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Christopher Lasch’s forgotten utopia His later work could save our collapsing civilisation

A 'haven in a heartless world' (David McNew/Getty Images)

A 'haven in a heartless world' (David McNew/Getty Images)


May 9, 2023   6 mins

When discussion turns to Christopher Lasch and his diagnosis of Western narcissism, his later work is often neglected. And this is a shame, for it is here that he offers an antidote: a physical community designed to combat the malaise of modernity.

Lasch had an affinity for the common man. He made appeals to religion and tradition for moral guidance; he saw the family as a “haven in a heartless world”; he regarded a sense of pride in one’s hometown as essential for the community functioning of Middle America; and he called for a political economy wherein people would be able to access meaningful work that called them to a higher vocation. These visions never came to fruition during his lifetime. But that hasn’t stopped others from attempting to pick up the mantle. Today, his heirs can be found across the world — in the increasing trend towards homesteading and localism.

In The Culture of Narcissism (1979), Lasch argued that American culture had become increasingly addicted to instant gratification, which placed individual desires, unmoored by virtue-based cultural norms, above the flourishing of the common good. Fundamentally, he attributed this cultural rot to the idea of progress, which, he explained in Mass Culture Reconsidered two years later, is couched in the “refusal to acknowledge limits to human powers”, and ultimately “tears people out of familiar contexts and weakens kinship ties, local and regional traditions, and attachments to the soil”.

Over the past few decades, a growing movement of individuals and communities has embraced this idea — choosing to reject the dominant culture of consumerism and “progress” in place of homesteading and localism as functioning alternatives. Most of these people, I have suggested, are driven by a larger, more amorphous sense of risk, which I attribute to the trend of societal decline.

I recently interviewed a number of small-scale home producers in and around Chicago, and most appeared to be driven by a larger, more amorphous sense of risk and societal decline. There, I was as likely to find a rural second amendment libertarian as an urban progressive socialist. In certain cases, their distrust concerned government regulations and labelling schemes; in others, there was a general sense of uncertainty around industrial food production and corporate incentives toward profit-maximisation; still others had become fed up with the entire food system after attempting to resolve persistent health issues. Despite their divergent politics and backstories, they all shared an impetus to turn to home food production to gain some sense of control and self-sufficiency.

Cultural historian Morris Berman calls this Dual Process, or the ways in which people are forced to discover alternatives in the twilight of a waning civilisation. Berman suggests that as societal functioning breaks down — as it did in Ancient Rome — people find other ways to meet their basic needs. It is in this process of meeting those needs that individuals, usually unconsciously, develop parallel institutions that could end up developing into the society that succeeds the collapsing empire.

Homesteading is, in many ways, borne out of this sense of alienation. It involves, at its most basic, taking part in the home production of goods, such as rearing livestock, hunting, fishing, beekeeping and preserving foods. This was the common mode of living for most of human civilisation until the industrial revolution, but it didn’t disappear. Interest in home production returns in waves: as victory gardens during the Second World War; as the back-to-the-land-movement of Sixties and Seventies; and now as a new self-sufficiency movement spurred in part by the pandemic and the sense of disorder that followed the decline of urban life and global supply chain shocks.

Often, the individuals I spoke to felt drained by the meaningless work of “email jobs” and an ever-increasing treadmill of consumerism. Here, they channelled Lasch’s remark in The True and Only Heaven (1991) that “capitalism itself, thanks to its growing dependence on consumerism, promotes an ethic of hedonism and health and thus undermines the ‘traditional values’ of thrift and self-denial”. Through the act of homesteading, however, these individuals have started to flex their atrophied muscles by taking responsibility for their needs. Lasch argued that a distributed universal ownership over the means of production, both through household production as well as “small producers — farmers, artisans, master craftsmen, journeymen” were essential for a functioning republic.

In general, homesteaders seek to reduce their reliance on technology and other external systems that may one day prove unreliable. As a result, many are forced into a daily confrontation with the unfiltered messiness of nature through work with their hands, unmediated by screens or advanced tools. Lasch drew on thinkers such as William Morris in The True and Only Heaven, suggesting there is a fundamental dignity of labour in creative handicrafts, and a certain “pride of workmanship formerly associated with small-scale private ownership”. Juxtaposed with the wage labour of early factory life, or even rote spreadsheet work in a modern office job, the act of production in the home can be immensely satisfying.

Homesteading is by definition driven by an interest in self-consumption, which differentiates it from a commercial small farm. However, some home-scale producers do have budding cottage food businesses selling at farmer’s markets. The Smith Homestead in Mississippi, for example, started out with a small garden over health concerns and access to healthy foods, and now has a small operation selling hand-made soaps, candles, handicrafts and fresh foods locally. It is also quite common for these households to share or barter in informal economic exchanges. In that way, it becomes both an act of self-reliance and a way to make an accessible, meaningful vocation in the crafts of small-scale production in the home.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that many homesteaders also advocate localism, whose goal is to build resilient and sustainable communities by prioritising local resources and production, and instilling a kind of civic pride of place and belonging. According to Lasch, what he calls “particularism” was an antidote to the progressive idea that we could or should love every citizen of the world in the same way we love the members of our families or communities. He pointed to people such as Willa Cather, who spoke to the particularities of place, attributing “Nebraska’s vigour and prosperity to the presence of Bohemian, Scandinavian, and German immigrants”.

Today, people engaged in homesteading seek a similar sense of belonging, something they feel has been robbed from them by the atomised society of the advanced economies they were born into. Take, for example, the recently published children’s poem “All the Ways You Can Stay, by Wally Chamberlain, who grew up on a third-generation dairy farm in rural New England. Intended as a remedy to Dr Seuss’s “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”, which encourages young adults to leave their hometowns for office work in the nearest metropole, Chamberlain offers:

“The barns they all lean, and the field’s overgrown.
Paint peels quicker on a house that’s not home.
It’s hard to see, but indeed is the truth,
That places will fade without memories and youth.
Yes places need people, and this one does too,
And maybe this place, and these people, need you.
Your family, your friends, these hills, and this town,
They’d not be the same, without you around.
So leave if you must, but perhaps not today.
Stop and consider all the ways you can stay.”

What this reveals is that, despite recent pearl clutching that homesteading is adjacent to “white supremacy” or localism is “blood and soil”, many engaged in these activities care not just about prioritising individual action, but also about building communities that champion ecological sustainability and decentralised power structures, including caring about hyper-local politics and informal economies. These people often come together to share knowledge, resources and support, creating networks that prioritise resilience and self-sufficiency. Roxanne Ahern of Happy Holistic Homestead, for instance, hosts a “swap and shop” a couple of times a year with neighbours where everyone exchanges clothes and other gently used items. Again, for Lasch in The True and Only Heaven, there is a power in informal networks developed by the Common Man, which can be the foundation for the “revival of active citizenship”.

Looking towards those experimenting in homesteading and localism, we might therefore gain some insight about the modern world engaging with the not-so-distant past — a time where relying on nature to scratch out a larger force was commonplace. Those who are seeking a fundamentally more meaningful existence, through the rejection of the false promises of technological progress and the embrace of the limits of nature, are showing us the glimmers of a path towards a life that could simultaneously begin to address our spiritual and economic woes.

Lasch spent his career documenting the tragedies and loss in industrial modernity. He wrote of “the decline of craftsmanship, the fragmentation of the community, the loneliness of the modern metropolis, the subordination of spiritual life to the demands of the market” — but never lived to see a fully embodied example of people celebrating “the goodness of life in the face of its limits”. If Berman’s Dual Process theory is correct, and we are firmly in a moment of civilisational decline, we are also in a moment of great promise and opportunity. Almost 30 years after he died, Lasch’s vision could soon become a much-needed reality.


Ashley Colby is an environmental scientist and co-founder of the Rizoma Field School.

RizomaSchool

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AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

It’s a fine argument… but there is a very long history of bemoaning the end of civilisation which can only be fixed by ‘X’. Where ‘X’ is a pet theory of the moaner’s.
You can certainly point to problems with Western civilization but that blinds you to the current benefits of civilisation.
For those of you old enough – think back to the Seventies. Global cooling was going to devastate civilisation. We were soon to hit Peak Oil. World poverty and hunger were on the rise. Communism and/or Socialism were going to immiserate everyone. We were all going to die in a nuclear war. More locally, Britain was the sick man of Europe, and was broke.
Look around, properly, now. None of these civilisation ending problems occurred. We didn’t need the siren call of ‘X’ to save us.
You shouldn’t give the glass-half-empty people promoting their ‘Utopia’ too much room in your head. Homesteading and localism may be useful ideas in themselves but they are not going to work globally when the population has hit 8 billion.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

A dose of realism to counter the doomsters. It’s not so much that civilisation is failing as such, rather that it hasn’t as yet caught up with its overwhelming success. By caught up, i mean found a way of rebalancing our spiritual needs – post-religion, i hasten to add – with our material overproduction. This is the real issue, rather than lapsing into a pre-industral mode although no doubt some might find some satisfaction in doing that, and good luck to them.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

There was never a “utopia”, other than the Garden, and never will be. As history has shown, we move from one crisis to another. The issue is that they are coming at warp speed and getting faster as time goes on.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I do feel the rate of change is speeding up. Things I thought I’d not live to see are arriving very quickly. In some ways since we seem to be in a societal malaise I welcome it.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I do feel the rate of change is speeding up. Things I thought I’d not live to see are arriving very quickly. In some ways since we seem to be in a societal malaise I welcome it.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

A dose of realism to counter the doomsters. It’s not so much that civilisation is failing as such, rather that it hasn’t as yet caught up with its overwhelming success. By caught up, i mean found a way of rebalancing our spiritual needs – post-religion, i hasten to add – with our material overproduction. This is the real issue, rather than lapsing into a pre-industral mode although no doubt some might find some satisfaction in doing that, and good luck to them.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

There was never a “utopia”, other than the Garden, and never will be. As history has shown, we move from one crisis to another. The issue is that they are coming at warp speed and getting faster as time goes on.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

It’s a fine argument… but there is a very long history of bemoaning the end of civilisation which can only be fixed by ‘X’. Where ‘X’ is a pet theory of the moaner’s.
You can certainly point to problems with Western civilization but that blinds you to the current benefits of civilisation.
For those of you old enough – think back to the Seventies. Global cooling was going to devastate civilisation. We were soon to hit Peak Oil. World poverty and hunger were on the rise. Communism and/or Socialism were going to immiserate everyone. We were all going to die in a nuclear war. More locally, Britain was the sick man of Europe, and was broke.
Look around, properly, now. None of these civilisation ending problems occurred. We didn’t need the siren call of ‘X’ to save us.
You shouldn’t give the glass-half-empty people promoting their ‘Utopia’ too much room in your head. Homesteading and localism may be useful ideas in themselves but they are not going to work globally when the population has hit 8 billion.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
1 year ago

Sounds like heaven, but…..These little primitive agrarian communes can only survive as the marginal follies of surrounding rich, industrial, capitalistic states. Xi, Vlad and the Ayatollah don’t care about your homesteading fantasies. It will take immense wealth, ingenuity and mass concentration of resources and human capital to keep the barbarians away from the gates.

That hard reality being said; homesteading and quaint village life are uncontroversially wonderful for SOME and is a delightful part of the tapestry of any civilization. But not for most – at it’s core it is anti-civilization. We cannot sustain the wonders of this world without the dense ferment of large concentrations of humans in cities, enjoying the immense advantages of division of labor. (I say this as one who abandoned the big city for rural bliss many years ago).

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

”Xi, Vlad and the Ayatollah don’t care about your homesteading fantasies. It will take immense wealth, ingenuity and mass concentration of resources and human capital to keep the barbarians away from the gates.”

Foreign barbarians are never at our gates with arms and armies. We are being destroyed from inside, by the enemy within the gates. Biden Democrats are 1000X more a threat to America than Xi, Vlad, and the Ayatollah ever will be, or have been. Twisted Liberalism will destroy us.ï»ż

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

And Trump Republicans; and American style ultra adversarial politics are they part of that ‘1,000’ x threat, or is it just the other side?

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

It’s just the other side. Because it does matter what’s on the other side. And what’s on the other side is madness –
PS. “American style ultra adversarial politics” are the result of two things: significant cultural differences (particularly if bipolar), and significant political stakes (ie, the govt has a lot of power). If your country can avoid the confluence of those two events, you should be safe.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kirk Susong
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

The bifurcating effect of social media is more at fault. We only read and get exposure to one, partisan side of every story or event. When it rains, half of America thinks Trump did it and the other half think Biden did it.

Kenda Grant
Kenda Grant
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

True but here in Canada our media never reports the other side. It is strangely quiet except reporting what our wonderful dic…prime minister believes. Bill C11 and our government funded (to the tune of $1,000,000,000) CBC are good examples.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Wasn’t there a News broadcasting legal requirement to at least attempt balance, which was done away with in 1980s America?

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I read alt right media from the US and I honestly know a lot of things that my friends and colleagues don’t. A lot of the information comes from small local news outlets that is simply ignored in the mainstream media. For example – I watched daily brutality during the summer of Black Lives Matter that was never on mainstream media. A lot of the rancour in society is because people are living in different realities. However – right now it is the progressives who are actively trying to impose censorship regimes to control us – so they are the ones we have to fight against.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

You’ve noticed just one side. Fox, Rumble, Newsmax, etc all do the same, blatantly. One recent example – just after the left/centrist papers reported possible neo-nazi links of the Texas shooter, Fax news found and reported about a shooter that might have communist links.

Russian Communists invented mass manipulation techniques, which Orwell further described and critiqued. The American Left (political-correctness) and Right (Newspeak, patriotic propaganda, unquestioning Loyalty to party/leader) perfected them. Anyone who does not see both sides at fault is compromised, and is part of the problem.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I agree that there are voices on the right which are just as detached from reality as those on the left – but that’s just a comment on the variability of the human race.
The difference between them is in the scope of their reach and the legitimacy and authority people in power accord to them. In that respect, equating the social impact and bias of ‘Newsmax’ with the social impact and bias of the New York Times and Washington Post and network news and so forth, is ridiculous.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

and Fox? I hear it is the biggest of all – Tucker Carlson’s show had a larger audience than the three largest liberal networks networks put together.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

You hear wrong. (a) Tucker Carlson is not a crackpot and should not be lumped with the right-wing conspiracy theorists. He’s an unrepentant populist, but otherwise a fairly coherent journalist.
(b) The Fox audience exists on the outskirts of institutional relevance. They are largely elderly, middle-American fly-over state voters, not the people that set policies at charities, universities, corporations, govt agencies, etc.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Not wrong on the audience figures:
https://www.adweek.com/tvnewser/here-are-the-top-rated-cable-news-shows-for-q1-2023/526747/
and I did not say TC was a crackpot, nor that he should be lumped in with right wing conspiracy theorists. He is however sufficiently dishonest and toxic to be sacked by Murdoch. Your second statement is ludicrous. Rupert Murdoch has been a king-maker for decades – courted by leaders and would-be leaders – because his media operations are The Most Influential; and Fox news is the Jewel in the Crown – probably the single most influential ‘news’ entity in history.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Surely we must be talking past each other. I am reminded of the Brian Eno quip: “The first Velvet Underground album [in 1967] only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.” Does that make them more or less influential than Lulu, the singer who had the #1 song in 1967 and sold 500,000 singles?
The fact that Fox has a large ratings audience might mean something at the ballot box in some states, but it means nothing in the boardroom. There, the voices of the NYT and WP are given deference, not the likes of Tucker Carlson. I can’t imagine anyone who has walked in those worlds, who knows decision-making professionals in American institutions, who would disagree.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Ok, so this is the claim I was riled by – “A lot of the rancour in society is because people are living in different realities. However – right now it is the progressives who are actively trying to impose censorship regimes to control us”

Whilst it may be broadly true that the left is now more censorious (after decades/centuries of vice-versa) PJ makes an elision into the concept that the ‘controlling’ (i.e. demagoguery) is coming just from the progressives – but Fox news, Trump, Alec Jones, NRA, Breitbart, Koch bros, Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, various militant preachers….all show otherwise. The idea that the NYT et al have all the power, and do most of the dark manipulations is manifestly false. As is the canard that they are ‘the MSM’, whilst Fox – the biggest cable news channel in the US, and part of the World’s biggest news media network – covering TV, radio, printed news, online in multiple countries – is somehow not part of the MSM, and those who consume it have no voice….this is surely the mother of all lies! We clearly a both sides problem, and anyone who claims otherwise is part of the problem.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I think we do not agree about what ‘the problem’ is. Political conflict is bad… unless one is fighting for an important cause, policy, ideal, etc. Then perhaps conflict is necessary to achieve desirable outcomes. Everything, then, depends on whether you think what’s being fought for matters.
Or do you want to create an equivalency between the two sides because you think everyone engages in ‘dirty tricks’ or something like that? But when Newsmax says something ridiculous, only its fringe audience is swayed. When the legacy media say something ridiculous, it reverberates through the halls of power. The way COVID was covered, and the way that coverage impacted public opinion and public policy, should be proof enough of this.
As for Tucker Carlson, I never watched his show and should not pretend to be an expert on him or a defender of him – but I did see him get misrepresented routinely. For example, he was called a racist in legacy media channels because he pointed out how mass illegal immigration is affecting the country. The Trump Russia investigation, the Trump Ukraine investigation, the Biden laptop investigation, etc. etc. are all proof of the enormous disparity in media bias and media power in the US.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Simply as I can express it – I am against demagoguery. All sides and teams are increasingly doing it. It represents not true political conflict, but psychological game playing dressed up as politics – a sign of the narcissistic age we live in.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Fair enough. I think I’m opposed to demagoguery too
 if we can just define it!

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Fair enough. I think I’m opposed to demagoguery too
 if we can just define it!

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Simply as I can express it – I am against demagoguery. All sides and teams are increasingly doing it. It represents not true political conflict, but psychological game playing dressed up as politics – a sign of the narcissistic age we live in.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I think we do not agree about what ‘the problem’ is. Political conflict is bad… unless one is fighting for an important cause, policy, ideal, etc. Then perhaps conflict is necessary to achieve desirable outcomes. Everything, then, depends on whether you think what’s being fought for matters.
Or do you want to create an equivalency between the two sides because you think everyone engages in ‘dirty tricks’ or something like that? But when Newsmax says something ridiculous, only its fringe audience is swayed. When the legacy media say something ridiculous, it reverberates through the halls of power. The way COVID was covered, and the way that coverage impacted public opinion and public policy, should be proof enough of this.
As for Tucker Carlson, I never watched his show and should not pretend to be an expert on him or a defender of him – but I did see him get misrepresented routinely. For example, he was called a racist in legacy media channels because he pointed out how mass illegal immigration is affecting the country. The Trump Russia investigation, the Trump Ukraine investigation, the Biden laptop investigation, etc. etc. are all proof of the enormous disparity in media bias and media power in the US.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Ok, so this is the claim I was riled by – “A lot of the rancour in society is because people are living in different realities. However – right now it is the progressives who are actively trying to impose censorship regimes to control us”

Whilst it may be broadly true that the left is now more censorious (after decades/centuries of vice-versa) PJ makes an elision into the concept that the ‘controlling’ (i.e. demagoguery) is coming just from the progressives – but Fox news, Trump, Alec Jones, NRA, Breitbart, Koch bros, Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, various militant preachers….all show otherwise. The idea that the NYT et al have all the power, and do most of the dark manipulations is manifestly false. As is the canard that they are ‘the MSM’, whilst Fox – the biggest cable news channel in the US, and part of the World’s biggest news media network – covering TV, radio, printed news, online in multiple countries – is somehow not part of the MSM, and those who consume it have no voice….this is surely the mother of all lies! We clearly a both sides problem, and anyone who claims otherwise is part of the problem.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Surely we must be talking past each other. I am reminded of the Brian Eno quip: “The first Velvet Underground album [in 1967] only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.” Does that make them more or less influential than Lulu, the singer who had the #1 song in 1967 and sold 500,000 singles?
The fact that Fox has a large ratings audience might mean something at the ballot box in some states, but it means nothing in the boardroom. There, the voices of the NYT and WP are given deference, not the likes of Tucker Carlson. I can’t imagine anyone who has walked in those worlds, who knows decision-making professionals in American institutions, who would disagree.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Supposedly, a goodly number of Democrats tuned in to hear Tucker nightly as well
.no one was as riveting as he was and hopefully soon will be again.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Not wrong on the audience figures:
https://www.adweek.com/tvnewser/here-are-the-top-rated-cable-news-shows-for-q1-2023/526747/
and I did not say TC was a crackpot, nor that he should be lumped in with right wing conspiracy theorists. He is however sufficiently dishonest and toxic to be sacked by Murdoch. Your second statement is ludicrous. Rupert Murdoch has been a king-maker for decades – courted by leaders and would-be leaders – because his media operations are The Most Influential; and Fox news is the Jewel in the Crown – probably the single most influential ‘news’ entity in history.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Supposedly, a goodly number of Democrats tuned in to hear Tucker nightly as well
.no one was as riveting as he was and hopefully soon will be again.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Tucker had a big audience because he was willing to bring up censored topics, to speak truth to power. People crave his openness of thought- his daring. But he was shut down – clearly the network & authorities are afraid of Tucker’s voice- the truth. Today, it’s all about government control.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

You hear wrong. (a) Tucker Carlson is not a crackpot and should not be lumped with the right-wing conspiracy theorists. He’s an unrepentant populist, but otherwise a fairly coherent journalist.
(b) The Fox audience exists on the outskirts of institutional relevance. They are largely elderly, middle-American fly-over state voters, not the people that set policies at charities, universities, corporations, govt agencies, etc.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Tucker had a big audience because he was willing to bring up censored topics, to speak truth to power. People crave his openness of thought- his daring. But he was shut down – clearly the network & authorities are afraid of Tucker’s voice- the truth. Today, it’s all about government control.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Well said.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

and Fox? I hear it is the biggest of all – Tucker Carlson’s show had a larger audience than the three largest liberal networks networks put together.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Well said.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I agree that there are voices on the right which are just as detached from reality as those on the left – but that’s just a comment on the variability of the human race.
The difference between them is in the scope of their reach and the legitimacy and authority people in power accord to them. In that respect, equating the social impact and bias of ‘Newsmax’ with the social impact and bias of the New York Times and Washington Post and network news and so forth, is ridiculous.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

You’ve noticed just one side. Fox, Rumble, Newsmax, etc all do the same, blatantly. One recent example – just after the left/centrist papers reported possible neo-nazi links of the Texas shooter, Fax news found and reported about a shooter that might have communist links.

Russian Communists invented mass manipulation techniques, which Orwell further described and critiqued. The American Left (political-correctness) and Right (Newspeak, patriotic propaganda, unquestioning Loyalty to party/leader) perfected them. Anyone who does not see both sides at fault is compromised, and is part of the problem.

Kenda Grant
Kenda Grant
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

True but here in Canada our media never reports the other side. It is strangely quiet except reporting what our wonderful dic…prime minister believes. Bill C11 and our government funded (to the tune of $1,000,000,000) CBC are good examples.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Wasn’t there a News broadcasting legal requirement to at least attempt balance, which was done away with in 1980s America?

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I read alt right media from the US and I honestly know a lot of things that my friends and colleagues don’t. A lot of the information comes from small local news outlets that is simply ignored in the mainstream media. For example – I watched daily brutality during the summer of Black Lives Matter that was never on mainstream media. A lot of the rancour in society is because people are living in different realities. However – right now it is the progressives who are actively trying to impose censorship regimes to control us – so they are the ones we have to fight against.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

The bifurcating effect of social media is more at fault. We only read and get exposure to one, partisan side of every story or event. When it rains, half of America thinks Trump did it and the other half think Biden did it.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

It’s just the other side. Because it does matter what’s on the other side. And what’s on the other side is madness –
PS. “American style ultra adversarial politics” are the result of two things: significant cultural differences (particularly if bipolar), and significant political stakes (ie, the govt has a lot of power). If your country can avoid the confluence of those two events, you should be safe.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kirk Susong
Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

And Trump Republicans; and American style ultra adversarial politics are they part of that ‘1,000’ x threat, or is it just the other side?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

”Xi, Vlad and the Ayatollah don’t care about your homesteading fantasies. It will take immense wealth, ingenuity and mass concentration of resources and human capital to keep the barbarians away from the gates.”

Foreign barbarians are never at our gates with arms and armies. We are being destroyed from inside, by the enemy within the gates. Biden Democrats are 1000X more a threat to America than Xi, Vlad, and the Ayatollah ever will be, or have been. Twisted Liberalism will destroy us.ï»ż

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
1 year ago

Sounds like heaven, but…..These little primitive agrarian communes can only survive as the marginal follies of surrounding rich, industrial, capitalistic states. Xi, Vlad and the Ayatollah don’t care about your homesteading fantasies. It will take immense wealth, ingenuity and mass concentration of resources and human capital to keep the barbarians away from the gates.

That hard reality being said; homesteading and quaint village life are uncontroversially wonderful for SOME and is a delightful part of the tapestry of any civilization. But not for most – at it’s core it is anti-civilization. We cannot sustain the wonders of this world without the dense ferment of large concentrations of humans in cities, enjoying the immense advantages of division of labor. (I say this as one who abandoned the big city for rural bliss many years ago).

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago

I have been a Mountain Man, and a Homesteader. It is good as a phase to go through, but longer than that is just wasting time.

But anyone seduced by this sort of article needs to watch some youtube videos, Like ‘Mississippi’s Poorest Towns in the Poorest State'[. Then on Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Flint and Gary and every decayed city….All America is on this guys excellent videos, just falling down, abandoned, derelict, roofless, trashed, broke, jobless, store-less, ghost towns melting back into the weary landscape – and so dreary one is emotionally exhausted by the end of a couple of them. Not depressing really – but watching something decay away which once was live, vital, births, marriages, graduations, Church, Sports, community – now mostly old folks with no where else to go, and some broke younger ones and houses sinking into the weeds……stray dogs walking about…. I link to his amazing youtube page, worth it to look – especially to you non-Americans. It is what a homesteader would leave when he finally moves on…..

https://www.youtube.com/@JoeandNicsRoadTrip/videos

Homestead your heart out at any of these places – I guess they would give you a house if you care to reclaim it. Like the 1 Euro houses in towns in Europe, but without the history and proximity to somewhere you might want to be.

No, we need a vital community. Successful children becoming successful adults and having successful children. Once that chain is broken his videos in the link are what it all becomes. Else is the empty church having the harvest celebration with half a dozen old pensioners.

Final word – the coming disaster as our cities turn lawless and jobless – time to make communities in places which have a point. But I am afraid as important as the shovel to grow the tomatoes and squash, and the computer to do a job, and car to go to work, will be the 2nd Amendment to keep the peace in such communities which grow to be mutually supporting. The suburban, urban, county communities we will need to make with others. Unfortunately I think this is likely to be an element of the future, possibly.ï»ż

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I saw the Gary video. It was so shocking, I don’t think I could sit through the others.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Have you seen the great 2020 Turkish film ‘The Stray’, by Elizabeth Lo?

All about the thousand of stray dogs in Istanbul.
Once you’ve seen you will realise Diogenes*was correct!

(*Of Sinope.)

jane baker
jane baker
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Only “successful” people wanted here then. Is that the new sign in the window “no Irish,no dogs,no blacks,no unsuccessful”. Maybe all “losers” should be removed. Didn’t someone once create a neat and tidy way to do that. Only back then the arbiters didn’t see it as such a good idea. But they do now. And what if my criteria of success,my perception that my life is “successful” jars with your criteria. I’m in UK so I realise these comments are from a USA ie dumb,perspective. It’s like when Charlie Chaplin asked “wheres the script” on his first day on set and the producer Mack Sennet replied “whats that”..you walk a few steps,trip up,get caught in a revolving door,smile at a girl,knock a cops hat off then there’s a car chase..plot of every Hollywood movie pre 1955 + post 1980. Stick to what works. Only thanks to progress all the actors are computer generated,so is the script,so are the sets,so is the non stop car chase. So is the audience. Progress.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I saw the Gary video. It was so shocking, I don’t think I could sit through the others.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Have you seen the great 2020 Turkish film ‘The Stray’, by Elizabeth Lo?

All about the thousand of stray dogs in Istanbul.
Once you’ve seen you will realise Diogenes*was correct!

(*Of Sinope.)

jane baker
jane baker
1 year ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Only “successful” people wanted here then. Is that the new sign in the window “no Irish,no dogs,no blacks,no unsuccessful”. Maybe all “losers” should be removed. Didn’t someone once create a neat and tidy way to do that. Only back then the arbiters didn’t see it as such a good idea. But they do now. And what if my criteria of success,my perception that my life is “successful” jars with your criteria. I’m in UK so I realise these comments are from a USA ie dumb,perspective. It’s like when Charlie Chaplin asked “wheres the script” on his first day on set and the producer Mack Sennet replied “whats that”..you walk a few steps,trip up,get caught in a revolving door,smile at a girl,knock a cops hat off then there’s a car chase..plot of every Hollywood movie pre 1955 + post 1980. Stick to what works. Only thanks to progress all the actors are computer generated,so is the script,so are the sets,so is the non stop car chase. So is the audience. Progress.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 year ago

I have been a Mountain Man, and a Homesteader. It is good as a phase to go through, but longer than that is just wasting time.

But anyone seduced by this sort of article needs to watch some youtube videos, Like ‘Mississippi’s Poorest Towns in the Poorest State'[. Then on Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Flint and Gary and every decayed city….All America is on this guys excellent videos, just falling down, abandoned, derelict, roofless, trashed, broke, jobless, store-less, ghost towns melting back into the weary landscape – and so dreary one is emotionally exhausted by the end of a couple of them. Not depressing really – but watching something decay away which once was live, vital, births, marriages, graduations, Church, Sports, community – now mostly old folks with no where else to go, and some broke younger ones and houses sinking into the weeds……stray dogs walking about…. I link to his amazing youtube page, worth it to look – especially to you non-Americans. It is what a homesteader would leave when he finally moves on…..

https://www.youtube.com/@JoeandNicsRoadTrip/videos

Homestead your heart out at any of these places – I guess they would give you a house if you care to reclaim it. Like the 1 Euro houses in towns in Europe, but without the history and proximity to somewhere you might want to be.

No, we need a vital community. Successful children becoming successful adults and having successful children. Once that chain is broken his videos in the link are what it all becomes. Else is the empty church having the harvest celebration with half a dozen old pensioners.

Final word – the coming disaster as our cities turn lawless and jobless – time to make communities in places which have a point. But I am afraid as important as the shovel to grow the tomatoes and squash, and the computer to do a job, and car to go to work, will be the 2nd Amendment to keep the peace in such communities which grow to be mutually supporting. The suburban, urban, county communities we will need to make with others. Unfortunately I think this is likely to be an element of the future, possibly.ï»ż

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
1 year ago

Bang on thanks – but first get out of debt by risking joining up with others to achieve that particular goal. Once one is debt free it is surprising how little one needs to keep body and soul together – esp if vehicles etc can be shared – and building is not controlled by the forces of mammon !

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
1 year ago

Bang on thanks – but first get out of debt by risking joining up with others to achieve that particular goal. Once one is debt free it is surprising how little one needs to keep body and soul together – esp if vehicles etc can be shared – and building is not controlled by the forces of mammon !

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago

The question of whether western/global civilization is in danger of collapse (as per Steve Murray below) is analytically separate from what the political ramifications of degrowth, relocalization and a loss of social complexity would be. However, what is very odd is that those on the green left whose entire worldview is predicated on such collapse – Transition Network, Green Parties, Degrowth etc. — remain committed to forms of aggressively woke, cosmopolitan liberalism which themselves are an expression of our growth driven, hyper-mobile, globally integrated society of individuals.
A society that provides thousands of trans operations and life long care couldn’t be anything other than dependent on ongoing economic growth. And yet climate action and degrowth conferences spend as much time talking about pronouns as they do about what localized production might look like; or a ‘world without oil’. The Canadian Green Party recently tore itself apart – quite literally – over an accidental case of misgendering. They also barred a pro-life candidate.
And at the same time, the same broadly urban, liberal movements that are always nodding towards local production (organic, permaculture, self-sufficient) seems to be allergic to talking to localists conservatives who are (as Colby says) red-lined with ludicrous and bad faith accusations of white supremacy etc. And yet there is a fertile tradition of small c, religious conservatism that is equally orthogonal and antithetical to both woke progressivism and corporate capitalism. The reason is that the progressive left and the capitalist right are both liberal. Like feminists,transactivists and critical race theorists they both start from an anthropology of free floating individuals (Rousseau, Locke) defined by autonomy and sovereignty. Homo-economicus is the same hermetically sealed Cartesian ‘chooser’ and transactor …that reinvents himself midlife with bottom surgery and a dress.
This is all in stark contrast to Tolstoy (Orthodox), Gandhi (Hindu), Kohl, Mumford, E.F. Schumacher (Catholic) Wendell Berry (Baptist?), Kenneth Boulding (Quaker) and even Herman Daly (mainline protestant) – arch deacon of ecological economics…
Their place bound vision of sufficiency was defined by a sacramental individual (Imago Dei) embedded in relationships and in communion with God/Transcendent. The foundational anthropology starts not with sovereign individuals but ‘dependent rational animals’ (Macintyre, Aristotle) enmeshed in families, households and communities. And the structure of motivation is fundamentally tied up with religion and community…a far cry from the present centred, materialism that drives consumer society.
So if Murray (below) is right (and he might well be), then perhaps the globalist, eco-modernists might save the world. I’m not sure I want to be in a world that they save – artificial intelligence, transhumanism, artificial wombs, Internet 3.0. I think, like Paul Kingsnorth, I’d rather concentrate on building a spiritual redoubt …Lindisfarne, Iona.
The progressive decentralists seem to want a home-brewed, place-bound Lindisfarne of mobile individuals. It doesn’t really make sense. It’s time that they acknowledge their post-liberalism, went back to Church and made common cause with conservative/red-neck post-liberals.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago

The question of whether western/global civilization is in danger of collapse (as per Steve Murray below) is analytically separate from what the political ramifications of degrowth, relocalization and a loss of social complexity would be. However, what is very odd is that those on the green left whose entire worldview is predicated on such collapse – Transition Network, Green Parties, Degrowth etc. — remain committed to forms of aggressively woke, cosmopolitan liberalism which themselves are an expression of our growth driven, hyper-mobile, globally integrated society of individuals.
A society that provides thousands of trans operations and life long care couldn’t be anything other than dependent on ongoing economic growth. And yet climate action and degrowth conferences spend as much time talking about pronouns as they do about what localized production might look like; or a ‘world without oil’. The Canadian Green Party recently tore itself apart – quite literally – over an accidental case of misgendering. They also barred a pro-life candidate.
And at the same time, the same broadly urban, liberal movements that are always nodding towards local production (organic, permaculture, self-sufficient) seems to be allergic to talking to localists conservatives who are (as Colby says) red-lined with ludicrous and bad faith accusations of white supremacy etc. And yet there is a fertile tradition of small c, religious conservatism that is equally orthogonal and antithetical to both woke progressivism and corporate capitalism. The reason is that the progressive left and the capitalist right are both liberal. Like feminists,transactivists and critical race theorists they both start from an anthropology of free floating individuals (Rousseau, Locke) defined by autonomy and sovereignty. Homo-economicus is the same hermetically sealed Cartesian ‘chooser’ and transactor …that reinvents himself midlife with bottom surgery and a dress.
This is all in stark contrast to Tolstoy (Orthodox), Gandhi (Hindu), Kohl, Mumford, E.F. Schumacher (Catholic) Wendell Berry (Baptist?), Kenneth Boulding (Quaker) and even Herman Daly (mainline protestant) – arch deacon of ecological economics…
Their place bound vision of sufficiency was defined by a sacramental individual (Imago Dei) embedded in relationships and in communion with God/Transcendent. The foundational anthropology starts not with sovereign individuals but ‘dependent rational animals’ (Macintyre, Aristotle) enmeshed in families, households and communities. And the structure of motivation is fundamentally tied up with religion and community…a far cry from the present centred, materialism that drives consumer society.
So if Murray (below) is right (and he might well be), then perhaps the globalist, eco-modernists might save the world. I’m not sure I want to be in a world that they save – artificial intelligence, transhumanism, artificial wombs, Internet 3.0. I think, like Paul Kingsnorth, I’d rather concentrate on building a spiritual redoubt …Lindisfarne, Iona.
The progressive decentralists seem to want a home-brewed, place-bound Lindisfarne of mobile individuals. It doesn’t really make sense. It’s time that they acknowledge their post-liberalism, went back to Church and made common cause with conservative/red-neck post-liberals.

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
1 year ago

The end is always nigh. Go to church, plant some sweet corn and a half dozen tomato plants. Free yourself from utopian fantasies and learn how to build something. Live in the world as it exists not as some hemp-parka-wearing-professor tells you it should be. Buy John Prine records on vinyl. Stop talking so much.

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
1 year ago

The end is always nigh. Go to church, plant some sweet corn and a half dozen tomato plants. Free yourself from utopian fantasies and learn how to build something. Live in the world as it exists not as some hemp-parka-wearing-professor tells you it should be. Buy John Prine records on vinyl. Stop talking so much.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago

This and similar UnHerd pieces suggests that a little-known anti-progress movement called Traditionalism may well be taking root here. This venerable movement was explored in some detail by Benjamin R Teitelbaum in The War For Eternity. Teitelbaum was particularly interested in Steve Bannon’s Traditionalist links.
According to a recent article in spiked-online King Charles (via the mentorship of Laurens Van der Post) has been strongly influenced by this movement in his anti-modernist views.
As for Lasch – his disgust for high technological progress was quite strange. I think it was in The Minimal Self, for example, that he dismissed space exploration as mere narcissism.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

There was a snotty Guardian review of his book a while back. There has been a concerted attempt to separate the traditionalist and anti-modern underlay of green politics (E.F. Schumacher, Tolstoy, Gandhi, Wendell Berry; Kirkpatrick Sale; ) from the 1970s from the modern hyper-liberal eco-modernism of Green Parties that seem totally onboard with the 4th industrial revolution, transhumanism, woke gender politics, individualism and transhumanism. You won’t find, on the UK Schumacher Society’s website or in Schumacher college, any reference to Schumacher’s Catholicism or the fact that Small Is Beautiful was perhaps the best exposition of Catholic Social Theory. They try and expunge it. They’d be horrified I think to know that Schumacher was very much influence by Rene Guenon and owned copies of The Reign of Quantities and also The Crisis of the Modern World (at least as far as I can remember. You can search his personal library on one of the American schumacher sites)
Anyway snottiness from the Guardian simply reveals how much they and the contemporary green movement has become part of the globalising transhumanism project. If the candle still burns it’s with people like Paul Kingsnorth – and also the https://www.frontporchrepublic.com/tag/tradition/
in America which gathers conservatives in the mould of Wendell Berry …actual conservatives who don’t buy the anthropology of individualism, nor materialism and who want to conserve something….Mostly but not all Christian. Much more Ursula Le Guin, Tolkien and CS Lewis than Steve Bannon – but enough to get Guardianistas waving the ‘white supremacy’ flag.
The thing about the new globalist liberals is that they made Steve Bannon – and just won’t admit this. They are also making a constituency for white supremacy (and I don’t think Bannon is that). They are increasingly rendering the choice between ethnonationalism (Dugin) and a colour blind Christian civic nationalism/traditionalism (‘Hobbit politics’). I very much hope we will return to the shire

jane baker
jane baker
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

He was right. All this garbage that “scientists” put on the compliant media now,it’s stupid fairy stories to keep those research grants rolling in. We’ve found a lake on Mars. Just when the money was going to be cut.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

There was a snotty Guardian review of his book a while back. There has been a concerted attempt to separate the traditionalist and anti-modern underlay of green politics (E.F. Schumacher, Tolstoy, Gandhi, Wendell Berry; Kirkpatrick Sale; ) from the 1970s from the modern hyper-liberal eco-modernism of Green Parties that seem totally onboard with the 4th industrial revolution, transhumanism, woke gender politics, individualism and transhumanism. You won’t find, on the UK Schumacher Society’s website or in Schumacher college, any reference to Schumacher’s Catholicism or the fact that Small Is Beautiful was perhaps the best exposition of Catholic Social Theory. They try and expunge it. They’d be horrified I think to know that Schumacher was very much influence by Rene Guenon and owned copies of The Reign of Quantities and also The Crisis of the Modern World (at least as far as I can remember. You can search his personal library on one of the American schumacher sites)
Anyway snottiness from the Guardian simply reveals how much they and the contemporary green movement has become part of the globalising transhumanism project. If the candle still burns it’s with people like Paul Kingsnorth – and also the https://www.frontporchrepublic.com/tag/tradition/
in America which gathers conservatives in the mould of Wendell Berry …actual conservatives who don’t buy the anthropology of individualism, nor materialism and who want to conserve something….Mostly but not all Christian. Much more Ursula Le Guin, Tolkien and CS Lewis than Steve Bannon – but enough to get Guardianistas waving the ‘white supremacy’ flag.
The thing about the new globalist liberals is that they made Steve Bannon – and just won’t admit this. They are also making a constituency for white supremacy (and I don’t think Bannon is that). They are increasingly rendering the choice between ethnonationalism (Dugin) and a colour blind Christian civic nationalism/traditionalism (‘Hobbit politics’). I very much hope we will return to the shire

jane baker
jane baker
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

He was right. All this garbage that “scientists” put on the compliant media now,it’s stupid fairy stories to keep those research grants rolling in. We’ve found a lake on Mars. Just when the money was going to be cut.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago

This and similar UnHerd pieces suggests that a little-known anti-progress movement called Traditionalism may well be taking root here. This venerable movement was explored in some detail by Benjamin R Teitelbaum in The War For Eternity. Teitelbaum was particularly interested in Steve Bannon’s Traditionalist links.
According to a recent article in spiked-online King Charles (via the mentorship of Laurens Van der Post) has been strongly influenced by this movement in his anti-modernist views.
As for Lasch – his disgust for high technological progress was quite strange. I think it was in The Minimal Self, for example, that he dismissed space exploration as mere narcissism.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

There’s nothing new about any of this. Let’s not forget that the UK left was strongly mutualist until it came to be dominated by middle class social engineers inspired by Soviet authoritarianism and infatuated with Stalin. These ideas are as good now as they were then – but, if revived, would most likely be strangled by the state corporatism of the Uniparty.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

There’s nothing new about any of this. Let’s not forget that the UK left was strongly mutualist until it came to be dominated by middle class social engineers inspired by Soviet authoritarianism and infatuated with Stalin. These ideas are as good now as they were then – but, if revived, would most likely be strangled by the state corporatism of the Uniparty.

Robert Hochbaum
Robert Hochbaum
1 year ago

“Homesteading is, in many ways, borne out of this sense of alienation.”
There’s a lot well argued criticism in the comments regarding the practicality of retreating from this modern world. Putin and Xi encroaching on the West, the impracticality of providing food and the things needed for life, the ‘anti-civilization’ a movement like this demonstrates, etc. Heck, pain killers are very useful! Especially if you work with your hands a lot!
All of that makes sense. But, if you had that sense of alienation she mentioned in the above quote you would understand why many, increasingly, are willing to take the chance on withdrawing from the modern world, at least as much as is possible. I don’t think it’s so much to do with living ‘off the grid’, although many would say that’s what they are doing (at least on YouTube). I think, for many, it’s the only thing that brings some peace. It’s interesting to me that Lasch wrote his book in 1979. I was 15 years old at the time and that’s about when I started to have this feeling that I was struggliing to fit into a role in the world. I could and still do make my way in it. I’ve been relatively successful, I suppose. But, it’s always felt like I’m wearing someone else clothes or something. It’s a feeling that is hard to explain. Alienation (but for no obvious reason) is as good a word for it as any. I think what she wrote about is another piece of the puzzle as to why we seem to be going a bit schizophrenic as a society (The West) these days. I think Iain McGilchrist has nailed the root of the problem but there’s not much we can do. I suspect the people like me and the homesteader types she writes about (I’m not one) will just cease to exist over time and the successful Westerners will be those who manage to find meaning and purpose in our increasingly tech-heavy world and thrive in it – as will their descendants. That will likely be a challenge for even the most tech-positive modernists as we move into things like artificial wombs to take the risk out of bringing children into the world (just one of the ‘interesting’ things that seem to lie in the not-too-distant future). But, there will be many who will find this ‘improvement’ in the human condition, improved survivability of offspring and parents and a reduction of ‘defects’ in the new people being brought into the society, etc., perfectly rational – because it is. This is just one example. Dry-freezing your brain or uploading your consciousness into The Cloud are other nifty things that are coming down the pike, too!
Our civilization won’t collapse, per-se. It will just change dramatically over time. Which is kinda what happened with Rome, I guess. So, maybe it will be viewed as a collapse in a few hundred years or so. I wouldn’t know what denotes a ‘collapse’. I guess that’s why we have Historians.

Last edited 1 year ago by Robert Hochbaum
Robert Hochbaum
Robert Hochbaum
1 year ago

“Homesteading is, in many ways, borne out of this sense of alienation.”
There’s a lot well argued criticism in the comments regarding the practicality of retreating from this modern world. Putin and Xi encroaching on the West, the impracticality of providing food and the things needed for life, the ‘anti-civilization’ a movement like this demonstrates, etc. Heck, pain killers are very useful! Especially if you work with your hands a lot!
All of that makes sense. But, if you had that sense of alienation she mentioned in the above quote you would understand why many, increasingly, are willing to take the chance on withdrawing from the modern world, at least as much as is possible. I don’t think it’s so much to do with living ‘off the grid’, although many would say that’s what they are doing (at least on YouTube). I think, for many, it’s the only thing that brings some peace. It’s interesting to me that Lasch wrote his book in 1979. I was 15 years old at the time and that’s about when I started to have this feeling that I was struggliing to fit into a role in the world. I could and still do make my way in it. I’ve been relatively successful, I suppose. But, it’s always felt like I’m wearing someone else clothes or something. It’s a feeling that is hard to explain. Alienation (but for no obvious reason) is as good a word for it as any. I think what she wrote about is another piece of the puzzle as to why we seem to be going a bit schizophrenic as a society (The West) these days. I think Iain McGilchrist has nailed the root of the problem but there’s not much we can do. I suspect the people like me and the homesteader types she writes about (I’m not one) will just cease to exist over time and the successful Westerners will be those who manage to find meaning and purpose in our increasingly tech-heavy world and thrive in it – as will their descendants. That will likely be a challenge for even the most tech-positive modernists as we move into things like artificial wombs to take the risk out of bringing children into the world (just one of the ‘interesting’ things that seem to lie in the not-too-distant future). But, there will be many who will find this ‘improvement’ in the human condition, improved survivability of offspring and parents and a reduction of ‘defects’ in the new people being brought into the society, etc., perfectly rational – because it is. This is just one example. Dry-freezing your brain or uploading your consciousness into The Cloud are other nifty things that are coming down the pike, too!
Our civilization won’t collapse, per-se. It will just change dramatically over time. Which is kinda what happened with Rome, I guess. So, maybe it will be viewed as a collapse in a few hundred years or so. I wouldn’t know what denotes a ‘collapse’. I guess that’s why we have Historians.

Last edited 1 year ago by Robert Hochbaum
Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
1 year ago

Reading the runes, I became a UK “prepper” back in 2018, learned how to grow, rain harvest, become energy independent, etc. As part of that journey I discovered that there is a growing group of folk turning their back on the current version of modernity in search of old truths. This has exploded since Covid. I have found myself listening to David Brooks over the past week. One way or another the need for some kind of larger framework within which man can find his humility rather than indulge his arrogance. Since that is not emerging, a reversion to nature, localism and being “in relationship with” is our solution to the Fourth Turning.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Reading your words rather than the runes, I see symptoms of that philosophical malady called Romanticism. The yearning for a return to a pure, simple and spiritual life is probably as old as civilisation (and its discontents). Those who can afford to indulge that yearning tend to be those who have done well out of this despised industrial modernity.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

There’s always a group that aspires to keep society from moving forward, it’s inevitable. The Luddites are the most infamous, but there are examples in every century. Doesn’t make them bad. The real issue is that change is happening so fast these days that the social bonds within a family unit is being broken over change. Historically, it has taken several generations for the massive change to manifest itself. Today, technology employed by your own child was unthinkable when you were a kid.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

This is not like the Luddites. They just wanted to protect their meager source of income from industrial development. The Traditionalists want to turn the clock back to a simpler pre-enlightenment era. That sort of ideal draws the Romantically inclined creatives types – the kind of people who despise the masses and see the industry that sustains them as a curse (‘black satanic mills’ and all that). That contempt often extends to the social bonds and conventions and the family unit valued by more ordinary people.

jane baker
jane baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

But the Luddites were RIGHT. The other side won and they all had to leave their cottages in nice places where they could weave and it was hard work while their wife could cook,garden,run the household economy,bake bread,brew small beer,and the children could also work but in the friendly home environment and not be mind trained by a state education system set up to keep them compliant and not revolutionary like them Frenchies. Oh what progress to have to travel to a new industrial town,work six days a week,eighteen hours a day on an industrial loom,not have any days off WHEN YOU CHOSE,and your wife too while your kids starved and ran the streets. Progress was not great then and it’s not great now and the people who oppose it are not ignorant and mistaken,that is the ones who welcome it because they are stupid and lazy.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  jane baker

The Luddites were wrong. You could not stop industrial revolution.
You contrast particular stage of it with this idealised view of pre industrial age.
Just ponder how you shared your opinions with us.
Using technology which is the result of industrial revolution.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  jane baker

The Luddites were wrong. You could not stop industrial revolution.
You contrast particular stage of it with this idealised view of pre industrial age.
Just ponder how you shared your opinions with us.
Using technology which is the result of industrial revolution.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

This is not like the Luddites. They just wanted to protect their meager source of income from industrial development. The Traditionalists want to turn the clock back to a simpler pre-enlightenment era. That sort of ideal draws the Romantically inclined creatives types – the kind of people who despise the masses and see the industry that sustains them as a curse (‘black satanic mills’ and all that). That contempt often extends to the social bonds and conventions and the family unit valued by more ordinary people.

jane baker
jane baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

But the Luddites were RIGHT. The other side won and they all had to leave their cottages in nice places where they could weave and it was hard work while their wife could cook,garden,run the household economy,bake bread,brew small beer,and the children could also work but in the friendly home environment and not be mind trained by a state education system set up to keep them compliant and not revolutionary like them Frenchies. Oh what progress to have to travel to a new industrial town,work six days a week,eighteen hours a day on an industrial loom,not have any days off WHEN YOU CHOSE,and your wife too while your kids starved and ran the streets. Progress was not great then and it’s not great now and the people who oppose it are not ignorant and mistaken,that is the ones who welcome it because they are stupid and lazy.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

You can’t turn back the clock. But I do find that a week in the woods out of range of cell towers is incredibly refreshing. I don’t think we are aware just how much we have been changed by the modern information revolution. I can see myself – with my I’ll gotten industrial gains – finding a remote off grid – off cell reception – cabin to retire to for at least part of the year.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Have you been seduced by that old ‘my own private wilderness’ fantasy? It’s a favourite dream of members of the intellectual/creative class eager to escape (or to distinguish themselves) from the despised masses.
By the way, I value my ‘industrial gains’ and don’t regard them as ill-gotten.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Have you been seduced by that old ‘my own private wilderness’ fantasy? It’s a favourite dream of members of the intellectual/creative class eager to escape (or to distinguish themselves) from the despised masses.
By the way, I value my ‘industrial gains’ and don’t regard them as ill-gotten.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

There’s always a group that aspires to keep society from moving forward, it’s inevitable. The Luddites are the most infamous, but there are examples in every century. Doesn’t make them bad. The real issue is that change is happening so fast these days that the social bonds within a family unit is being broken over change. Historically, it has taken several generations for the massive change to manifest itself. Today, technology employed by your own child was unthinkable when you were a kid.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  N Satori

You can’t turn back the clock. But I do find that a week in the woods out of range of cell towers is incredibly refreshing. I don’t think we are aware just how much we have been changed by the modern information revolution. I can see myself – with my I’ll gotten industrial gains – finding a remote off grid – off cell reception – cabin to retire to for at least part of the year.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Reading your words rather than the runes, I see symptoms of that philosophical malady called Romanticism. The yearning for a return to a pure, simple and spiritual life is probably as old as civilisation (and its discontents). Those who can afford to indulge that yearning tend to be those who have done well out of this despised industrial modernity.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
1 year ago

Reading the runes, I became a UK “prepper” back in 2018, learned how to grow, rain harvest, become energy independent, etc. As part of that journey I discovered that there is a growing group of folk turning their back on the current version of modernity in search of old truths. This has exploded since Covid. I have found myself listening to David Brooks over the past week. One way or another the need for some kind of larger framework within which man can find his humility rather than indulge his arrogance. Since that is not emerging, a reversion to nature, localism and being “in relationship with” is our solution to the Fourth Turning.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago

…there is a power in informal networks developed by the Common Man, which can be the foundation for the “revival of active citizenship”.

That depends very much on the actual nature of this Common Man. The trouble with small-is-beautiful natural commune schemes is that they assume people are all of a wholesome creative stock. Perhaps it is worth considering that the ‘informal network’ of the criminal gang can easily develop when wider society neglects to enforce the law.

N Satori
N Satori
1 year ago

…there is a power in informal networks developed by the Common Man, which can be the foundation for the “revival of active citizenship”.

That depends very much on the actual nature of this Common Man. The trouble with small-is-beautiful natural commune schemes is that they assume people are all of a wholesome creative stock. Perhaps it is worth considering that the ‘informal network’ of the criminal gang can easily develop when wider society neglects to enforce the law.

tim richardson
tim richardson
1 year ago

I will offer a different lens; the ongoing millennias-old dynamic between state and non-state formation.

The State is always trying to grow. The incentives of a complex bureaucracy ensure that this will always be the case.

States prefer assets that they can appropriate and tax such as; fields of cereal crops, wet padi rice cultivation, orchards, steel mills, etc.

With every inch of arable land fully claimed within the continental United States, ‘going local’ may be the only place left to escape the State.

Not long ago, humans fed up with taxes, wars or simply the social hierarchy of any state, could head for the hills, literally.

In “The Art of Not Being Governed“ by James C Scott, The Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia, Scott describes the symbiosis of hill and valley peoples within a landmass known as Zomia.

Zomia has been described as “one of the largest remaining non-state spaces in the world”, a.k.a. the southeast Asian massif.

The myth is that the ‘uncivilized hinterlands’ has always been the home of a static, backwards tribe of barbarians. Scott shows it is actually a porous border that represents a path for the hill peoples to move into more structured markets within the lowlands cities.

It is also a path for frustrated city dwellers to escape to a simpler life.

With the development of railroads, all-weather interstates and the penetration of previously inaccessible highlands, there are no “off the grid“ spaces left for an individual who are fed up with, disenchanted or simply unwilling to participate in the messy, political and very complex evolution of civilized state formation.

I live in Wellington, Florida. This is one of the highest net worth, suburban ZIP Codes in the world.

Many of my neighbors raise chickens, harvest honey from bees and homeschool their children.

My pastor in our all-white, Christian fundamentalist church calls for men to relearn how to fix their own toilets and hang their own ceiling fans.

I would argue that much of the political tension in the United States is being driven by white angst and a sense of loss of control.

Most are not violent. But, many centrist Whites find themselves in a ‘right wing camp’ due to “regulatory capture” by left-wing agendas.

Therefore, many frustrated white people are seeking to escape the State.

Absent a border to cross, going local may be the easiest option.

tim richardson
tim richardson
1 year ago

I will offer a different lens; the ongoing millennias-old dynamic between state and non-state formation.

The State is always trying to grow. The incentives of a complex bureaucracy ensure that this will always be the case.

States prefer assets that they can appropriate and tax such as; fields of cereal crops, wet padi rice cultivation, orchards, steel mills, etc.

With every inch of arable land fully claimed within the continental United States, ‘going local’ may be the only place left to escape the State.

Not long ago, humans fed up with taxes, wars or simply the social hierarchy of any state, could head for the hills, literally.

In “The Art of Not Being Governed“ by James C Scott, The Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia, Scott describes the symbiosis of hill and valley peoples within a landmass known as Zomia.

Zomia has been described as “one of the largest remaining non-state spaces in the world”, a.k.a. the southeast Asian massif.

The myth is that the ‘uncivilized hinterlands’ has always been the home of a static, backwards tribe of barbarians. Scott shows it is actually a porous border that represents a path for the hill peoples to move into more structured markets within the lowlands cities.

It is also a path for frustrated city dwellers to escape to a simpler life.

With the development of railroads, all-weather interstates and the penetration of previously inaccessible highlands, there are no “off the grid“ spaces left for an individual who are fed up with, disenchanted or simply unwilling to participate in the messy, political and very complex evolution of civilized state formation.

I live in Wellington, Florida. This is one of the highest net worth, suburban ZIP Codes in the world.

Many of my neighbors raise chickens, harvest honey from bees and homeschool their children.

My pastor in our all-white, Christian fundamentalist church calls for men to relearn how to fix their own toilets and hang their own ceiling fans.

I would argue that much of the political tension in the United States is being driven by white angst and a sense of loss of control.

Most are not violent. But, many centrist Whites find themselves in a ‘right wing camp’ due to “regulatory capture” by left-wing agendas.

Therefore, many frustrated white people are seeking to escape the State.

Absent a border to cross, going local may be the easiest option.

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
1 year ago

The author is co-founder of The Rizoma Field School. They probably do some good works, but their website homepage is a rainforest of delirious eco-collectivist platitudes. You really have to read it to appreciate – and fear…probably…a little – that there are people with funding who have thoughts like these in their heads:

At Rizoma Field School, we hope to educate a network of individuals who can hack, subvert, create, resist and share strategies across contexts. Join us in envisioning and creating a world that can be continually better for all its inhabitants.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Sisyphus Jones

Dontcha hate it when reality usurps parody? What’s a comedian to do?

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 year ago
Reply to  Sisyphus Jones

Dontcha hate it when reality usurps parody? What’s a comedian to do?

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
1 year ago

The author is co-founder of The Rizoma Field School. They probably do some good works, but their website homepage is a rainforest of delirious eco-collectivist platitudes. You really have to read it to appreciate – and fear…probably…a little – that there are people with funding who have thoughts like these in their heads:

At Rizoma Field School, we hope to educate a network of individuals who can hack, subvert, create, resist and share strategies across contexts. Join us in envisioning and creating a world that can be continually better for all its inhabitants.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
1 year ago

Will it make you feel more in personal control of your life if you replace code with whittling? But if you get an attack of appendicititis one day on the farm, you’re still going to wish you could pull out your cellphone and call a hospital that runs on electricity.

jane baker
jane baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Gore

Well in the UK now youll probably die before the ambulance gets to you anyway and in USA I gather that the ambulance won’t even bother to turn up unless you’ve got a zillion of money so that’s no incentive to welcome “progress”.

jane baker
jane baker
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Gore

Well in the UK now youll probably die before the ambulance gets to you anyway and in USA I gather that the ambulance won’t even bother to turn up unless you’ve got a zillion of money so that’s no incentive to welcome “progress”.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
1 year ago

Will it make you feel more in personal control of your life if you replace code with whittling? But if you get an attack of appendicititis one day on the farm, you’re still going to wish you could pull out your cellphone and call a hospital that runs on electricity.