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A Marxist Interpretation Of Abbey’s Desert Solitaire

1936 words - 8 pages

His answer is revealed towards the end of the chapter, where he lists his suggestions to keep “industrial tourism” in check. On top of the list:
(1) No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules . . . We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly. (Abbey 60)
This, as well as his other recommendations—to prohibit further new roads in national parks and to have the park rangers police the parks to ensure their protection—are prescription to control those moneyed interest and to conform to the mission statement of the Organic Act. These recommendations for reforming the outdoors recreational experience—outlandish in 1966—have since been implemented and much of his polemic from Desert Solitaire can be seen in action, principally in the major parks; policies have been enacted permitting access for fewer automobiles, road construction and motorized traffic have been reduced and increased numbers of park rangers are out on the trail and in front of the public. The reasons for this implementation, however, are various: lower federal funding for national parks, renewed public concern about park pollution, or even the practical importance of Abbey’s ideas (Luke 176).
While fulfillments of Abbey’s suggestions appear more promising, this aspect of the situation has changed little—the exploitation by private enterprise of the public lands that belong to all of the people of the United States. Public lands are at all times under threat of being sold to private developers. Cattle grazing on the public lands of the West, which have been irrigated with public water, are decaying the ground and contaminating the rivers and streams in an extremely communally wasteful process. Communication and cell phone towers infest the summits of publicly-owned mountains as acres of trees are removed to accommodate those towers and sold to the lumber companies. Mines and wells can be dug from outside public lands at an angle, going into them, with no intrusion from the government. Recreation vehicles, such as snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park, have forced rangers to take precautions, such as wearing masks to protect themselves from the vehicle pollution. When industrial progress interferes with the public lands, protecting them becomes an afterthought and industrial progress usually has the advantage in the afterthought (Yates 6-7).
Abbey was employed with the Park Service during the Cold War, which demanded and, therefore, escalated the value of uranium to build atomic weapons. In Chapter 6, “Rocks,” Abbey explains how...

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