The Making of a Radical: A Political Autobiography (Good Life Series)
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Scott Nearing lived one hundred years, from 1883 to 1983--a life spanning most of the twentieth century. In his early years, Nearing made his name as a formidable opponent of child labor and military imperialism. Having been fired from university jobs for his independence of mind, Nearing became a freelance lecturer and writer, traveling widely through Depression-era and post-war America to speak with eager audiences. Five-time Socialist candidate for president Eugene V. Debs said, "Scott Nearing! He is the greatest teacher in the United States."
Concluding that it would be better to be poor in the country than in New York City, Scott and Helen Nearing moved north to Vermont in 1932 and commenced the experiment in self-reliant living that would extend their fame far and wide. They began to grow most of their own food, and devised their famous scheme for allocating the day's hours: one third for "bread work" (livelihood), one third for "head work" (intellectual endeavors), and one third for "service to the world community." Scott (who'd grown up partly on his grandfather's Pennsylvania farm) taught Helen (who was raised in suburbia, groomed for a career as a classical violinist) the practical skills they would need: working with tools, cultivating a garden and managing a woodlot, and building stone and masonry walls.
For the rest of their lives, the Nearings chronicled in detail their "good life," first in Vermont and ultimately on the coast of Maine, in a group of wonderful books--many of which are now being returned to print by Chelsea Green in cooperation with the Good Life Center, an educational trust established at the Nearings' Forest Farm in Harborside, Maine, to promote their ongoing legacy.
With a new foreword by activist historian Staughton Lynd, The Making of a Radical is freshly republished-Scott Nearing's own story, told as only he could tell it.
struggle for existence, survival, and mastery which goes by the grandiose title of western civilization. Mayor Sam Jones had called it the College of Hard Knocks. What had these fifteen years done to me and for me? What had they taught me.^ They had roughed me up and eventually made me an outcast because I had insisted on exposing the woeful discrepancy between riches and poverty, the inequity of exploitation and the wickedness of deliberate, wholesale destruction and Fifteen eventful years after
United States and increasingly throughout western civilization. The Establishment was satisfied with its position and its outlooks on the social future. I and others of my way of thinking were dissatisfied, disturbed, outraged by the course that Western man was fol- In 1917, at the age of thirty-four, excellent health and spirits, ready lowing. I felt was was born there were that the night of a disintegrating, obsolete civilization thickening over America. In 1883, when I patches of
collected a few pounds of pennies he took them to money changer (there was at least one on every busiexchanged them for silver. The money changer took five percent for the service. Unemployment was widespread. Gangsterism locally and warlordism regionally were eating out the vitals of the economy. While in Peking I was informed that Joseph Stalin, worried at the rising tide of anti-socialism, had decided to mobilize as much the nearest ness block) and international pressure as possible, by
me to foresee and ev^aluate the black revolt which was to reach the front pages of newspapers and made such abundant copy for articles, pamphlets, and books on Black Power during the sixties. My book Black America, published by Vanguard Press in 1929 (and re-issued by Schocken The Twilight's Last Gleaming Books in 1969) States. I 149 was a survey of the Negro's status in the United took hundreds of photographs for the book. I also wrote my one and only novel, Free Born, on the subject
same time in his life that he had done his bit with around ninety books and was entitled to rest on his oars. I might have done the same, but with enough material in my files and in my head to justify at least another dozen volumes beside those thus far mentioned, I intend to continue to indulge in the luxury of writing when I feel moved in that direction, so long as I can either find publishers or can afford to publish the books myself. I was friend, a bit startled Upton by Sinclair, it