The Agrarian Writings of
O.E. Baker
(Part 4)

Dateline: 2 April 2016 AD
(CLICK HERE to go to Part 3 of this series)

This is a continuing series, highlighting some quotes from Oliver Edwin Baker, as found in the 1939 book, Agriculture in Modern Life.


"It is my conviction that dependence upon the cities for financial credit, for standards of living, styles of behavior, attitudes, and ideals is a dangerous thing for the farming people. "


"A major cause of rural poverty in the United States lies, in my opinion, in the migration of farm youth to the cities. But I see no solution of the problem of rural poverty in the cessation of that migration, unless it be accompanied by the rise of village and home industry."


"Unless the farmers and farm women of the nation ... encourage their children to love the farm and the farming people—turn their faces toward the home community instead of the distant city—they will continue in all likelihood to lose the ownership of the land.

Indeed, they may lose more than this. They may lose the activities of the family in the protection and education of the children and youth, and provision of security in illness and old age—in fact, they have been gradually losing these functions of the family during many years. They may lose also the church as a social institution, they are losing it now. They may lose even the democratic organization of the State. As the responsibility of the family decreases, the responsibility of the government increases, and unless the people feel themselves to be a part of the government and direct its policy, the spirit of democracy declines. 

The millions of unemployed in the cities, and the millions more who are apprehensive of unemployment, are a danger to democratic government. The conditions of living and the philosophy of life in the cities are not conducive to the integrity of the family or the preservation of democracy. It is becoming clear that the land is the foundation of the family, and that the family is the foundation of the democratic State.


"What are the values that rural people esteem? In my childhood they were willingness to work hard and for rather long hours, industry, thrift, frugality, charity, loyalty, particularly to the family. There may have been some changes, some amelioration, since my childhood, because of the infiltration of urban ideas and the trend toward indulgence in luxury; but among the real rural people I should expect to find these characteristics highly esteemed today. Undoubtedly centruies of human existence wringing a livelihood from the soil had shown that these traits were essential to a production adequate to support schools and churches and provide the amenities of civilization. Even today state universities  honor master farmers and homemakers. I think I am not mistaken in saying that the highest praise you can give to a man in rural areas is to say that he is a good farmer, a good father, and a good citizen; and the highest compliment to a farm woman is to say she is a good mother and homemaker."


"In the new urban culture a different set of virtues is developing. The talk is about material standards of living, about purchasing power, higher wages, fewer hours of labor, over-production, unemployment, relief. The women in the cities, particularly in the middle and upper classes, often talk about clothes and bridge parties and other entertainments. Many men think they must have a new automobile every few years. Both men and women try to "keep up with the Joneses." People apparently judge each other by what they spend, more than what they produce. 


To go to Part 5 of this 7-part series


Kyle Sonnier said...

Mr. Kimball,

Those were very powerful quotes. Mr. Baker sure saw all this coming down the road before most others did. He was right on the money. As I nod in agreement while reading this, I have to sadly admit that I'm pessimistic. How, apart from God, will we regain the institution of the family, the rural community, the churches? How will we be able to, apart from God, retain our representative democracy?

I would assume it starts within each family and like Mr. Baker suggests, encouraging your children to have a love for the land. The problem with that is that the world is a powerful lure, shiny bait that is hooking our kids and leading them away. It is hard to compete.

This is some heavy, thought-provoking reading this morning before church! God bless you, Mr. Kimball. Please keep up the good work.

Kyle Sonnier

Jennifer Williams said...

Yes, I agree with the above commenter. Mr. Baker is so on-target and ahead of his time with his writings, but I see the world in a downward spiral away from traditional family values and community.

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Kyle,

Thanks for the thoughtful comment. We are clearly seeing the collapse of traditional values, proper-functioning families, and civil government. The economy too, but that is not as serious as the other things. And you are sooo right about the worldly culture luring our children into its snares. It is a rare young person who fully understands the crisis this nation faces, and who is wise about not conforming to wayward modern cultural expectations. My family is not immune. It can be powerfully discouraging.

To some degree the lure of the world system has consumed people and their children for several generations, but I do think we are rapidly approaching some sort of significant apogee.

I'm of the mind that we who see this crisis need to create what Kevin Swanson calls "Islands of freedom" in our homes. I don't know if Kevin sees these islands of freedom as agrarian, but I do.

Along these lines, I've been thinking for months about writing about God's remnant. I've come to a new realization about the biblical remnant, and how it applies to our time. Stay tuned for that. I think I'll just condense my thoughts on the matter and get it done... soon. And if I do get it done, it will provide a clear course of action for concerned Christians—at least it will for me. :-)

clint said...

We've heard the word "remnant" reverberating in more than one place lately. The Lord must be highlighting this concept. Looking forward to your thoughts on the subject when you have the opportunity to write them down.

Unknown said...

Wonderful, but how does a farm stay in one family for generations without being split up into tiny slivers. Consider that each generation has four children - what do the other three do? Join the army? Become a hired hand on the farm they were raised on? Population growth has to be factored in.
I was raised on a farm with three brothers and one sister, when Dad died we sold the farm because we had all moved off. We sold to farmers in the area whose children had all moved off.
What to do about population growth over generations?

Stressed in the city