Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Agrarians and Technology

Someone once commented that they would take nothing I say seriously because I was promoting agrarianism via a weblog. There is large group of people who do not understand our positions on technology, and a smaller group that misrepresents them on purpose to discredit our camp. I shall try to explain my views on this topic.

Technology in and of itself is not good or evil. At the same time, I want to stress that technology is not a word that is interchangeable with word progress. This is the presupposition that many have, whether they realize it or not. The phrase "you can't stop progress" has come to mean that you can't stop or limit any technology. This is the holy grail of the chronological snobs, new is always better. I also think that our hatred for any type of real work, any that produces sweat on ones brow, has helped us redefine progress as anything that "saves us labor". I am not opposed to all labor saving improvements, no one would be, but there must be a point where these "improvements" infringe on our ability to form real human relationships with family and the fellow saints . I advocate rejecting some technology because some technology inhibits our ability to have healthy, vibrant covenant communities. Some technology inhibits our ability to be godly stewards of creation. What kind of technological improvements am I exited about? How about space age electric netting that can keep chickens in and grizzly bears out, all with a small car battery! This allows us to move birds around pastures in healthy rotations which improve the soil, reduce manure run off in ground water and provide birds with a happy productive life. This is not grandpas fencing! This is technology doing good, actual progress! Should we spray toxic poison all over our food just because its "new technology"? Should we continue to kill all the life in our soils just because chemical fertilizers are newer than manure or sea water? Should we shove 20,000 chickens in one barn just because we can? I believe the answer to our problems with progress lies in our definition of progress. As a group of people, be it a nation, a town, a county or the larger community of Christ, we should be having dialog about the pros and cons of technologies and whether or not they help us live godly lives or present a stumbling block. Ideas have consequences.


At 12/20/2005 7:06 AM, Blogger HomesteadHerbs said...

Great post! One of the drawbacks of technology is the high cost! Most new technology is so expensive, its actually unatainable if you believe in no debt. I'm all for a machine that will pluck the feathers off a chicken, but I'm completely against paying thousands for it!

The latest edition of Countryside magazine has an article of a wonderful make your own chicken plucker out of household materials.

At 12/20/2005 9:02 AM, Blogger Walter Jeffries said...

Well said. A big issue to me is reliability, maintainability and sustainability. To be better those are some, not all, of the qualifications that must be there. New alone is not an improvement.

At 12/20/2005 11:02 AM, Blogger JFC said...


I don't know if you were aware, but the Agrarian Blogging Community's own Deliberate Agrarian, Herrick Kimball, has published a book with detailed plans for constructing a low-cost chicken plucker. This Yahoo group is dedicated to discussion of the Whizbang Plucker and related things.

At 12/20/2005 2:33 PM, Blogger JM said...


Well said. I like your term "chronological snobs." I'd suggest to you that this line of thinking is a product of evolution being taught in our schools. The idea, that everything, people, machines, government, etc... just gets naturally better over time is right out of evolutionary thinking, and by the way totally against the 2nd law of thermodynamics...

Great post, and I was hoping to hear about your brother, any update?

At 12/20/2005 3:24 PM, Blogger Missouri Rev said...

Hi Scott, great posting! From a biblical worldview, the answer to the technology/progress debate is summed up by one question, a question that applies to everything mankind does, without exception. “By whom and by what standard does mankind live? Your posting has hit on the heart of agrarianism . . . by whom and by what standard do we humans use and govern the earth and it resources? Since the rest of my comments on this vital question turned into a lengthy diatribe, I posted them to my blog site instead. Thanks

At 12/20/2005 6:17 PM, Blogger trawlerman said...

I read this and thought that it might have been something that I said, so I went searching around, and, of course, I'm the idiot that wrote it...


If this is what you're referring to, then I'll defend myself briefly.

First, what I wrote was stupid, was hyperbole, and was written in the heat of the moment.

Second, I was referring to specific arguments in relation to my post and not everything that you say in general. Obviously, there has been much mutually beneficial discussion and exchange of ideas amongst us (and not a few beers tossed back as well) and I consider you a true friend (even if you can't handle wrestling a metro train underground in a large concrete jungle).

Third, those specific thoughts had to do with the differences between the evils of industrialism, and what I feel are genuine benefits of urban life. I was upset that you were equating the two and felt that you were representing a hyper-agrarianism that was not/is not true to what agrarianism is/should be.

That said, I don't want to argue here, am sorry for saying something that I knew/know was misrepresentative, and I agree with your post completely, and the position you outline is my own.

After all that, you may have been referring to someone else's comment.

Anyhow, I'm still an agrarian, still love the city, and still think about comics more than I think about bovine mating practices.


At 12/22/2005 5:29 AM, Blogger HomesteadHerbs said...

I had no idea we had an expert chicken plucker inventor! I'm ordering Mr. Kimball's book- let's see if 'anyone can make it' :-)

At 12/22/2005 11:13 AM, Anonymous Scott said...

Howdy all.

Yes, we do have an expert chicken pluckin' inventor in our ranks! Herrick was a commenter here at Homesteader Life before he started his blog, yup...kinda proud of that.


I'm sure I stole the "chronological snobs" line from someone smarter than I. I can't remeber who.


I was refering to a large pool of folks who have made such comments, I really didn't even remeber you saying that! It wasn't a quick shot at ya just before you come out for your christmas visit. We will have to talk about it though, I still think he made a rather poor refutation of Chads post.

Pastor McConnell

Thanks for the kind words, its always a thrill when when of your heroes says something nice. I loved your post and encourage everyone to go over and read it.


I agree with your take on it as well.

At 12/22/2005 5:42 PM, Blogger Patty said...

Great blog ! We are homesteaders in Texas and live a pretty simple life and love reading what other homesteaders are doing.

At 12/25/2005 12:46 PM, Blogger Walter Jeffries said...

Merry Christmas, Scott!

Sugar Mountain Farm
in Vermont

At 12/26/2005 5:26 AM, Anonymous Scott said...

Hi Patty,

Thanks for stopping by, nice to have another reader from the lone star state!


A Merry Christmas to you a day late!


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