cj#582> Redwood Forest vs. Neoliberalism (fwd)


Richard Moore

Date: Tue, 10 Sep 1996
From: •••@••.••• (Peter Rashkin)
Subject: My vacation, the Headwaters Redwood Forest, and Neoliberalism

Jerry Brown is talking about the Headwaters Redwood Forest all this week.
Please try to listen: Pacifica Radio. In LA, KPFK, 90.7, 4 pm; in San
Francisco/Oakland, KPFA, 4 pm; in Houston, at 6, I think; in New York at 7.

The Headwaters is a remote redwood forest in Northern California. It is the
largest privately held redwood forest in California (in other words, in the
world...this giant, tallest of all trees, grows only in coastal northern
California and southern Oregon). For a long time it was owned by the
Georgia-Pacifica Lumber Co., which trashed its share of the forest but
wasn't in a hurry to harvest every scrap of old growth timber. Plus there is
a strong and old environmental movement in the area. Then it was bought by
speculators; financed by junk bonds, with the intent to turn a quick profit.
I'm not sure, but I'll bet this happened during the "business-friendly"
Reagan administration.

Environmentalists, logging interest, the government...they've been going
back and forth in the courts and the legislature. I can't remember the
details. Now the owner (someone owns this priceless bit of earth spirit)
says that he's going to cut the trees to pay off his junk bonds if the
government doesn't come up with the bucks instead.  Next week, I think.
Jerry says the president can stop it and will if the people put pressure on
him. I hope so.

AS IT HAPPENS, I was just through Northern California last week, and I
stopped and walked a bit in one of the publicly owned redwood groves, so I
have a very fresh memory of the coast redwoods. If you've never been there,
I can't convey the magnificence of this environment. You stand in the middle
of these 300-foot towering wise old trees, some of them more than 2000 years
old. In a way it's like being in a great cathedral, or at Teotihuacan...it's
old, it's sacred, it's grand. But it's also alive, so it's a temple to life.

Not only the redwoods, but oldgrowth forests everywhere are threatened
because they are the most profitable to harvest and now, finally, we have
the technology to really mow them down.

That a forest like this should be chopped up to turn a quick profit is
horrific. It's like Cortes melting down the intricate Aztec jewelry to make
gold bars. It's a crime against humanity. And I'm afraid it is an excellent
example of what is being done the world over under the banner of neoliberalism.

(Not everyone knows the term "neoliberalism." It is quite easy to explain;
it's merely the modern term for colonialism. Besides the term, some of the
methods and institutions and much of the rhetoric have changed, at least
superficially. And the pirates, who rule not only the seas but all the
intervening lands, wear suits and ties instead of bandanas and eye patches.)

(In the US the new generation of pirates is even returning to the old
practice of exploiting people...they've built prison construction and
operation into a fine, profitable growth industry providing good jobs to
thousands of people and stimulating local economies.)

I fear this is what is happening everywhere, all over the world, all at
once...nothing has value if it doesn't generate money. A standing old growth
forest has almost no value...cut down it is worth a fortune. These ancient
communities of living beings have grown here together in a slow, slow dance.
To walk in a forest like this is unforgettable; the experience is
intellectual, scientific, emotional, spiritual, sensual. You can't spend an
hour in the midst of this energy and come out unchanged. "In wildness is the
preservation of the world," Thoreau wrote. How much is preservation valued
on the market?

The old forest is not the only great ancient irreplaceable community that is
endangered because it is not profitable while it lives. The ancient
communities of man no longer have value, in the neoliberal sense of the
word. Ancient tribal and village ways of life are endangered because they
don't produce a sufficient return. Only factory farms and factory people
make any sense at all in the neoliberal value system. Isn't this the story
of Chiapas, where the Maya Indians have been pushed further and further onto
the physical margins, the least favorable lands, as each niche in turn
became exploitable? And now, thanks to the wonders and irrefutable logic of
the market, it is ALL exploitable!

As long as cash flow is the criteria for setting policy, the old growth is
doomed, and maybe the soul of man is, too. That's why the Zapatista call for
an international movement for humanity and against neoliberalism is so
important to us here, everywhere.

IF YOU CAN, try to join Jerry Brown in Oakland Friday afternoon, or over the
weekend in Northern California. Or in Houston, where another protest is
happening. Or do one in your forest or city hall. Or fax Clinton. Or send
him email at <•••@••.•••>, if you think it will do any good
(Jerry seems to).

But if the cutting isn't stopped, please be aware of what we are
losing--perhaps as early as next week--and be sad for our poor planet and
all its poor souls.
Peter Rashkin <•••@••.•••>

     PO Box 3008
     Long Beach, CA 90803

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