I’m not one of those people who think all back-to-the land people are pretentious hypocrites. Americans were bred for it. Bred with the desire to change their surroundings in order to meet their needs and ascetic (and aesthetic) desires. Bred to spend little time on book learned philosophy and more time on blowing up mountains for railroads and installing solar panels to be “off the grid.”
We like the romance (or once did) of living nearly government free. We like the romance of the nomadic Sioux Indians on horseback because we’ve all come to this continent as wandering, fleeing people. We take photographs of “primitive” people with “simple lives” not because we like exhibitions at zoos, but because despite our almost diametrically opposed other desire for the most up-to-date material goods–there is a sense in us that simplicity will free us from ourselves.
Americans strive and want progress–an endless list of accomplishments to prove our worth, but at the same time we’ve known that this proving, this rat-race, this hard-driving road over scattered rail lines leads to no where in particular.
The manufacture of solar panels leads to industrial waste and not every person really wants to depend on their local weather for the wheat berries they grind themselves, but sometimes in the face of vicious human corruption that feels like it’s getting progressively worse, we type into our smart phones a search for a real estate agent in the middle of nowhere.
We can have horses then and grow our own stuff and wear home-made clothes with fabric from our sheep (who won’t have parasite over-load and die). We’ll live with the bears until they knock over our honeybee hives. We’ll uneasily buy a gun and shoot it into the air when the first shadow of a grizzly lurks in the yard. Then we’ll get so angry at a fox after it feasts on our chickens which we carefully raised from chicks shipped cross-country from a hatchery (we wanted a heritage breed) that we REALLY shoot and kill something.
When Europe killed Christians, slashed down their forests and found technology, the most desparate and brave people crossed the ocean to the last Eden. We’ve been figuring out what to do in it ever since.