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Agrarians, Greenies, and Goreites

To the Next Generation

Since its publication in 1930, I’ll Take My Stand has never been out of print, and each succeeding generation produces new disciples, though sometimes with a slightly different take on the original document.  In recent years, some have seen in the Agrarian critique of industrial America a precursor of Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance and the Unabomber’s tracts.  The resemblance is, at most, superficial.  The current “green movement” is either an ideology or a partisan political strategy.  Sometimes, it is difficult to tell the difference.  The Agrarians were not abstract thinkers, utopians, or devious partisans.

They and most of their followers came from small towns and farming communities.  What they defended was not the Old South “aristocracy”—which they said never really existed—but the small family farm, a number of which they drove past whenever they had a good reason to go to town.  It was the New South advocates who were the utopians; and the utopia they fantasized—a region coughing smoke and churning out jobs and dollars—turned out to be the worst nightmare of their philosophical heirs, the Goreites.

Al Gore grew up in a posh hotel in the nation’s capital, where he sat in a corner and listened while left-wing Democrats talked about the egalitarian society they planned to establish, just as soon...

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