Scott Nearing (1883-1983)
March 16, 2009 8:14 PM   Subscribe

He was fired from his university for challenging the most prominent evangelist in the country. He was put on trial for criticizing American war policy. He became an inspiration for the back-to-the-land movement. At the age of 100, he chose to stop eating.
posted by Joe Beese (13 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
An excerpt from the classic Living The Good Life - co-authored with his wife Helen - can be read here.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:22 PM on March 16, 2009

Isn't Thoreau generally considered the first? It's why Walden is so famous.
posted by stbalbach at 8:48 PM on March 16, 2009

Isn't Thoreau generally considered the first?
First what?
posted by Floydd at 8:54 PM on March 16, 2009

Scott Nearing (1883—1983) was an American radical economist, educator, writer, political activist, and advocate of simple living.

Hey! So was Ringo!

sorry, Joe
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:03 PM on March 16, 2009

Wow. Thanks for this.

Also: Walden you say?
posted by gwint at 9:24 PM on March 16, 2009

A fascinating man; the wikipedia page alone is a rather engrossing read. I'm afraid I'd never heard of Nearing before, but I am familiar with the work of his son, John Scott. Scott's Behind the Urals is probably one of the best books about life under Stalin.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:40 PM on March 16, 2009

I knew his wife, Helen as well as a bunch of the other aging hippies who settled down around them out in Cape Rosier, a couple miles down the road from my house growing up.
It got to be a pretty weird scene- the guy who lived in their original house and ended up 'taking on their mantle' filled the house full of porn, and would throw sauna parties where the older dudes from the Cape would leer and take pictures of the young women who would show up.
Helen still attended those parties, driving her little yellow Subaru right until the end, when she crashed it going around a corner (probably after a stroke) down in Bucks' Harbor- she definitely seemed pretty out of it in her last few days, hugging everyone she met and so on. Some of the people out on the Cape still believe that miracles happened in India when she died.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:38 AM on March 17, 2009 [4 favorites]

Thanks a lot, this is very interesting.
posted by nicolin at 2:03 AM on March 17, 2009

Five or ten years back I remember there was some talk about whether Helen and Scott's claim to economic self-sufficiency were fraudulent. If I remember, the question was whether they were receiving (undisclosed in their written books) regular checks from Helen's wealthy family. Was this ever resolved?
posted by peter_meta_kbd at 4:41 AM on March 17, 2009

peter_meta_kbd: I had heard a great deal of stuff to that effect as well. I do know that although they claimed to have built their house all on their own, they had a large amount of outside help and money. Helen also mentioned to my mom at one point that they wrote the 'good life' books to finance Scott's socialist publications. I'll ask my dad about all that and follow up later, he'll remember all that better than I can.

It's so weird to see that their house is 'open to tours'- I remember going to a party there as a kid and seeing Stan Josephs (the guy who bought their old house and wrote a book about it) dancing on the table in womens' underwear.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:17 AM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

posted by Smedleyman at 12:33 PM on March 17, 2009

This is very interesting. Thanks for this!
posted by limeonaire at 7:29 PM on March 17, 2009

And for some reason, this all reminds me very much of the stories my family tells about The Biosophical Institute, a fairly eccentric and interesting group of radical, pamphleteering free-thinkers my grandparents' generation helped establish in New York...
posted by limeonaire at 7:35 PM on March 17, 2009

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