If you've perused Twitter recently or happened to tune in to Tucker Carlson last night, then you'll get an idea of the "imminent food shortage" fear waves flying through the population at the moment. This Twitter thread from @GraduatedBen noting warehouse and food plant fires over the past couple of days has especially struck a chord and likely passed over the desk of a Carlson producer who thought it'd make a good segment.
There are a couple of things we can learn from this that aren't related to "food shortages" specifically, but instead, show us how information is being parlayed around the right-wing media ecosystem.
Firstly, and this has become more and more apparent, it's clear that Tucker Carlson and his writers use Twitter and the content churned out by anonymous accounts quite frequently to put together show segments. You'll often see screenshots of tweets from large anonymous accounts on his shows, and in this most recent instance, an entire segment of the show devoted to what a Twitter user noticed after running some basic pattern recognition on some headlines.
Carlson's new documentary series, The End of Men, cobbles together a bunch of ideas around masculinity that have floated almost exclusively around Twitter for the past couple of years. Accounts like the Raw Egg Nationalist, Sol Brah, and while he was active, Bronze Age Pervert typify this renewed interest in men's health. Blended with some of the more esoteric suggestions like "testicle" tanning — which has been resoundingly mocked in the media by a bunch of men and women who probably order UberEats 14 times a week — is a desire to reawaken a healthy sense of masculinity in modern men. Politicians like Josh Hawley have latched onto this rhetoric to restore a healthier approach to masculinity.
Naturally, concerns about the state of modern men have been downplayed and dismissed which only crystalizes the point these men are trying to make to their audience which is increasingly corralled into constricting and feminized institutions where the healthy expression of ambition and desire — well rendered in Lord Byron's Don Juan or Stendahl's The Charterhouse of Parma — is punished and disincentivized. It's clear why Carlson, the most-watched person on television, has latched onto ideas bubbling up from anonymous right-wing Twitter accounts: they are exciting and they resonate.
Now, returning to how information flows through the right-wing media ecosystem.
The second thing revealed by this "food shortage" story is that such information is often presented without context. How many warehouse fires are there annually? How many pounds of food do we typically lose in a year to various disasters — including fires? If you browse the Twitter thread I opened up this salvo with, you'll notice a whole host of dissenting opinions in the comments that note things like "In the U.S. there were approximately 1,240 warehouse fires per year between 2009 and 2013." That bit of information is, of course, absent from the segments and content generated around such a post whose sole purpose is to remind people that the government is out to get you. At this point, such declarations differ little from the more traditional animus directed at God by churchgoers. Everyone's still paying their taxes, aren't they? As a friend once said, "If 10% is good enough for God, 10% is good enough for the government. Now pull out your checkbooks."
The third and final thing this can teach us about the right-wing media ecosystem is that many of the concerns emerge from the media or, in this instance, from Twitter. Yes, food shortages are a concern, but in reality, food shortages should always be a concern. The illusory stability of global supply chains has never been more obvious than during the past two year's pandemic. Warning people to prepare for more expensive food is one thing, but igniting conspiratorial fervor over the government burning down warehouses to create a food shortage is stupid. Personally, I spend all day in the media and have learned to reflexively dismiss any meta-concerns like this that suddenly pop up and demand my spiritual and emotional attention.
This type of rhetoric is endemic to right-wing political thought at this point, and as quickly as a story like a bunch of warehouse fires flares up and causes a cacophony of anger and fear, it will subside and get incorporated into the delusional quilt of modern political rhetoric. At every juncture and with every piece of content one consumes from the media, one should ask himself "How will or could this directly affect me?" instead of the wasteful and distracting "What does this mean?" The machinations of government are among the least mystifying things on this entire planet. You want mystery and intrigue? Grow a tomato plant from seed.
One of the goals of The Pamphleteer is to move past this kind of rhetoric and encourage readers, and anyone in our general orbit, to physically involve themselves in the political process and begin to build self-reliant systems that do nog depend on government or even large, global corporations. Most right-wing political rhetoric pushes viewers and readers to occupy a position akin to a spectator at a football game. The looming food shortage story may be useful in persuading people to think more realistically about where and how they get their food — something we heavily endorse — but beyond that, as evidence of a government conspiracy or some greater political movement against the people, the information is largely useless unless you pray consistently to the Gods of Media for salvation.
Unfortunately, the lesson that most will take from the story is that the government is out to get them — as if they need a reminder — instead of beginning the process of building their own food supply chains or considering that the consumption of fear porn may not be good for their health.
In short, if you want to blunt the impact of food shortages, then start building relationships with farmers and ranchers. Grow some of your own food. Your efforts on this front will be immensely rewarding no matter the scale and ease concerns when you learn that a seed oil distiller went up in flames because you don't eat that sh*t anyway.