Collapse Volume VII, 147–174


The New Alimentary Continuum


On 25 October 1832, President Andrew Jackson signed an order that was to replace the rations of rum, whiskey or brandy, as they had been given to his soldiers before, with sugar and coffee (Army General Order No.100). Jackson’s Executive Order was recognized by Congress in July 1838. Since the 1820s, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun had already warned against the harmful effects of alcohol for field operations, favouring coffee instead, yet the actual replacement of alcohol with sugar and coffee, at the rate of four pounds of coffee and eight pounds of sugar per 100 rations, cannot merely be seen as a negative response to alcohol consumption. The change from alcohol to caffeine was the first sign of a new economy of violence which increasingly controls the world today. It is an economy that is all about speeding up the strategies and tactics of the now omnipresent battlefield…