Why have a section like this – with discussions primarily of literature, painting, music, and history? Because Enlightened Agriculture ultimately will fail unless we feel, in our bones, that farming matters and is part of our day-to-day lives. Once, nearly everybody did feel like this, because most people in most countries worked on the land, or very close to it. In most societies through most of history the agrarian economy and ways of life have been key components of the culture. People appreciated farming – how hard it is, and also what it does for us. But in recent decades, the world has embraced the dogmas of neoliberal economics, which says that everything is business including farming and that businesses of all kinds are just ways of making money; and has embraced, too, the primitive notion that high-tech can solve all our problems.
So farming, now conceived merely as another way of making money, has been handed over to a few high-tech companies who do whatever they choose to do largely out of the public gaze, often in distant countries (one advantage of transnationalism). So agriculture in the countries that consider themselves to be “developed” is no longer at the heart of culture, or even close. But if we truly want Enlightened Agriculture to work, we need to bring it back into the psyche. We need to think and to be agrarian once more – not in the style of ancient societies but in a modern guise: the new agrarianism.
To achieve this, we need to remind ourselves of what it means to be agrarian – to take farming seriously. We need again to get “feel” for it. History, and the literature and arts of the past (and to some extent of the present) can help us in this.
So for this reason – and also because it is fun – the College needs to take the humanities seriously.