ENOUGH IS PLENTY – Thoreau’s Alternative Economics~~~~~~~~~
Best of the season to you all! Here is a much longer submission than usual, suitable for reading on a cold winter’s night.
Graduating from Harvard in 1837 was a young student named Henry David Thoreau. This able graduate was an aspiring poet, but his poetry, though often beautiful and inspired, was not a commodity that sold well in the market. Indeed, it did not sell at all. And so, upon returning to his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts, the young Thoreau was confronted by those great economic questions all of us must face when trying to establish financial independence in a world of scarce resources: How best to earn a living? How much time should I spend at it? How much do I need to live well and to be free?
This book examines the difficult but rewarding struggle that ensued when Thoreau set about answering these very human questions. It begins by trying to understand the poet’s ‘crisis of vocation’ and then moves on to consider his not unrelated critique of materialistic culture. This will provide the foundations for a sustained examination of the ‘alternative economics’ that Thoreau presents in his unclassifiable manifesto, Walden.
Although what follows is ostensibly about this poet-philosopher named Henry Thoreau and the response he gave to the economic situation he faced, I invite the reader to consider the relevance of Thoreau’s life and ideas to our own day, our own lives – our own economic situations. For as Ralph Waldo Emerson said when he was speaking at Thoreau’s graduation ceremony, ‘This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.’ And as for knowing what to do with it, I wish to speak a word for Thoreau.