Agrarian Thoughts

Dateline: 31 July 2005

I have recently acquired a copy of the book Agrarianism in American Literature, edited by M. Thomas Inge. Though I have not read much of this book yet, I have skimmed it and it looks good. I found the introduction to be particularly insightful where, in an attempt to define the word “agrarian,” the editor introduces some “thoughts which are generally to be understood as “agrarian.” I think you will appreciate these Agrarian Thoughts:

1. The cultivation of the soil, the mother of all arts, has within it a positive spiritual good and instills in the cultivator such virtues as honor, manliness, self-reliance, courage, moral integrity, and hospitality. These folllow from his direct contact with physical nature, the medium through which God is directly revealed and which serves to remind man of his finite nature and dependence on God. It is an occupation singularly blessed by God, since He was the first husbandman, having wrought order and creation out of confusion and chaos, and it is the first employment ordained by Him of Adam, the first man.

2. Only farming offers complete independence and self-sufficiency, because regardless of the state of the national economy (provided the farmer and not the bank owns his land), his basic needs of food and shelter are provided through his cooperative relationship with nature. The standard by which an economic system is judged is not how much wealth or prosperity it produces, but how effectively it encourages freedom, individuality, and morality.

3. The farmer has a sense of identity, a sense of historical and religious tradition, a feeling of belonging to a concrete family, place, and region, which are psychologically and culturally beneficial. His life is harmonious, orderly, and whole, and counteracts tendencies in modern society toward abstraction, fragmentation, and alienation.

4. Industry, capitalism, and technology, and the thriving metropolises they have created, are often destructive of independence and dignity, and encourage corruption, vice, and weakness.

5. Agricultural communities, where the brotherhoods of labor and cooperation bring about increased understanding, provide a potential model for an ideal social order.


Rick said...

Last night I was reading through Richard Weaver's Southern Essays. In one of them he mentions that Aristotle said that the only solid foundation for a democracy was a farming population--because farmers are properly occupied with their own concerns, and consequently have no interest in imposing their will on (or obtaining benefits from) other people.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kimball,

This is totally off-topic but I wasn't sure how to get in touch with you and I need a quick answer. We are dehydrating some of our garlic in our old black car with a sunroof. I placed the peeled cloves on a screen but my husband wondered if we should have sliced the cloves. What do you recommend?

Mrs. Davis

Herrick Kimball said...

Mrs. Davis,

You should slice the cloves. Thin slices. I used to do it by hand but started using a food processor with the slicing blade, and that is much faster and much easier. I've heard an old vehicle makes a great dehydrator.

Mrs. Davis said...

Thank you. We shall see how this car dehydrating works. The funny thing is, it is sitting at his office with broken brakes so all of the other doctors (who drive BMW's, etc.) will see this old black car with a screen of veggies! It will be such an education for them ~smile.

Mrs. Davis