Saturday, January 09, 2010

Longman - Yeomanry Will Rise Again

Phillip Longman at Mercatornet writes on the comeback of yeomanry:
Today, there is a strong correlation around the world between adherence to traditional Christian, Islamic or Judaic religious values and high fertility. The result is an emerging world in which the ancient, patriarchal values of these religions are becoming stronger, while secularism suffers demographic decline.

The current world economic crisis will most likely compound the trend, for a variety of reasons. The widespread loss of jobs and retirement savings gives a survival advantage to those who still have abundant human capital upon which to rely, specifically, strong, largely self-sufficient families in tight-knit, high-trust, self-financing communities. Under currently unfolding conditions, the “fittest” are those who invest heavily and successfully in building up strong families and local community support networks.

Many people may try to contend with their financial and economic losses by forming secular communes. History suggests, however, that families and communities bound by common blood and religious faith are more likely to succeed in fostering the necessary sacrifice of individualism and consumerism.

These changes we are living through are very scary, but they also, I think, have the long-term promise of restoring the economic basis of the natural family and renewing society generally. Seeing more specifically how this future might unfold requires dwelling briefly on a few poorly remembered traditions from the past.

In a recent issue of Foreign Policy Magazine, I have published a brief article entitled The Return of Yeomanry. This word “yeomanry” is now obscure in English, and may be impossible to translate into many other languages. But particularly in America during the 18th and 19th century, it stood for a clear ideal of human organization, which was small-scale production centered on a self-sufficient family unit.

One of America’s most prominent founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, for example, wrote frequently the superior virtue of the country’s then substantial yeomanry, which mostly comprised family farmers who owned their own land and small family business owners. Jefferson’s vision of America’s future was that widespread family ownership of small scale productive would remain the dominant form of social and economic organization, and that the influence of both Big Business and Big Government would be held in check..More>>
For those of us convinced of the merits of subsidiarity - what Father Vincent McNabb, G. K. Chesterton, and Hilaire Belloc called "distributivism" - Longman's words bring hope.

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