This blog is a mash-up of journalism, local, regional and national, letters to the local paper by me, letters to the local paper complaining about me, bad press, good press, criticism, well founded and especially not, response to that criticism, expurgated sections of ECO-Fascists, and observations short and long, sacred and profane. I’ve always thought of myself as suspended midway between writer and journalist, an uncomfortable position at best, but nonetheless where I hang. The real world and acting within it – fascination is too weak a word, but unhooking myself and diving deeper for longer periods of time than that granted to any working journalist or even traditional non-fiction writers, gives me a deep satisfaction, amounting almost to gratitude. Put another way, to know something to its plumbed depths? That, for me, is everything.
Since the Greeks, and no doubt before, from time to time, country people have been forced to call the city to account. Digby Baltzell points out that, historically, the struggle has been between aristocrats, landed gentry and yeoman farmers and the patricians of the cities, who believe they are better suited to determine the future of the countryside and its people than those who live on and love the land. During the early 18th century, an ancestor of mine joined with Swift, Samuel Johnson and other thinkers of the time to oppose Disraeli’s Corn laws, forming the Country Party of disaffected Tories and Whigs. They fought what they called the Court party, made up of rent seekers, urban merchants and the usual suspects – interchangeable with those today who live on other people’s money. Country people, gentry or yeoman were libertarian, self-reliant, individual. They wanted a frugal and efficient government, low taxes, and personal liberty. The court was just that: courtiers, their allegiance available for the right price, the case remaining the same whether in the 1st, 14th, 16th, 18th or 21st century. Bolingbroke was exiled before the fight was over – the stakes were higher in 1715 – but those ideas shared by Burke, Locke and others informed in part, what was to become the American revolution.
Plus ca change. While the fight is no longer carried on by aristocrats and gentry, those of us who live in and love the country find ourselves in one hell of a fight. Outmatched at every turn and facing more money than we can imagine, the ideas remain the same: liberty, limited government, low taxes. Policy makers have long thought that the actions of governments supersede the ancient ways of the land and the knowledge of those who live on that land. They could not be more wrong, and after many decades of interference, the land itself is suffering, no more or less than those who live on it. Culture is more fragile than nature and rural culture, the founding culture in every country but city-states is breaking apart. This could not be more wrong. That connection between people and their lands should be, must be unbreakable. The ground on which we stand, the food we eat, the water that brings life, the air we breathe trumps any marketplace, no matter how elevated.