Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 432–444 | Cite as

Civil society, corporate power, and food security: counter-revolutionary efforts that limit social change

  • Peter J. JacquesEmail author


Food is produced, processed, packaged, transported, and sold in a stable, organized system or food regime. The current food regime is focused on calories empty of substantial nutrition designed primarily for the growth of capital and corporate power, fostered through the lax, often corporate-designed, regulatory environment of neoliberalism. The neoliberal food regime is responsible for systemic malnutrition and erosion of the ecological preconditions for food production, as a regularity of the system itself. Consequently, a main line of food vulnerability is the political system that insulates the current food regime from social forces demanding change. This insecurity is contrary to the public or larger human interest, but this unsustainable system remains in place through a stable arrangement of government prescriptions that follow corporate-elite interests. To understand this structural problem, this essay examines the power of the food industry which requires the manufactured consent of civil society. The paper finds that counter-revolutionary efforts, which are anticipatory and reactive efforts that defend and protect capitalist elite from social change, stabilize the neoliberal food regime through covert tactics meant to undermine public interest critics and activists. As a result of these elite-led interventions, true civil society has become less powerful to articulate a public interest that might otherwise intercede in the operation and structure of the food regime. Thus, one leverage point in this political problem is the capacity of civil society, once it is independent of corporate interests, to remove consent to an abusive system and to debate and demand a food system that neither systematically starves whole groups of people nor destroys the ecological systems that make food possible. Building food security, then, requires recapturing a semi-autonomous civil society and eliminating domination of the corporate elite and replacing it with politics aligned with a public and ecological affinity. Scholars, educators, and the public can reduce the food vulnerability by becoming aware of corporate interests and creating strategic alliances to form a new system with more humane and ecological priorities.


Food security Gramsci Counter-revolutionary movements Social change Food regime Neoliberalism 


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© AESS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

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