Localism in the New York Times, Wendell Berry on Dairy Farmers, and More

Photo by George W. Ackerman

Trump’s Enemy is Not Your Friend: Why We Shouldn’t Defend Amazon.” Thomas Frank doesn’t like the false dichotomy that Trump’s recent attacks on Amazon seem to pose. Do we really have to choose between liking Trump or liking Amazon?

This … seems to me an almost perfect representation of the wretched choices available to Americans these days, as well as the megadoses of self-deception we are swallowing in order to make them. It is everything that is wrong with our politics, and it extends from the most sweeping matters of state right down to the individual reader. … We have the billionaire Republicans, with their bigotry and their war on all things public, and the billionaire Democrats, with their oblivious ideology of globe and technology. To the common people, assembled in all our majesty, the momentous question is posed: who do you hate more?

The Dead End of the Left? Augusto Del Noce’s Critique of Modern Politics.” Carlo Lancellotti considers Augusto Del Noce’s response to a 1960s debate among European Catholic intellectuals. He concludes with a sketch of Del Noce’s political agenda:

This would include an idea of education that is not just utilitarian but respects the deeper human need for beauty and knowledge as ends in themselves; respect for work as an expression of the human desire to build and to serve, not just a tool at the service of profit and economic growth; love for what Simone Weil called “rootedness”—namely “the real, active, and natural participation in the life of the community which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations for the future”; a passion for freedom, not as empty self-determination, but as protection of the most specifically human sphere, which is precisely the religious dimension, the search for meaning.

The Era of Fake Video Begins.” Franklin Foer writes about the dangers posed by manipulated videos and virtual reality. It’s going to get increasingly difficult to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Even more worrisome, “The collapse of reality isn’t an unintended consequence of artificial intelligence. It’s long been an objective—or at least a dalliance—of some of technology’s most storied architects.” Too bad you can’t eat crops grown in virtual reality topsoil (despite what players of Farmville may think).

Can ‘Localism’ Restore Sanity to U.S. Politics?” Gracy Olmstead articulates the hope a localist vision can provide in the pages of a not-so-localist newspaper, The New York Times. Take and read.

A Renaissance on the Right.” Speaking of The New York Times, David Brooks seems to be speaking in defense of localism as well:

Goldberg is right to fight tribalism on the left and the right. But you can’t reweave a fragmented nation by appealing just to Lockean individualism. Gratitude is too weak a glue to hold a diverse nation together. Renewal will come through the communitarians on the right and the left, who seek ways to improve relationships on a household, local and national level.

Patrick Deneen, a Wolf in Wolin’s Clothing?” Dimitrios Halikias argues that, for all their apparent differences, Deneen and Sheldon Wolin share much common ground.

Authors take the environmental movement to task.” Eric Anglada reviews books by three authors—Wendell Berry, Paul Kingsnorth, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson—who warn environmentalists not to advocate for simplistic solutions. As Kingsnorth puts it, “destruction minus carbon equals sustainability” is a terribly reductive formula.

Dairy farmers need solutions for overproduction issues.” Wendell Berry weighs in on the damaging ripple effects caused by historically low milk prices. Berry calls for a cooperative solution to the problem of overproduction:

The person interviewed in these several articles who makes clear and admirable sense is Gary Rock, a dairyman, one of Dean’s terminated, in LaRue County: “He would like to see a base program across the nation that sets production quotas in line with market demands.” He thus sees through the problem to its solution. He is advocating the only solution to the problem of overproduction. Kentuckians don’t have to look far for an example of the necessary solution, for we had it in the Burley Tobacco Growers Co-operative Association. That organization effectively controlled production, maintained fair prices, and gave the same protections to small producers as to large ones. The history of the Burley Association disproves, as its membership conscientiously rejected, the “inevitability” of the destruction of family farms by agribusiness corporations.

(Recommended by Tom Murphy.)

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