Beyond Capitalism, National Conservatism, and Millennial Nuns

Photo by George W. Ackerman

Going Home with Wendell Berry.” Amanda Petrusich corresponded with Berry and then spent two days in Port Royal continuing their conversation. The result is a rich and wise conversation in the New Yorker.

Plough Quarterly has a new issue that is well worth reading. Titled “Beyond Capitalism,” it includes an essay on John Ruskin, an interview about a cooperative business, a fantastic exchange with Chris Arnade, a polemic by the ever-provocative David Bentley Hart, and more.

In July, Yoram Hazony and the newly-minted Edmund Burke Foundation hosted the National Conservatism Conference in Washington D.C. Among several articles summarizing the discussion, Daniel McCarthy’sEmma Green’s, and Brad Littlejohn’s were quite good.

Farmers and Humanists in an Age of Crisis: Technology, Death, and Resurrection.” Tessa Carman writes at Mere Orthodoxy about the connections between Christian humanism and agrarian thought, between Alan Jacobs’s The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis and Wendell Berry.

Local is Our Future. This new book by Helena Norberg-Hodge may be of interest to FPR readers. The book’s coda is a transcript of a conversation between Helena and Wendell Berry.

Granola.” Gracy Olmstead has begun publishing a newsletter that focuses on “on farms, community, home, food, and books.”

America’s Largest Urban Farm to be Planted in Pittsburgh.” This seems to be an impressive, productive way to use discarded land. (Recommended by Rob Grano.)

Unscoured.” Alan Jacobs writes an alternate ending to the Lord of the Rings. I’m not sure it’s better than Tolkien’s, but it points to some of the dilemmas of our age. (Recommended by Russell Fox.)

When America Smelled the Roses.” John de Graaf offers a provocative narrative of American history, arguing that “it’s possible to look at American history as one of repeating cycles of bread and roses, eras when money and economic values—wealth, growth, and competition—were dominant, and others more focused on beauty, art, nature and cooperation, seeking balance after periods of excess.” Even the Gilded Age provided the soil from which sprang the National Parks, the City Beautiful Movement, and the Country Life Movement, among others.

Walking Away From Facebook.” Brian Miller writes about his reasons for leaving Facebook, despite the goods it sometimes provided: “For me, Facebook ended up providing the opposite of what I had hoped to achieve by living on the land. My goal was to learn much while seeing little; Facebook allowed me to see much while learning little.”

Contour Plowing.” Joe Colyn considers the future of agriculture in Comment. He acknowledges that “when a farmer has big tractors, sixty-foot-wide machinery, huge grain bins, and federal programs that support keeping that system running, it’s really hard to imagine another way to farm.” But Colyn does a good job trying to imagine more holistic agricultural systems.

Behold, the Millennial Nuns.” Eve Fairbanks writes about a surprising trend. But maybe it’s not so surprising that in a culture where meaning and community have been hollowed out, people are finding ways to reclaim these essential goods.

The Return to Serfdom.” Joel Kotkin charts the growing global inequality between rich and poor, and he concludes that we are failing to adequately answer Wendell Berry’s enduring “question of what are people for.” (Recommended by Jeff Polet.)

A Timeless History of Public Education.” Addison Del Mastro reviews Democracy’s Schools: The Rise of Public Education in America by Johann N. Neem and suggests this history reminds us of the challenges that locally-controlled education has long faced.

The Incoherence at the Heart of Trumpist Nationalism.” Damon Linker praises Trump for voicing Anti-Federalist critiques of American centralization, but he argues his nationalist solutions to these problems are incoherent and doomed to failure.


  1. It’s been suggested that one way to grow beyond Capitalism is to shift all taxation to a consumption tax, thereby challenging the notion of consuming with reckless abandon. Yet, there is no real way to ensure this. Those who need to spend money are going to spend money. Advertising will continue, and even if one doesn’t need to spend their money, they are still going to do exactly that when they are influenced by advertising. This creates a regressive system, and even if there is a plan to make it “progressive” by making the tax levels change depending on how much is spent, this would involve an enormous amount of complication. Complication in government revenue collection is already causing an immense burden on the population. As I’ve stated in my ebook, The Next Step, improving society by replacing one tax with a different kind of tax is equivalent to an alcoholic who wants to stop drinking alcohol by drinking a different kind of alcohol. It doesn’t really make sense.

    A better solution would be to increase the amount of non-tax revenue alternatives we already have and slowly replace taxes one-by-one. The more non-tax revenue collected in place of taxation, the more people can keep money where it belongs…in their bank account. This might not account for spending/consuming more wisely, but it would generate something far more powerful that any Porcher should be able to appreciate: More savings and more empowerment. The savings part is obvious, but what is not so obvious (except to governments, likely), is that individual empowerment increases when more non-tax revenue is utilized. This is because non-tax revenue enables people to control the money governments are receiving, based on their choice of spending (similar to a sale tax, in that sense, without the forced payment on anything purchased and complication that follows). The local level is then empowered, as well, when individuals have more control of their government’s funding, whether local, state, or federal. When individuals are empowered, localities are empowered.

    The Next Step – How to Pay for Government without Taxes –

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