lot of it is not happening. And so this is another paradox, or a deepening paradox, if you like, in the world of development.
The fourth paradox refers to actually the opening sentence of my textbook, "Development is no longer an improvement on the past, but now it is how to manage the future." And that seems to me to be an aphorism that sets up the issue of what development is, where it's going today.
And so we see various things like green capitalism, the revival of the commons, circular versus linear economies, including agroecological practices, renewing natural cycles and processes. And here, there's a very interesting comparison in India right now with the zero budget natural farming movement, with hundreds and thousands of farmers in the south of India practicing ecological farming to avoid getting into debt, at the same time as prime Minister Modi is trying to promote the corporatization of the farm sector of India's farm sector with its millions of farmers and generating and precipitating an amazing alliance of not just farmers but also chefs, lawyers, academics, truck drivers, doctors, et cetera, who are coming together to support the traditional farming sector in India with so many farmers that would stand to lose their land and have to migrate into cities that have no jobs.
Moving on, transition towns that manage energy descent, they cover much of Britain. And they built urban gardens. They make a point about teaching children and having children practice environmental sustainability things.
CSAs, we're familiar with asset-based and citizen-led development, which is catching on where communities develop their own resources, even if they're not commodified, and identify what they have and what they need. And once they've done that, they go to local governments and request funding to support these processes.
And this has been documented now, particularly in North America, as being very successful. So these are localist movements. And the principle I think is self-organizing. And its subsidiary issue where decisions are made at the lowest level possible about human welfare, just to put it really quickly.
The next slide improves on this. Oh, yeah, so this is referring to the degrowth movement where Serge Latouche wrote, "Growth economics destroys society's immune systems against social ills. And growth needs a constant supply of new markets to survive. So like a drug dealer, it deliberately creates new needs and dependencies that did not exist before."
And this I think refers essentially to Rostow's notion of high mass consumption where we're all very aware of how digitalization is changing so quickly these days, as if we need the next thing yesterday. Compare this with the principle of decoupling, the idea of reducing material throughput for short-term growth and refocusing on the long-term, protecting socio-ecological goals.
And I think this is a very interesting comment here because some people argue I think quite rightly, that you can't stop growth immediately for some regions, obviously, and for some communities. They need to be brought up to a standard of living that is sufficient and appropriate.
So this principle of decoupling is saying, OK, well, we may not reduce growth, but we'll reorganize what growth is. And we'll take the long-term view rather than the short-term view, which has to do with consumerism, and take a long-term view, which is more or less what President Biden is attempting to do in a way with a great deal of resistance from certain people.
Kate Raworth's doughnut ring is becoming fashionable now in the economics profession, which is undergoing a rethink, essentially, which I think is terrific. Where it goes, I'm not quite sure. But anyway, she has this diagram of the doughnut ring, where the ecologically safe and socially just space is the doughnut ring between-- in the middle, a social foundation that protects, versus deprivations like water, health, food, energy, housing, gender equality, social equity, et cetera, and an environmental ceiling avoiding critical natural thresholds. And you can see there that there are four natural thresholds that have been passed already, most particularly climate change and biodiversity loss.
So what this is trying to do, I think, in her terms is to refocus on an economics that addresses both social and ecological deprivations and issues that need to be brought into economics. Ecological economics is attempting to do this, but you can't be effectively commodifying environmental issues-- what do they call them-- ecosystem services, because ecosystem services are all part of a single larger ecosystem. They can't be isolated and individualized and then measured. So you can't see a tree performs a certain ecosystem service without recognizing that that tree exists within a much larger framework, both below the Earth and above the Earth. Nevertheless, this is a good start that the economics profession is beginning to realize that the paradoxes that I've mentioned earlier are very much out of date.
So where are we? So the fifth paradox is supply chain fetishism-- and we have to get through this quickly-- global supply chain fetishism, where there's a social distance that's embodied in the commodities that we consume. The most obvious one is meat coming from the Brazilian Amazon. And paradox there, of course, is the consumption of red meat, in particular, has the downside of deforestation and undermining planetary health.
There's also iPhones that use coltan as an important ingredient. Some of this comes from the Congo, where child labor is used. Some firms are aware of this and have moved away.
Now iPhones are assembled in China, but with components produced across a network, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. So these supply chains are quite extensive.
And as we know, one of the reasons why there are so many shortfalls today has to do precisely with the way in which the supply chains are broken up across territorial boundaries. And it's very difficult to organize a single commodity when you are dependent on getting its components from many different places.
Part of this process is a race to the bottom, where firms have gone overseas. I mentioned the reaction of transnational corporations and banks who wanted to get beyond economic nationalism of the development projects and open up the world economy so they could access resources, and including very cheap labor. And this, of course, has destabilized northern workforces, as it promotes inhumane working conditions in many other parts of the world.
And it's interesting, just this week in the press in the New York Times, the emissions coming from these supply chains generally are not counted by the firms when they represent their sustainability efforts.
Slide 10-- This, I think captures the fetishism of global supply chains and the social distance between the guy filling up his tank going green and the representation of people who are short of food in a major way. So you have this dilemma of this paradox of biofuel crops versus food crops.
You also have electrification-- a lot of people are talking about that now-- versus fossil fuels, which sounds like a good thing until you realize that much of the lithium and cobalt required for the batteries come from Indigenous reserves. And probably the most well-known resistance there is by Indigenous peoples in Chile against the mining of lithium. And so this is another issue that needs to be looked at.
And finally, I want to finish off by mentioning that I'm viewing here across the board the development is a method of rule. And the most recent UN Food Systems Summit was a very good example of a move to go beyond the principle of multilateralism where governments are in charge of rights, human rights, and to enable corporations to come into the center to govern global food systems. And so this has been a hotly contested issue for the last year or so, with a huge number of resistance movements across the world organizing to protest against this shift from multilateralism from government-organized economies to corporate-organized food system.
And so this, I can just dramatize quickly here the difference between the global farm and agricology. There we go. So I'll stop there, Sarah, and take questions. Thank you.
EVELINE FERRETTI: Thank you, thank you so much. This is Eveline here, Eveline Ferretti. I am going to jump in and present questions that your audience is giving us. Feel free-- I'll just mention again, I'll just reiterate that you should feel free, participants who are with us, to submit your questions by chat. And we'll be reading them, presenting them to Professor McMichael.
So I am going to start with a question that might be on many of our minds here. We all know the old adage, think global, act local. But the problem of climate change has, in some ways, forced us to invert that approach by a bit. COP26 meetings currently taking place reflect an urgency being given to thinking local and acting globally.
With that in mind, we're curious about how you think the work being done at COP26 will have an impact? If you were at those meetings as a development sociologist trained in applying a historical perspective on the concept of development, on concept of using resources across the world, what issues and what panels, what policies and practices would you be wanting to focus on to get the most bang for, as it were, for a $1 in terms of making some change in the paradigm.
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: Well, thanks, Eveline, that's kind of a double-barreled question. I like the global local thing, which I'd like to address also. If I was a COP, I'd be hanging out with Greta and also paying attention to what's going on around land and food, in particular, because they're the issues that I like to focus on in my own work. And I think they're also very basic and very essential issues.
And so if I can try to answer that question, the first part of the question through that lens, I think that what's interesting that I've been studying since the pandemic and the breakdown in global supply chains and the rise of hunger, because so many countries or regions have become so dependent on food importing, because of the globalization project, because their protections of their farm sectors were required to be reduced so that international firms could invest in trade, food, invest in land, use it for export production rather than local food provisioning.
So what I'm getting at there is that I think that the local dimension is interesting, because one of the responses to the pandemic was a rise in interest in relocalizing agriculture, in effect taking seriously the idea of food sovereignty where states need to establish their own food sectors and not open up their land and their markets to foreign investors and traders.
So that's the local dimension, I think. And I'm not going to take that much further because I think people can figure out what I'm getting at. But at the global level, I think it's really important that, as I mentioned with the Food System Summit, back in September, one of the problems with that Food System Summit was the attempt to enable corporate capture, as the resistance movements argued, of global governance of food at the expense of nations, states working to stabilize their own food sectors and developing cooperative relations among one another, which they would have to do, given that about 20% of the world's food has been globalized. And they need to reduce those figures in order to encourage and maintain small farming cultures that still want to stay on the land. So that's a quick answer to your question.
EVELINE FERRETTI: Thank you. Thank you, Phil. I do have one from Sydney Evans. Do you think there is a feasible way to reduce the-- excuse me-- fetishization of supply chains, and especially the climate effect? Even under socialism, would we not still be dependent on one another only in a more equitable way?
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: Well, if I understand the question, it's dependence on a global scale, yes. I think shortening supply chains has been on the agenda now for some time to maintain social distance, to make it work. So farmers markets the best example of that, I think, where growers and eaters come together and establish a rapport and expectations, et cetera.
And those kinds of things, I think, are very important. But I also think that the attempt to organize and manage these processes on a global scale means that governments have to come together and establish ways to slowly, if not quickly, reterritorialize. Because a lot of land is now deterritorialized. In other words, it's owned by foreign investors and who often have no farming knowledge, no interest in practicing on the land themselves.
In fact, the Teachers' Insurance program in the United States is investing heavily in Brazilian land. So there's an academic protest going on around that process.
So I mean, I think you have to work on both levels. And that's why I mentioned subsidiarity. That there are lots of things that can be done locally-- local currencies, for example, farmers markets, those sorts of things.
But on a global scale, I think, reestablishing, re-- what's the word-- strengthening multilateralism, which has been weakened. And that's been very obvious with the climate talks that countries compete with one another instead of cooperating. And that's where we need to move towards a much more cooperative international system to address public health, as well as climate change.
EVELINE FERRETTI: Thank you. Thank you, Phil. Actually, on the question of public health, the global pandemic, obviously, well, it's changed so much it seems the last couple of years. So the question has come in is, how do you think, would anything, has anything happened over the last couple of years with the pandemic that might change what the structure of your book or a chapter? Would you be including something different? Would you be doing something different if you were to be releasing a new edition shortly?
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: Well, actually, the last seventh edition was written last year during the pandemic. And so I rewrote the final chapter. I must say, I didn't get to say this at the beginning, Heloise Weber is a good friend and colleague at the University of Queensland. And when SAGE realized I was retiring, they contacted me and said, look, we need to keep this book going. Can you think of a co-author?
And of course, I thought of a lot of co-authors. But Heloise had been communicating with me a lot about the book. She teaches huge classes of 200 or 300 students using the book over the last 20 years. And she's a political scientist and has a dimension that I don't have on interstate politics, et cetera.
So anyway, so we rewrote the book last year, updated it. And the last chapter actually has a discussion precisely about multilateralism, the revolution in economics that Kate Raworth's doughnut economics. Of course, this is written for undergraduates. It's not a manifesto.
But it is an attempt to alert readers to the need to shore up multilateral principles, to move towards global ecological thinking adopted by governments in cooperation with one another.
EVELINE FERRETTI: Great, thank you. Thank you, Phil. OK. I have a question from Antonio Moya-Latorre. To what extent do you think that engaging with the notion of the pluribus in southern epistemologies can open serious alternatives to economic growth paradigms?
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: I think it's essential. But I mean, it's going to be a long struggle for that. So the food sovereignty movement, which I'm most familiar with and I work with, embodies some of those philosophies-- Pachamama, biocentrism, and so forth-- recognizing that nature is really at the center of everything and Western values then broadened out through these projects on a human scale have decoupled us from nature. And we don't know what the hell to do right now.
So this is probably the sort of central question of our times really. Thanks for the question.
EVELINE FERRETTI: OK, good, very good. This is a question from Nicholas Suterra. And I apologize if I'm not pronouncing that properly. Where should Civil Society be pushing nowadays? Are states still running the show? Or do we need to push elsewhere? Can we rely on international assemblages like the UN? Should we push directly on corporations?
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: Well, all those things, I think. I mean, I think that the protest movement that was active over the last year and a half around the Food System Summit was attempting to do some of those things anyway. In other words, to revitalize the principle of multilateralism, recognizing that it has faltered.
And one of the reasons it's faltered is because of privatization. So states don't have the resources to do some of the things that we'd like them to do-- that is, to subsidize, to switch subsidies from fossil fuel and agribusiness to supporting small farming cultures that work closely with the land as opposed to on the land with high-tech agribusiness mechanisms that inevitably create more problems as they go along, such as super weeds, such as pesticide, toxic poisoning, and so forth.
So I mean, I think that these kinds of things are very important to do. The United Nations is a really important agency. It's a bit dated now. And I think that in my experience working with the Civil Society Mechanism in the United Nations Committee on World Food Security, back in 2009 because of the food crisis and the legitimacy crisis, therefore, of governments, the UN was essentially forced to accept and introduce the Civil Society group into the Committee on World Food Security because of pressure coming from the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty, which embodies agrarian movements and progressive NGOs from across the world.
So the CSM was created in the Committee on World Food Security to have a voice but not a vote. They didn't want to vote, Civil Society Mechanism, because they wanted to hold governments responsible. And so they've been relatively effective over the last 12 years, but maybe too effective.
Because in my experience at all the forums I go to in Rome, they talk about every subject, whereas some governments are particular about what they want to address in debates. And I think some of the export countries, like the United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, which are regarded as the reactionary states in the Committee on World Food Security, have got a bit fed up with the voice of the Civil Society Movement. And that's in part why I think this new UN Conference in September was held at the bidding of the World Economic Forum, which represents the 100 largest multinational corporations in the world.
And its founding chair, Klaus Schwab, argues that corporations are trustees of society. And so their argument was that the United Nations was faltering multilateralism, was weakening. And those interests that had the infrastructure and the clout, as well as the money, and the technology should be running the show. And in fact, that's what the UN Food Systems Summit was largely about.
So this is a struggle, I think, that we're going to see playing out over the next couple of decades in what the International Panel of Experts on Food and ETC call the long food movement, involving the attempt to reorganize agriculture along agroecological lines, the difficulties.
EVELINE FERRETTI: The long food-- that's good. I like that. So another question here from a Diaz Flores Gonzalez. Chile is now changing its Constitution after a social uprising in 2019, which is an opportunity to change its neoliberal path. However, in the globalization project context, a national change doesn't secure an alternative way of development. What kinds of alternative global alliances are necessary to confront the globalization project at the national, state level?
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: That's a complicated question. I mean, my first response would be to say, well, let's first work at the state level and attempt to democratize states, which is a very difficult task. If you stop and think about what's going on in, say, the United States, we're going the opposite direction right now. But I think these are maybe the peroxisomes of last gasp. But we'll see.
Anyway, so I think you have to work at democratizing states. That's very important. And that process, if it can be carried out on an international scale through agencies like the United Nations, if they could move in that direction, would certainly help that whole process.
So interestingly, just this morning, I was asked by Christian Ferrari, who's involved in that Chilean protest around the Constitution if I would talk about the food system issue sometime in December to his group. So it's a very interesting development that's going on within Chile, and hopefully will be repeated elsewhere.
EVELINE FERRETTI: Yeah, no, that sounds very promising, because the good news there. First of all, Michael, this is from Nancy Skipper. What is your view on the role or roles of the World Bank in promoting more equitable access to food systems around the world? Sorry, let me--
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: I think it'd be a good idea.
EVELINE FERRETTI: Yeah, and then its impact on environmental issues. So what's your view on the role and roles and its impact on environmental issues?
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: When Mahatma Gandhi was asked, what do you think of British civilization, he said, it would be a good idea. And so what was the question?
EVELINE FERRETTI: So the question is, what is your view on the role or roles of the World Bank in promoting more equitable access to food systems around the world and its impact on environmental issues.
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: Yeah, well, it would be good if they would do that. Currently, they're not doing it. They're promoting agribusiness and using satellite technology to map out land that appears to be unused, even if it's just lying fallow, certainly being unused in the way in which modern agribusiness would be using it.
So I think the Bank needs to really shift gears, essentially. It's still operating in the mold in which it was created back after World War II to promote development, Western style, on a large scale-- large infrastructure projects commercializing agriculture, and so forth. And I think recognizing that, we can still have commercial agriculture, but to move it much more rapidly towards a much more sustainable agroecological set of practices.
That's going to take time, but I think it's an important development. And it needs to be taken seriously, not just as a technique, as the US ambassador said at the Rome meetings in 2019 that I attended when the CFS, the Committee on World Food Security, produced its report on agroecology. And he got up and claimed that agriculture was just another tool in the toolbox, as if it's just a technique.
And it has much more to do with retaining, supporting, subsidizing small farm cultures, medium-sized farm cultures, and recognizing that farmers who actually work the land are far more successful at maintaining the land than what is called agriculture without farmers by the food sovereignty movement. And of course, now with digitalization and drones substituting for bees to pollinate plants, we're going to see more agriculture without humans. So anyway, that's where I would go with that question.
EVELINE FERRETTI: Again, perspective, right. Yes, OK, so then we have one more question here from Honey Choi. Thank you so much for your lecture, Professor McMichael. I want to ask about the global supply chain fetishism. In the case of post-development urbanized society, such as South Korea and Taiwan, what cases in your mind could be the problem of supply chain? I assume it could be a problem of a colonized discourse knowledge rather than exporting labor power or foods. If I get more explanation on the case, it would be a great help.
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: Not quite sure I understand the question.
EVELINE FERRETTI: OK, let me just rephrase it. So the question is about the global supply chain fetishism, asking you to speak on the case of South Korea and Taiwan. What is the problem of supply chain there? Is it a problem of colonized discourse rather than exporting labor power or food? So asking you to take a look at the case of South Korea and Taiwan.
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: Yeah, I mean, I'm not that familiar with that particular case. But I guess if it's neighboring states, the supply chain is going to be shorter, of course, much more apparent as to who's doing what and how, compared say to these huge-- like the iPhone supply chain I mentioned where it's very difficult to establish accountability on the part of the different components, the use of the labor forces and the environment in those very complex supply chains.
So a shorter supply chain like that might be much more accountable and manageable. And I know that's not really answering the question because I don't have the details. I'm sorry.
EVELINE FERRETTI: So I think that is our final. That's our last question in the queue here. Sarah, so I'm going to turn it back over to you.
SARAH WRIGHT: Yes, thank you Eveline. And thank you, again, to everybody for coming to our Book Talk today. We very much appreciated sharing this hour with you. And I hope we've all learned a bit more about the complex issues of international development and social change.
And of course, a special thanks again to Professor McMichael for his time and energy, as well as for his dedication to both teaching and engaging with the field. Thank you.
Mann's next Book Talk will feature Professor Qi Wang of Cornell's Department of Human Development, and Dr. Sami Gulgoz of Koc University in Istanbul, Turkey, who will be presenting their book, Remembering and Forgetting Early Childhood. And that will take place on Thursday, November 18. For details on that talk and the other Book Talks that we still have lined up by Cornell University Library for the fall, please visit the link to the Book Talk schedule that's going to be posted in the chat.
Thank you all, and have a wonderful evening.
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: Thank you, Sarah.
SARAH WRIGHT: Thank you.
PHILIP MCMICHAEL: Thank you, Eveline. Thank you, everybody.
SPEAKER: This has been a production of Cornell University Library.
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How has development thinking and practice shaped our world? The answer lies in four interconnected phenomena—colonialism, the development era, the neoliberal globalization project, and sustainable development—according to Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective, 7th Edition, (Sage Publications, 2021), written by Philip McMichael, professor emeritus in the Department of Global Development, and Heloise Weber, senior lecturer in the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland.In a virtual Chats in the Stacks book talk hosted by Cornell University's Mann Library in November 2021, McMichael discusses “the development paradox” that underlies the dominant economic models of our day. Powerful nation-states may aim toward progress and prosperity, yet their policies and governance also produce crises that threaten the health and well-being of millions of urban-dwellers and rural cultures. McMichael also explores the possibilities of a world with more just social, ecological, and political relations.