I think part of the reason for this is because agrarianism is thought of as an historical event, a way of life associated with pioneers and Little House on the Prairie. What is true, is that agrarianism is a cultural, economic, and social structure based on agriculture. It's not specifically rural because even merchants and tradesmen can be dependent on the land albeit in an indirect way, such as bartering. Today when we think of agriculture, the technology minded think of industrialized, centralized agriculture run by corporations. This is agriculture as a business endeavor rather than a way of life. Today, technology is the modern way of life.
Seeing technology as a standard by which to live reflects a dependence on technology without which life as we know it would cease to exist. This is true, of course, for most of the modern world. However, real life options are not technology versus no technology, but rather technology as a lifestyle versus technology as a tool. The difference is in either being totally dependent upon technology to function in the world, or in being free to use as many or as few technological innovations as one desires; even to live without.
Unfortunately, the technology-as-a-lifestyle mindset assumes that only technology brings progress. That any other way of thinking is anti-progressive. Progress as the ultimate good ignores potentially devastating consequences and never stops to evaluate the results.
The heart of the modern agrarian movement is not saying technology is evil, but rather dependence on it and the consumer system it fosters is unwise. Most of what it has produced is not sustainable: chemical agriculture depletes and poisons the land, dependency on consumerism produces mountains of trash in overflowing landfills, globalized food production gobbles up precious petroleum reserves for transportation, monoculture crop failures are catastrophic to the world food supply, genetically modified seeds are patented and illegal to save and plant, yet they are pushed on all of us including third world countries who really can't afford them. Science hasn't fixed any of these problems yet; what makes us think it ever will?
All of this is key to the simpler life many people long for. The very technology that is touted as being able to save the world is actually destroying it. But in the end, it boils down to individual choices; choices about how we choose to live and what we choose to buy. The homesteading movement and return to agrarian values is a reflection that people are beginning to understand there is a better way to live. It's not going backwards, it's a course correction. It's moving forward in the right direction.
Agrarianism: Forward or Backward Thinking? © February 2014