Monday, December 04, 2006

Out of your car, off your horse cont.

by Wendell Berry

10. Geographically, the sources of the fossil fuels are rural. Technically, however, the production of these fuels is industrial and urban. The facts and integrities of local life and the principle of community are considered as little as possible, for to consider them would not be quickly profitable. Fossil fuels have always been produced at the expense of local ecosystems and of local human communities. The fossil-fuel economy is the industrial economypar excellence, and it assigns no value to local life, natural or human.

11. When the industrial principles exemplified in fossil-fuel production are applied to field and forest, the results are identical--local life, both natural and human, is destroyed.

12. Industrial procedures have been imposed on the countryside pretty much to the extent that country people have been seduced or forced into dependence on the industrial economy. By encouraging this dependence, corporations have inreased their ability to rob the people of their property and their labor. The result is that a very small number of people now own all the usable property in the country, and workers are increasingly the hostages of their employers.

13. Our present "leaders"--the people of wealth and power--do not know what it means to take a place seriously--to think it worthy, for its own sake, of love and study and careful work. They cannot take any place seriously because they must be ready at any moment, by the terms of power and wealth in the modern world, to destroy any place.

14. Ecological good sense will be opposed by all teh most powerful economic entities of our time, because ecological good sense requires the reduction or replacemenet of those entities. If ecological good sense is to prevail, it can do so only through the work and the will of the people and of the local communities.

15. For this task, our currently prevailing assumptions about knowledge, information, education, money, and political will are inadequate. All the institutions with which I am familiar have adopted the organizational patterns and the quantitative measures of the industrial corporations. Both sides of the ecological debate, perhaps as a consequence, are alarmingly abstract.

16. But abstraction, of course, is what is wrong. The evil of the industrial economy (capitalist or communist) is the abstractness inherent in its procedures--its inability to distinguish one place or person or creature from another. William Blake saw this two hundred years ago. Anyone can see it now in the application of almost any of our common industrial tools and weapons.

17. Abstraction is the enemy wherever it is found. The abstractions of sustainability can ruin the world just as surely as the abstractions of industrial economics. Local life may be as much endangered by those who would "save the planet" as by those who would "conquer the world." or "saving the planet" calls for abstract purposes and central powers that cannot known--and thus will destroy--the integrity of local nature and local community.

18. In order to make ecological good sense fo rthe planet, you must make ecological good sense locally. You can't act locally by thinking globally.


to be continued...

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