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seeking refuge in Abbey’s country

Phallic-arches-national-park
Edward Abbey presaged America’s current path to tyranny forty years ago and predicted that the end of American democracy would be coincident with the destruction of the wilderness.

What’s the connection between democracy and wilderness? Personal liberty is a fleeting commodity, according to Abbey, and history has shown that governments invariably move toward totalitarianism. When faced with authoritarian governance, wilderness is crucial because it serves as both a refuge from political oppression and a base for guerrilla warfare. Uprisings in urban settings are too quickly quelled by those with better weaponry, but hidden in mountain, desert or jungle settings, revolutionaries can gain an edge on establishment forces and engage in protracted — sometimes successful — battle. Consider Che in the mountains, the Vietcong in the jungle, Osama bin Laden in a desert cave.

From Desert Solitaire:

Suppose we were planning to impose a dictatorial regime upon the American people — the following preparations would be essential:

1. Concentrate the populace in megalopolitan masses so they can be kept under close surveillance and where, in the case of trouble, they can be bombed, burned, gassed or machine-gunned with a minimum of expense and waste.

2. Mechanize agriculture to the highest degree of refinement, thus forcing most of the scattered farm and ranching population into the cities. Such a policy is desirable because farmers, woodsmen, cowboys, Indians, fishermen and other relatively self-sufficient types are difficult to manage unless displaced from their natural environment.

3. Restrict the possession of firearms to the police and the regular military organizations.

4. Encourage or at least fail to discourage population growth. Large masses of people are more easily manipulated and dominated than scattered individuals.

5. Continue military conscription. Nothing excels military training for creating in young men an attitude of prompt, cheeful obedience to officially constituted authority.

6. Divert attention from deep conflicts within the society by engaging in foreign wars; make support of these wars a test of loyalty, thereby exposing and isolating potential opposition to the new order.

7. Overlay the nation with a finely reticulated network of communications, airlines and interstate autobahns.

8. Raze the wilderness. Dam the rivers, flood the canyons, drain the swamps, log the forests, strip-mine the hills, bulldoze the mountains, irrigate the deserts and improve the national parks into national parking lots.

In a final round of environmental fuck-yous, the Bush administration has offered up significant portions of pristine Utah wilderness to oil exploration. Aside from one notable monkeywrenching incident, the trashing of the American wilderness continues unabated.

Shots from my recent cave-hunting trip to Abbey’s country!

Toyota-Sequoia-offroad-Arches
Back-road-Arches
Arches-original-entrance
landscape-arch-arches
klondike-bluffs-arches
juniper-arches
ice-desert-arches
Marie-tree-hugger-arches
balanced-rock-near-abbey-arches
toyota-sequoia-arches
fiery-furnace-arches
delicate-arch-utah-license
cairns-delicate-arch-trail

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