It is a small logical step from understanding that self-determination for an individual depends on “your own place on your own land” to understanding that self-determination for a community depends on the same thing: its home ground, and a reasonable measure of local initiative in the use of it. This gives us a standard for evaluating the influence of an “outside interest” upon a region or a community. It gives us a standard for evaluating the policy of “bringing in industry” and any industry that is brought in. Outside interests do not come in to a place to help the local people or to make common cause with the local community or to care responsibly for the local countryside. There is nothing at all to keep a brought-in industry in place when the place has become less inviting, less exploitable or less profitable than another place.
The ruling ideas of our present, very destructive national or international economy are: competition, consumption, globalism, corporate profitability, mechanical efficiency, technological progress, upward mobility—and in all of them there is the implication of acceptable violence against the land and the people. We, on the contrary, must think again of reverence, humility, affection, familiarity, neighborliness, cooperation, thrift, appropriateness, local loyalty. These terms return us to the best of our heritage. They bring us home.
The high costs of industrial land-using technology encourage and often enforce land abuse. This technology is advertised as “labor-saving,” but in fact it is people-replacing. The people, then, are gone or unemployed, the products of the land are taken by violence and exported, the land is wasted, and the streams are poisoned. For the sake of our home places and our own survival, we need many more skilled and careful people in the land-using economies. The problems of achieving this will be difficult, and probably they will have to be solved by unofficial people working at home. We can’t expect a good land-based economy from people who wish above all to continue a land-destroying economy.
The people who do the actual work and take the most immediate risks in the land economies have almost always been the last to be considered and the poorest paid. And so we must do everything we can to develop associations of land owners and land users for the purpose of land use planning, but also of supply management and the maintenance of just prices.