Salman Rushdie has called the migrant the “central defining figure of the 20th century” Imaginary Homelands since so many today live lives of transience and placelessness. Yet Berry, who swam upstream when he exchanged the life of a New York City intellectual for that of a Kentucky farmer, has been a vocal critic of the mindset which justifies the uprooting, the unsettling, and ultimately the destruction of vital and distinct local communities and cultures in favour of a monoculture driven by, and reduced to, consumption and production.
Several years ago, my wife and I drove across Canada and returned through the United States. There were multiple times that we pulled off the interstate and said, “You know, we could be anywhere right now.” The Big Box stores, the outlet malls, the fast food chains were eerily similar for thousands of kilometres and miles. Of course, pockets of resistance are everywhere. Yet such resistance is hard, well, because it’s not really economically feasible. Or is it? Depends what we mean by economics.
I would argue that our problem is not so much that we have reduced everything to economics; rather, we have reduced the language of economics so much that now we only think of the exchange of goods when we hear that term.