Definitions

subsided

Agrarianism

[uh-grair-ee-uh-niz-uhm]
Agrarianism is a social and political philosophy which stresses the viewpoint that the cultivation of plants, or farming leads to a fuller and happier life.

Philosophy

In the introduction to his 1969 book Agrarianism in American Literature, M. Thomas Inge defines agrarianism by the following basic tenets:

  • Cultivation of the soil provides direct contact with nature; through the contact with nature the agrarian is blessed with a closer relationship to God. Farming has within it a positive spiritual good; the farmer acquires the virtues of "honor, manliness, self-reliance, courage, moral integrity, and hospitality" and follows the example of God when creating order out of chaos.
  • The farmer "has a sense of identity, a sense of historical and religious tradition, a feeling of belonging to a concrete family, place, and region, which are psychologically and culturally beneficial." The harmony of this life checks the encroachments of a fragmented, alienated modern society which has grown to inhuman scale.
  • In contrast, farming offers total independence and self-sufficiency. It has a solid, stable position in the world order. But urban life, capitalism, and technology destroy our independence and dignity while fostering vice and weakness within us. The agricultural community can provide checks and balances against the imbalances of modern society by its fellowship of labor and cooperation with other agrarians, while obeying the rhythms of nature. The agrarian community is the model society for mankind.

History

In the 1910s and 1920s, agrarianism garnered significant popular attention, but was eclipsed in the postwar period. It has been revived somewhat in conjunction with the environmental movement, and has been drawing an increasing number of adherents. Recent agrarian thinkers are sometimes referred to as neo-Agrarian and include the likes of Wendell Berry and Gene Logsdon. They are characterized by seeing the world through an agricultural lens. Although much of Inge's principals, above, still apply to the New Agrarianism, the affiliation with a particular religion and patriarchal tendency have subsided to some degree.

Similar social movements

Agrarianism is not identical with the back-to-the-land movement, but it can be helpful to think of it in those terms. The agrarian philosophy is not to get people to reject progress, but rather to concentrate on the fundamental goods of the earth, communities of more limited economic and political scale than in modern society, and on simple living--even when this shift involves questioning the "progressive" character of some recent social and economic developments. Thus agrarianism is not industrial farming, with its specialization on products and industrial scale.

Famous agrarians

The name "agrarian" is properly applied to figures from Horace and Virgil through Thomas Jefferson, Transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, the Southern Agrarians movement of the 1920s and 1930s (also known as the Vanderbilt Agrarians) and present-day authors Wendell Berry, Gene Logsdon, Allan Carlson, Victor Davis Hanson, and Michael Bunker.

The leader of the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union, Aleksandar Stamboliyski, is the only president of an Agrarian Party to have been the prime minister of a one-party agrarian government, from 1920-1923.

Agrarian paries

See also

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