[Editor: This is a chapter from Australianism (1954) by John Fisher.]
On the land, the assorted shallow beliefs of civilisation pervert human aspirations and relationships no less than in the cities. Few people live in order to achieve an immortal happiness, but direct their whole lives to the pursuit of “expanding markets,” which, on the level of international finance, cause enslaving wars and depressions. While it is obvious that the human frame, money, and property remain on earth after death, it is less certain that the human mind does so. It has never been captured in material form but, expanding from birth, it roves freely from beyond the universe into deeper intimacies of the atom than can be revealed by mere physical probing, it flits effortlessly from times before the earth’s birth, to after its destruction. The ability to imagine planetary events continuing after the world’s destruction is irrefutable evidence of man’s unknown link with eternity, though the childish preoccupation with money robs untold millions of rejuvenation at the unfailing springs of inspiration.
Some farmers recently asked the parasitic politicians to reimpose price controls on their produce because they lacked sufficient self-control to refrain from barbaric practices amongst themselves. Civilised people should be sufficiently elevated by the more rewarding pursuits of the adventuring mind to abstain from such imbecilities. If farmers wish to eradicate the countless non-productive, parasitic activities of politics and capitalism, such as taxation, paper-work, duplication, etc., they must realise that absolute material security, together with an expansive, creative life, can alone make them free and independent.
If all land-owners were to donate half their acreage exceeding 50 acres for closer irrigation settlement, they would still be the largest land-owners, and could receive much benefit from co-operation with settlers skilled in the various arts, trades, and professions. With the threat of starved millions of Asians to the north of Australia the time is coming when farmers will either have to encourage a fuller utilisation of the land by their own fellow countrymen, or have Asiatics swarm over it and fill the vast undeveloped spaces. The aim should be the greatest good of the greatest number, and it should be sought with a respect for natural law.
The Asian countries already enjoy a more natural agrarian distribution of population, and their spiritual heritage has a greater traditional integrity and older history than the miscellaneous religions of the West, which makes it highly probable that, after absorbing the best of Western science, Eastern culture will completely swamp the fragmentary West. This would probably be an expansive experience, though it does provide another reason why decentralisation should be widely encouraged in Western countries.
Scientific farming can make the small landholder almost independent, though Western educators fail completely to show people how simple material security can facilitate the stimulating, creative life which guarantees an expanding mental horizon. Country life is unique in the opportunities it offers the individual for creative living. It is not only possible to fashion a home of beauty in a beautiful setting, but for the adventurous spirit, mountaineering, yachting, gliding, riding, hiking, camping, motoring, and so on, can be indulged at will in far greater measure than is possible for city dwellers.
The small irrigation land-holder is the only member of the community who can never lose his job as a result of scientific advances, since three meals a day will always be the greatest and indispensable material need of the individual. For this reason, the development of water resources and the intensive utilisation of the land is the most fundamentally important economic activity in the world. Science will shortly eliminate all problems of water supply by the conversion of sea-water and the harnessing of atomic energy.
The great majority of civilised peoples spend their lives at brainless, idiotic tasks as mere attachments to the economic structure, and few become inspiring examples of humanity on their own account. Country folk are more directly attached to natural realities although, in their ignorance, they seldom receive the benefit they might from this advantage due to their preoccupation with monetary pursuits. Fundamental considerations indicate that the isolated small-holder must possess the greatest intellectual resourcefulness if he is to enjoy a satisfying life. Indeed, for this reason, the day is at hand when the remotest small-holder will be the most respected member of the community.
There are already available atomic processes capable of individual application in utilising the soil’s abundance, and further developments will only be within the reach of those suitably skilled and located. Disinherited, slum-imprisoned hordes who live within the confines of office bee-hives and cramped factories, can never use advanced atomic processes in stream-lining a self-reliant way of life. The masterful citizen needs a piece of personal landscape in which to express his artistic originality, a private kingdom wherein to enshrine the treasures of a royal progress to life’s fulfilment.
John Fisher, Australianism, self-published: Harcourt Gardens (SA), , pages 22-23
[Editor: Changed “facilitate the stimulasting” to “facilitate the stimulating”; “private kindom” to “private kingdom”.]