Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-xvii

Sometime around my fortieth birthday I began an earnest study of agriculture. I worked quietly on this project, speaking of my new interest to almost no one because of what they might think. Specifically, they might think I was out of my mind....

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Introduction: Why Agrarianism Matters—Even to Urbanites

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pp. 1-20

It would seem, given the massive and unprecedented migration of farmers to urban centers, that a book on agrarianism is out of step with the times. After all, once independent farms are being consolidated into a few corporate conglomerates run by efficiency-minded, bottom-line agribusiness professionals. Driving through the American heartland shows...

Part 1. AGRARIAN PRINCIPLES AND PRIORITIES

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p. 21

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1. THE AGRARIAN STANDARD

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pp. 23-33

The Unsettling of America was published twenty-five years ago; it is still in print and is still being read. As its author, I am tempted to be glad of this, and yet, if I believe what I said in that book, and I still do, then I should be anything but glad. The book would have had a far happier fate if it could have been disproved or made obsolete years ago....

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2. THE RESETTLING OF AMERICA

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pp. 34-51

“Kentucky is not for sale!” declared an agrarian and environmentalist during a discussion of land protection, defying those who would invade his homeland to exploit it for profit. A fine rallying cry—but unfortunately, Kentucky is for sale. Most of the American countryside is privately held, and in America, private land is always for sale. American agrarianism...

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3. THE MIND-SET OF AGRARIANISM. . . NEW AND OLD

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pp. 52-61

I don’t know quite how to skin this cat called agrarianism. A name like “agrarianism” seems to suggest some widely understood, well-defined sort of movement that maybe just needs a new pair of trousers once in a while to stay in style....

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4. SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Definitions, Principles, Policies

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pp. 62-79

The first answer states that utility or happiness should be sustained; that is, the utility of future generations is to be non-declining. People in the future should be at least as well off as those living in the present in terms of the levels of happiness they can experience. “Utility” here refers to average per capita utility of members of a generation....

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5. PLACING THE SOUL: An Agrarian Philosophical Principle

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pp. 80-97

In the opening lines to The Unsettling of America Wendell Berry observes that “one of the peculiarities of the white race’s presence in America is how little intention has been applied to it. As a people, wherever we have been, we have never really intended to be.”1 Though Berry is quick to...

Part 2. Assessing Our Situation

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p. 99

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6. The Current State of Agriculture: Does It Have a Future?

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pp. 101-120

When in the mid-1970s Wendell Berry was writing his singular work The Unsettling of America, the industrialization of agriculture was already well underway. The transformation of agriculture into an industry was enthusiastically endorsed by many agricultural pundits and “experts.” In fact, as Berry tells us in the preface to the first edition...

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7. GLOBALIZATION AND THE WAR AGAINST FARMERS AND THE LAND

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pp. 121-139

I had trained as a quantum physicist, expecting to spend a lifetime solving puzzles in quantum theory. Instead, I have spent the past two decades solving puzzles in agriculture. Why did the seeds of the Green Revolution, which brought Norman Borlaug the Nobel Peace Prize, also become seeds of war in the Indian Punjab during the 1980s, within two...

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8. THE AGRARIAN MIND: Mere Nostalgia or a Practical Necessity?

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pp. 140-153

I want to argue not only for the necessity of salvaging what is left of the agrarian mind and way of life, but also for the necessity of its further development and proliferation. When we speak of the need for such a mind, we are not talking about mere nostalgia, but rather a practical necessity. Agrarianism requires no moral or spiritual language for justification...

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9. ALL FLESH IS GRASS: A Hopeful Look at the Future of Agrarianism

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pp. 154-170

When I try to define or at least describe agrarianism in a way that is useful to me, I think of bib overalls. Bibs are an invention of agrarianism, and like agrarianism, refuse to go away despite all fashion wisdom to the contrary. Bibs, the uniform of the farmer behind his team of horses a hundred years ago, remain the most frequently worn uniform of the farmer...

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10. THE USES OF PROPHECY

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pp. 171-187

For nearly four decades Wendell Berry has written about farming, soil, nature, and community without ever becoming repetitious or boring. He is an agrarian, or more accurately, the preeminent agrarian. From Hesiod to the present no one has represented the agrarian cause with greater eloquence, logic, or consistency. The power behind the writing, however,...

Part 3. PUTTING AGRARIANISM TO WORK

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p. 189

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11. COUNTRY AND CITY: The Common Vision of Agrarians and New Urbanists

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pp. 191-211

Since the end of World War II, Americans have been engaged in a great experiment: the reconfiguration of their built environments around the automobile. Until then, humans had built cities and towns at the scale of the pedestrian. A short walk was the constant measuring rod in Mesoamerican capitals, Roman encampments, old European cities, and New...

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12. NEW AGRARIANS: Local Innovators

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pp. 212-221

A recent rereading of Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America occasioned a reflection on the role and promise of agrarianism in these changing times. The events of September 2001 have helped end the lingering enchantment with the monoculture of the global economy. The consequences of our dependence on the products of a relatively few international...

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13. THE LEGAL AND LEGISLATIVE FRONT: The Fight Against Industrial Agriculture

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pp. 222-236

Over twenty-five years ago Earl Butz gave farmers the advice to “get big or get out,” advice that was part of the outrage inciting Wendell Berry to write The Unsettling of America.1 Today, agrarians who argue against industrial, centralized, corporate-controlled food production in favor of sustainable agriculture question if that advice was (and is) a description of...

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14. PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS IN LAND: An Agrarian View

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pp. 237-258

An agrarian worldview is one that respects the land and its mysteries, that honors healthy, enduring bonds between people and place, and that situates land users within a social order that links past to future. Is there a particular understanding of private landownership that arises out of this perspective, or that might best sustain it? If there is, is it possible for us to...

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15. GOING TO WORK

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pp. 259-266

III. Work affects everything in the place where it is done: the nature of the place itself and what is naturally there, the local ecosystem and watershed, the local landscape and its productivity, the local human neighborhood, the local memory....

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Further Reading

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pp. 267-269

Berry, Wendell. The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry.Edited by Norman Wirzba. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2002. Thiscollection gathers essays from the wide corpus of Berry’s work (includingThe Gift of Good Land, Home Economics, Another Turn of the Crank, and WhatAre People For?), presenting agrarianism as a coherent challenge to indus-...

Contributors

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pp. 271-272

Index

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pp. 273-276