No Mans Land

David Byars’ 2018 documentary No Mans Land is an account of occupation of Oregon’s Malheur Wildlife Refuge in 2016. It is the story of those on the inside of this movement, attempting to uncover what draws Americans — the ideologues, the disenfranchised, and the dangerously quixotic — to the edge of revolution. 

Coarse observations:
– Aamon Bundy and several other activists occupying Malheur are compelling, intelligent and sympathetic characters. The film made little attempt to starkly contrast their self-perceptions with other local stakeholder’s perspectives
– Prayer is embodied in the vein of “soldiers” doing God’s work.
– Gender roles are distinct and stereotypical (for the most part)
– After the trial, a Black interviewee stated: Bundy asserted that the USA is a white utopia. And the jury agreed…

Add’l resource: a brief survey of US mini-rebellions and political stands with a notable section on the double-standards in the land-use war between Bundy’s militia and the indigenous Paiute community in Burns, for whom Malheur is part of their sacred tribal lands:

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Market-based solutions (chapter 14, Layzer)

USGS reports page

To answer question 2:
Just for fun: Sabine Hossenfelder’s piss take “follow the science
How can science play a greater role without participating in politics?

Also discuss:
* Cost benefit analysis shortcomings in breadth, timescale, inputs

I think scientists need to be HIRED in gov’t agencies (not fired or muzzled). They are hired as civil servants in gov’t agencies, not appointees who represent the government’s spin on any issue the public is imperiled by.

First World political ecology: lessons from the Wise Use Movement

James McCarthy demonstrates, through a case study of theWise Use movement, that the insights and tools of political ecology have much to offer in the study of First World resource conflicts. He uses theories and methods drawn from the literature concerning political ecology and moral economies to argue that many assumptions regarding state capacity, individual and collective identities and motivations, and economic and historical relations in advanced capitalist countries are mistaken or incomplete in ways that have led to important dimensions of environmental conflicts in such locales being overlooked.

Some preliminary thoughts:
1. environmentalists and artists need to get on the land, interview stakeholders, understand systems at work in order to have any legitimacy as critics, or offer “fair” input.
2. Malheur and Bundy’s local claims in Nevada seem maniacal, but their rage is fueled by a sense of dispossession and deep buy-in to the stories they have been told and continue to promulgate about ancestral rights. The Wise Use arguments (stories) are masterfully edited to omit several key “figures,” primarily indigenous land use and lives, and their complexly dependent relationship to BLM land leases, which, contrary to the myths they prop up, are still being rented to them at 1980’s rates (thus the ugly term “Welfare Ranching.”)
3. Rebecca Solnit in her book River of Shadows asserts that “time in the nineteenth century was transformed from a phenomenon which linked humans to the cosmos to one linking industrial activities to each other. This transformation changed the way humans imagined their world.” (sparknotes) The rise of technological/land/ed identity can be seen in the westward expansion of trains, in the rise of the proto-entertainment industry (the book is focused on the works of Eadweard Muybridge, and his contributions to the formation of the West’s image, and its export back east. This image gives rise to Western identity (or possibly identities). This is a hunch on my part: time, the synchronization of time, which of course has exploded into a capital G Global sensibility is at odds with the mythos of the West that persists.

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Race, Nation, Nature

Responses to the eponymous McCarthy and Hague text,  

Race, Nation, and Nature: The Cultural Politics of “Celtic” Identification in the AmericanWest
Author(s): James McCarthy and Euan Hague
Source: Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 94, No. 2 (Jun., 2004)

An examination of the claims of Celtic identity by Wise Use activists in NM in the 1990s. The claim of a coherent ethnic identity has given white settlers a way to describe themselves as oppressed and in resistance to the state, thereby
afforded them symbolic resources in negotiating the challenges of both multiculturalism and neoliberalism…while retaining the benefits of white privilege.

Whiteness as a study has been catching up with the study of marginalized groups, by
tracing how the exclusion and inclusion of various ethnic groups from the category “white” served both to legitimize colonialism and to divide and control the working class

…identity (is not) as a stable property or objective descriptor of individuals and groups and towards understanding it as constructed, changeable, fragmented, and often internally contradictory.
racial identity plays as important, if less apparent, a role in the geographies of rural, mainly’ “white” areas, places that are -to some eyes, at least- “less obvious sites of difference” 
Geography looks at the locales of hate groups and place-specific versions of whiteness.

The construction of whiteness as motile requires analysis of all the variables that constitute this monolithic category (the podcast Seeing White addresses this in many different instances, when it’s convenient to include or exclude, for instance).

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A Catholic legacy, naturalized

A recent article “A New Theory of Western Civilization” (The Atlantic) leads me to wonder about connections between this giving context to the rise of western ideas of the individual self, and the “widely held” beliefs ingrained in Wise Use and Property Rights movements.

The Atlantic article is a deep look into evolutionary biologist Joseph Henrich’s “ambitious theory-of-everything book”, The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous.  I think it offers dimension to the overlooked “how’d we get here, and then export it as if it’s always been this way” and helps me personally stop saying “humans” as if al of us descend from this now-dominant ideology that eagerly seeks to erase its historical coming-to-be.

Human beings are not “the genetically evolved hardware of a computational machine,” he writes. They are conduits of the spirit, habits, and psychological patterns of their civilization, “the ghosts of past institutions.”

One culture, however, is different from the others, and that’s modern WEIRD (“Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic”) culture. Dealing in the sweeping statistical generalizations that are the stock-in-trade of cultural evolutionary theorists—these are folks who say “people” but mean “populations”—Henrich draws the contrasts this way: Westerners are hyper-individualistic and hyper-mobile, whereas just about everyone else in the world was and still is enmeshed in family and more likely to stay put.

Starting around 1500 or so, the West became unusually dominant, because it advanced unusually quickly. What explains its extraordinary intellectual, technological, and political progress over the past five centuries? And how did its rise engender the peculiarity of the Western character?

Given the nature of the project, it may be a surprise that Henrich aspires to preach humility, not pride. WEIRD people have a bad habit of universalizing from their own particularities. WEIRD people have a bad habit of universalizing from their own particularities. They think everyone thinks the way they do, and some of them (not all, of course) reinforce that assumption by studying themselves. In the run-up to writing the book, Henrich and two colleagues did a literature review of experimental psychology and found that 96 percent of subjects enlisted in the research came from northern Europe, North America, or Australia. About 70 percent of those were American undergraduates. Blinded by this kind of myopia, many Westerners assume that what’s good or bad for them is good or bad for everyone else.

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backlash (ch 13, Layzer)

  1. The title “entrepreneur” means someone whose job it is to make a case for salience on an issue. What is the difference between a lobbyist and an entrepreneur?

2. This quote:

Backlash against the 1970s’ environmentalists’ “honeymoon” with the institution of government regulation began in earnest in the 1980s, under mr cowboy, neoliberal extraordinaire Ronald Reagan and his anti-gov’t platform, supported industry.

The chapter details all the ways a legislator might be covert about the consequence, and use coded language in their arguments, or bury unpopular environmental rollbacks as riders in bills.

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