Wendell Berry on the “operative law of officially-sanctioned exploitation”

“If there has been any law that has been consistently operative in American history, it is that the members of any established people or group or community sooner or later become “redskins”— that is, they become the designated victims of an utterly ruthless, officially-sanctioned and subsidized exploitation.  The colonists who drove off the Indians came to be intolerably exploited by their imperial governments. And that alien imperialism was thrown off only to be succeeded by a domestic version of the same thing; the class of independent small farmers who fought the war of independence has been exploited by, and recruited into, the industrial society until by now it is almost extinct.  Today, the most numerous heirs of the farmers of Lexington and Concord are the little groups scattered over the country whose names begin with “save”: Save our Land, Save the Valley, Save Our Mountains, Save Our Streams, Save Our Farmland. As so often before, these are designated victims – people without official sanction, often without official friends, who are struggling to preserve their places, their values, and their lives as they know them and prefer to live them against the agencies of their own government, which are using their own tax monies against them.”

 Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America, as published in The Art of the Commonplace, 2002

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