Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Eating people is wrong?

Last time I was writing about the dilemmas of population control probably facing a population who were isolated, with uncertain food supplies. But maybe I should have backtracked a little and discussed what would have have happened to the food supplies before they were so alone.

In the Sefuty Chronicles I had set up a world ripped apart by war. Catastrophic wars in fact. Due to climate change and the decreasing availability of natural resources. I had supposed that there would be mass movement of displaced people, fleeing from growing deserts, minor wars over land control, drowned or salt poisoned land, floods and other climate disasters such as increased hurricanes, tornadoes, storms, rain and so the list goes on.

The world, at this moment, hosts billions of people. The global population growth is beginning to slow, it doesn’t feel like it but, individually, nation population growth is slowing down and in some cases almost stopped. There will be many more millions to accommodate as those who are young now reproduce, however this will be offset to an extent by the huge aging cohort dying. There is still the capacity to feed us all, if we become more responsible about resources.My scenario has discounted this responsible behaviour. Pre- chronicles the world has run out of resources and global starvation faces everyone.                                                                                        

Mass migration produces fear in the populations facing the arrival of so many extra mouths to feed, if resources are already reduced fear is easily translated into violence. There would little welcome. Equally there would be fear in the fleeing masses. Survival becomes all, if strength is left, feeding yourself and your family will incite violence. Small localized wars would soon spread to larger more violent conflict as governments mobilize to pacify their own and to deter outsiders.

Already all over the world discontent and rage is being generated over much smaller numbers of immigrants and refugees. Nothing on the scale I am talking about in Sefuty Chronicles, we can still hold out a hand to aid, but more and more the hand wants to only aid, not to take in, the displaced.

The richer nations will pour in money but not open up homes.
Normal human nature?

So pre-Sefuty Chronicles has been global war; the north against the south. The richer nations against the poorer. The more technology against the less industrialized. However, eventually the minerals and natural resources  which often came from the exploited south, ran short for the north. Machines ground to a halt and the north too faced massive food shortage.
The North may not dry up, but good harvests are not guaranteed.

Governments fell as populations sensed their coming doom and toppled them. Anarchy not far behind. Law and order breaking down and nations unused to violence in their own territory left to fend for themselves.

This has all occurred before the Chronicles are written; I have suspected that those who delight in, or mind not, violence would soon gather in the available resources once government was gone and rationing would be a matter up to highest biders, favours and who you know. 
Those who consider themselves law abiding, gentle, unable to hurt others would die or become as the others. Famine is a dreadful event. Starving not a pleasant death. Self survival, survival of your family becomes all.

During the 1930s, multiple acts of cannibalism were reported during the Soviet famine in the 1930s (Yaroslav Lukov 2003)
Survival was a moral as well as a physical struggle. A woman doctor wrote to a friend in June 1933 that she had not yet become a cannibal, but was "not sure that I shall not be one by the time my letter reaches you." The good people died first. Those who refused to steal or to prostitute themselves died. Those who gave food to others died. Those who refused to eat corpses died. Those who refused to kill their fellow man died. ... At least 2,505 people were sentenced for cannibalism in the years 1932 and 1933 in Ukraine, though the actual number of cases was certainly much higher. ( T. Snyder 2010 Bloodlines. Europe between Hitler and Stalin)
Cannibalism is documented to have occurred in China during the' Great Leap Forward', when rural China was hit hard by drought and famine.(Jung Chang Wild Swans: three daughters of China)
In modern history there is the documented account of the ill fated Donner Party trapped in cold, blizzard and helplessness in the mountains of North America, also of the survivors of an air-crash in the mountains of South America. During the 2nd World war cannibalism was reported from Russia, especially at places such as Stalingrad under siege for years, so long that all the domestic, wild animals and even the vermin had been consumed. German and Japanese troops, cut off from their supply lines and with no sources of food to keep them alive, no doubt there are many other events of a similar nature , when the world is such turmoil survival becomes all.

In The Gulag Archipelago, Soviet writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn described cases of cannibalism in 20th-century USSR. Telling about the famine in the 1920s in Povolzhie he wrote: "That horrible famine was up to cannibalism, up to consuming children by their own parents . . . ‘
Cannibalism has a long history not always proved, but common enough for it to be one of humanity's practices usually in times of famine, or for appeasements of angry gods.
Sailors adrift on the salty sea, shipwrecked or air wrecked survivors with limited hope of rescue, adverse weather marooning a population, nationwide famines when help is not forthcoming from governments all have thrown up this last taboo and broken it down.

I have placed evidence of cannibalism in the Chronicles, evidence discovered in the bones found 50 years after the event, at the time when the security of my nation broke and vanished. Cannibalism then, rumours of cannibalism, within the mined rings as well as in the land left unprotected.
Those left behind within ‘rings of explosives’?, yes, I can see some kind of cannibalism being practiced after successive bad harvests. Not always, for most it is a taboo to far.

But. . .but. . . but
Could I eat another?

My love of meat when younger was so strong friends would joke they wouldn't want to be shipwrecked with me, however, although I state that it would be foolish to die if there was a dead body next to one - could I?

Would I be able to kill another to feed?
If it was just me?
If my family needed the food?

Could you?

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