environmental science 1 1

Reading response, read the follow paragraph, write 300 words response. Add one citation from files materials.

After completing week three readings, I have chosen to focus my discussion on the concept of peasantry. Peasantry is talked about in a small way in a few of the readings, but is the primary focus in Kautsky’s “The Peasant Industry” from the Agrarian Question, on pages 186-190 of the packet. This specific reading stood out to me and was helpful to use in better understanding the other readings because it explains the idea of the progression of peasantry and also its “rapid demise” (packet p. 187) The first half of the reading talks about how the medieval peasant family was very self sufficient and was able to produce all of the things they needed (food, clothes, tools, leather, house accessories, etc.) (Packet, P.186) Their only purpose for needing to trade was to trade things that they had excess of. The benefit of this, as Kautsky explains, is that “the enemy could not actually destroy them” (Packet, P.23)

This changed however with the development of industry. The piece of this section that was most noteworthy and interesting to me is that the peasantry goods became luxury items, and therefore too expensive to consume and also for them to make, changing the dynamic of how their economy previously ran. I found this very interesting, and wanted to point out how something that was essential to them, some how became a luxury good to someone else, in what appears to be such a quick period of time.

I wanted to compare this reading to the reading of Michael Altieri’s “Ecological Impacts of Industrial Agriculture and the possibility for Truly sustainable farming.” (Packet, P191-199) This reading discusses the concept of monocultures and the issues that come with crop specialization where the same crop is grown on the same land year after year. The reading discusses how when multiple different crops are grown on the same land, the soil gets nutrients and differentiation from these different crops, so in doing monocultures, there is an issue where fertilizers and repellents become needed. My point of bringing this up in comparison to peasantry is that the peasants produced all of their own things, so I would assume they also used one spot of land for many different purposes, such as growing many different crops. I am curious, at what point did it become noticed that it was a benefit to the soil in doing this? And was part of the reason that monoculture started because the peasants could no longer afford the “luxury goods” they were making before? Perhaps I am totally off base here, however it was something that got me thinking about the relation between peasantry and monocultures, and in turn, the wellness of the soil.”


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