Dr. Ralph Borsodi: Legendary Back-to-the-Land Figure

A Plowboy Interview with Dr. Ralph Borsodi, who is chiefly known for his practical and highly successful experiments in self-sufficient living during the 1920's and 30's and for the books he has written about those experiments.

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    Dr. Ralph Borsodi

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Dr. Ralph Borsodi is such a legendary figure in the back-to-the-land and self-sufficiency movement that many of today's "homesteaders"think he must have lived generations ago. 

Not so. Although he did begin pioneering in the modern anti-urban and grow-your-own crusade as early as 1908 (when he himself first moved back to the land), Dr. Borsodi is still hale and hearty and now lives an active life in Exeter, New Hampshire. 

This means, of course, that Ralph Borsodi is indeed a legend in his own time . . . and that legend is well-founded. Four hundred years from now - if there is a four hundred years from now - when the political scandals that seem so important today are all forgotten, it's a pretty safe bet that Dr. Borsodi's name will be ranked with those of Plato, John Locke and Thomas Jefferson. For, if the earth is to endure another four centuries, it will only do so because whole societies embrace the less energy-intensive, less urbanized, less industrialized life to which Ralph Borsodi has dedicated every fiber of his being. Dr. Borsodi is chiefly known for his practical and highly successful experiments in self-sufficient living during the 1920's and 30s, and for the books he has written about those experiments. This Ugly Civilization and Flight from the City are, perhaps, his most famous works . . . and they inspired hundreds of thousands of people to follow his example during the Great Depression. 

There's far more to this man than a mere longing to "drop out" of an increasingly complex world, however. Unlike so many of today's would-be back-to-the-landers, Dr. Borsodi has spent decades analyzing the ills of modern society and devising remedies for those ailments. He has also sharpened his vision into the future so keenly that, as his followers know he usually seems to be hard at work on a problem at least 20 years before lesser men realize it exists. 

In 1943, for example, when most economists and politicians were talking about price controls and our "managed" wartime economy, Ralph Borsodi was warning - in a book with the same title - that Inflation Is Coming. It did . . . and it's still with us . . . and it shows no sign of going away. 

Of course everyone knows that now, and the business world is being flooded with lectures and meetings and books and pamphlets that discuss the problem in vivid detail. And while all that talk is going on, what has Dr. Borsodi been doing? Only inventing and circulating an inflation-proof currency of his own up there in Exeter, New Hampshire . . . that's all. 

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