Education and the Proliferation of New (Old) Concepts: Agrarianism, the Commons, No-Growth Economics, and the Maximum Wage
Buffalo State College
Buffalo State College
Any observer with a keen interest in the state of American public education is probably aware of the fact that several layers beneath the noise surrounding No Child Left Behind, somewhere below the headline stories in Education Week, there is a growing interest in the idea that our educational system ought to begin to serve different ends. For about a century now, the educational project in this country has been about outfitting youth for their eventual economic role as adults, an endeavor enthusiastically undertaken in this country with typically high levels of hubris. But in 1983 the nation’s school system was chastised severely by a presidential commission that condemned the mediocre job schools were doing relative to this task. In fact, the authors of A Nation at Risk argued that “If only to keep and improve on the slim edge we still retain in the world markets we must dedicate ourselves to the reform of our educational system”(National Commission on Excellence in Education 1983, 7). Though they didn’t bother with an attempt to substantiate the claim that there is a causal connection between good schools and a good economy, they nevertheless hammered this message, with the help of a compliant corporate-controlled media, into the consciousness of the American public. The rhetoric making schools out to be a primary source of global economic dominion hasn’t yet subsided. It is the fuel that drives all of the noise surrounding schooling in the United States today.
For those willing to listen carefully, however, one might also hear a resurgence of concepts advanced many decades ago, things like project-based learning, social reconstructionism, community-based curriculum and much more. We will argue that these curricular and instructional approaches will become increasingly popular, increasingly viable alternatives to the educational status quo, as Americans begin to look seriously for solutions to our precarious ecological circumstances. We will argue that a relatively short list of old ideas—agrarianism, the commons, no-growth economics, and the maximum wage—are experiencing a resurgence today precisely because Americans are looking for alternatives to a status quo that is demonstrably dangerous to life on the planet. Further, we will demonstrate that the success or failure of these ideas rested from the start on educational effort, and that this is no less true today. But by educational effort we mean an education aimed at improving human life, not preparation for jobs. We believe, therefore, that as this small collection of ideas becomes increasingly popular, substantive approaches to curriculum and instruction will as well.An Accounting of New (Old) ConceptsAgrarianism is a concept that has enjoyed a significant resurgence. Twenty years ago it would have been difficult to find a single scholarly use of the term, even in economic literature, let alone in political or educational theory. But today one can easily find many recent books with agrarianism in the title, and there are more currently in the publication process (Freyfogle 2001, Montmarquet 1989, Wirzba 2003). At its most basic, agrarianism is a kind of counterpart to industrialism, though considerably more is meant by this than differentiating between farms and factories. Agrarianism represents a particular approach to life, an approach governed by certain deeply held values. The same is of course true for industrialism. The difference has to do with the values associated with the two traditions and what those values have meant in political, economic, and educational arenas.
For the past century America’s cultural embrace of industrial values: ever-increasing production, ever-increasing levels of efficiency, and ever-increasing levels of consumption, have been so dominant that the American public scarcely retains any cultural memory of the values that defined an agrarian worldview, values such as frugality, good neighborship, the avoidance of risk, and the psychological profit in work done well. As a consequence, the considerable, though disparate, educational movements well below the current radar, such as project-based learning or place-based learning, are operating to some degree in the dark, unaware of the extent to which these efforts resonate with the worldview captured by the term agrarianism.
Regrettably, both terms, industrialism and agrarianism, have been largely relegated to the realm of economics—or how people will make their living—though such an interpretation dramatically undersells the degree to which these traditions speak to the worlds of politics and education. The commercialist-oriented industrial worldview was the genesis of liberal political theory of the Hobbes-Locke variety, while the agrarian worldview was the source of a much older civic republican theory with roots deeply grounded in the classical world, but also one advanced eloquently by what we might consider today to be second-string enlightenment philosophers—for example, Harrington in England, and Montesquieu in France.
These last figures are second-stringers, of course, because Locke’s Liberalism proved to be the ascendant philosophy, and especially because the primary architects of America’s constitution, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, explicitly rejected the civic republicanism of Montesquieu in favor of the emerging industrial, Locke-inspired worldview that defined man as essentially an economic being. The Freedom they touted for mankind was economic freedom, a more than adequate substitute, they believed, for the political freedom that was central to civic republicanism.
As the struggle between the older agrarian worldview and the emerging industrial worldview unfolded in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the age-old Tradition of the commons became a kind of symbolic—and sometimes literal—battleground. From the deep feudal past, neighborhood commons had been maintained as a resource that could be used by all of those who lived in a given neighborhood. Further, all who used the commons had a right to a voice in the decisions that affected it—meaning that even the most destitute peasant had a political voice, and could be called upon to play a political role in the neighborhood as someone chosen, say, to responsibly monitor grazing levels and grass health. The commons was uniquely public space—but as England and the rest of Europe began to ratchet up production in response to emerging industrial values, the drive to turn the commons into private space was intense. Parliament was blistered by literally thousands of Enclosure bills, all designed to ease the ability of those with capital to acquire a neighborhood commons and turn it to industrial uses. It was the drive to enclose the commons that lead to the violent reaction of large landowners near St. George’s Hill, just outside of London, to the simple efforts of Gerrard Winstanley and his followers, known as the Diggers.
In the spring of 1649, with the Civil War over, but with no work and few hopes, Winstanely led a group of some fifty people to a little used commons where they built ramshackle housing and began to dig up the land to plant crops from which they hoped to live. Winstanley went on to publish a little-known treatise called The Law of Freedom in which he delineated the manner in which England might become an agrarian-based republic—complete with a life-long system of public education. But local landowners were incensed by what the Diggers were doing and they harassed them with trumped-up charges, and by hiring thugs to beat them and to burn their shanty dwellings. And of course the demise of the diggers was followed by massive enclosures—removing the commons from neighborhoods throughout England—creating poverty and starvation of the sort the country had scarcely ever known. It was the fuel for Oliver Goldsmith’s famous poem, “The Deserted Village,”
Ill fares the land
To hastening ill’s a prey
Where wealth accumulates
And men decay. (Dobson 1927, 112)
Scholars today have begun to recognize the crucial role played by the commons in the past, for it was not only a kind of economic mechanism, it was also a kind of stage on which all citizens could play a political role with their lives—for all who used the commons were entitled to a voice on how the commons would be kept. Like agrarianism, it is now possible to hear talk of re-establishing a modern version of the commons—or public space where citizens might possess the wherewithal to play a political role with their lives, and engage in political deliberation unmediated by the control of mega-corporations. Witness, Chet Bowers’ book, Revitalizing the Commons, or Brian Donahue’s Reclaiming the Commons (Bowers 2006, Donahue 2001, Theobald 1997).
One of the great contributions of the commons was that it was something shared by the community and therefore not something that could be exploited to one’s own advantage without drawing the attention and disapproval of one’s neighbors—Garrett Hardin’s deeply flawed essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” notwithstanding (Hardin 1968). The commons, therefore, was something that had to be meticulously maintained if it was going to be a viable resource for all neighborhood families in perpetuity. Achieving this kind of maintenance, maintaining fertility over centuries, required the achievement of balance—of animals to acres or of crop rotations—so as not to wear out the soil. An agrarian worldview gradually came to prize a kind of steady economic state, recognizing that efforts at intensifying or growing production levels could jeopardize the well-being of the entire neighborhood. This, of course, is precisely what happened with the intensification efforts facilitated by the process of enclosure. Goldsmith titled his poem “The Deserted Village” for a reason.
But even as the age of industrialism came into its own the concept of a non-growth-oriented economy was deemed to be a viable, even desirable, possibility. John Stuart Mill, one of the greatest economists of the nineteenth century and a prominent spokesperson for the promulgation of industrial values, argued that a time would come when mankind would have to maintain a kind of balance between population levels and levels of economic activity and consciously reject further growth. Said Mill,
It must always have been seen, more or less distinctly, by political economists, that the increase of wealth is not boundless; that at the end of what they term the progressive state lies the stationary state, that all Progress in wealth is but a postponement of this, and that each step in advance is an approach to it (Mill 1988, 111).
Today, when environmental degradation has become the norm, when economic activity has demonstrably produced serious climactic changes, the concept of a no-growth economy has once again re-appeared on society’s radar screen. Former World Bank economist Herman Daly has been a persuasive advocate of no-growth economics for the last two decades. And he has at last attracted a significant following. But the educational component to such a societal shift is huge and, consequently, it has increasingly become a part of discussions about what schools are ultimately for, and how they might therefore function.
Mill also laid a foundation for the final topic of this paper, for he insisted that the matter of distributing a nation’s wealth was the prerogative of society and not a matter governed by law-like strictures. “I know not why it should be a matter of congratulation that persons who are already richer than anyone needs to be, should have doubled their means of consuming things which give little or no pleasure except as representative of wealth; or that numbers of individuals should pass over, every year, from the middle classes into a richer class, or from the class of the occupied rich to that of the unoccupied” (Mill 1988, 114). In this regard, Mill echoed a long-held tenet of civic republican agrarian theory—extremes in wealth and poverty were to be avoided at all costs.
The mechanism for achieving this was of course taxation, a policy option that could in effect establish a maximum wage. Although the number of Americans who are aware that such a concept exists is small, and the number who actively support policy changes to create a maximum wage is still smaller, the movement is gaining momentum largely due to the pace at which America’s super-wealthy are distancing themselves from the vast majority of the population. Americans have never adopted a maximum wage law, though we have come close from time to time. During the 20 year period between 1935 and 1955 billionaires were completely eliminated and the number of millionaires in the country was dramatically reduced. President Roosevelt, during his last term in office, openly lobbied for a law that would tax 100 percent of all income over $25,000 per year—a reform measure that never came to be.
The post-World War II graduated income tax scales were nevertheless progressive enough to create a predominantly middle class society, albeit one that has been completely dismantled in the years since Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Economic Recovery Act was passed. The lopsided nature of America’s economic distribution cannot go on indefinitely and as a consequence, there are those who have earnestly re-proposed the establishment of a maximum wage. Once again, if such a concept has any chance of gaining ground, it will require changes in the ends pursued by our formal education system, as well as changes in the means selected to achieve those new ends.
The small fledgling educational movements well below the contemporary radar screen— community-based curriculum, place-based learning, project-based learning, critical pedagogy, and others—are all in a very fundamental way about utilizing the intellectual wherewithal bestowed by education in the service of both the economic and political dimensions to life. That is to say that they are educational movements that take their rationale from something other than industrial values—values that revolve solely around the concept of life as a purely economic endeavor. In fact, the values undergirding these movements are premised on values more closely aligned with an agrarian worldview.
Because the term agrarianism has so little currency at the start of the twenty-first century, we will next move to a brief account of how this tradition has co-existed with industrialism through the years and in the process create an argument for why agrarian values represent a needed reform trajectory across the full societal spectrum of politics, economics, and education.
Unfettered Industrialism and a World Red in Tooth and Claw
Probably the best way to chronicle the fate of agrarian values across the last couple of centuries is to take a look at two pivotal moments in history—two moments that in many ways marked the end of the feudal era. The first was in England of the 1640s; the second in the United States of the 1780s.
With the interlocked power of the church and state at least temporarily broken—symbolized by the executions of Archbishop Laud and King Charles—Oliver Cromwell and England itself had a choice to make. And there was no shortage of options to consider. James Harrington and Gerrard Winstanley both wrote treatises describing the kind of agrarian republic England might become and dedicated them to Oliver Cromwell. But Thomas Hobbes did as well, only Hobbes’ Leviathan was a blueprint for a commercialist-oriented republic that, contrary to the civic republicanism of Harrington and Winstanley, minimized any political role for citizens. It was the Hobbesian vision that England came to embrace, though it was one made considerably more palatable by Locke’s work a few decades later.
In the United States of the 1780s, angered by the raucous farmers led by Daniel Shays in western Massachusetts, the leading commercialist advocates of the new nation called for a constitutional convention to amend the civic republicanism of the Articles of Confederation and create a nation oriented toward commercialist ventures. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson serve as symbols for the options available to the fledgling republic: Hamilton, the consummate liberal, and Jefferson, the consummate civic republican; one an advocate of industrialism and the use of child labor “at a tender age”(Cooke 1964, 131), the other an advocate of agrarianism and a system of free public education for all (white) youth.
Just as in England, the liberal industrial vision prevailed. And in a matter of a few short decades, the world witnessed what Alfred Lord Tennyson described as societies “red in tooth and claw.” We will not go into detail here on the extent of sheer and utter misery created by the unfettered industrialism of nineteenth century England and the United States, nor the even greater misery created by the rape of what is now called the “third world” as the globe was colonized to provide fuel for industrial engines. Anyone who has read Charles Dickens has a feel for what a society red in tooth and claw looks like.
At the risk of oversimplifying things, we will argue that there were two nineteenth century responses to the horrible conditions created by unfettered industrialism. One came from the pen of John Stuart Mill, the other from Karl Marx. But we will further argue that there was a third option—an agrarian option sometimes called the “middle way,” between Mill and Marx. As noted earlier, Mill demonstrated to the world that the wealth generated through industrial production could be distributed in ways that would alleviate the dire social conditions that defined England during the nineteenth century. He called for gradual reforms that would temper the violent nature of industrial production and thus preserve the status quo.
Marx, on the other hand, believed that Mill’s course was impossible, and that society was on an industrial train that would necessarily and inevitably end in a worker revolution, at which point the excesses of industrialism would finally be controlled. All of the differences between Mill and Marx have tended to blind twentieth century scholars to one ominous similarity: they both steadfastly embraced the values of industrialism. Where was Winstanley, Harrington, Jefferson and the entire agrarian tradition when Mill and Marx were writing? It was there as a third option, but since it was a road not taken, so to speak, historians have mostly ignored it.
As it turns out, the third option, the alternative to Mill and Marx that emerged in the nineteenth century, was a vision to some degree reminiscent of Winstanley’s seventeenth century depiction of a community-based republic premised on a lifelong commitment to citizen education. It became manifest in the proliferation of community-building experiments in Europe and in the United States—experiments subsequently labeled “utopian,” a word that has come to be defined as synonymous with naïve, or with such phrases as “hopelessly romantic” or “overly sentimental.” But the word was first used by Thomas More whose book (published in 1551), Utopia, helped clear a path for later critiques of the feudal order. More pointed out that the word utopia might refer to the Greek “outopia,” meaning no place—a definition that squares well with our current one, but he also maintained that it might refer to “eutopia,” meaning the good place. Today, any vision of what a society might become that does not look very much like what society currently is, is quickly dubbed “utopian,” and therefore impossible to achieve. But whether these communitarian experiments were naïvely “utopian” using our current definition of the word is probably not as significant as the facts that document their incredible proliferation. Whether they were Fourierist or Owenite, heavily religious or strikingly secular, built around agriculture or industry, there were profound similarities among them all. In the United States we are most familiar with Hopedale, Northampton, New Harmony, Fruitlands, and Brook Farm, but between 1800 and 1859 there were at least 119 communal societies established; and between 1840 and 1849, the high point of the civic republican tradition in America, there were at least fifty-nine such communities established (Okugawa 1980).
The proliferation of these communities was partially a reaction to the excesses of the emerging industrial era, but it was also partly a reaction to the growing democratic spirit born of the liberal embrace of freedom. Surely freedom had to mean more than a permission slip to slug it out with others in a competitive economic market? Perhaps Montesquieu was right after all. Maybe human freedom was meant to be applied to the political scene as well, and what better way to infuse a political dimension into the lives of citizens then via community involvement? And just as Montesquieu warned that a democratic republic required a system of schools capable of delivering “the full power of education,” the communal societies of the 1840s made educational efforts a central thrust of their experiments, creating one significant similarity among them all.
A second similarity was the degree to which residents of these communitarian projects rejected the idea that “laws” took economic activity out of the realm of human volition—that there was some force at work which allowed market-driven behaviors to be considered quite apart from the realm of morality. To the contrary, communitarians of the 1840s tried to establish moral economies, they tried to set moral parameters that would govern the exchange of goods and services within them. The word that generally captured the idea of a moral economy was cooperation, and it should be no surprise that political theory built on the conception of a state of nature as a state of peace (Montesquieu), rather than a state of war (Locke), would be much more amenable to using cooperation as guideline for appropriate economic activity.
It turns out that we have to set aside both Mill and Marx to get a complete picture of the alternative that came into being, albeit piecemeal, during the nineteenth century—for it is within this alternative, we believe, that humankind’s greatest hope for a long future lies. Christopher Clark aptly labeled the 1840s as “the communitarian moment,” a phrase that suggests certain circumstances came together in such a way as to permit a communitarian vision for what life might be to come to fruition. But such a phrase also suggests that other circumstances came together in such a way as to snuff out that momentary vision. To take what instruction we can from the potential of the communitarian moment we need to examine both sets of circumstances in turn.
In 1999 a sizable group of English protestors marched to St. George’s Hill in Surrey—now an affluent suburb of London—and symbolically began digging, planting, and building temporary shelter. The effort was designed to commemorate the 350th anniversary of Gerrard Winstanley’s digger experiment, and it garnered some limited media attention. The re-enactment symbolizes one incontestable fact related to Winstanley and the diggers: what they did was memorable. At first, of course, it was a memory that haunted the landed aristocracy of England; but later it was a memory that served as a source of new possibilities in the world—the establishment of Puritan communities abroad, for instance, or for the establishment of secular communities of the sort that came into being in the nineteenth century. Winstanley and his followers took advantage of that limited window of freedom in the 1640s, that small space of time when the feudal order fell and there was nothing there to immediately fill the void. In that moment Winstanley and the diggers offered to the world the idea that the earth was a “common treasury” to be protected and used well by all.
There were prehistorical, classical, and medieval antecedents to this idea, to be sure, but the prehistorical conceptions had been irrevocably lost to seventeenth century Europe, and classical and medieval conceptions lacked the democratic ethos that pervaded England of the 1640s. When the idea of the earth as a common treasury was paired with the idea that an individual ought to have a voice in the decisions that affect her/him, a modern community-oriented agrarian vision was born. For this contribution to humankind, Gerrard Winstanley ought to be listed among the world’s great thinkers. His work ought to be translated into many languages and studied by youth and adults alike the world over. But his agrarian vision was passed over for a more chauvinistic, aggrandizing vision of an urban industrial future, and so Winstanley has remained a footnote in history. But while his vision has been kept in the footnotes, kept at the margins of political, economic, and educational theory, it has never disappeared altogether. For that there are others to thank.
An obscure late eighteenth century professor at King’s College in Aberdeen, Scotland, William Ogilivie, is one such individual. Building on the idea of the earth as a common treasury, Ogilivie argued that “the earth having been given to mankind in common occupancy, each individual seems to have by nature a right to possess and cultivate an equal share.” If a child is born with the expectation that it will receive mother’s milk, “no one can deny that it has the same right to mother-earth”(Ogilivie 1970, 7). Ogilivie’s arguments were laid out anonymously in 1782 in an extended essay sometimes called “Birthright in Land,” but the power possessed by England’s landed aristocracy was enough to be sure that this idea that every child born on earth was entitled to a part of it would go nowhere. Still, it has proved to be an idea that is difficult to dispute with intellectual argument. If a child deserves food, clothing, and shelter--something no one would attempt to deny—at what point does the child no longer deserve these things? Does this occur at age 12? 16? 18? 21? And is there some obligation on the part of society to be sure that the means of procuring these things are available to all? Given the vagaries of the market, a society is not in a position to guarantee income for all of those who need it. Then what? Ogilivie’s answer was that since each individual has a right “to the use of open air and running water,” they also have the right to obtain food, which for Ogilivie translated into a right to possess and cultivate a share of the earth.
Of course Ogilivie’s contemporaries were quick to point out that such a scheme was not practical, though he did his best to stave off this criticism. “No impractical Utopian scheme can be said to be suggested, in proposing that property in land should be diffused to as great a number of citizens as may desire it: that is only proposing to carry out somewhat farther, and render more extensive, a plan which the experience of many ages has shown to be very practical, and highly beneficial in every public and private respect.” This same objection—“It’s too impractical”—would be echoed a million times over if someone was able to get the same idea out to a wide audience today—something that has actually happened, as we shall shortly see. For now it is enough to recognize that Ogilivie built on Winstanley’s idea of the earth as a common treasury and argued that this conception creates a legitimate entitlement to the possession of the earth for all individuals. Ogilivie pointed out that primitive societies generally operate on the assumption undergirding a birthright in land but added that “whenever conquests have taken place, this right has been commonly subverted and effaced; in the progress of commercial arts and refinements, it is suffered to fall into obscurity and neglect” (Ogilivie 1970, 10). In other words, as land became an avenue for the acquisition of wealth unencumbered by community obligations, the idea that all individuals have a right to the land has been gradually squeezed out of popular memory.
But the idea didn’t die with Ogilivie. It was picked up and refined a few years later by an Englishman turned American citizen, none other than the great pamphleteer of the American colonies, Thomas Paine. In an essay entitled “Agrarian Justice,” Paine echoed Ogilivie’s arguments and built on the distant memory of Gerrard Winstanley and the diggers.
Paine’s career as an agrarian spokesperson developed while he lived in France after the American Revolution. But during the bloody reign of Robespierre, Paine was arrested and charged with being a “foreigner” and was subsequently imprisoned. Gouvenour Morris, America’s ambassador to France, refused to acknowledge Paine as a converted and legitimate American citizen, and thus Paine lived for months with the daily threat of the guillotine. When Morris was replaced by James Monroe, the new ambassador quickly lobbied for and achieved Paine’s release from prison. Mrs. Monroe nurtured him back to health and Paine quickly returned to the business of writing pamphlets and essays dedicated to the improvement of mankind. He wrote “Agrarian Justice” during the winter of 1795-96, though it wasn’t published until 1797. It was written as a suggestion for the French republic, though in the author’s inscription he noted that “this work is not adapted for any country alone,” meaning that its prescriptions might well be used by the United States or even England.
Paine begins the essay by highlighting what Adam Smith went to considerable effort to hide, the fact that the ascendancy of modern “civilization” had created enormous extremes in the quality of life among men:
Whether that state that is proudly, perhaps erroneously, called civilization, has most promoted or most injured the general happiness of man, is a question that may be strongly contested. On one side, the spectator is dazzled by splendid appearances; on the other, he is shocked by extremes of wretchedness; both of which it has erected. The most affluent and the most miserable of the human race are to be found in the countries that are called civilized (Van der Weyde 1925, 9)
Recall that Smith legitimized English poverty by pointing to their possessions, the glass in their windows, the silverware on their tables, then compared these possessions to those owned by the poor in Africa, thereafter pronouncing England’s poor to be better off than African kings. Malthus, Ricardo, and even John Stuart Mill berated the poor of England for their moral shortcomings, claiming definitively that they bring on their own circumstances by their inability to contain their “procreative impulses.”
Paine would have none of such nonsense. Using the state of nature as a point of departure (as did Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and many others), he noted that neither abject poverty nor incredible affluence existed there. Should a society seek to achieve a natural state, therefore, they must fashion policy that eliminates these extremes. Paine begins with a passage that sounds as if it came directly from Gerrard Winstanley’s The Law of Freedom or from Ogilivie’s Essay on the Right of Property in Land:
It is a position not to be controverted that the earth, in its natural, uncultivated state was, and ever would have continued to be, the common property of the human race. In that state every man would have been born to property. He would have been a joint life proprietor with the rest in the property of the soil, and in all of its natural productions, vegetable and animal (Van der Weyde 1925, 11).
For tens of thousands of years this arrangement was maintained. In time, however, the use of the sword legitimated unlimited acquisition by some and the dispossession of others. Agrarian justice required rectification of this circumstance and Paine was not satisfied with the objection so many gave to Ogilivie, that his plan was simply not practical. Paine was more than willing to tackle the practicality problem. Like Locke much earlier, Paine acknowledged that improved land is much more productive than unimproved land. But unlike Locke, Paine argued that it was the value of improvements made that constituted individual property—while the land remained necessarily a common treasury. This being the case, every proprietor of cultivated lands owes the community what Paine called a “ground-rent” in exchange for the use of the common treasury.
Paine was aware of the fact that, like the emerging small farms on the Greek peninsula circa 700 BC, the considerable labor involved in cultivation led to property claims where previously there were none. Originally, the land had no owner. The problem, for Paine, with property claims is that the act of establishing what belongs to one is simultaneously the act of denying possession to another. The shortcoming of civilized societies has been their failure to provide an indemnification for those who lack access to the common treasury. Righting this shortcoming was merely a policy question, and Paine went on to demonstrate how such a policy might look:
I shall now proceed to the plan I have to propose, which is, to create a national fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years, the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, as compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property: and also, the sum of ten pounds per annum, during life, to every person now living, of the age of fifty years, and to all others as they shall arrive at that age (Van der Weyde 1925, 15).
He goes on to describe how society might support such a policy—relying most heavily on inheritances taxes, “because it will operate without deranging any present possessors . . . and because it will be the least troublesome and the most effectual, and also because the subtraction will be made at a time that best admits it.” But as Paine points out, there are many ways to make the resources required by agrarian justice available.
Paine’s essay also ought to be required reading for youth and adults everywhere. It is a clearly written, carefully and persuasively constructed argument for a policy intended to minimize the extent to which modern “civilized” society divides people into groups of wealthy and poor. The plan had an impact on those who played a leadership role in establishing America’s communitarian moment in the 1840s, it would serve as a catalyst to Henry George’s “single tax” plan near the end of the nineteenth century, and it would serve as an indirect inspiration for a contemporary plan, offered by Yale philosophers Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott in The Stakeholder Society (1993), for the federal government to award a check for $80,000 to each high school or GED graduate. The plan was quickly dismissed as impractical.
There were other agrarian thinkers who rejected the assumptions and the general philosophy that emanated from the mainstream voices in the field of political economy, that is, Smith, Malthus, Ricardo, Say, and Mill. Ogilivie was one, Paine was another, but there were many more, some of whom were outside of the English speaking tradition, a fact that has contributed to some degree to their relative obscurity in the annals of economic theorizing. But as with the thought of Winstanley, Ogilivie, and Paine, the ideas are there at the margins waiting for a re-discovery on the part of modern civilized society.
At the margins clearly describes the ideas offered by the French (though he lived most of his life in Switzerland) economist Leonard Sismonde de Sismondi, an economist who began his career as an apologist for the views of Adam Smith. Sismondi was enamored with Smith’s ability to create a science out of the study of political economy. But he didn’t immediately build his career as an economist. His interests were broad. In 1818, for example, he published the last of an 18 volume history of the constitutional republics of Italy. He also published extensive works dealing with the literature of southern Europe, noting that its quality seemed to be related to the highs and lows of a nation’s economic prosperity.
In time Sismondi had a chance to visit England and, in fact, he lived there for about a year. The visit crushed his admiration for Adam Smith. As M. Mignet put it in 1845:
What had he seen there? --all the grandeur, but also all of the abuse, of unlimited production, every progress of industry causing a revolution in the means of living; every closed market reducing whole populations to die of hunger; the irregularities of competition; the state naturally produced by contending interests, often more destructive than the ravages of war; he had seen man reduced to the spring of a machine more intelligent than himself, human beings heaped together in unhealthy places, where life does not attain half its length; where family ties are broken, where moral ideas are lost; he had seen the weakest infancy condemned to labours which brutalize its mind, and prematurely waste its strength; he had seen the country, as well as the towns, transformed into manufactories; small properties and trades disappearing before great factories; the peasant and the artisan become day-labourers, the day-labourers falling into the lowest and most indigent class, and thus becoming paupers; in a word, he had seen extreme wretchedness and frightful degradation mournfully counterbalance and secretly threaten the prosperity and the splendour of a great nation (Sismondi 1966, 15).
In short, he had witnessed a system legitimated, ostensibly, by the science of political economy, one that clearly sacrificed the happiness of humankind to the production of wealth. It was a system he could not countenance. In 1819 he published his greatest work, New Principles of Political Economy, a volume that was not translated into English until 1991. As a consequence, it remained an obscure piece of work, a circumstance with onerous consequences, as history regrettably demonstrated.
Classical economic wisdom maintained that recessionary business cycles would right themselves because production created its own consumption (this came to be known as “Say’s Law,” as it was advanced first by the French economist Jean Baptiste Say). More than this, it stated that these cycles had to right themselves, as if it were a law of nature similar to the law of thermodynamics. Sismondi’s response? “It is a grave mistake . . . to represent consumption as a force without limits always ready to absorb an infinite production” (Sismondi 1991, xxviii). Grave, indeed. As the United States and much of the world slipped deeper and deeper into depression after 1929, American advisors to President Hoover clung ever tighter to Say’s Law, waiting for it to exert its mysterious force. It never did.
Sismondi dismissed economic analysis premised on the idea that human behaviors could be observed and later predicted with law-like certainty in much the same way that the physicist identifies a law of nature. In so doing, he alienated himself from the classical tradition of Ricardo and Mill, but also from the radical tradition of Marx and Lenin. Despite this, as we shall see, the world has profited from Sismondi’s ideas, and much suffering might have been alleviated by an earlier embrace of those ideas.
Sismondi was unabashedly an agrarian thinker—another reason why his work has been so readily dismissed. There are obvious physiocratic overtones in his work, though he brought much more sophistication to his analysis than Quesnay and Mirabeau were able to muster at the mid-point of the eighteenth century. Said Sismondi,
The riches proceeding from land should be the first to engage the attention of the economist or a legislator. They are the most necessary of all, because it is from the ground that our subsistence is derived; because they furnish the materials for every other kind of labor; and lastly, because, in preparation, they constantly employ the half, often much more than half, of all the nation. The class of people who cultivate the ground are particularly valuable for bodily qualities fitted to make excellent soldiers, and for mental qualities fitted to make good citizens (Sismondi 1991, 131).
Sismondi covers much the same ground as Paine in identifying the circumstances leading to property claims. Like Paine, he sees this development as advantageous to society but notes that it also places a burden on society.
He who, after having enclosed a field, uttered the first This is mine, has summoned him who possesses no field, and who could not live if the fields of the first would not bring forth a surplus product. This is a fortunate usurpation, and society, for the benefit of all, does well to guarantee it. However, it is a gift of society and in no way a natural right which preexisted (Sismondi 1991, 138).
In other words, the earth is a common treasury. In order for society to tap the benefits that come with land ownership, limits need to be placed on it, lest the land owner lose the ability to adequately care for it. Such limits have the added advantage of maximizing the number of land owners. This sounds, of course, a bit like Thomas Jefferson, America’s leading agrarian spokesperson, and the similarity is indeed obvious. But this similarity also brought charges of being a hopeless romantic from the likes of both Mill and Marx—though both acknowledged the incredible insights Sismondi relayed in the New Principles, and both quoted him extensively.
But here is the flaw of Mill and Marx as it relates to Sismondi. They both believed he was a romantic because he foolishly rejected the law-like inevitability of the Industrial Revolution. They both believed he was an advocate of widely dispersed property ownership and small-scale farming operations as a vain attempt to thwart the inevitable. But this is far too simplistic, whether it be a description of the intentions of Jefferson or Sismondi. And this is the greatest shortcoming in extant scholarship related to each of these individuals. Because the world did not come to look like what they hoped for, they have been charged with romanticism, with living in the past, with every cultural epithet we can think of that says that they were wrong.
An extensive reading of these individuals suggests otherwise, however. Sismondi’s agrarianism had nothing to do with a rejection of the Industrial Revolution. It had to do with utilizing economic analysis with the end in mind of improving the human condition—rejecting the leap of faith in the classical tradition that suggests that maximizing a nation’s gross national product is synonymous with improving the human condition. Probably the most famous quip of Sismondi’s, quoted often, has to do with the position of classical economists who contend that it does not matter if capital employs 100 workers or 1000, as long as the investment generates a high rate of return. To this kind of thinking—which clearly dominates current “global” economic theory—Sismondi responded that nothing more was needed than for the king of England to turn a crank to produce all the nation’s output.
What Sismondi rejected was the inevitable bias for efficiency that was a natural by-product of the industrial mode of production, a bias that would recommend technological innovation (and worker displacement). He rejected, as well, the counterargument of the classical economists, that lower costs would offset the downward push on wages created by greater numbers among the unemployed. The system had the effect of dividing classes of people, Sismondi argued, creating a proletariat completely cut off from the surplus value created by their own labor, generating ever-increasing levels of antipathy between classes. Marx may have rejected Sismondi as a romantic, but he borrowed heavily from his analysis.
Sismondi did not seek to hide from the Industrial Revolution. He advocated extensive governmental intervention to deal with it, to check the tendencies it created for ever greater property and capital accumulation. For example, he argued that day-laborers in the fields or in the factories had a right to compensation for the depreciation of their own work capacities so that they would have the resources to support themselves in old age when they could no longer work. They had a right to governmental protection from the industrial tendency to step up the speed of machines or to increase the length of the work day. Far earlier than anyone else, Sismondi warned of the dangers of massive depressions, arguing persuasively for governmental surveillance over technological innovation, he demonstrated the necessity of a minimum wage whether employed or not, a ceiling on the hours of work, a floor and ceiling on the age of work, and the establishment of profit-sharing plans for workers. Nearly two hundred years before the practice has become acceptable and demonstrably workable, Sismondi advocated worker-owned industrial operations.
The middle, or agrarian way between Mill, the gradualist advocate of reforming the most objectionable aspects of the new industrial economy, and Marx, the revolutionary industrial reformer, had yet more adherents, though, like Sismondi, they remain at the margins despite the brilliance of their scholarship. We will examine two more before moving back to the story of how fledgling contemporary educational movements resonate with this middle, or agrarian way. The first is yet another Frenchman, this one with a decidedly mathematical bent.
Leon Walras was born in 1834, the son of French economist Auguste Walras. Early in life Leon demonstrated a passion for literature and as a young man he took employment as a journalist. He wrote a couple of unremarkable novels before age 30 which may have helped to persuade him to take his father’s advice and devote his life to the study of economics. Once having done so, Walras became a part of a small group of late nineteenth century scholars who sought to bring the rigor of mathematics to the business of producing economic theory. Noting that it was one thing to propose a theory, “and quite another to prove it,” Walras looked forward to the day when “mathematical economics will rank with the mathematical sciences of astronomy and mechanics; and on that day justice will be done to our work” (Walras 1954, 48).
Despite his marginal status, again, at least partially due to the fact that his work was only intermittently translated into English (Elements of Pure Economics was not completely available in English until 1954), Walras made first-rate contributions to the study of economics. He added a more sophisticated conception of scarcity to price theory—now an economics mainstay. He became the most significant contributor (but even here Sismondi was ahead of him, though Walras does not cite him) to the notion of price equilibrium—using curve charts as demonstration. And he wrote extensively about the role of “entrepreneurs” in creating economic activity—all well-regarded contributions to mainstream economics. So why has Walras been relegated to the margins? If John Stuart Mill taught the world that the question of distribution could be left up to society, he did it at a whisper. In contrast, Walras said the same thing at the level of a shout.
Walras labeled questions related to distribution “social economics,” likely an unfortunate phrase given the ease with which it can be mistaken for socialism. But clearly Walras did go farther than Mill in acknowledging the moral dimensions within economic activity: “Moreover, the appropriation of things by persons or the distribution of social wealth among men in society is a moral and not an industrial phenomenon. It is a relationship among persons” (Walras 1954, 77).
Walras uses the parable of the deer to explain (note that even Walras, near the end of the nineteenth century uses a state of nature argument to make his point):
I imagine a tribe of savages and a deer in a forest. The deer is a useful thing limited in quantity and hence subject to appropriation. This point once granted, nothing more needs to be said about it. To be sure, before the deer can actually be appropriated it has to be hunted and killed. Again, this side of the question need not detain us, nor need we stop to consider such correlated problems as arise in connection with the need to dress the deer and prepare it in the kitchen. Quite apart from all of these aspects of a man’s relation to a deer, yet another question claims our attention; for whether the deer is still running about in the forest or has been killed, the question is: who shall have it? ‘The deer belongs to the one who has killed it!’ cries a young and active member of the tribe, adding, ‘If you are too lazy or if your aim is not good enough, so much the worse for you!’ An older, weaker member replies: ‘No! The deer belongs to all of us to be shared equally. If there is only one deer in the forest and you happen to be the one who catches sight of it, that is no reason why the rest of us should go without food.’ Obviously we are here confronted with a phenomenon which is fundamentally social and which gives rise to questions of justice or of the mutual co-ordination of human destinies (Walras 1954, 77).
John Locke was quite sure that the young man had it right, that the deer belongs to the one who killed it. Does the state of nature prompt men to acquire all the deer, apples, and acorns they can acquire? Or does it prompt them to come together to set up norms of behavior related to these acquisitions? This was the splitting point between Locke and Montesquieu. As political philosophers, they were concerned with what the state of nature meant for the establishment of governmental structures.
But it should be obvious by now that this same state of nature, this same splitting point, was of major import for economists, too, for property claims were clearly made in the act of acquisition. Goods were acquired and inevitably exchanged. What economists added to this splitting point was the idea that economic behavior was determined by natural law. Those who saw the development of industrial production as a part of law-defined life in the modern world, Ricardo and Marx, for instance, tended to take the future out of the realm of human volition. You could count on human self-interest to produce acquisitive behaviors, to seek the maximization of pleasure, etc., meaning that mathematics calculation and statistical probability were thought to be incredibly powerful tools for economic prediction. Certainly Walras felt that way. He might have made room for himself in the world’s economics hall of fame if he hadn’t—like so many of the French tradition—insisted that the young man in the forest was wrong.
Was that young man right? Or was he wrong? If you believe he was right you create a governmental system that does not burden citizens beyond the duty to vote once every few years, freeing them for unfettered economic pursuits. If you believe he was wrong, you create a governmental system that employs citizens in all manner of local political associations so that they have the opportunity to work through the establishment of norms within which economic activity will take place. Turning from political to economic implications, Walras believed that you embrace an “industrial theory” if you believe the young man was right. Such a theory “defines those relations between man and things which aim at the increase and transformation of social wealth, and determine the conditions of an abundant production of social wealth within a community. On the other hand, if you believe the young man was wrong, you employ a theory of property, or what might be better labeled as an agrarian theory, which “defines the mutual relations established between man and man with respect to the appropriation of social wealth, and determines the conditions of the equitable distribution of social wealth within a community” (Walras 1954, 79).
For Walras, the relations between man and man need to be worked out, the circumstances that will define life in a community need to be decided. For industrial advocates like Ricardo and Marx, laws immune to human volition will take care of this. For Ricardo, there was nothing that could stop the advance of industrialism; for Marx, that same advance of industrialism would, law-like, bring about the ascendancy of the worker. Mill opened the door a crack to the idea that through human volition the worst tendencies of industrialism could be ameliorated, Walras tried to throw that door open.
He was not alone. A near-contemporary—this time in England, the hotbed of nineteenth century industrialism—John Ruskin wrote perhaps the world’s most devastating critique of the classical economic tradition as well as the radical socialist tradition represented by Marx. The small book is composed of four extended essays and is entitled Unto This Last. It severely chastised the field of political economy and as a result it was conscientiously ignored; besides, nineteenth century political economists had no answers for Ruskin’s penetrating questions. There wasn’t much else they could do, except ignore it. In this way, it too fell to the margins of the field, rarely ever read by economists trained during the twentieth century.
John Ruskin was born in London in 1819, the son of a prosperous wine merchant. He demonstrated remarkable intellectual curiosity as a child and as a relatively young man he garnered a reputation as an art and architecture scholar, publishing volumes of work that were so popular that he rapidly achieved the status of one of Europe’s leading intellectuals. Because of this, the general public was caught off guard when he published four essays on political economy in four successive issues of Cornhill Magazine, August through November, 1860. Two years later the essays were published together as a book and titled Unto This Last.
Ruskin’s essays were an assault on the classical tradition and therefore scorned by many leading intellectuals who ardently believed that the wretched circumstances created by an embrace of industrialism were inevitable, and that rampant poverty was brought on by the poor themselves. Even though Ruskin explicitly rejected socialist doctrine in the essays, much to the chagrin of Marx, he was nevertheless accused of being a socialist in an attempt to discredit him and to minimize his readership. It worked. The book sold very poorly. If it had not been for his impeccable reputation as a scholar in the fields of art and architecture, it probably would have fared even worse. But it is nevertheless there, waiting in the margins for the world to re-discover.
Few today refer to Ruskin as an agrarian thinker, yet he is probably a better fit for such a label than many who possess it. Ruskin argued in a manner reminiscent of the physiocrats,
All essential (his emphasis) production is for the Mouth . . . hence, consumption is the crown of production; and the wealth of a nation is only to be estimated by what it consumes. The want of any clear sight of this fact is the capital error . . . among political economists. Their minds are constantly set on money-gain, not mouth gain; and they fall into every sort of net and snare, dazzled by the coin-glitter as birds by the fowler’s glass; or rather (for there is not much else like birds in them) they are like children trying to jump on the heads of their own shadows; the money-gain the shadow of the true gain, which is humanity (Ruskin 1985, 219-220).
Ruskin’s pen was sharp. He was disgusted with the social conditions of England during the middle decades of the nineteenth century. He lambasted the likes of Mill and Ricardo for failing to acknowledge the relationship between the amassing of great wealth and the proliferation of poverty, thus perpetuating a fiction that continues to find believers to this day, that it is possible for everyone to be rich. The motive power of men resides in a soul, argued Ruskin, and “the force of this very peculiar agent, as an unknown quantity, enters into all the political economist’s equations, without his knowledge, and falsifies every one of their results” (Ruskin 1985, 170). Or consider this barb, “The real science of political economy, which has yet to be distinguished from the bastard science, as medicine from witchcraft, and astronomy from astrology, is that which teaches nations to desire and labour for things that lead to life” (Ruskin 1985, 209). And last,
Unhappily for the progress of the science of Political Economy, the plus quantities . . . make a very positive and venerable appearance in the world, so that everyone is eager to learn the science which produces results so magnificent; whereas the minuses have, on the other hand, a tendency to retire into back streets, or other places of shade—or even to get themselves wholly and finally put out of sight in graves: which renders the algebra of this science peculiar, and differently legible; a large number of its negative signs being written by the account-keeper in a kind of red ink, which starvation thins, and makes strangely pale, or even quite invisible ink, for the present (Ruskin 1985, 213).
Ruskin revealed the true nature of the relationship between wealth and poverty in a manner that has yet to be adequately answered by the classical economics tradition. Said Ruskin,
Men nearly always speak and write as if riches were absolute, and it were possible, by following certain scientific precepts, for everybody to be rich. Whereas riches are a power like that of electricity, acting only through inequalities or negations of itself. The force of the guinea you have in your pocket depends wholly on the default of a guinea in your neighbour’s pocket. If he did not want it, it would be of no use to you; the degree of power it possesses depends accurately upon the need or desire he has for it—and the art of making yourself rich is therefore equally and necessarily the art of keeping your neighbour poor (Ruskin 1985, 180-181).
Ruskin’s analysis demonstrates the quandary faced by a modern society that chooses to define human nature as essentially economic and then designates freedom as the supreme human value. If life is essentially about economics, then freedom means little more than the freedom to get rich. The problem with this, as Ruskin so ably demonstrates, is that the freedom of the rich is acquired only through the denial of freedom among the poor. The nature of wealth prohibits it from happening in any other way.
The answer to this dilemma is of course the same answer offered in different ways by the likes of Ogilivie, Jefferson, Paine, Sismondi, Walras, and many others: carefully crafted policy that prevents the creation of extreme discrepancies between wealth and poverty. For these representatives of an agrarian worldview, freedom is essentially about having a voice in the decisions that affect oneself, not about the absence of restraints in the economic arena. That is to say, freedom is a political value which, once popularly exercised, will result in morally-crafted policy that avoids the discord and divisiveness which necessarily accompanies unlimited accumulation.
There is much more that might be said about Ruskin’s Unto This Last, like how as early as 1860 he recognized the slogan “free trade” as synonymous with the absence of competition rather than its enlargement—an early commentary on GATT, NAFTA, and other free trade agreements (Ruskin 1985, 200). But perhaps Ruskin’s most prescient insight—the one that speaks most directly to the twenty-first century--had to do with recognizing the power of consumption and the relationship between consumption and a nation’s social well-being. “The vital question,” wrote Ruskin, “for individual and for nation, is, never ‘how much do they make?’ but ‘to what purpose do they spend?’” Noting that “wise consumption is a far more difficult art than wise production” (Ruskin 1985, 218). Ruskin believed that an unjust economy will be built on indiscriminant spending; a just economy is built around well-considered spending:
In all buying, consider, first, what condition of existence you cause in the producers of what you buy; secondly, whether the sum you have paid is just to the producer, and in due proportion, lodged in his hands; thirdly, to how much clear use, for food, knowledge, or joy, this that you have bought can be put; and fourthly, to whom and in what way it can be most speedily and serviceably distributed (Ruskin 1985, 227-228).
There were plenty of non-socialist alternatives to the inequities and inequalities that accompanied the rise of capitalism red in tooth and claw. None of the individuals representing alternatives to the classical economics tradition—Ogilivie, Paine, Sismondi, Walras, Ruskin—followed Karl Marx, but nor were they willing to follow Smith, Ricardo, or Mill. In going their own way, they created a third alternative. They gave modern society a glimpse of what it might become, never knowing that humankind would reach the point where environmental exigencies, rather than a humanitarian embrace of justice, would lead us back to their work. Even Mill felt compelled to express his hope that the world’s population “will be content to be stationary, long before necessity compels them to it” (Mill 1988, 116).
It doesn’t appear that Mill’s hope will be fulfilled. Our embrace of industrial values has sent us headlong into a period of global Environmental Crisis of the sort the world has never known. Few hold much hope that the a governmental system dominated by the nation’s wealthiest citizens, and one beholden to corporate interests for their very seat in the halls of power, will take a proactive policy stand related to the exigencies to come. But change has always come from the margins—and that is precisely where agrarian values lie. It is at the margins where one will today find educational approaches intended to balance the preparation for economic life with preparation for political life.
Corrections to our current cultural trajectories will only occur through educational effort. An educational system geared toward workplace readiness that yields little intellectual wherewithal over the interplay of economics and the environment, over the relationship of poverty to wealth, or over the role of community in a Democracy will only reinforce the status quo. Many believe this is why the Bush administration has pushed an educational agenda that inhibits pedagogical change or creativity. But such a shortsighted educational agenda can’t remain the order of the day for long. Better ideas can’t be kept at bay forever.
A non-industrial, that is to say agrarian, worldview can re-emerge in time to check the excesses that are heating the earth’s atmosphere, but educational efforts currently at the margins will need to move front and center “with all deliberate speed.” At the outset we cited project-based learning, social reconstructionist pedagogy, and community-based curriculum as old educational ideas that are enjoying a small, but noticeable resurgence. It is precisely these kinds of educational effort, we believe, that are necessary in order to prepare citizens for the burden of producing solutions to global problems. Why?
For one, because these approaches remove self-interest as the primary benefit derived from an education. They elevate the social and political dimensions to life so that they are at least on par with the economic dimension. Second, by accomplishing something of substance through the very act of learning—say, as an example, learning art through the production of a mural that improves the aesthetics of one’s neighborhood—students learn first-hand about the sense of fulfillment that comes with being of service to others. Third, learning becomes immediate and not something to be held until life happens after one’s time in school is over. The mathematics that helped students produce a community cash flow survey was learned and immediately wielded to the benefit of one’s family and neighbors. This is precisely the kind of citizenship education that schools ought to provide.
In time, schools could become the kind of research vehicle that helps communities shoulder the burden of ethical consumption Ruskin described in the nineteenth century—knowing “what condition of existence you cause in the producers of what you buy.” Projects of this sort on a nation-wide basis would contribute markedly to an improved Culture, one that raises the well-being of communities and neighborhoods as essential criteria for policy-making. As is the case for some places right now, schools across the country could become catalysts to locally-produced food and energy in the interest of stopping human contributions to an ever-warming atmosphere.
We could go on and on with examples. Our point is that educational effort of substance will be required to get the most out of that small set of ideas—agrarianism, the commons, no-growth economics, and the maximum wage—that hold the greatest promise for solving the world’s most vexing problems.
Bowers, C. A. 2006. Revitalizing the Commons: Cultural and Educational Sites of Resistance and Affirmation. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield.
Cooke, Jacob. ed. 1964. The Reports of Alexander Hamilton. New York: Harper and Row.
Dobson, Austin. comp. 1927. The Poetical Works of Oliver Goldsmith. London: Oxford University Press.
Donahue, Brian. 2001. Reclaiming the Commons: Farms and Forests in a New England Town. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Freyfogle, Eric T. ed. 2001. The New Agrarianism: Land, Culture, and the Community of Life. Washington, DC: Island Press.
Hardin, Garrett. 1968. “The Tragedy of the Commons.” Science, 162: 1243-1248.
Ogilivie, William. 1798. 1970 edition. Birthright in Land: An Essay on the Right of Property in Land. New York: Augustus Kelley.
Okugawa, Otohiko. 1980. “Annotated list of utopian and communal societies, 1787-1919.” In Dictionary of American Communal and Utopian History, edited by Robert S. Fogarty, Westport, CT: Greenwood.
Mill, John Stuart. 1848. 1988 edition. The Principles of Political Economy. New York: Penguin.
Montmarquet, James A. 1989. The Idea of Agrarianism: From Hunter-Gatherer to Agrarian Radical in Western Culture. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho Press.
National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983. A Nation at Risk. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
Ruskin, John. 1862. 1985 edition. Unto this Last. New York: Penguin.
Sismondi, Jean Charles Leonard. 1828. 1966 edition. Political Economy and the Philosophy of Government. New York: Augustus Kelley.
Sismondi, Jean Charles Leonard. 1819. 1991 edition. New Principles of Political Economy. New York: Augustus Kelley.
Theobald, Paul. 1997. Teaching the Commons: Place, Pride, and the Renewal of Community. Boulder, CO: Westview.
Van der Weyde, William. ed. 1925. The Life and Works of Thomas Paine. New Rochelle, NY: Thomas Paine National Historical Association.
Walras, Leon. 1874. 1954 edition. Elements of Pure Economics. London: George Allen and Unwin.
Wirzba, Norman. ed. 2003. The Essential Agrarian Reader: The Future of Culture, Community, and the Land. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press.
Further correspondence should be address to Paul Theobald Woods-Beals Professor of Urban and Rural Education; Caudell Hall 108; Buffalo State College; 1300 Elmwood Avenue; Buffalo, NY 14222; or Hibajene Shandomo, Assistant Professor of Elementary Education, Bacon Hall, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222