Technology and Society: The Influence of Machines in the United States

By S. Mckee Rosen ; Laura Rosen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
THE FARMER

The Condition of the Farmer as a Measure of Civilization

It is often said that the condition of a country may best be judged by the state of its agriculture. In Guatemala the still quite primitive Mayan Indian relies almost entirely upon his own immediate physical prowess to produce food and to live. Even beasts of burden, the donkey and the ox, are rare in that country today. The Indian not only plants and harvests by means of the simplest of hand methods; he also hoists the fruits of his labor upon his back and trudges mile upon mile of mountainous road to the market place. His diet is simple because his agricultural knowledge is limited. The economic pattern of his living is simple for it too is bounded by his meager resourcefulness. His is a day long past in many countries of the world.

It is a far cry from the Guatemalan Indian to the Soviet farmer who, as he casually guides the power-driven combine, looks out upon a veritable ocean of wheat stalks. Wheat and sky! Though he rides, he has rarely seen the boundaries of the government farm upon which he labors. For it stretches far across the flatlands. Where one man and machine leave off, another begins. Uniformity of performance; agriculture on an efficiency rather than a sufficiency basis; agriculture as molded by technology—the thresher, the reaper, the tractor, and the truck. Scarcely the same world—the milpa of the Guatemalan Indian, the collective of the Russian.

Mechanization Unevenly Distributed.The Russian looks to the United States for his example. He knows that "every American farmer has a car, a tractor, and a truck," that "each farmhouse is equipped with electricity, gas, and run

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