zondag 5 februari 2012

The proper business of a human economy is to make one whole thing of ourselves and this world

You can always rely on Wendell Berry (earlier) to deliver the harshest condemnations of society in the clearest and politest language. And he does so in a way that has you nodding in agreement and shivering with doubt in turns. Mr. Berry is certainly never boring though sometimes for the non-American of little interest. Over at Metafilter his essay 'In distrust of movements', at least 12 years old, has been dug up as worthwhile material to read in the light of Occupy and it's easy to see why. Below are my favourite fragments. The pictures are from last November and show the Utrecht occupy camp after being trashed the night before. I was thinking the culprits were vandals but now it may appear they may well be targeted by Wendell Berry inspired radicals.
The Captains of Industry have always counselled the rest of us to be “realistic”. Let us, therefore, be realistic. Is it realistic to assume that the present economy would be just fine if only it would stop poisoning the air and water, or if only it would stop soil erosion, or if only it would stop degrading watersheds and forest ecosystems, or if only it would stop seducing children, or if only it would quit buying politicians, or if only it would give women and favoured minorities an equitable share of the loot? Realism, I think, is a very limited programme, but it informs us at least that we should not look for bird eggs in a cuckoo clock.

Educated minds, in the modern era, are unlikely to know anything about food and drink, clothing and shelter. In merely taking these things for granted, the modern educated mind reveals itself also to be as superstitious a mind as ever has existed in the world. What could be more superstitious than the idea that money brings forth food?

The proper business of a human economy is to make one whole thing of ourselves and this world. To make ourselves into a practical wholeness with the land under our feet is maybe not altogether possible — how would we know? — but, as a goal, it at least carries us beyond hubris, beyond the utterly groundless assumption that we can subdivide our present great failure into a thousand separate problems that can be fixed by a thousand task forces of academic and bureaucratic specialists. That programme has been given more than a fair chance to prove itself, and we ought to know by now that it won’t work.

We need to find cheap solutions, solutions within the reach of everybody, and the availability of a lot of money prevents the discovery of cheap solutions.

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