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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Local exploitation

"I believe that this contest between industrialism and agrarianism now defines the most fundamental human difference, for it divides not just two nearly opposite concepts of agriculture and land use, but also two nearly opposite ways of understanding ourselves, our fellow creatures, and our world." (Wendell Berry)

"THE WAY OF INDUSTRIALISM is the way of the machine. To the industrial mind, a machine is not merely an instrument for doing work or amusing ourselves or making war; it is an explanation of the world and of life. Because industrialism cannot understand living things except as machines, and can grant them no value that is not utilitarian, it conceives of farming and forestry as forms of mining; it cannot use the land without abusing it.

Industrialism prescribes an economy that is placeless and displacing. It does not distinguish one place from another. It applies its methods and technologies indiscriminately in the American East and the American West, in the United States and in India. It thus continues the economy of colonialism. The shift of colonial power from European monarchy to global corporation is perhaps the dominant theme of modern history. All along, it has been the same story of the gathering of an exploitive economic power into the hands of a few people who are alien to the places and the people they exploit. Such an economy is bound to destroy locally adapted agrarian economies everywhere it goes, simply because it is too ignorant not to do so. And it has succeeded precisely to the extent that it has been able to inculcate the same ignorance in workers and consumers."

Note: The ideas presented in this piece apply beyond its "traditional farming vs agribusiness " focus. The ideas are especially applicable to places like Ligonier, whose economic base in tourism - not to mention its country lifestyle - is currently threatened by destructive industrialism on the horizon... . Get involved, Ligonier; your township supervisors are poised to sell you down the river. (All but one of them have leased their land to the very industry they are deciding whether or not to approve of...can you say "conflict of interest"?)