In Memoriam: Homesteader and Economist Ralph Borsodi

Excerpts from an interview with the late economist Ralph Borsodi, early back-to-the lander and an advocate for simpler living and self-sufficiency.

| January/February 1978

  • An interview with the late economist Ralph Borsodi.
    An interview with the late economist Ralph Borsodi.
    Photo By The MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

  • An interview with the late economist Ralph Borsodi.

Excerpts from an interview with the late economist Ralph Borsodi, an advocate for simpler living.

In Memoriam: Homesteader and Economist Ralph Borsodi

The world in general — and, in particular, every advocate of simpler living, self-sufficiency, dignity for all, and the husbanding of the planet's resources-lost a friend, a mentor, and a champion when Dr. Ralph Borsodi passed away at his home in Exeter, New Hampshire on October 26, 1977.

Dr. Borsodi was born in New York City ( "in either 1886 or '87, 1 don't know myself") and spent the earliest years of his life in booming Manhattan. By 1908, however, he was already personally testing the idea of moving "back to the land". . . and he had fully embraced the now "in" concept of "voluntary simplicity" by 1920.

Dr. Borsodi 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 wrote about those experiments. This Ugly Civilization and Flight From the City remain, perhaps, his most famous works . . . and they inspired hundreds of thousands of people to follow his example during the Great Depression.

There was far more to the 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 spent decades analyzing the ills of modern society and devising remedies for those ailments. He also sharpened his vision into the future so keenly that, as his followers knew, he usually was hard at work solving a problem at least 20 years before lesser men realized the problem even existed.

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 . . . it's still with us . . . and it shows no sign of going away.


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