Location: Out West

An old-fashioned guy grappling with new-fangled ways.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Everyone should read something by Gene Logsdon..

I have a peculiar habit. (Actually, my wife would say I have several peculiar habits, but that's another post) Every spring, just before planting time I revisit 'The Contrary Farmer' by Gene Logsdon. For me, this book epitomizes the raucous, joyous, defiance that ought to characterize us cranky agrarian types. Logsdon has been on my reading list since the early 70's, when I happened upon a copy of 'Two Acre Eden' at the local library. I read it clear through in one sitting, and then asked the librarian if I could buy it. She said no, so I just kept checking it out. I had it all summer, using it as a blue-print for the family garden that year.
There's always been this kind of practical wisdom in Logsdon's writing; but one thing I really appreciate as well is the astute and often hillarious economic and political commentary that frequently characterizes his books. Here's an example:
"If I were to say, for example, that capitalism and socialism are in practice more alike than they are different, most people, certainly most economists, would object strenuously because we have been taught that the two are absolutely opposed to each other. But both accept the same money system that the industrial revolution encouraged: 1. The use of pieces of paper or metal to represent real goods. 2. the acceptance of interest on these pieces of paper and metal as essential to 'growth' (keep in mind that hardly four centuries ago, in a pastoral world, all interest on money was considered usorious and immoral); 3. the right of authority to manipulate interest rates -- changing the definition of usury whenever self-serving authority desires it; and 4. the necessity of an expanding credit system that a government or bank can turn on or off at will in an effort to cover its own ass. Both capitalism and socialism, in other words, use money to centralize control over society. They differ only in who the central authority should be: socialism wants it to be the public sector, and capitalism wants it to be the private sector."
- "The Contrary Farmer" by Gene Logsdon, pages 18,19. Copyright, 1993.
The first time I read this, I was scandalized. Why, didn't this bumpkin know that capitalism characterizes a godly economy and socialism an atheistic one? How dare he impune the good name of St. Adam Smith, Lord High Keeper of economic orthodoxy? Well, it took about 10 years, because I'm a little thick, but I finally understand his point. Sure enough, pure capitalism concentrates wealth, and therefore power, into few hands just like pure socialism. And of course, this is the age-old human tendency in modern garb, isn't it? The universal human desire is to re-build babel and make a name for ourselves apart from God, and it continues today under the leadership of Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve. Which, ironically, is not 'federal' at all, and has no 'reserve'.
If you want to know what water is like, don't ask a fish. The fish has grown up in water and doesn't give it a second thought. We are like that fish. We've grown up in the present system, and so have a hard time imagining any other. I suspect this, more than anything else, is what biblical agrarians are engaged in; the hard work of imagining a different economy, a different 'system', a different way of life; and then living it out.


Blogger Floyd said...

I agree Randall Gerard! Logsdon is fun to read and stirs the passion for the abundant life of peace and plow.

I know what you mean about the entrenched worldview which equates capitalism to God's way. As if God would be pleased by a system that equates the voice of the consumer with the voice of God.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Randall Gerard said...

Thanks Floyd. I'm glad you're still hanging around. I've been meaning to thank you too, for writing about today's common mis-interpretation of the parable of the talents. Getting that one right can be a paradigm shifter for sure.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Allen Shropshire said...

Couldn't agree more! I need to read "All Flesh Is Grass" at least once a year. Don't know if you've found this yet, but this link takes you to Gene's blog. Just scroll down below his picture for his posts. Enjoy.

2:52 PM  

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