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October 30, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

SEX, ECONOMY, FREEDOM & COMMUNITY by Wendell Berry (Pantheon: $11; 177 pp.) Berry writes with his customary eloquence about the need to adopt an ecologically sane way of life; unfortunately, his reasoning seems less sound than his syntax. After damning multinational corporations for exploiting one region to benefit another, he defends American tobacco farmers who have caused thousands of deaths in Asia, Europe and South America. Berry grows so enchanted with his idyllic vision of self-sufficient rural communities that he forgets that small villages have frequently been centers of intolerance and ignorance. The notion that art should spur viewers to reassess ideas has no place in this Arcadia. Berry asserts: "The public, so far as I can see, has no right to require a community to submit to or support statements that offend it," ignoring how often this philosophy has caused anyone perceived as different to be subjected to ostracism, imprisonment and even death.

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