I like the idea of self-sufficiency. I’m not opposed to trade, but I am opposed to the kind of economic centralization that makes continental populations dependent on just a handful of corporations for their incomes, their entertainment, and their food. Outside of our large cities, entire towns are employed by one or two employers that ship their goods all over the world. Everyone in the town buys all they need at Wal-Mart, who can sell for less because their size gives them certain economies of scale. Their radio stations are all Clear Channel, their TV stations are Sinclair, and their movies are all Disney. Neither liberalism nor the modern strain of conservatism sees this as inherently problematic. Agrarians do.
As an agrarian, I think that industrial, centralized agriculture is a bad thing, compared with numerous family farms. I think we would be better off if a higher percentage of our population were farmers. The ideal of self-sufficiency isn’t limited to agriculture, though. It’s a theme that runs through most of what my kind of agrarianism advocates. Freedom has an inverse relationship to dependency, and that relationship is why private property is so important. Property isn’t a consumer good, it’s a means for insuring independence. Democracy has an inverse relationship to centralization. The responsibilities of democracy are more willingly discharged when people know that their votes matter. They matter more when the political decisions are made locally, rather than nationally or internationally.
Agrarianism does not imply a distaste for cities. It doesn’t equate to Luddism, or a desire to go backward in time to the last historical moment when family farms were the norm. It does mean that we might progress furthest by recognizing those elements of our past that are superior to what we have now, instead of holding to the irrational belief that newer is always better. Agrarianism does mean a critical evaluation of new technology, and a realization that some new technologies are more harmful than helpful.
Agrarianism isn’t monolithic, either. Just like conservatism has several factions, agrarianism can be roughly divided into two major versions. One, the one that I don’t subscribe to, is a socially traditionalist philosophy that emphasizes religion and hierarchy. Russell Kirk is a good example of this version of agrarianism. The other strain, the one that I like, is best exemplified by writers like Wendell Berry and Edward Abbey. This strain emphasizes localism and respect for the earth. ~Glorfindel of Gondolin (Carey Cuprisin)
There are points in Mr. Cuprisin’s remarks that I naturally don’t agree with, and he definitely has little time for paleoconservatism as such and says as much, but his agrarian sentiments expressed above recommend his blog to paleo agrarians, traditionalists, “crunchy cons” and various and sundry reactionaries. His Tolkienian enthusiasms are also much appreciated. The permanent link to his blog on Eunomia will be the first in the category of specifically agrarian blogs.