Some quotes from Victor Davis Hanson's "The Land was Everything"

Much thanks to Rade for loaning his copy to me...I'm totally fired up to read it. One of the things that I really like about Prf. Hanson - aside from his being of like mind with me on MANY issues besides agrarianism - is that he is in fact a part-time "farmer" like me. Sure he is so on a much larger scale than I, but he has a foot - sadly - in both worlds. Anyway...the main thrust of this work is the notion that we truly are losing something very special as we go on losing family farming and family farmers. Here are some great quotes from the introduction:

The labor of muscle, unless directed to the narcissistic obsession with the healthy body, is deemed unfortunate, whereas the work of the tongue is alone prized – that the two might be combined and become greater than either is ignored or forgotten. P.6

We have lost our agrarian landscape and with it the insurance that there would be an autonomous, outspoken, and critical group of citizens eager to remind the rest of us of the current fads and follies of the day. P.7

To Crevecouer, like Aristotle before, man was tame only to the degree he was occupied, independent only as long as he owned property. Only through agriculture was the citizen in constant observation of how terrible loomed the animal and human world about him: man realizes the dangers of his own natural savagery only through his attempt at physically mastery of the world about him. Many men and women who undergo this experience provide a check on those who do not. Such farmers question authority and yet follow the law; they are suspicious of the faddishly nontraditional, yet remain highly eccentric themselves; they vote and work for civic projects and group cohesion, and yet tend to be happiest when left alone, these who historically have been democracy’s greatest supporters by not quite being convinced of the ultimate wisdom of democracy. P.11

He also goes on to be a little critical of suburbanites who "nobly" and with "good intentions" try and recapture the agrarian least to the degree that they think they will be able to save the lifestyle. He even pokes fun at us as to how we start using countrified terminology such as "Howdy, folks, and you all"...all three of which I have been using now for a year or so. [blush] Well at least I can appeal to the fact that I GREW UP hearing these (and more) all the time.

By the same token, he commends those who strike out to try and live a more self-sufficient life, a life worked and lived close to the land.


Kassianni said…
hmmm. these thought require much more pondering for me to render a cohesive reply, but...
but my first impressions, thoughts, are of the conflict between the farmer and the nomad.
half of my ancestry is aboriginal. our conflict with the colonizers lies in their constant striving to tame the land. their overall success (as the dominant culture) lies in their ability to do so.
but, having done so, they have also altered nature.
cut down forests. penned animals. brought disease. (cf.guns, germs, and steel, by jared diamond).
agrarianism as the natural order is not something that I intuit.
although I can appreciate it in many aspects. Especially eco-agrarianism, inasmuch as it can exist in our day.
Kassianni said…
ps: didn't I say it was going to be non-cohesive? :P
fdj said…
they have also altered nature.
cut down forests. penned animals. brought disease. (cf.guns, germs, and steel, by jared diamond).
agrarianism as the natural order is not something that I intuit.

"altered nature" is an interesting concept. As a part of nature can we really alter it? Or put another way, do alter it in any more UNnatural a way than any other creature which is a part of nature?

In some way, ALL animals - I think - "alter nature" (however we might choose to define that) in some way, and sometimes in pretty significant ways. Many animals, by their very way of life, are terrific vectors for horrible diseases. Spiders have a rather efficient - albeit gruesome - method of storing food and I am rather certain if Lions could figure out how to corral gazelles they would do so.

I'm not sure that nomadic living being usurped by agrarian living is something to be lamented. Nomads were trying to tame nature as surely as the farmer was (and continues to), but the Nomadic life was one that could not hope to hardly ever win. I'm rather sure it is a very rough life, which is not in and of itself to be avoided...but...I digress.

Consider: an intelligent farmer and agrarian stands to be a far better caretaker of his environment than a nomad. The piece of land upon which he will take to heart and hand the Genesis command to care for is the very land whose health will nourish him and his family. There is no take and move on attitude to be had here. This is your take VERY good care of it or you will starve.

Besides this, Hanson is also arguing for the idea that our family farmers are a sort of conscience for America that is presently evaporating. It is an interesting concept and one that will show up in later posts here I suspect.

Popular Posts