The Triumph of Technique

THE TRIUMPH OF TECHNIQUE
The Industrialization of Agriculture
and
The Destruction of Rural America

Author Robert Wolf’s book takes a hard look at contemporary agriculture and its devastating impact on rural economies. The former Chicago Tribune columnist, who has been an Iowa resident since 1991, has been involved in rural affairs almost since his arrival. The Triumph of Technique  invites the reader to join him on a search for the roots of the present crisis.

Wolf, whose writing workshops with farmers and other working people produced An American Mosaic: Prose and Poetry by Everyday Folk, spent two-and-a-half years researching and writing The Triumph of Technique. This book has been judged by leaders of the sustainable agriculture movement as a significant contribution to understanding the depth of the current crisis in agriculture and its implications for the culture at large.
Fred Kirchenmann, Director of the Aldo Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, wrote: “The Triumph of Technique isn’t an ordinary account of the industrialization of agriculture. It is a wake up call, a warning, and a call to action. And it isn’t just about the structure of agriculture but about the potential collapse of civilization and about the need to ‘restore human scale to human enterprise’ and to ‘emphasize cooperation over competition, virtue over efficiency and control.’”
The “technique” of the title refers not only technologies but to any methods developed for the purpose of achieving predetermined ends. Wolf argues that “In agriculture no less than the other practical arts, technique has played a determining and detrimental role. Besides providing the instruments for the creation of a centralized economy, technique has spawned numerous tools, such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers, bioengineered crops, and confined animal feeding operations. These and other tools have transformed agriculture into agribusiness, thereby taking the art out of farming.
“Large scale operations dominate the rural landscape. Gone are the small farmers who could earn a living off their land. Now medium size farmers face extinction. As human scale farming disappears, so too do rural towns, and thus the death of rural America is a consequence of the triumph of Technique.”
Wolf, whose writing workshops with farmers and other working people produced An American Mosaic: Prose and Poetry by Everyday Folk, spent two-and-a-half years researching and writing The Triumph of Technique. This latest book has been judged by leaders of the sustainable agriculture movement as a significant contribution to understanding the depth of the current crisis in agriculture and its implications for the culture at large.