Dateline: 4 January 2014
When I started this blog back in 2005 I listed one of my Blogger profile interests as "agrarianism" and looked for other bloggers with the same interest. I think there were 2 or 3. Now there are 89. That is an indication that more people are becoming aware of the agrarian worldview.
Another indication of this would be the e-mail I received from a writer who contacted me last November. He wanted to interview me for an article on agrarianism that he was pitching to a mainstream magazine.
I politely declined the interview (I decline all interview requests). I told him I don't consider myself a leader in the "agrarian movement," and I don't want to be. I explained that this blog is the only media outlet I care to participate in.
He was okay with that but wondered why I felt so strongly about not being a leader in the agrarian movement. My exact reply…
"I see agrarianism and the agrarian movement as a bottom-up, decentralized, non-political phenomenon. No leader is needed."
Nevertheless, I do think somebody should step up to the plate and clearly define the words, "agrarian" and "agrarianism," and I feel compelled to do it.
Yes, those words are already defined in the dictionary. But it so happens that some words take on new meanings with the passage of time, and that has certainly been the case with "agrarian" and "agrarianism."
As an adjective, "agrarian" refers to the land; to a rural or agricultural context. That dictionary definition remains unchanged.
When it comes to "agrarian" as a noun, that's where all the dictionary definitions I've seen fall short. They define an agrarian as a person who advocates a redistribution of landed property, or a person who advocates more widespread ownership of productive land. That definition may be historically accurate, but it is inadequate for the current neo-agrarian impulse manifesting itself in the thoughts and lives of more and more people.
While the widespread ownership of productive land (as opposed to such land being owned by a privileged few) is, indeed, part of the agrarian ideal, it is now one small part of a much larger whole.
That said, I now propose that "agrarian," as a noun, be newly and more-properly defined as follows:
Agrarian (noun): A person who is ideologically and personally opposed to the exploitive, destructive and enslaving aspects of industrialism."
To be ideologically opposed means to see and understand. To be personally opposed means to take personal action based on what you see and understand.
The suffix of "ism" attached to a word typically denotes a system of belief or an attitude. Thus, "agrarianism" is the belief or attitude of agrarians.
More simply put, agrarianism is the antithesis (exact opposite) of industrialism.
Personally, I like to think of agrarianism as the active pursuit of an agrarian (adjective) lifestyle, based on one's agrarian (noun) beliefs.
Agrarianism, per se, is not (or, in my opinion, should not be construed as) a religion. It is, however, an ideology that is motivated by concepts of right and wrong, which are ethical determinations, and are therefore based on religious beliefs. Everyone who has opinions about right and wrong (and that is everyone) is expressing a religious belief, regardless of the organized religion they ascribe to, and even if they do not ascribe to any organized religion.
So there are Christian-agrarians (like myself), Jewish-agrarians, pagan-agrarians, atheist-agrarians, agnostic agrarians, and so on.
As a Christian, I see industrialism as a worldly, Babylonian-like system that is continually centralizing and organizing for ever-greater efficiency, control, profit and power. I see industrialism as the destroyer of close-knit, interdependent families and family economies, as well as small, interdependent communities. I see agrarianism as a type of cultural repentance (turning away), and I believe that agrarianism meshes perfectly with my biblical worldview.
So, there you have it….
Agrarian (noun): A person who is ideologically and personally opposed to the exploitive, destructive and enslaving aspects of industrialism.
Go now, and update your dictionary. Or, if you have a better definition, I'd like to hear it.