12 September 2005

Wendell Berry and the agrarian vision

Two recent Comment articles address the ideas of the American farmer-writer, Wendell Berry: Life in a Machine The Crisis of Modern Agriculture, by Wilma van der Leek; and The Cultural Mandate and the Spirit of Agrarianism, by our own Richard Greydanus. Ms. van der Leek argues, with Berry, that agriculture needs to be undertaken on a more human scale, based on "sustainable, stable, locally-adapted, land-based economies." While affirming much of this vision, Mr. Greydanus argues, by contrast, that there are blessings to be found in trans-local phenomena, citing the historical examples of empires which built roads and successfully kept the peace within a large geographical area. Could it be, recognizing the cultural mandate given to human beings at their creation, that trans-local political and economic phenomena are indeed already human scale?

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