A Small Medium @Large

The 20 Year Plan – Part Two 

Decentralization, Leadership and Responsibility 

Decentralization as a political trend has evolved hand-in-hand with three equally important global developments, namely, citizen participation, democratization, and the tripling of the world’s population since WWII.  

Decentralization, as a progression of economic steps, is foundational to the Farm Resettlement Congress’s 20 Year Plan (the Plan). This is a framework that can be adapted to the resources and goals of a given watershed population for the return of its food security.  By doing so, more oversight of governmental accountability will also be restored to everyday citizens. The Plan represents a golden opportunity for a peaceful re-democratization of power, a rebalancing at the scale required.  

The economy leads and politics follow.  By monetizing and managing both our local production and ecological stewardship responsibilities we can bridge the “rural vs. urban divide” through a bioregional approach.  This is entirely new.

Bioregionalism is a non-partisan, watershed based approach to restoring a food freedom economy.  Water is life. The people living in a given river basin are biologically united by their reliance on water sharing, weather exigencies, and waste disposal realities. 

Look at the hurricanes.  Reality sets in fast during extreme climactic events, famine or war.  The Plan is a rally to preparedness and takes its name and philosophy from Wendell Berry’s classic “The Unsettling of America: culture and agriculture.”  

Resettlement as defined here, does not mean a repeat of the free-for-all destruction of resources and native cultures seen during the previous three stages of agriculture in the Ozarks (see SM@L7/26/18).  Just the opposite is true.  Soil regeneration, citizen-led conservation, water science and common sense must now lead the way.

The ability to feed ourselves independently of the administrative state has profound spiritual and developmental correlates.  To even imagine it takes firsthand knowledge of the struggle, risks, lessons and rewards involved in feeding one’s own carcass.  Until we actually return to a sacred relationship in nature’s schoolroom, then notions of “conservation” or “sustainability” are but head trips.

When the sacred goes missing, every person is right in his own eyes.  Proof? Everyone wants to manage everybody else but wants no dirt under their own nails.  

The Plan defines Farm as locally owned and managed land that is dedicated to the diversity of crops, products and processing necessary to sustain people in a given watershed community.  It plots the voluntary transition from so-called “best practices” to a sustainable organic food supply base over the course of 20 years.

The Plan aims for a state-wide ban on synthetic biocides, “Save the Bees!”, and promotes the development of privately-owned, natural and localized insect and herbicide industry for broad acre and garden producers.  This represents a multibillion dollar transfer of opportunity to local rural entrepreneurship.  It will help revive both rural Main Streets and bird populations.  Expect a significant drop in cancer, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, autism, and species decline will follow.

Herein, Congress, refers to those people in a given basin that have donated 5% of their assets (1/2 tithe) in their wills to a charitable foundation created by, of, and for them to restore food freedom, prosperity and jobs to their own community. 

The Plan, in effect, is third tier of direct democracy that operates beneath state and federal levels just like the Swiss system (see SM@L 11/29/18).  Decentralization must be coupled to a similar descent of environmental stewardship with all the attendant responsibilities and thinking that comes with more self-government.

Salus populi suprema lex esto.”  Translation: “Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.”  Given Missouri’s state motto, one might think that the prioritization of rural/urban food security would be integral to our structures of governance at every level.  One would think wrong.

Returning the ownership of the food supply to the people did not happen following the calamitous 1930’s and war years.   Restoring true oversight of government accountability to the people is never the priority of lawmakers in any case.

The exact opposite is true, of course.  The deliberate dismantlement of family owned farms became official policy in the State Department and the CIA beginning in 1954.   Corporate collectivization was conducted with cold efficiency by the USDA through policy, law and intimidation. 

Economic determinism drives mechanized farming, now increasingly satellite controlled.  It leaves no philosophical room for the human agency. In ten years only hobby farms will remain. Watch Netflix’s Oscar-nominated film Food Inc. to fully grasp how ruthlessly this is being done.  Like taking candy from a baby.   

In Crisis &Opportunity-Sustainability in American Agriculture, John Ikerd writes “Corporatism means that we let someone else make most of our economic and political decisions for us.  . . (it) is a natural consequence of the process of industrialization- that is, assembly-line production.” 

With centralized power large industries increase their ability to reduce wages, exploit their workers, distort civil society, and strip mine the environment.  The chronic decline in small farm market competitiveness means people participate in society through the dictates of centralized organizations-not directly as independent individuals.  Overseas corporate decision makers exert control over Missouri’s lawmakers, who only pretend to represent the people.  And we sleep on. 

But it is futile to lay blame.  Most, but not all, state and national politicians dream about their sponsors’ money night and day.  We should know that is what they do, their fidelity to voters is a tiresome sham, and that’s how political sex works. 

We can, however, serve the entire humanity through bioregional thinking and the economic power of decentralization.  A balanced mind can embrace all things without any exception.  Even politicians will be loved by us because we ourselves may have once chased the very same stink bait.   Today’s corrupted and second rate lawmakers will be tomorrow’s food freedom champions.

This is why partisan polarization is absent from the Resettlement language, literature and meetings.  No exceptions!  All who read these words are asked to help us keep it this way.  I’m deliberately taking a lot of space to drive the point that angry partisan minds do not inspire the symptoms of higher intelligence.

We don’t need to become humorless, or ignore the truth, but there is a limit. We are right to challenge polarization as provocation.  Service minded folks will never knowingly criticize someone.   They’ll wait until they’re asked for a helping hand. 

It’s like when a baby dirties its diaper.  The adult takes it out of the crib, cleans it, and puts on a new diaper. Adults don’t criticize a baby for being a baby. Likewise, adults  don’t criticize a politician for being a politician, but they should be changed often. If one’s impulse is to criticize then  one has no business representing the FRC cause. The fact is we will get better leaders only when we become a better people.

Service must be freely given be it from the White House to the outhouse.  This is why the Plan views the decentralization process through the lens of volunteerism. Forget politics.  Establishing the sacred in our relationships- the topic of Part 1 in this series- is not something that comes to us only when all is done.  It is a practice that brings benefit right now.  The sacred is perfection in action, not a philosophy.

The Plan is project-driven and you’ve read about some of them here.  People can enlist in or lead a project and get back to their own life when done. The chosen vehicle is the not-for-profit Charitable Foundation template, which can include all kinds of profit making centers.  Decentralization is emancipatory.

Regenerative agriculture follows a plan for economic triage. To re-establish rural food security we must create a pull-trough market for products that will serve the restaurants and institutions in small Ozark towns and cities alike. These include health care facilities, retirement homes, schools, fire and police, restaurants and winter farmers’ markets.  

Decentralization through a bioregional focus will sustain the primary necessities of life in hard times. This is the antidote to state-imposed collectivism and utopian materialism.  The economics of decentralization can be quickly advanced when it is self-funded by a coalition of willing neighbors.   

To observe the dictum “follow the money” is to discover who has it.  We do.  Our ocean of wealth vastly exceeds the crumbs of institutional grants or government dribbles or from mega banks.  This is the last thing they want us to know. Regionally based grocers need locally grown food and may help to directly capitalize any watershed community that can field a team. Stay in touch.