CREATION & COMMUNITY:
By: David E. Rockett
This shortsighted vision of the industrialist fails to see less readily tangible value in land as secure homesteads, much less comprehend intangible values to the family or community. Here is where farms are seen and become homes, dwelling Places of independent security and love -- where animals, trees, food and families are carefully nurtured within a balanced complexity for generations. The same can be said concerning ponds, streams and lakes. Here is an important and recurring reality which highlights the distinction between Industrial Modernism and Agrarianism: Agrarianism acknowledges a broad and complex balance-sheet in calculating Net Values -- while Industrialism focuses almost exclusively upon tangibles, readily reduced to monetary values on quarterly statements yielded to market price valuations.
As sympathetic as Agrarians might be, his long-view of sustainability and the conservation of Creation does not, however, make him a modern environmentalist. Granted, a typical environmentalist is a generalisation which is unfair to many sincere and careful people willing to accept the label. Agrarians and Environmentalists might often be advocates for the same side of an issue -- but likely for very different reasons. Be this as it may, Modern environmentalism has generally granted far too many concessions to Modern Industrialism for the Agrarian. This is especially so in two important areas: Science and Government.
Modern Environmentalism embraces a science that is all but identical Industrial science. This is revealed first in its embrace of Darwinism, and then in its natural consequence -- Omniscient Arrogance. It is certainly no news that Modern Industrial science has been Darwinian since the 1880s. Darwin, intentionally or not, bred confidence in a Secular worldview which first gradually, and then aggressively led to Social Darwinism. Rather than the highest, unique and accountable creature of God -- Man is merely an evolved animal with the rational ability to obtain truth simply by examining empirical data. God, and His revelation to man (accepted for almost two thousand years), was no longer necessary for either a worldview or the details of life on earth. Culture became progressively Darwinised, with a new and Naturalist religious faith. As wealthy Robber-Barons of Big-Business competed with the aggressive Bullies of Big-Government in a cultural survival of the fittest, Darwinian Science challenged and assaulted Western Christendom’s anthropology of Man and Creation. This worldview has all but eclipsed the historic worldview of Christendom in Western Civilisation for the past hundred years.
Environmental scientists are as fervent and sincere in their Darwinian faith as any Industrial chemist for Archer Daniels Midland. This is why Environmental scientists can and will emotionally defend their gospel Truth concerning acid rain, global warming, ozone depletion, carrying capacity (of the earth), and population control, as zealously as any Industrial scientist argues that new technologies will save and restore the rivers and lakes his corporate employer has destroyed by toxic dumping, all the while creating new jobs and wealth! Thus, both are cursed with Modern science's hubris. They have certainty, which the embarrassment of changing every decade never seems to humble. They arrogantly assert their assumptions as fact. They know that their guesses and conclusions from the incomplete data they select is Truth. Both are assured of their own objectivity and honesty -- while vehemently denouncing the facts and honesty of the other. Both are arrogant Darwinian empiricists.
It is indeed one of Modern cultures’ great ironies that one faction of scientists prone to worship Nature, has philosophical presuppositions which are fundamentally identical to the other scientific faction prone to despises Nature. Industrial scientists are hard pressed to gush on more rapturously about the glories of machines, appliances and the wonders of technology -- than Environmental scientists do in worshipping before the natural balance of ecological habitats.
Meanwhile, Big-Government is increasingly co-opting both, and is more than willing to sit back and play Brer Rabbit while each proposes their own versions of centralised, consolidated Internationalist Utopias. One can be assured that both groups are well supplied with dreamers and visionaries, all calling upon Centralised coercion of Government power at least at the Federal level. Usually, the visionaries, whether writing for the Industrialists Foreign Affairs, or Mother Jones, are Internationalists with few if any thought to Local communities and families within their respective Utopias.
Agrarianism is distinct in that it seeks a proper reverence for Creation, as a resourceful, resilient and beautiful gift of God’s handiwork. Creation is vast and complex, and Agrarianism is reticent to pretend to comprehend it all. Though we discover and uncover some of the riddles of the created order -- there ever remains for the Agrarian a humility which reminds him that he knows only partially. There is always mystery and unintelligibility in the best of our scientific facts -- if not blatant error. Or, we might say, what can be learned from examining empirical data is not all there is -- assuming we see all that is before us. Agrarians are not Materialists or Empiricists.
Thus, from the beginning, Agrarians have a contrary worldview than either Environmental or Industrial scientists. Man is no mere evolved animal with rational attributes leading him to either worship or desecrate Creation. Man is God’s creature, part of the created order to be sure, but one created in the image and likeness of God, and given a stewardship responsibility over Creation.
Therefore, Agrarians, though they marvel and have a studied respect for Creation, need not embrace Environmentalist worship of ecological habitats, to know that dumping toxic chemicals or raw sewage into our rivers, lakes and ponds is a grossly irresponsible stewardship -- even if it does save Industrial jobs and corporate profits. Nor must Agrarians swallow Environmentalism’s hysteria about population control and the carrying capacity of the planet to surmise that the chemical and mechanical intensity of agribusiness is short-sighted, unsustainable over the long-term, besides demanding a culture of debt, dependency and all that attends to the bigness of Industrialism's grand scales.
Agrarianism seeks a sustainable maturity in Local communities, communities of families who take serious the command to dress and keep the Garden of God as well as loving their neighbors as themselves. Thus, Agrarians would not clear-cut their own forest slopes, or crop-dust vast acreage close to rivers, streams and ponds or neighbors -- even if its is monetarily profitable. This hardly applies the golden rule to my neighbor -- doing unto his property and life, as I would have him do unto mine. Agrarians repudiate an opulent materialism and exploitive consumerism not because of some gleamy-eyed stoic primitivism or Environmentalist fear-mongering. Rather, Agrarians see that such life-styles demand the abuse of Man, Creation and Community. It is not a humble practice of self-restraint, and does not show a mature deference to my neighbor or Creation.
Ultimately, Agrarianism revives that Western and historic Christian view of Creation which itself is included in the redemptive purposes of God. Man is not to view himself either within a mental Gnostic rationalism (which is hostile to the material Creation and his own body), or exclusively within a material eco-habitat which denies transcendence and the Spirit. Both he and the Creation about him is fallen, yet largely Redeemable -- and in this he co-labors with obedient worship and responsible work.
Despite a zest and relish for life in all its fullness, Agrarians shun foolish notions of Utopia -- Industrialist or Environmentalist. This side of Paradise, men live in a fallen and imperfect world, with fallen and imperfect creatures -- like us! Thus, since men clearly are not angles (following Mr. James Madison’s lead arguing for the 'divided powers' of Federalism in The Federalist Papers), social structures should be implemented to thwart and hinder the natural propensities of men. Among these tendencies, Fascist super-states have been most effective in exploiting two: 1) The propensity toward indolence and laziness whereby men take the least responsible path, and form the least demanding habits of life which lead to various forms of slavery, dependency and social welfairism, and 2) The propensity toward aggressive dominance whereby men of initiative seek individual advantage and collective power over others. Together, these lead to vast concentrations of wealth and political power -- thus the immense wealth and power of Internationalists Welfare States, whose tyranny over men, and irresponsibility toward Creation is proving to be a cultural disaster.
Agrarianism seeks to remedy the complicity between Big-Government and Big-Business (a sort of secular Plutocracy) with several measures. The first is a careful Distributist and Jeffersonian vision concerning the structure of property ownership. Simply stated, landed property ownership should be foundationally structured as broadly and as family-oriented as possible. Thus, Agrarians would forbid governments and corporations the right to own landed property! Rather than governments and corporations owning an increasing and higher percentage of the land (now 70+%) individuals and families would hold title to ALL land -- which they might to lease to governments and corporations. Corporate leases should be limited to six years, a family’s land could not be use as collateral on a loan, and there would be no property tax on land. This would accomplish many very positive things and become a giant step in solving many social and cultural problems.
1. Millions more individuals and family would own landed property. This is especially so if laws forbade absentee ownership, or somehow limited the amount of land one man or family might own.
2) The stewardship and nurture of privately owned lands far exceeds that of government and corporate owned land. Agrarians would be foremost in encouraging land owners to improve and make better what is securely their own garden, farm or ranch.
3) Secure landed property ownership engenders an independence and security that breeds responsibility rather than indolence. This view toward future sustainability is far removed from the use-abuse-and-discard mentality of Industrialist pioneering spirit. Families, would be more likely to stay in Place and take root, and build lasting Community.
4) A people secure in their own landed property are less likely to become envious of others.
5) Landed property ownership encourages a citizenry unlikely to become dependent and penniless pawns for governments and corporations when they have the means to provide for themselves.
6) A broad distribution of landed property ownership makes if far more difficult for there to be vast concentrations of wealth.
7) Landed property owners are not as vulnerable to be seduced by the promise of jobs and wealth in vast metroplexes by corporations. Entrepreneurs and small-scale industry would likely flourish.
8) Broadly distributed property ownership would vastly reduce the size and power of cities, governments and corporations.
There are likely other and perhaps more important consequences in such an Agrarian-Distributist-Jeffersonian allocation of land toward families and individuals, and away from governments and corporations. But the above should give us a spark of the vision. (Note, Local and private markets can easily accommodate the sale and purchase of such property -- without the slightest help of federal and even state government bureaucrats.)
A second cultural principle of Agrarianism to be pursued is political decentralisation. Nation-States and City-States should seek to be small and homogeneous -- which respects and enjoys the diversity and independence of all others. God has not make us all the same. We have a vast diversity of races, languages and religious and cultural traditions. The foolish vision of Industrialist and Environmentalist Utopians seek to assimilate us all under one centralised, multi-cultural, authoritarian and Internationalist rule. This global concentration of government power is not only a recipe for tyranny -- it is an assurance of uniformity which crushes any substantive diversity. The unified Modern State has been a master of assaulting the diversity of ethnic, religious, language and culture groups who wish to separate. The centralisation of Corporate Wealth and Government Power are two facets of Modernism which must be opposed.
Thus, the Irish, Scots, Quebecois and Napoleons should be allowed their independence -- as should various Southern States, New England, California, Hawaii and Alaska. The high moral and political principle of Peaceful Secession, contained in The Declaration of Independence should not be repudiated by a grossly inferior Modern Internationalism. A vast array of small independent nations and City-States should and could exit in relative harmony and in various confederation and alliances. Wars, under the Modern Super-State Empires, have been massive with world-wide consequences. Under Decentralisation they would at least be local, temporary and regional if not fewer without a Giant dominant world power.
Another decentralising element would be the stripping of Corporate privilege and favors enjoyed at the expense of Proprietors and Partnerships. Thus, corporations would no longer be granted liability immunity or perpetual legal life whereby to act irresponsibly and accumulate vast concentrations of wealth. With liability come responsibility -- and visa versa. Agrarianism would alter corporate law to force more frequent distributions and liquidations to shareholders and heirs alike -- thereby thwarting the ability to amass wealth over time periods unreachable by families and partnerships. Why should abstract legal creations be devised simply to pander to the super-wealthy who wish to profit from grand projects without liability and responsibility?
Finally, the focus and locus for governmental power, rather than distantly global and Internationalists, should be Local. Local communities should nurture and engender a community spirit which supersedes distant and abstract connections. Local communities should seek to preserve as much diversity and independent self-sufficiency as is practicable -- especially as it relates to essential foods and utilities. Our vast Modern dependencies upon distant and giant corporate suppliers has not proven either wise or virtuous. Nor should we imagine that Federal and Central governments are more likely protectors against corporate bribery, or that State and Local officials are more apt to corruption. As Frank Lawrence Owsley so insightfully noted in I’ll Take My Stand in 1930,
'It is not to be denied that it should be easier for the water-power companies to purchase a state than a national legislature -- as the market price of a Congressman is supposed to be somewhat higher than a mere state legislator...But observe the other side of the question. Big business has more often taken refuge behind the national government than behind the state...to the eternal whine of big business for paternalistic and exploitative legislation such as the tariff, the ship and railroad subsidies. Historically, the vested interests of industrialism have not had any great use for state rights. They are the founders of the doctrine of centralization...It may be suggested as a principle that for the positive exploitation big business has desired large and sweeping powers for the national government.' (pages 86,87)
With NAFTA and GATT, the same can be said of the Fortune 500 G7 corporate attitude toward International centralised coercion. The Agrarian vision can really be rather simply stated by saying that Agrarianism seeks a broad Jeffersonian-Distributist and familistic ownership of all landed property, Political Decentralisation of Modern Leviathan super-states, and a responsible Localialism which takes seriously it’s duty to be careful and responsible Stewards of Creation. This we have not been -- but then again -- we are still alive. To be sure, we must remember our own ignorance and thus press the vision with humility and responsibility. But press we must for as the poet says: “He who in Allegion fields would dwell, does but extend the boundaries of Hell.”