The Meat of the Issue

For many years I have maintained that the Left-Right labels often conceal real motivations. In particular the Left, with its cries for the downtrodden and increasingly Byzantine PC "vulgar Marxism" of class, gender and race, conceals a deep discomfort with working people, hatred of sexuality, and tacit racism. The pseudo-intellectuals at its helm want obedient workers and soldiers, and people of other races properly grateful for all that is being done for them. They have learned not to whip the slave; they want a house slave safely defined by quotas, government grants, and predictable rhetoric.

This leads to some bizarre official rhetoric on its own. Blacks who see the virtues of smart work and free-enterprise are defined as not black enough. Women who love a real man are traitors to their sex. Working class fellows who make a little money are promptly demonized as monopolists and simultaneously – and this is revealing – denounced as "nouveau riche."

Indeed, there is that sure index of classism, repeated confusion of one's lifestyle with wider social reality, in many pronouncements. Much of the hostility to guns is arguably due to a pseudo-intellectual elite being unfamiliar with the simple value to poor people of being able to hunt. That deer in the freezer is often the difference between comfort and a sense of self-reliance and the welfare check. An examination of support laws is another example and shows how far into cloud-cuckoo-land the bureaucratic Left really is.

In Pennsylvania, for example, a person with a monthly income of $800 must turn over one-half to support one child. The child needs $400 and can't get along, the working class parent, somehow, can. They may not deduct the payment to qualify for welfare; neither can they pay a lesser amount directly. The government takes a 10% administrative fee for enforcement. When I asked a judge what sense this made, she railed that the masses must be forced to follow their responsibilities. Libertarians and Classical Liberals are familiar with this phenomenon. They have long noted that making money or defending one's rights is denounced simultaneously as a conspiracy of the powerful and the selfish concern of the greedy untutored. With such an atmosphere, it should be no surprise that even diet should be politicized. Diets favorable to thin intellectual persons of passivity would in time be pronounced as PC; diets of people who act would be limited.

Some action on these lines has indeed occurred on the periphery of social discussion. The undoubted wonders of whole-grain bread are being touted as a cure-all. There is talk of a fat police. Alcohol, once justly viewed as a food from the time before refrigeration, is not only viewed as a legal vice, but the federal government actually forbade grants to study the healthful effects of unadulterated French wine. Don't eat anything with a face, we are told ( though presumably drafting it for national service is OK.)


Curiously, governments favor grain-based diets also. Historically, grain is easy to control and frees up people for its armies. A little known fact is the sometimes feminizing and debilitating effect on the general population of grain. Experts have noted corn is an allergen to many people, with many claims of creating debilitating conditions of fatigue, manic-depression, suggestibility, and violent behavior in many. It, with sugar, is now ubiquitous in the US diet; even drink mixes and many unlikely foods have it added. It has been hypothesized that corn destroyed the Ancient Amerindian populations that depended on it. Even wheat has detractors.Today, many people are surprised to learn that wheat is more direct. It contains carcinogens not removed in refining. It protects itself as a plant in the wild by raising estrogen levels in animal populations, accomplishing a slow poisoning. Mice fed white bread develop cancer. In mice fed whole grain the males have shriveled testicles while the females begin to dominate and display lesbian behavior.

There was one time this was a popular high school project in Europe. Not any more. Some years ago a scientist told me he had attempted for many years to get funding to study marginal toxicities in grains. Were grannies' tales on the pacifying and stultifying effect of too much grain in the diet true? After a decade, he gave up. He commented the anti-grain studies were getting old and would disappear from view. Perhaps the Ancient Roman Emperors knew exactly what they were doing, feeding their possibly narcotized populations wheat bread and violent circuses.

Indeed, worse, calls that we get rid of meat and depend on grain may today constitute a new enclosure act, as governments discuss forbidding ownership of seed grain so populations must go to the government for food yearly.

The only question in my mind was when, how, and how far this would be made explicit. The antecedent forces from lifestyle arrogance to actual considerations of self-reinforcing power are certainly all there.

The time is now. The Atkins Diet is being denounced as a conspiracy of – shudder – greedy, Libertarian, working class free-enterprisers. Following the Atkins Diet is being denounced by academia as both declasse and political oppression.

Some years ago Dr. Atkins investigated the claims of old diets, such as the Salisbury Diet of Salisbury steak fame, that some people were physically more designed to consume meat. In such people, a large part of the population, he discovered that it was carbohydrate intake, by causing insulin swings, that caused the storage of unhealthy fat. Bread, pasta and potatoes, even small amounts, were thus out. For such people, meat is a matter of survival and good health, while grains and vegetables are pernicious. Their fat and cholesterol levels would plummet by ingesting, not ignoring, fats and cholesterols. Curiously, he was initially greeted as a genius by New Agers, since Vedic medicine, which looks to body types and then much in vogue, had for centuries noted that heavyset, naturally thin, and naturally muscular people have different dietary requirements and metabolisms.

As the evidence poured in that government diet recommendations were like the knowledge of Captain Smith of the Titanic, all wrong for the new kind of ship he was piloting and working insidiously against him, Dr. Atkins found himself investigated and denounced as a nut. Now notice that Dr, Atkins is not saying the diet works for everyone. He is an experimentalist. No matter. It became clearer that the very suggestion that meat is good transgressed some unstated political boundary of social heresy. It was only needed for the right line of dismissal was found.

In the meantime I knew that it was a matter of time for the wheels to click when I had the following conversation. The attorney F. Lee Bailey, once the darling of Leftists, had expressed favor for the Atkins Diet. It worked for him, he announced. This was at the time he was being identified as a crypto-capitalist for defending OJ, who had been accused of slaughtering his ex-wife while being inconveniently black but, fortunately for those who like to pigeonhole such things, rich. Some time thereafter, Bailey had difficulties with a judge over whether an alleged drug dealer's fee to him was subject to forfeiture. "See!" said a political observer who for some time had been trying to convince me that there was something wrong with Bailey based on his loss of unwanted pounds by munching steak and pushing away the pasta, "He is involved with drug dealers!" she said in triumph, "I told you he was no good."


Now it is official. An article in the LA Times, syndicated to many papers, by Teresa Ebert and M. Zavarzadeh, warns that Hegelian class warfare is on a different plate, so to speak. These authors have recently garnered praise for their respective works "Ludic Feminism and After," and "Seeing Films Politically." Though Hegel himself limited his dietary pronouncements to the philosophical hope of "eines gutes bier" at a new post, his dialectic successors are not so shy. "Diets are political," begins the article, and are so divisive "that US Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, in an almost Hegelian scenario, " wants to do "impartial" studies of the Atkins diet " putting an end to the civil strife."

Diets threatening The Last Remaining Superpower with civil strife? For once, I rubbed my jaded eyes, but Glickman is a man who knows the times he lives in. He guides himself by academic experts who now reveal "people eat class and not food," not social semiotics, we are cautioned (natch) but determined by "social relations of production: Do they buy other people's labor and make a profit from it…?" This, perhaps,as opposed to confiscating it and then still being unable to feed the poor or balance the budget.

The Atkins diet, we are warned, is "divisive." It is really not the result of a dedicated scientist fighting the Establishment or the personal experience of many who venture outside the official wisdom of the day. No. It is "class politics appearing as personal tastes in food…." Now lest you expect, as I warned at the beginning, that the Atkins Diet would then be denounced as the plaything of the idle rich, with the deep internal logic of class-hatred of the Left it shifts gears: Atkins, it implies, is proletarian free choice run amok.

"The Atkins diet is a proletarian diet," with "forbidden fats" and, oh the scandal, "not upper class." It is an attack by advocates of "real food" against "invented, fake food." In quoting a New Yorker piece, Stephen King is brought into the fray, to testify that meat is "working class." Such diets, we are warned, are suspiciously "satiating," "not "elaborately complex," do not require special "calculation," and is offered "in a realistic style" and shaped by what, the authors tell us helpfully, Bertolt Brecht called it "coarse thinking."

Who is being oppressed here? What is the result of these worried concerns about the Atkins Diet at Agriculture, where they perhaps even now are attending seminars on how the Atkins Diet threatens the Government with "a realistic style" by all those ungrateful proletarians who just can't act "upper class" as defined by the glitteratti? The wonder of collectivist thinking is it soon parodies itself. The victim of the Atlkins approach is not the poor, the starving, sexual politics, or the spotted owl. Rather, it is the "dominance of the bourgeoisie." Indeed, it performs according to "Marx and Engels," a splitting into two super-classes of "advanced capitalism."

Note what makes these proletarians the subject of ire: realism, seeking results, satiation, the refusal to be involved in the complexities of learned numbskulls.They are not upper class; they reject the fake. They must be stopped. In a final Daliesque statement, the authors warn that we are bringing on the Marxist Apocalypse. "In eating food, we eat our class." The world the authors implicitly praise is a Leftist Dickensian nightmare, where the Left becomes the capitalism it so misrepresents: proletarians put back into their place, learning to respectfully tug their locks and say "more sir" to their bureaucratic caretakers. That, presumably, would not be coarse thinking.

Lest one doubt, all this is contrasted to the PC Ornish Diet, which advocates nibbling through the day like Hannibal Lecter on vacation, good to the last Fava bean. Penurious eating by "savoring" like a Zen Monk – a starving one – a tablespoonful of yogurt here and a carrot there, that is the true way from "civil strife." The authors enthuse: "Eating becomes a gaze into one's soul…meditation…a Zen moment…exquisitely satisfying…an extended Proustian moment." I must be blunt. I have not read such language of making the best of self-denial like a repressed wallflower since I was persuaded to read a Fabio love novel, or, well, Proust.

Consider: if the government gets control of the seed corn as has been proposed, and rigid population controls are enforced, we may have many of these enjoyable Zen moments on 1000 calories a day. Political film, so studied by the author of the article, may take a new meaning as popcorn and hot dog stands are shut down at the movies and an egalitarian stalk of celery is measured out to each. Meanwhile, be prepared for growing official attacks on the Atkins Diet and the simple right to eat undisturbed without looking over your shoulder, unless this is placed to public ridicule where it belongs. In an age of a growing health police oppression, the last thing they want you to think is that rich foods are good for you. The truth is the Department of Agriculture, government science funding, is the only "diet" being politicized here, and their little Hegel too, annoyed at all those proletarians ignorantly upsetting their half-stated master plans.

My analysis in the meantime? One piece of free diet advice that never fails, where you eat as much as you want, and will become quite strong and healthy. And that's no small potatoes. Try this: There is no such thing as a free lunch.

September 27, 2000

Michael Gilson De Lemos, known as MG, is Coordinator of the Libertarian International Organization. He believes with Jefferson that, along with Gibbon, Cicero and Tacitus should be read by all grade-schoolers. In Latin.