Scott Nearing was an American conservationist. He is remembered as a writer, radical, and socialist, who was an inspiration to many important environmentalists.
Nearing was born in Morris Run, Pennsylvania in 1883. He attended the University of
Pennsylvania, from which he received a bachelor's degree and later a Ph.D. in economics. He held positions at the Pennsylvania Child Labor Commission, the Wharton School, Swarthmore College, and the University of Toledo. He was dismissed from his position at the Wharton School because of his radical political beliefs. He was also arrested for obstructing recruitment for World War II. Nearing ran for United States Congress as a socialist in 1919.
general, Nearing's socialism, pacifism, and other political views made it nearly impossible for him to earn or retain positions, so in 1932 he and his wife purchased a Vermont farm. They restored this farm and lived on it simply, naturally, organically, and holistically. They then co-authored two books on their experiences and the philosophy behind them, The Maple Sugar Book, and Living the Good Life, both published in the early 1950s. Many people then visited the
Nearing home, searching for simplicity and harmony.
In 1972, Nearing wrote an autobiography entitled The Making of a Radical. He wrote how achieving simplicity was the hardest and yet most rewarding venture of his life. He saw "the good life" as a life reduced to the minimum of essentials, and this is what he believed that he had achieved. He characterized his three basic principles as: learning the truth, teaching the truth, and building the truth into community life.
Nearing died in 1983. During the course of his life, he wrote almost 50 books and thousands of other writings. He was one of the founders of the back-to-the-land movement, and he inspired future generations of environmentalists through his radical beliefs in simplicity.