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What Matters?: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth Paperback – May 18, 2010
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"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
Top Customer Reviews
I have to say that initially some of you who will read it, may feel that Wendell Berry is bringing in Religion in this book and you might be put off by it. But I strongly suggest that you put that judgement aside and keep on reading. It will get more and more fascinating. It will also become clear what he means by the Kingdom or God or Greater Economy of which we are just a part. And this greater Economy has an order far more intricate than we can ever know. I love the example of topsoil - the foundation of our food source and how it is being decimated by modern agriculture, erosion etc. The magic of the topsoil is its ability to hold water well and yet simultaneously drain well. And its strength is made up by the life dying into it and by life living in it. Science can never fully comprehend it - it only measures its quantity or quality. Not its full working. Therefore Nature has a certain mystery that we must humbly accept. He calls simple solutions and package deals a myth created by big industrial corporations. Some nice quotes; "We think that shopping is a patriotic act, and a public service. We tolerate fabulous capitalists who think A BET ON A DEBT IS AN ASSET".
He then talks about local cultures, good forestry and good husbandry of our lands and animals. But despite knowing, we continue to massacre our lands with machines and make people obsolete and cause death of local cultures and bring suffering for the people.Read more ›
But Berry isn't satisfied with near-term causes. The recent abusive "Total Economy," in which even our air and water is for sale, stems from a fundamental disconnect between traditional values of neighborliness and community, on the one hand, and an attitude that places monetary worth on everything on the other. We cannot build economic prosperity and phantasms of "growth" on systems that shift debt and despair to the future.
Our problems begin, in Berry's reckoning, with our loss of place, devaluing where we live, and the idea that the land on which we live exists as a consumable resource. When we believe the earth's gifts await our taking, we plunder our own future. When we trust government officials' centralized plans over our own hard-won knowledge of the land we steward, we yoke ourselves to visions that fundamentally don't include us.
Yet this synopsis misses the depth of Berry's insights. Berry keenly and patiently unwraps the official narratives that bind our thinking, showing how our common solutions rely on the same false assumptions that first created our problems. Though his agrarian insights may initially alienate urban readers, as we consider our own stewardship, we realize how culpable we are for our current state, and how responsible we are to the future.
Berry tells the truths we need to hear, even when they sting.Read more ›
I would have given the book 5 stars, but there were a couple of essays that I didn't connect with and I skipped over them. The essays I connected with spoke truth and common sense as always.
"The only true and effective 'operator's manual for spaceship earth' is not a book that any human will ever write; it is hundreds of thousands of local cultures."
In the essay "Economy and Pleasure" Berry the effect of Economics under the guise of altruism still has the same ruinous effect on communities and individuals. "This work has been done, and is still being done, under the heading of altruism:Its aims, as its proponents never tire of repeating, are to 'serve agriculture' and 'to feed the world'. These aims,as stated, are irreproachable;as pursued, they raise a number of doubts. Agriculture, it turns out, is to be served strictly according to the rules of competitive economics. The aim is 'to make farmers more competitive' and 'to make American agriculture more competitive'. Against whom, we must ask, are our farmers and our agriculture to be made more competitive? And we must answer, because we know:Against other farmers, at home and abroad. Now, if the colleges of agriculture 'serve agriculture' by helping farmers to compete against one another, what do they propose to do to help the farmers who have been out-competed? Well, those people are not farmers anymore, and therefore are of no concern to the academic servants of agriculture.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I LOVE Wendell Berry. I enjoy reading his literature.
I'd recommend his writings to anyone concerned about the environment, local economy and the general future of our... Read more
Anything by Wendell Berry is worth multiple readings. He is insightful, thought provoking and writes beautifully.
A collection of essays over time and from varying points. Read more
Filled with insight wisdom and the importance of respecting not only people but the land we walk on and farm as well. Berry speaks from the heart and from his brilliant mind.Published on April 11, 2014 by Robin Farrin
great. great book, discussing what is really important in our culture and our society, that we have the wrong goals and focuses in our economy and we are hurting ourselves... Read morePublished on January 21, 2014 by Michael and Gail Jothen
Depressing that many of the unsustainable practices described here are unlikely to change until we are forced to do so out of desperate necessityPublished on December 5, 2013 by Duke Revard
Excellent book that clearly defines a lot of what's wrong with our economy and by extension our society. Read morePublished on December 3, 2013 by Amazon Customer
This is one of the most important books I've read. Some much understanding of our world, I'm surprised he hasn't been executed by corporate world. Read morePublished on November 18, 2013 by MrETour
Upon finishing this book, I read it a second time and expect to read it again in the future. Wendell Berry writes with the simplicity, modesty, and common sense of the dedicated... Read morePublished on October 30, 2013 by R. Crider