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A Good That TranscendsHow US Culture Undermines Environmental Reform$
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Eric T. Freyfogle

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226326085

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226326252.001.0001

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The Love of Wendell Berry

The Love of Wendell Berry

(p.36) Two The Love of Wendell Berry
A Good That Transcends

Eric T. Freyfogle

University of Chicago Press

For many, the Kentucky farmer and writer Wendell Berry has provided the surest conservation voice in the United States over the past several decades, especially for his appealing agrarian visions, his attention to local foods, and his calls to live ethically on and with nature. This chapter looks critically at Berry’s writings, finding much appeal in his attention to interconnections, his admission of human limits, his affectionate bonds with nature, and his calls to sink roots and act responsibly. The deficiency it probes has to do with Berry’s resistance to collective action, particularly through governmental means; with his near-exclusive focus on change within individuals as such. Berry’s community leaders show no interest in collective or political action at the community level, much less higher. Berry’s call for love is thus not attached to any plausible mechanism for widespread change. The needed critique of today’s culture thus may need to extend to the kind of individualism that Berry embraces. Reform calls not for Berry’s form of Jacksonian democracy but for something more like civic republicanism; not for Berry’s modern Epicureanism but for an updated Stoicism that stresses civic engagement.

Keywords:   agrarian, civic republicanism, collective action, epicurean, local foods, stoicism, Wendell Berry

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