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Wealth & Poverty Review Small is Beautiful, ‘cept when it isn’t

My friend Jordan Ballor has a great piece about conservative fusionism, and in particular, the tensions between market oriented and communitarian oriented conservatives. He focuses on the special case of Rod Dreher, Crunchy Con author who recently moved to a small town in Louisiana. Jordan drives home the point I also make briefly in Money, Greed, and God: a global economy and reasonably free economy make it possible for people to pursue the small farming, slow food lifestyle, if they want to do so. But that very lifestyle depends on the prosperity of the global market to make it tolerable. Virtually no one gives up running water, electricity, Internet access, modern medicine, etc. And virtually no one who pursues a neo-agrarian lifestyle in 21st century America actually has to survive exclusively on the income generated from their little slice of heaven. Theirs is a qualitatively different existence that a medieval serf, whose life, contrary to the nostalgic stereotypes, tended to be nasty, brutish, and short.

So, by all means, enjoy a localvore, agrarian lifestyle if you want to. Just remember that it’s enjoyable in large part because of economic policies that allow the vast majority of people to do otherwise.


Jay W. Richards

Senior Fellow, Assistant Research Professor, Executive Editor
Jay Richards, Ph.D., O.P., is an Assistant Research Professor in the School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America, Executive Editor of The Stream and a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute where he works with the Center on Wealth, Poverty and Morality. In addition to writing many academic articles, books, and popular essays on a wide variety of subjects, he edited the award winning anthology God & Evolution and co-authored The Privileged Planet.  His most recent book is The Human Advantage. Richards has a Ph.D., with honors, in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, an M.Div., a Th.M., and a B.A. with majors in Political Science and Religion. He lives with his family in the Washington DC Metro area.