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close this bookEssays on Food, Hunger, Nutrition, Primary Health Care and Development (AVIVA, 280 pages)
close this folder5. Viewpoint - Ethics, Ideology and Nutrition
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentEthos
View the documentIdeology
View the documentLiberals
View the documentRadicals
View the documentPolitical naivete?
View the documentSocial consciousness
View the documentWhat can I do?
View the documentTool
View the documentEstablish links
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Political naivete?

Many moralists think that politics is 'dirty' or not a 'virtuous' activity. That is probably why they insist in quixotic actions against the injustices of the prevalent social system - which they also, more often than not, condemn - without realizing that in the end they are being instrumental to its maintenance. They assume decision makers are rational, righteous and pious and will bend in front of hard scientific evidence or react to outrageous injustice, Liberals, on the other hand, pay lip-service to needed changes, even applauding radicals' interventions. But they lack, perhaps as much as the moralists, the political education or what is needed to work out ways to overcome malnutrition in capitalist societies. The fight against hunger and malnutrition is eminently a political and not a technical struggle. Technology is hardly the adequate point of departure to achieve the deep structural changes needed to end hunger and malnutrition; the right political approach is the better point of departure. Nutritionists are rarely trained as social scientists and therefore use social theory implicitly rather than explicitly.11 This is where the challenge lies in searching for the missing ideological link.

Liberals will often shy away from Marxist ideology except perhaps for its more egalitarian principles which remain, nevertheless, vague to most. They will even shy away from Marxism's scientific elements of interpretation of social phenomena, not believing that the same scientific method their minds are tuned in to is the one being applied to the social sciences. Therefore, more often than not, they have not even chanced to study the principles of historic and dialectic materialism, although the possibility always exists to reject its interpretations, assertions or theories if they do not conform to the readers' patterns of rationality or weltanschauung. The latter passive attitude is probably a remnant of the liberal scientist's (anticommunist) bourgeois upbringing. It takes an initial conscious and decisive step to bridge any ideological gap.

The average applied scientist probably does not spend much time either in screening or purposely studying the basic theoretical elements of the bourgeois ideology or capitalist political economy to better understand how the system he lives in works. Radicals will probably more often go through this exercise to better adjust their strategies and tactics.