What Is To Be Done?

We are in a dangerous place. Edward Curtin’s recent lamentation is an excellent description of the predicament that Jonathan Pageau called the ‘end of our civilization‘ (at about 10 min into this discussion). Regular readers of LRC certainly have been given by Mr. Rockwell the wherewithal to see through the haze of propaganda and the walls of censorship. But to understand the problems does not necessarily give us the direction for action. It gives me no solace whatsoever that I fall upon the question posed by Lenin himself in his 1902 pamphlet on party objectives and organization.  But What is To Be Done? (I feel nauseated linking to marxists.org) is an appropriate question to consider.

My response to the Lenin question is declared in this wisdom infused communication I received in reply to my post on Bret Weinstein. Tess of the D’Ur... Hardy, Thomas Best Price: $1.68 Buy New $5.94 (as of 05:52 UTC - Details)

The problem with Weinstein and Co. is they are part of the industrial state.  And here’s what I mean.  Not only have they been ‘educated’ in our Prussian style universities, where the teleological educational aim always pushes the graduate to reinforcing the state’s aims, they’re physically deficient as well.  And I’m not picking on anyone’s stature or physical development.  A man who has worked the land and raised livestock always understands there is not much in the way of biological determinism, and if there is, over a course of a million years or so, he doesn’t care.  It’s meaningless to him.  The land will temper intellectual abstractions quicker than Bret can recount a genome sequence.

This is why I always prescribe Thomas Hardy or the Southern Agrarians to my high-minded, technocratic friends from university.  Read those authors, plant a full, 1 acre garden, 8 laying hens and one milk cow and check back with me in a year.  The next year, we’ll double our labors.

Invariably, the abstractions fall away and real living begins.

Well there you are, to let the real living begin, plant a garden. Though I would only demure from the above in warning that reading Jude the Obscure might cause a suicide (or a homicide). In all seriousness, Really live in the real world you know with your own senses. Sense the response of the real world itself, not model predictions. For example, in discussing Covid with people I explain the one absolute reality for me is that I do not know a single person to have been killed, or even hospitalized, due to the virus. Furthermore, the goal is to have living skills, skills that give life. If things really get desperate (e.g., economic collapse) you can have food to eat and food to trade. Gardening is not the only competence to develop. The investments in practical knowledge are limitless. The wise YouTube grandmother, Mary Kochan, has done a podcast series on raising chickens and on how to be a good husband to the earth (e.g., animal husbandry). Working with wood or metal, and machines will be helpful to yourself and your neighbors. Being a good neighbor is truly the best way to be a good citizen. Far from the Madding C... Thomas Hardy Best Price: $2.24 Buy New $6.34 (as of 05:52 UTC - Details)

I have lived my whole adult life in apartments. A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to buy a property in the countryside in Burgundy, France. The purchase was in part to have my own garden. But I know very little of gardening beyond the need for dirt and water. To accelerate my experience with gardening I signed up for an instructional course (a “formation”) called “Le Potager Naturel” at the Ecole Nationale de Paysage in Versailles. The site of the school is Le Potager du Roi, the king’s vegetable garden.It is adjacent to the old quartier St. Louis (a 5 minute walk to the chateau), filled with restaurants and an 18th century cathedral.

The instructor is a remarkable man named Yves Gillen. There are many videos of his teaching style and his lifestyle. They are in French but you will get the idea about this special person who has spent almost five decades passing his days in his three hectare (about 7.4 acres) garden along a swamp without power tools or chemicals. He has never opened a book, but he is an autodidact that knows his plants because he has lived with his plants. The class is like passing hours in the garden with a 19th century peasant. Below is an example of a class handout, his own simple and evocative art work.

In a previous LRC post I wrote “In these desperate times, I feel the two actions that are essential are to take courage and to pray.” Clearly, I should also add “and to garden.”

Le Potager du Roi with the Cathédrale Saint-Louis de Versailles in the background.

Aerial view of Le Potager du Roi from Google.

Class handout drawn by Yves Gillen.