Thursday, April 26, 2012

Agrarian Life

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Travel back to a period of simplified everyday life, when candles were considered luxury items and grocery stores were nonexistent. Agrarian farmers built their entire houses without store bought materials, and survived off of only what they produced. Children were seen as workers, not as an extra expense, and played a major role in production. The question is, why would someone want to live this primitive life in an age of growing industrialization?. For the Southern Agrarians, farming was a spiritual practice that was seen as the only occupation that allowed people to live free. They believed that industry and trade made one dependent on a boss, and caused greedy personalties. As generally self-sufficient people, small farmers had little use or interest in economic development. The ideas of factories and mass production caused national excitement that turned Agrarian ideals into a minority belief. The struggle to maintain traditional values and expose industry as a form of evil is expressed by Andrew Nelson Lytle in “The Hind Tit,” while Wayne Gard defends the advantages of industrialization in “Agriculture’s Industrial Revolution.” Both articles convey strong arguments, each supporting the viewpoints over the debated issue of Agrarian versus Industrialization.


“The Hind Tit” is an attempt by an Agrarian farmer in the 10s, to use morality in order to persuade those blinded by the temptation of possible wealth to take a closer look at the negative side of industrialization. Lytle attacks the claims that machines are more beneficial in farming by saying “But since a power machine is ultimately dependent upon human control, the issue presents an awful spectacle men, run mad by their inventions, supplanting themselves with inanimate objects. This is, to of follow the matter to its conclusion, a moral and spiritual suicide, foretelling an actual physical destruction”(0). He also acknowledges the slogans that were being forced into the heads of farmers at the time, such as “Industrialize the farm; be progressive; drop old fashion ways and adopt scientific methods”(04). Lytle’s response to these anti-Agrarian words is “These slogans are powerfully persuasive and should be, but are not, regarded with the most deliberate circumspection, for under the guise of strengthening the farmer in his way of life they are advising him to abandon it and become absorbed”(04). On the allures of the luxuries one can acquire from the wealth of industrialization, Lytle asserts that the agrarian farmer would lose the already established fortune of life. He says, “They also tell him that he (meaning his family) deserves motor-cars, picture shows, chain store dresses for the women-folks, and all the articles in Sears-Roebuck catalogues. By telling him how great is his deserving, they prepare the way to deprive him of his natural deserts”(06). Also, Lytle tries to appeal to the reader by painting a picture of daily life as an Agrarian farmer by highlighting a family bond. He explains each persons duty and how the process is dependent on teamwork. Lytle ends his argument by saying “Any man who grows his own food, kills his own meat, takes wool from his lambs and cotton from his stalks and makes them into clothes, plants corn and hay for his stock, shoes them at the cross roads blacksmith shop, draws milk and butter from his cows, eggs from his pullets, water from the ground, and fuel from the woodlot, can live in an industrial world without a great deal of cash”(44).


As a farmer struggling with the industrialization issue, I would have been compelled to preserve the Agrarian lifestyle after reading this article. The clever language used to portray industrialists, such as “false prophets”(06), is more convincing then simply calling someone a liar. He speaks with urgency in his voice, causing the reader to feel that it is their responsibility to take action. Also, the use of analogies to compare the farmer turned industrialist, with a craftsman throwing away his tools, is a proficient way to demonstrate the aftermath of taking on modern methods (06). Lytle is writing to male farmers who are all in the same predicament. For this reason, he does not censor his words out of concern with offending the other side. Also, the fact that he is living the life he boasts, and shows extreme knowledge on being successful, gives the author confirmed credibility.


Wayne Gard uses specific examples and the opinions of others to prove industrialization’s inevitable control over the farmer’s industry if they do not modernize. In a study to compare corporation farms to individual farms, Gard states, “This study showed that the large-scale farms had advantages in superior management, more efficient utilization of machinery, specialization of labor, buying and selling in whole sale quantities and, in some cases, reduction of overhead expense”(854). Gard assumes that the pure accomplishments of larger farms should convince people like Andrew Lytle to change their lifestyles. He states “ . . . some individual corporation farms have succeeded to an extent that greatly alarms their opponents and encourages those who as soon as possible would shift farming to a factory basis”(855). However, though clearly in favor of the benefits, Gard acknowledges the view point of those who do not. He quotes President Hoover during his acceptance speech of the republican nomination in 18 by saying he “assured the nation that farming must continue to be an individualistic businesses of small units and independent ownership”(856). He also quotes the pro-industrialist Henry Ford “The moment the farmer considers himself as an industrialist with a horror of waste either in materials or in men, then we are going to have farm products so low priced that all will have enough to eat, and the profits will be so satisfactory that the farming will be considered as among the least hazardous and most profitable occupations”(857). Gard basically feels that “To affect lower production cost there must be more highly industrialized farming, if not corporation farming”(857).


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Wayne Gard, however clearly not as passionate on the issues as Andrew Lytle, provides sufficient evidence that the world is coming to depend more and more on the interests of industrialization. In 11, this article was written for a public newspaper, causing the author to remain open minded in order to appeal to all readers. Using arguments based on proven experiments makes the benefits of industrialization undeniable. Also, choosing to quote prominent role models of the time allows his reasons to be more charming. When compared with “The Hind Tit,” it is clear that “Agriculture’s Industrial Revolution” was written more for reporting purposes, rather than to promote rebellion.


Once just a growing popular idea, industrialization now influences our everyday life. There are very few people today who are able to make a profit off of a small farm, and even those who are successful, rarely decide to be completely self sufficient the way the Agrarians were. In the past, America has been criticized and called a ‘corporacracy’ for allowing large corporations to gain too much power. With large scale corruption such as Enron, and terrorist attacks for our evil modern ways, it’s possible to think that maybe the Agrarians were right.





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