The fundamentalist 1970s back to the land movement was funded with food stamps and welfare

This was also true of the more left-wing hippies.  There was an interesting confluence during this time of far left and far right starting “self-sufficiency” communal living experiments with the help of welfare.  I didn’t read a book for this one, although you can find little allusions in memoirs about some of this, and the very occasional one-off reference.  Mostly you can find out what happened by looking up the history of the food stamp/SNAP/WIC nutrition support programs on wikipedia.  During the 1970s, some changes were made to what was then still called “food stamps” to permit seeds, gardening equipment and some other tools to be purchased with the stamps instead of money.  A fascinating side effect was that a number of fundamentalist groups/cults/etc. decided to leave the cities and go try to live out in the country off the land.

What I find really interesting about this is that the right wing appears to have no history for this.  The entire Crunchy Con, fundie-hippie, prepper/survivalist, homesteading subset of conservatives finds its Ur-model in the Back to the Land movement.  And this movement that was all about surviving off the grid self-sufficiently away from The (Liberal) Man was jumpstarted by food stamps and cash welfare.  Yet as far as I can tell, it might as well be knowledge hidden under a rock to the modern conservative equivalents.


2 thoughts on “The fundamentalist 1970s back to the land movement was funded with food stamps and welfare

  1. There’s nothing wrong with taking seeds and tools as charity. There are plenty of farmers who work hard and fall on hard times despite honest, hard work.

    If welfare were limited to tools and seeds, it wouldn’t be controversial.

    If the hippies just want to obtain seeds and labor in the sweat of their collective brow, I’m willing to kick in two or three renmimbi. The intellectuals should honor the worthy labor of the farmer.


    • They weren’t just using tools and seeds. They were using cash welfare. And it wasn’t private charity, it was taxpayer funded (and sometimes fraudulent). The context is important here. The current modern fundie-hippie/crunchy cons/etc don’t know anything about the roots of the movements they take their ideological cues from.

      I’m pro-government-funded nutrition support. But that’s partly because I looked up the historical reasons as to why those programs came into existence and not because I had some pre-existing love of big government.


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