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Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight…

Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays

by Wendell Berry

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However destructive may be the policies of the government and the methods and products of the corporations, the root of the problem is always to be found in private life.
  PendleHillLibrary | Oct 3, 2017 |
One of the books that shaped my worldview the most. ( )
  Adam.Anderson | Dec 9, 2016 |
Wendell Berry sees the world through a different lens. An accomplished poet, essayist, and novelist, he chose to ignore the lure of literary New York to stay rooted in his Kentucky farm.

Rooted is an important idea for Berry. If more people were rooted in their land, they would want what's best for it. In our global age we have traded in the local concrete for the global abstraction. As Berry reminds us, "abstraction is the enemy wherever it is found" (23).

Berry's rootedness extends beyond his physical location. He has developed strong, firm, and often contrarian opinions which he is not ashamed to publish. For example, take his thoughts on economic growth:

[quote]Unlimited economic growth implies unlimited consumption, which in turn implies unlimited pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. (xvii)[/quote]

Try his views on war:

[quote]War is obsolete, in short, because it can no longer produce a net good, even to the winner. (77)[/quote]

Berry on Christian government:

[quote]Jesus would have been horrified by just about every "Christian" government the world has ever seen. He would be horrified by our government and its works, and it would be horrified by him. (115)[/quote]

In the 8 essays (along with the superb preface, "The Joy of Sales Resistance") which make up this volume, Berry speaks the truth as clearly as he sees it. You can either disagree with him and offer counter arguments, or agree and examine your own lifestyle. One thing is impossible: when it comes to Berry, you cannot be neutral! ( )
  StephenBarkley | Jun 22, 2014 |
A provocative little book. The main theme of it is: America would be much better off if we returned to a community focused perspective. This is theme is applied mostly to agriculture, which the author cares a lot about, but also to sex, war and consumerism. One thing that I found very refreshing about Berry is that he's conservative, but conservative in a way that seems true to the word itself, unlike most political conservatives. ( )
  palaverofbirds | Mar 29, 2013 |
The title essay, long and (for Berry) somewhat dense, is well worth the price of admission. Berry begins with the 1990 accusations of sexual harassment made at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas by a former employee, Anita Hill. They were first aired at Thomas's 1990 confirmation hearing. But Berry looks much more deeply than most of us would be able to at the social and cultural context for the incident and how it reflects changes in our culture and society.

For that (now dated) news story you could substitute any number of more contemporary ones -- the essay speaks to our day just as effectively as its own.
  johnredmond | Mar 11, 2011 |
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"I dedicate this book to the memory of Harry M. Caudill and
Edward Abbey, great defenders of their homelands, and of Tom
Marsh, who taught that the useful could and should be
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In this new collection of essays, Wendell Berry continues his work as one of America's most necessary social commentators. With wisdom and clear, ringing prose, he tackles head-on some of the most difficult problems which face us as we near the end of the twentieth century.   Berry begins the title essay with the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings as an example of a "process that has been well established and well respected for at least two hundred years--the process . . . of community disintegration." Community, a "locally understood interdependence of local people, local culture, local economy, and local nature," bound by trust and affection, is "being destroyed by the desires and ambitions of both private and public life which for want of the intervention of community interests, are also destroying one another."   He then moves on to elucidate connections between sexual brutality and economic brutality, and the role of art and free speech. Berry forcefully addresses America's unabashed pursuit of self-liberation, which he says is "still the strongest force now operating in our society." As individuals turn away from their community, they conform to a "rootless and placeless monoculture of commercial expectations and products," buying into the very economic system which is destroying the earth, our communities, and all they represent.   Throughout the book Berry asks, What is appropriate? What is worth conserving from our past and preserving in our present? What is it to be human and truly connected to others? What does it mean to be free?… (more)

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