Friday, April 17, 2009


Keeping Them Down on the Farm

Here is an interesting article about city people in Japan returning to the land and taking up farming. Naturally they’re surprised by the amount of back-breaking labor there is, despite the use of modern gasoline-powered machinery. And no one should be surprised that many just can’t hack it.

Nevertheless, as we head into the new age of economic contraction, we’ll be seeing lots of people in industrialized countries returning to the farm, and those inured to a city life of ease will find a lot of unpleasant surprises, especially as the conveniences of industrial society start melting away. Moreover, owing to the structure of land ownership and methods of large-scale agriculture that have developed during the period of oil-fueled economic growth, especially since the end of WWII, many people thrust into the countryside will find that preparations have not, shall we say, been made to accommodate them. It’s going to be very messy until new arrangements evolve. People with relatives on the farm will be lucky.

One more observation about that back-breaking work. Farmers are often the butt of jokes. They’re “country bumpkins,” “hayseeds,” and any number of other contemptible things. But we should recall at this time — when we might already be on the verge of a mass exodus from the cities — that the back-breaking labor of country bumpkins around the world and throughout history has sustained human life, culture, and civilization itself. As a tiller of the soil myself, I welcome the city-slickers to the country, and hope they will be humbled and enlightened when their backs are sore, their muscles are aching, their clothing is caked with dirt, and their hands are blistered. For many people, it will be the best thing that ever happened to them.

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