As some readers already know, I am a farmer — or at least was a farmer — and in some places in the world, farmers are still called “peasants,” or perhaps “gentleman farmers” or even “villeins” (or “villians”). Although I no longer farm my own land, I am still occupied in agriculture in various capacities.
Keep this association of farming with “villainy” in mind as I discuss here this new new-thing presently (and brazenly) attempting to take off in the United States and Canada called “right-to-farm“, which I call by it’s more accurate name “right-to-harm”.
When I started the earlier Dark Age Blog years ago I was still farming, and much of the impetus for starting that blog then was rooted in my objections to what was quickly becoming conventional farming practice as I was observing it around me. Farming was drifting away from the human and humane ideals of stewardship and husbandry and was being “rationalised” through a narrow-minded corporate-managerialist and engineering-technocratic model that I found desolate and abominable — exactly that attitude which I have come to refer to as a “mentality”.
And a “mentality”, to state it once again, is the mere residue of a soul after the spirit has departed.
Much of what I have learned of the “deficiency” of the present mental-rational consciousness structure (as described by Jean Gebser) I have learned from observing what are now considered “conventional” agricultural practices — this “rationalisation” of farming practices. And as Rosenstock-Huessy also once quipped about this drive for “rationalisation”, our poor bread has become so highly “rationalised” that we now have to put the irrational nutrients back into the bread in the form of additives, as if the nutrients were an afterthought.
It was from observing at close hand this rationalisation of farming — this desolate and dystopian “new normal” also in agriculture — that I came to extend my critique of this “mentality” to the contemporary techno-corporate society as a whole.
So I should probably not be surprised to see this constellation of corporate and technocratic interests congeal in this brazen political initiative called “right-to-farm“. If the concept seems vague and hazy about enshrining “generally accepted practices” in law and giving it privileged constitutional protections, it’s because it is intended to be so. It is intentionally obfuscatory and duplicitous because “right-to-farm” means nothing else but “the right-to-harm”.
Don’t believe the propaganda about this. Any farmer (or agricultural corporation) who really thinks he is “feeding the world” is suffering from ego-inflation. And this is, in contemporary terms, where the old association of farming with “villainy” seems most appropriate. “Right-to-farm” involves the most bald-faced mendacity and duplicity imaginable, and the old “villainy” resurrected in terms of the farmer’s dependent and subordinate relationship to the agricultural corporations.
More to the point, it illustrates that problem of the irrational sense of entitlement and privilege that Jean Gebser saw in the excessive individualism (the culture of narcissism and the supremacy of the self-interest) as a symptom of modern man’s disintegration,
“The current situation manifests on the one hand an egocentric individualism exaggerated to extremes and desirous of possessing everything, while on the other it manifests an equally extreme collectivism that promises the total fulfillment of man’s being. In the latter instance we find the utter abnegation of the individual valued merely as an object in the human aggregate; in the former a hyper-valuation of the individual who, despite his limitations, is permitted everything [my italics]. This deficient, that is destructive, antithesis divides the world into two warring camps, not just politically and ideologically, but in all areas of human endeavor.” (full quote here)
“Right-to-farm” should not imply a right-to-harm. Conceivably, it could insulate and protect agricultural corporations and their modern villeins from any kind of responsibility for the collective harm they may cause or do as a result of their “best practices” in the name of an all-too narrowly conceived “efficiency” and “rationalisation”, including evading the regulation of toxic chemicals such as those implicated in bee colony collapse, the decimation of bird populations, and the present misuse and abuse of anti-biotics in farm animals — a malpractice that directly affects you.
Apparently, these agricultural interests will not be happy until they sterilise the entire planet with their anti-biotic mentality.
Just say “no” to “right-to-farm”. It should not be given the same political status as “freedom of religion” or “free speech”, which the initiative has been compared to. That is a ruse and a dodge the aim of which is to externalise the costs and consequences of what are bad and irresponsible agricultural practices onto others and to evade any kind of accountability for it.