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[Harper's Finest]

Wendell Berry’s “Faustian Economics” (2008)


Hell hath no limits

May 2008

We are not likely to be granted another world to plunder in compensation for our pillage of this one. Nor are we likely to believe much longer in our ability to outsmart, by means of science and technology, our economic stupidity. The hope that we can cure the ills of industrialism by the homeopathy of more technology seems at last to be losing status. We are, in short, coming under pressure to understand ourselves as limited creatures in a limited world.

— Wendell Berry

For the May 2008 issue of Harper’s Magazine, Wendell Berry authored “Faustian Economics,” in which he considered the impending oil shortage and our diminishing natural resources and reflected on limits, or the lack thereof, in America. Berry warned that Americans believe that we are endowed with the limitlessness of the gods, and that this can only lead to our downfall.

In Wendell Berry: Poet & Prophet, airing this weekend on Moyers & Company, journalist Bill Moyers profiles this influential writer, passionate advocate for the earth, and frequent contributor to Harper’s:


Read Berry’s Harper’s feature here, and get more information about the broadcast, which starts airing on Friday, October 4, at

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