“The global economy,” Wendell Berry writes, “institutionalizes a global ignorance, in which producers and consumers cannot know or care about one another, and in which the histories of all products will be lost. In such a circumstance, the degradation of products and places, producers and consumers, is inevitable” (Wirzba 2002, 244). For Berry and other critics, the new global order, oriented toward achieving unprecedented material abundance for a small number of people, thrives when it contaminates natural resources like land, water, air, and species habitat, and prospers by degrading less tangible, though equally crucial, aspects of human life: a sense of place, human dignity, a belief in the interconnectedness of whole ecological systems not limited to those that support only humans (Harvey 2006; Nixon 2011; Tsing 2005). But it is also clear that for writers, scholars, and activists, among the most insidious effects of a market system designed to exceed the carrying capacity of the planet is its uncanny ability to degrade a sense of the richness of local histories and ways of knowing in the name of progress, and thus paradoxically to erode the sense that the future can be otherwise.

This essay may be found on page 55 of the printed volume.

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