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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
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View the documentEthos
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View the documentLiberals
View the documentRadicals
View the documentPolitical naivete?
View the documentSocial consciousness
View the documentWhat can I do?
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In the West, objectors to the capitalist system have often been divided into two main groups, pejoratively named liberals and radicals. Liberals are basically objectors that look publicly neutral but are morally anti-establishment. Although liberals are considered opposition forces, they often only accommodate capitalist logic: they think that changes within the system are called for. Probably because of this, numerous internal ideological inconsistencies can be found in their reasoning. They believe the world to be profoundly other than it should be, and have faith in the power of human reason to change it. Basically, they are scientific optimists and their 'theory and aims' for a new order are often vague and inconsistent.

There are also those liberals who feel impotent to change the system, although they disagree with it. They tend to be rather cautious in the implementation of actions that will amend the prevailing system. They tend to work in the capitalist bureaucracy, in academic or in think-tank institutes and are often skilled at using their organizations to further their interests. They often even sit in many of the establishment's decision-making bodies.

Liberals often go along with the 'content of thinking' of their class of origin. which is mostly middle-class. They are outspoken in public, although often eminently declarative and formal; they openly denounce the evils of poverty and malnutrition and are, nevertheless often involved in token nutrition interventions; or, they keep inventing new 'more comprehensive', or 'multi-sectorial' approaches to old problems as of these would change the major contradictions and the distribution of power within the system that is causing the problems to begin with. Liberals, for sure, coined the concept of 'nutrition planning', so widely abused as the most rational panacea to solve hunger and malnutrition in the world, only to find out that little has changed for the poor majorities in the world; if anything at all, gaps have tended to widen.

Liberals are often manipulated and used by ruling elites and their pressure groups and they are perceived as no real threat to the system of conservative politicians; they are, therefore, let alone to protest as much as they want following the logic that dissidents are to be incorporated or tolerated, as lung as so doing reduces levels of conflict and increases the system's macro-efficiency.9

The liberal approach still embraces a bourgeois ideology in terms of a politico-social programme Therefore, this liberal political imperative misses the real political perspective too. It ultimately also lacks the political clout to change the system and, consequently. affect malnutrition.