Cheap Food and Conflict
What do the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution and World War II have in common, minus the obvious (such as the tremendous loss of life)? One common thread is food. A bread crisis further agitated the French masses by amplifying the inequalities between the Crown and Church and everyone else. Food protests in Russia had much the same effect. And Hitler’s own need for conquest was rooted, in part, by a thirst for agricultural land – what Nazi propaganda continually referred to as Lebensraum (Cribb, 2010, p14). This chapter explores the links between cheap food policies and conflict. The conflict I am talking about, however, need not involve all-out civil war or an existential battle such as the one precipitated by Nazi Germany where the very existence of numerous nation states was on the line. The types of conflict discussed in this chapter may not be of the same magnitude as, say, either the French or Russian Revolutions (where 0.5 million and 9 million lives were lost, respectively). But they still involve the loss of life, the destruction of natural habitat, the pillaging of scarce resources and the weakening of (often already weak) states. Conflicts don’t have to be of the scale of World War II to cast a long shadow over whoever is unfortunate enough to be living amongst the bloodshed.