These are the sentiments of a husbandman, a farmer, a forester. You can teach all the agronomic head stuff you want, pile on the degrees; but if you don’t have the heart to see more in land, plants, animals and people than utility or ‘units’ of measured production, then there is something incomplete; something that leads inevitably to Gandhi’s industrial ‘nine-day wonders’ of ‘development’. A burst of exploitative profit which is not real, based on degradation, with the inevitable decline that comes from mining legacies.
You cannot ‘see’ this world in all its fullness and reality through a market or the metaphor of some satanic mill. That allegory of markets and machines has to be discarded, before it kills us all. You cannot govern in a way that nurtures the land, the community, a country, through those mad and twisted lens. They are subservient, have their place beneath a wider wisdom, and can never represent the whole.
If you cannot feel the spirit, if you cannot see the beauty, if you think only in your head, and can only visualise the life supporting functions of land and community as something reducible to numbers, then do us all a favour …..
… don’t call yourself a farmer, or a forester, or a fisher. Call yourself an agri-businessman. Then the rest of us won’t be confused by imagining you might, possibly, have a perspective that’s worth a damn.
Chris Perley is an affiliated researcher at Otago University’s Centre for Sustainability with a philosophy, governance, research, management and policy background in provincial economies, rural sociology and natural systems.
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