Bygone Utopias and Farm Protest in the Rural Midwest
This book explores those who long for "bygone utopias," times before rapid, culturally destructive social change stripped individuals of their perceived agency. The case of the wave of foreclosure protests that swept through the rural American Midwest during the 1930s illustrates these themes. These actions embodied a utopian understanding of agrarian society that had largely disappeared by the late 19th century: hundreds to thousands of people fixed public auctions of foreclosed farms, returning owners' property and giving them a second chance to save their farm. Comparisons to later movements, including the National Farmers' Organization and the protests surrounding the 1980s Farm Crisis highlight the importance of culturally catastrophic social change occurring at a breakneck pace in fomenting these types of bygone utopian actions. These activists and movements should cause scholars to re-think what it means to be conservative and how we view conservatism, helping us better understand why we're seeing a contemporary resurgence in nationalist and reactionary movements across the globe.