The bulk of Berry’s new essay collection consists of older pieces, mostly from two out-of-print books, which complement the five new pieces in tone and substance. They are, altogether, the reasoned and insistent exhortations of a man with a cause who, rather than mellowing with age and wisdom, continues to grow in forcefulness and vision. The main thrust of the book is the proper ordering of economics, so that it addresses common human realities instead of the demands of financial systems. To support stable communities, from the household to the nation, economics should put nature foremost (“Virtually nobody,” Berry complains, “regards nature as an economic resource”), succeeded by land use, manufacturing, and consumption, in a four-part structure of valuation. Unsurprisingly to those who have followed Berry’s half-century of writing, reverence and stewardship are key qualities of spirit for such an economy. Moreover, like the great mid-twentieth-century cultural critic Paul Goodman, whom Berry acknowledges here, Berry proposes an agenda of concrete changes in agricultural policy to enable the reordered economy he so cogently describes. Invaluable counsel. --Ray Olson
Praise for What Matters?
"The reasoned and insistent exhortations of a man with a cause who, rather than mellowing with age and wisdom, continues to grow in forcefulness and vision." Booklist
Praise for Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community
"Read it with pencil in hand, make notes, and hope that somehow our country and the world will soon come to see the truth that is told here." The New York Times Book Review
Berry once again carves out a unique position in American social debate: not liberal (he hates big government), not conservative (he hates big corporations), not libertarian (he would balance individual rights with those of the commonwealth), but always sharp-tongued and aglow with common sense.” Kirkus Reviews