of the Bourgeois Romantic:
fašade of US Altruism, the biotech industry & those that buy
By Jessica Long
-- - - Those in favor of globalization please raise your
hands! Does this include you? If it does there is good
reason to believe that you are indeed a bourgeois romantic.
What is a bourgeois romantic and why should you care? In
the era of globalization, bourgeois romantics serve as the
propellants of international corruption while operating
under an altruistic fašade. The ingenuity of the bourgeois
romantic paradigm is that the individual is often unaware
that he/she falls into the category at all. As of late,
bourgeois romanticism has evolved as a social trend.
Hollywood stars, politicians, NGO workers and civilians of
all sorts propagate the system fully unaware of its
adversary effects. Its popularity stems from its
appeasement of both liberal “hippie” movements and
corporate/political interests. Liberals and Conservatives
are both subject to its seduction. So what truly defines a
bourgeois romantic? And what are the tell-tale signs that
you might be one? Let us take a look at the definition a
little more thoroughly.
Bourgeois romantics are neo liberals who
emphasize free market methods in lieu of a better global
civil society. They envisage a global market composed of
different ethnicities and cultures in which all will be able
to trade and share resources in a mutually beneficial
manner. They are the CEOs who give a portion of their
profit to Southern aid programs. They are the corporate
industrialists who argue modernity and technology will
enhance Southern economies. They are even the so-called
“humanitarians” that coerce third world markets into the
global market arena promising to ameliorate mass poverty.
They are everywhere. They exist in all forms, colors,
professions, religions and political spheres. In short, a
bourgeois romantic is a hypocritical capitalist: one whose
intentions are socialist but whose priorities are
capitalist. They are the “good intentioned” proponents of
What they refuse to acknowledge is that free
trade is anything but free. Although it allows the
global North free market range, it leaves the global South
in shackles. Free trade is a modern euphemism for
unrestricted global capitalism. We call it free trade
when national and corporate interests unite to increase
their profit margin while simultaneously manipulating
international trade pacts. We call it free trade
when established institutions like the IMF or World Bank,
whose sole purpose is to aid the poorest of nations, operate
under the biases of wealthy nations.
However, it is not just the WTO, IMF and World
Bank that attempt to blur the line between corporate and
humanitarian interests. The biotech industry is one of
massive concern for the global community and definitely
worth taking a look at. However,
it is not surprising that very little dialogue regarding the
issue exists within the U.S.
This is largely due to the fact that humanitarian efforts
are being used to shield the ploy of corporate profits.
Corporations view the global South as an
market, whose dependency on foreign aid makes them
convenient need-based consumers.
Many aid and development programs, under the guise of
federal governance, are largely aligned with corporate
Monsanto, the world’s
leading chemical company, invests millions each year by
creating GM foods resistant to their best-selling weed
The super objective of Monsanto would be to make pesticides
commonplace among agricultural production and consequently
maximize their product sales. The problem now is that
Monsanto has found a market in hunger and starvation.
In attempts to play off the humanitarian sympathies of other
nations and individuals, Monsanto launched an aggressive
publicity campaign (1998) in Europe featuring the slogan,
the Harvest Begin.”
This campaign promoted the research and utilization of GM
foods to feed the famished nations of Africa.
The response by the global South was one of outrage!
Why? After all, from a bourgeois
romantic’s perspective: food is food! Especially for the
starving and impoverished peoples of Africa! Ah, but a
closer look at the true effect that these multi-national
corporate interests have on developing economies explains
the severe resistance to GM crops.
The Institute for Food and Development Policy (IFDP)
addresses three destabilizing factors that posit GM foods as
a threat to the global South.
These include 1) corporate welfare schemes, 2) the denial to
the right of information, and 3) an inappropriate response
Corporate welfare schemes are funds established to assist
the poor, but in turn, serve the pockets of the corporate
multinationals. The IFDP asserts that
dollars are being used to turn countries in the South into
alternative markets for GE products, particularly through
foreign assistance programs.”
While USAID and the World Food Program continue to bask in
the facade of altruism; they vehemently oppose the labeling
of GM crops. In 2004, excessive US trade sanctions cost
Thailand $8.7 billion US dollars- forcing them to begin the
integration of unmarked GM crops.
The mass quantities of shipped food are not labeled
it difficult for farmers and sustainable communities to
survive. The patent rights of GM crops promote a dependent
domestic economy. If a farmer attempts to plant GM seeds
without consent, s/he is essentially violating the patent
rights on Monsanto’s
In some cases, GM seeds have blown over into independent
farms and put farmers at legal liability to compensate the
corporate patent-holders. Not only is this a legal and
economic stress, but it contaminates organic farming
methods. Therefore, patent rights are viewed as an
adversary to sustainable progress and economic stability in
developing countries. This
theory relies on two very false premises: that hunger is
caused by insufficient food and that potential health
benefits of GMOs outweigh that of their risk. However,
research shows that the world pumps out more food per person
than ever in history. It is definitely not an issue of food
shortage. Thus, the problem is not the production of food,
but the ability for the impoverished to access it.
Development programs continue to exploit the famished and
impoverished countries of developing countries by coercing
them to perform actions against their will: the acceptance
that counteracts the sustainable development process.
Once GM food crosses the borders, developing countries will
be unable to escape the financial power of corporate
imperialism on their agricultural economy.
Africa, is one example, in which a collective group of
developing nations stand united in its opposition to the
biotech industry and its exploitation of struggling nations. Catherine
Bernini, Executive Director of the WFP exemplified the
capitalist ideal when she said,
We use it to change behavior.
Some may call that bribery. We do not apologize.”
Meanwhile, the rest of us sit at home- complacent with the
idea that our tax dollars are doing what we cannot-
assisting those that really truly need it.
The fact is there are two casualties in this
one being the exploited economies of developing nations and
the other being us, the citizenry. However, we are only
casualties in our convictions- equally exploited to serve,
in turn, as the advocates of such misleading
programs. How do we escape such false convictions? The
American people, complacent in their isolationist views of
the world, rest assured that their government (one of the
people, by the people and for the people…or
so they say) is taking care of the
issues at hand. It is far past the time to re-educate
ourselves. Not on just the issues pertaining to our own
government and the big issues of war and conflict- but even
in our international role as
Foreign “aid” programs are no more than misleading titles
that alleviate the capitalist guilt of our citizenry while
surreptitiously building entire markets on the strife of the
third world. Do you still wonder why the rest of the world
holds so much contempt for America? Bourgeois Romanticism
has permeated past Foreign Aid efforts and even covertly
into our non-profit sectors and religious missions. So,
before you rest morally appeased on your stance with
globalization, ask yourself: Have you escaped the deception
of the Bourgeois Romantic? Or are you, like so many others,
merely one of them?
Jessica Long graduated
Western Washington University with a degree in Political
Science. When she's not travelling the world, she makes her
home in Washington State.