John Klar: The multicultural destruction of Vermont

A person from New York recently purchased the 54-acre property next door to the house I rent in Brookfield, Vermont. I contacted him and told him I’d keep an eye on the place, and to ask him whether I could pasture my sheep and/or cows on the fields that he now owns (originally part of the farm we rent). He answered that he would “like to let it grow back naturally.”

I have heard this often — including from the prior two owners of his piece; out-of-staters come and gone. It is not for me to tell New Yorkers what to do with their property, but there is a vast gulf in understanding of what “grow back naturally” means. And that gulf is a mirror of today’s world.

John Klar

The wonderful Kentucky writer Wendell Berry has observed that true conservation of land arises from knowing stewardship, not “setting aside as wild.” The consequence of allowing Vermont’s agricultural landscape to return to wilderness is more than just the loss of views, or even the loss of economic revenue — it is the disappearance of true “culture,” of which so little remains. It is also a “trend” that increases pollution by shifting ever more food production to distant industrialized (fossil-fuel dependent) systems, to be trucked, flown or shipped ever greater distances to Vermont tables, in an increasing dependence on government and corporations to eat. This is the opposite of Vermont’s culture.

I revel in different cultures, and have always sought them out. I hitch-hiked across the nation for two months in 1982, after working the summer at Yellowstone National Park, and saw many American “cultures.” (In Yellowstone, the local employees had their own culture, and called visitors “Tour-ons”, a blend of tourist and moron, earned through tales of folly — grizzlies and bison are “locals” intolerant of stupidity, as are rivers and hotsprings.)

I worked a summer in Ogunquit, Maine; another in Casco, Maine: each had very different cultures; both had social lines between locals and outsiders. I have spent several years in Europe: cultures can vary greatly across England, let alone the borders with Wales, Scotland, or Ireland. And everywhere, and always, they have names for the non-locals. In Vermont, it is “flatlander.”

By “flatlander,” what is meant is not that outsiders (like the majority of those in Chittenden, or say, Putney) arrived from flat places afar, but that they are unfamiliar with the creed of frugality, agriculture and individualism that predominates in the hills around them and in the times before their arrival. Vermonters can sniff a flatlander from a glance — resulting in numerous (colorblind) microaggressions.

Vermonters have become outnumbered by the tourists, too many of whom don’t go home for the summer. Instead of respecting, or even revering, the vestiges of true local culture that Vermont offers, they exploit it for export, or rent it for profit, or sneer at it (and their neighbors and forebears) in derision. This is hardly the Vermont way: this is the way of the carpetbagger; the exploiter; the “Boomer.” Split it up, flip it, profit from it, rule over it. Oh, and then with all the farms and locals gone, let it “grow back naturally.”

The stain of suburban sprawl on Vermont may be hailed as the price of progress, but it is paid at the expense of genuine historic culture — now under open attack. Those (such as “New Yorker” Xusana Davis, Imported Racial Equity Director) who invoke the Abenaki as a political weapon are likely the most distant from comprehension about where their food comes from, or what it is to live off the land. They are grotesquely ignorant of Vermont’s history, and that we natives have been passing that awareness of our connection to our landscape on to our children, for generations. (Perhaps Vermonters have a bit of the Amish strain in their culture).

Writer Wendell Berry has warned us all — New Yorker and Vermonter alike — of the threat of our growing ignorance of that connection to soil and community:

The American Indian … knew how to live in the country without making violence the invariable mode of his relation to it; in fact, from the ecologist’s or the conservationist’s point of view, he did it no violence. This is because he had, in place of what we would call education, a fully integrated culture, the content of which was a highly complex sense of his dependence on the earth. The same, I believe, was generally true of the peasants of certain old agricultural societies, particularly in the Orient. They belonged by an intricate awareness to the earth they lived on and by, which meant that they respected it, which meant that they practiced strict economies in the use of it. (The Long-Legged House, 1965)

Land prices in Vermont are skyrocketing as out-of-staters speculate on Vermont’s land commodity. New construction of absurdly ostentatious homes abounds in the midst of COVID, just to torment the locals whose children can kiss home ownership good-bye in the Green Mountains. Those EV cars and solar panels will be disposed of in a mountainous Vermont landfill, along with an infinite amount of junk du jour. The locals will be banned from trapping, or hunting, or otherwise preserving knowledge of how to eat off the land rather than out of a can. Farm animals will be restricted — they’re loud and smelly, and they may run in the road.

Yes, the line between the locals and the invaders is clearer than ever in Vermont. It is so tragic to watch the State mega-bureaucracy economically devour itself and us along with it, through an endless cancer of self-enrichment. For instance, Vermont has lost another 80 dairy farms during COVID: the government’s plan is to hire 33 new state employees to boost agriculture, at a cost to exceed $23 million annually. This will drive taxes higher, making farm profitability yet more unviable, in a cycle that has been happening for 100 years.

Tragically, much like the world’s irrevocable loss of some 93% of heirloom vegetable varieties, that knowledge of stewardship — how to make hay, or milk a cow, or slaughter a sheep — is evaporating forever. And one of the rare pockets where some vestige of that culture remains is here in Vermont:

Few local autonomies remain anywhere in the world today, perhaps least of all in the wealthy countries. And of those wealthy countries, my home country of Britain is among the sorriest of the lot, lacking the historical continuity of small-scale agrarianism that clings on in pockets in the Americas, and lacking the local food cultures and peasant traditions that cling on in parts of Europe.” (A Small Farm Future, Chris Smaje)

Vermont’s remnant of truly “agricultural” culture is a rare and precious gift to be preserved — don’t we wish we had knowledge of the now-lost Abenaki tribes? Instead, the race-baiters and profiteers from New York, Chicago, and all points flat, have descended on these Green Mountains to recast our history as one of white supremacism instead of hard-working resilience; backwards and ignorant instead of “educated”; ugly instead of beautiful; white-privileged rather than proudly poor. We have been visited by eugenicists before, who held similar views of the locals.

Wendell Berry dubbed globalization “the greatest weapon of mass destruction in human history,” not just because of what it does to economies, but because it is a destroyer of culture. The new Progressive ideology infecting Vermont is religiously determined to destroy and pervert Vermont’s history and culture, and replace it with…. “diversity.” In the name of multiculturalism, Vermont’s wonderful culture and legacy are being destroyed.

As Ryszard Legutko, the professor who was barred from speaking at Middlebury College in 2019, writes in his book The Demon in Democracy:

Multiculturalism … is nothing more than a program to build a society in which there exist not many cultures, but many political identities attached to many real or, more often, imagined collectives. … It has little to do with a defense of the rich fabric of societies and their historically constituted communities, but should be rather seen as a program of politicization of certain groups that could radically change the fabric of society. … Multiculturalism is not about culture, but about politics. (p.95)

If unique cultures are to be dissolved in the name of a political ideology, the current “social justice war” on Vermont’s culture is stronger than carborane superacids. This ideology says Vermonters are racists, and their “system” of life and subsistence farming has always been based on “colonizing,” oppressing, and destroying. But colonizing and destroying is what this newfangled, race-based ideology is doing right before our eyes, in grand totalitarian fashion.

As T.S. Eliot warned:

By destroying traditional social habits of the people, by dissolving their natural collective consciousness into individual constituents, by licensing the opinions of the most foolish, by substituting instruction for education, by encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom, the upstart rather than the qualified, by fostering a notion of getting on to which the alternative is a hopeless apathy, Liberalism can prepare the way for that which is its own negation: the artificial, mechanised or brutalised control which is a desperate remedy for its chaos. (Christianity and Culture)

Food prices are already escalating under inflation, compounded by long-distance shipping. How can a Vermonter explain to a Flatlander, that when the currency collapses, the land he “let grow back naturally” will be a symbol of our collective folly, rather than his family’s life-saving food source?

“Let them eat cake.” That’s what (Great-Depression-remembering) Vermonters will say. Let the pompous, government-dependent, farmer-scorning, arrogant Uber-eaters order take-out dinners in styrofoam boxes on their cell phones, while standing in their sequestered-carbon forests. That’s an unsustainable modern disconnect, and it has no remedy for its own chaos.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and the former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2021. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/formulanone

23 thoughts on “John Klar: The multicultural destruction of Vermont

  1. It was native Vermonter’s that let the hippy communist take control of Vermont way back in the 60″s.
    Nobody to blame but themselves.

  2. I don’t consider myself a Vermonter because I live here. I am a New Yorker no matter where I move. I never knew of any NYer that would be as cruel to outsiders as the local VTers are, more so the women. What hillylanders don’t realize is that not all flatlanders are liberals. Some of us are conservatives that moved here and are treated unfairly because locals think we are here to change the way the gov’t in VT is run. I’m not saying that I will not speak up against my passions, like the humane treatment of animals, but liberalism didn’t start after 9/11. It has been here for a long time, and I know many more local VT liberals than I do Republicans. I really think the education system is doing more brainwashing of VT children than educating them. Unfortunately, the Republican party doesn’t fight back against these extremist, so this country is done.

  3. Cleared, farmed land does not “grow back naturally.” It reverts to weeds and invasive plant species, thorn bushes that strangle and inhibit the natural meadowgrasses and do not attract grazing wildlife. Goats are good at restoring a neglected and overgrown meadow. Naturally.

  4. The diversity of opinion voiced here is to be appreciated, but not in accepting one person’s point of view over another. It appears to me that Vermont, in this context, is similar to our public education system. No two people will ever agree on what an appropriate education is. And no two people will ever agree on the definition of what a Vermonter is, or what a Vermonter stands for. To say that an open field is more appropriate or beautiful than an overgrown field is in the eye of the beholder, as is all beauty.

    The question is as old as Plato’s debates with Aristotle. Given such diversity of opinion, can a reasonable society create rules of engagement short of a pitched battle? Life was so much simpler back in the day. When you’re going to shoot, you shoot. You don’t talk.

    But thanks to Plato and Aristotle, King John and his Barons (The Magna Carta), The Renaissance, The Reformation, and the ongoing Age of Enlightenment – with folks like Galileo, even the Plymouth Plantation Pilgrims, and later with Isaac Newton, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Adam Smith, the question – ‘can a reasonable society create rules of engagement’ – has already been answered and so eloquently articulated. All we have to do is not lose sight of it in the petty semantic disagreements intended to limit the rights and privileges of others.

    What is this eloquent articulation? It is the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Vermont Constitution. The road map is right there for all of us to see and abide to.

    John, if you want to keep pastures open, negotiate a deal. Convince your neighbor of the benefits a pasture brings to you both. Or buy the land yourself. It’s a ‘free market’, governed by our rule of law. But please don’t fall back into the provincial (i.e. primeval) and unreasonable condition of tribalism – who’s a Vermonter and who isn’t. What culture counts most? What culture came first? It doesn’t matter. We are all here, now.

    After all, T.S. Elliot also said: ““[A]t the moments when the public’s interest is aroused, the public is never well informed enough to have the right to an opinion.”

    That’s easy for Eliot to say, as though he would know better. After all, he later admits – “Those to whom one speaks with difficulty, but not perhaps in vain, are the persons who believe that great changes must come, but are not sure either of what is inevitable, or of what is probable, or of what is desirable.”

    Now it’s up to us to continue life’s negotiation, one person at a time, one deal at a time.

    But negotiate. Don’t shoot.

  5. John, how can you identify as native when you were born and raised in Connecticut? I got to the part where you say, ” we natives have been passing that awareness of our connection to our landscape on to our children, for generations.,” and I had to stop. You are not a native, except to Connecticut. It’s fine if you want to identify as a farmer, even if you are dependent on the free use of your neighbor’s land for pasturage. But chewing that neighbor out publically for not wanting to freely offer up his land for your use seems a bit off. I understand that the sowing of division has worked really well for some of the folks in your political spectrum, Trump, for example, but it doesn’t seem to be working as well for you. I think Vermont is better than that, and that most Vermonters are not willing to be played by your “us vs them” games. Please stop.

    • Gary, Trump didn’t “sow division” in this country. Put the blame where it belongs….with the Democratic party, Pelosi, the “Squad”, Sanders, Leahy, and the #1 sower of devision, Obama. I don’t know where you get off saying something like that.

  6. John,
    I agree wholeheartedly with most of your points. However, as a former “flatlander”, as people of my ilk are called, I resent being pigeonholed into a category of which I certainly do not fit. I moved our family to VT in 1981 due to employment. We brought with us all those the values that your articles seems to claim only belong to native Vermonters, respect for my fellow man regardless of race or creed, good stewardship of the land and resources, a solid work ethic, and a dedication to stand up for what is right. We homeschooled our 5 kids because we wanted those values instilled in them as well. I have seem the same degradation of our state over the past 40 years that you cite in the article and fully agree about the sorry state of affairs in which we live today. We all need to wake up!

    • Please consider my point: you are not a flatlander by birth; but by mindset. I too was born out-of-state. Such terms divide, but that division exists, and needs a name…. I’ve been called a flatlander since I was 4 or 5. I didn’t make up the term…. Just trying to explain it. Thanks for your thoughts. 🙂

    • Marek: I too was born out of state, was brought to Vermont at the age of six months and spent pretty much the following 85 years here, working the land not as a farmer but as a woodsman and installer of fences. The culture’s the same.

      Back during the late sixties, with the advent of the interstate system, I watched droves of little fish from their urban blight, pour into our state to become the big fish in the little pond called Vermont. These people were called flatlanders, and they now rule our lives.

      However, there was a small minority, fresh out of urbanity, who became instantly assimilated into the cultural fabric that is the religion we call Vermont. They have blended and become one of us. I believe you are one of them.

      John Klar’s absolutely right: Vermont is an attitude, a state of mind. You have entered a realm that doesn’t exist anywhere else on Earth. Welcome.

      Peter Coursen
      peterjpc@fastmail.com

  7. Thank you for your article. I live near a golf course, and some person from New Jersey bought 68 acres across from the course. The rumor has it that he plans to build 15 houses on this land that was mainly used for haying. I hope the town does not let this person go on with that plan. Money talks and well you know the rest of that quote.

  8. I’ve been trying for years to put a metaphorical finger on the yellow no hunting and fishing signs that are now popping up at an even more alarming rate ….
    This about sums it up

  9. The multicultural destruction of Vermont did not start with “flatlanders” moving to Vermont. You need to look to your own schools like the University of Vermont, Marlboro College and Middlebury College and for that matter colleges and universities all over the United States and what they teach. Every state has it’s problem with the Marxists being produced in our schools in one way or the other. The destruction of Vermont is because communists moved here and took over. Also I know plenty of life long Vermonters whose family has been here for generations that proudly ride around in their Subarus with BERNIE bumper stickers. The destruction of the Vermont started with us allowing them to destroy our Constitution. They are using the force of government to implement our own destruction. I wondering will there be a breaking point where force is used to restore us back to being a constitutional representative republic.

    • Agreed. The scourge of “modernization” and “progress” is international. What is unique about Vermont is that we have something remaining yet to preserve. Will we?

  10. I was a flatlander until I was 3 years old, and my parents moved from downstate NY to the Upper Valley in 1954. We were regarded as flatlanders by all the 2nd, 3rd generation Vermonters.
    What distinguished my dad from other flatlanders buying an old 175 acre farm on a dirt road was that he did not come with ‘big ideas’ of how to live. He spent a lot of time talking to our generational Vermonter neighbors, and before it was a thing, created a collaborative land use amongst them for use of the land he could not actively farm – because he was an artist, but also because he was crippled by polio, and unstable, and one-handed. Our neighbors were diverse in their “Vermont-ness”, but what was common to ALL of them, was a live and let live, and absolute respect for privacy. Politics and religion were left at the door, and conversations centered around weather – a real topic in those days not the facsimile we experience today – and out of those conversations the wisdom of the land was revealed, and we were able to barter for goods by providing a service – use of the land – in exchange.
    We lived peacefully there for nearly two decades before we felt crowded out by flatlander neighbors who posted land we were used to walking, and growing land use regulations and taxes.
    In 1970, the second wave (or fifth depending on your perspective) back to the landers hit the state and the trust funders. Their kids went away to school, got programmed, and brought those engineered realities back to LIVING VERMONT – and here we are.
    Homogeneic by intent, where individualism is not prized but becoming illegal in actual fact.
    Rooted in our eugenics history, itself funded by big gov’t and big pharma, there’s a political under current of corruption and greed based on fear that cities and urban areas breed by intention.
    Those inhabitants bring their dystopian disconnection with them and write policies to prop up their fears.
    There are many of us who prize individualism, the connection with the land, and our ability to be self-reliant and sustaining.
    We aren’t the ones consulted on policy though – in fact, we are being criminalized, gaslighted, and outright ignored by our so called leaders.
    Their sole aim now is to control us into silence and compliance with their sad dystopian nightmare we all came here to avoid…wagging their tails behind them…baaaaa baaaa baaaaaah.

  11. This in my opinion sums up our Vermont problem, “by licensing the opinions of the most foolish, by substituting instruction for education,”. Vermont voters have licensed the opinions of the most foolish by electing progressives to our legislature, most of who know nothing of Vermont because they are carpetbaggers. They have infested our schools and have substituted instructional ideology in place of an education. The future is being twisted by these progressive thinkers who are actually bullies but use word salads and new speak to confuse the people who can’t think for themselves. Their goal is to transform the children away from parental influence and try to hide their plan from the parents. I saw this coming when my children were in school and I battled regularly with their policies. Thank you, John for another lesson on the flatlander invasion and it’s affects on our freedoms and customs. Like all bad ideas, progressivism tops the list. Wake up people and take back your lives from the totalitarians running this state into the dystopia they have in mind.

  12. John, excellent article…… Big City, Big Money is destroying VT as we know ” knew” it !!

    As far as flatlanders, just take a look at the pedigrees we have in the statehouse,
    most got their liberal education in VT and never left and one wonders why and how
    the state got into such distress.

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