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Edward Hyams: Ecology and Politics 'Under the Vine'

Mick Smith

Environmental Values 20 (2011): 95-119. doi: 10.3197/096327111X12922350166111

ABSTRACT

This paper offers an assessment of the agricultural eco-politics of Edward Hyams (1910-75), novelist, gardener, historian, broadcaster and anarchist. It focuses in particular on his collaboration with the conservative writer on rural England, and founding member of the Soil Association, H.J. Massingham which resulted in a book, Prophecy of Famine (1953) - a fundamental critique of the effects of industrial capitalism on farming and a call for agricultural self-sufficiency and soil conservation. This collaboration between two writers with very different political views raises important questions about the nature of eco-politics and whether its critique of the dominant ideology of 'progress' (at least in its historicist forms) can still constitute a radical 'progressive' politics. Hyams' writings, and his differences from Massingham, particularly over the issue of private ownership of land, are illustrative of this apparent tension.


KEYWORDS

Edward Hyams, ecological politics, progress, historicism, organic agriculture

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