Tag Archives | Free the Earth

Reign of Fire

[cross-posted at C4SS and BHL]

Are the wildfires that have been devastating California a gift from government? So argues William Finnegan in a recent article, “California Burning.”

According to Finnegan, the seeds of disaster were planted when the mission of the U.S. Forest Service was expanded in the early decades of the 20th century:

The Forest Service, no longer just a land steward, became the federal fire department for the nation’s wildlands. Its policy was total suppression of fires …. Some experienced foresters saw problems with this policy. It spoke soothingly to public fears, but periodic lightning-strike fires are an important feature of many ecosystems, particularly in the American West. Some “light burning,” they suggested, would at least be needed to prevent major fires. William Greeley, the chief of the Forest Service in the 1920s, dismissed this idea as “Paiute forestry.”

Finnegan explains the “Paiute” reference:

Native Americans had used seasonal burning for many purposes, including hunting, clearing trails, managing crops, stimulating new plant growth, and fireproofing areas around their settlements. The North American “wilderness” encountered by white explorers and early settlers was in many cases already a heavily managed, deliberately diversified landscape.

(These facts incidentally give the lie to the common notion that American indigenous peoples were not entitled to property claims to their lands because they had not engaged in sufficiently transformative labour upon them.)

William Greeley

William Greeley

Greeley’s sneering dismissal of “Paiute forestry” was ill-placed. As Finnegan reports:

The total suppression policy of the Forest Service and its allies (the National Park Service, for instance) was exceptionally successful, reducing burned acreage by 90 percent, and thus remaking the landscape again – creating what Paul Hessburg, a research ecologist at the Forest Service, calls an “epidemic of trees.”

Preserving trees was not, however, the goal of the Forest Service, which worked closely with timber companies to clear-cut enormous swaths of old-growth forest. (Greeley, when he left public service, joined the timber barons.) The idea was to harvest the old trees and replace them with more efficiently managed and profitable forests. This created a dramatically more flammable landscape.

In other words, an alliance between big business and big government is responsible for rendering America’s wilderness areas exceptionally vulnerable to massive wildfires.

iRad I.3 in Print, iRad I.2 Online

The third issue (Spring 2013) of The Industrial Radical will be back from the printers and on its way to subscribers shortly, featuring articles by Less Antman, Jason Lee Byas, Kevin Carson, Nathan Goodman, Anthony Gregory, Trevor Hultner, Charles Johnson, Joshua Katz, Thomas L. Knapp, Abby Martin, Chad Nelson, Sheldon Richman, Jeremy Weiland, and your humble correspondent, on topics ranging from NSA surveillance and whistleblowing, the Turkish revolt, the Boston lockdown, the Keystone XL pipeline, intellectual property, and the futility of gun control in an age of 3-D printing, to compulsory schooling, American militarism, conscription, worker exploitation, property rights, prison ethics, rape culture, the pros and cons of communism, and the dubious legacy of Margaret Thatcher.

The Industrial Radical I.3 (Spring 2013)

With each new issue published, we post the immediately preceding issue online. Hence a free pdf file of our second issue (Winter 2013) is now available here. (See the first issue also.)

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The Industrial Radical Is Here!

The first issue of the Molinari Institute’s long-awaited periodical, The Industrial Radical (or iRad for short), is complete and in the process of being printed, and will be available for distribution in October. I just approved the cover proof. The Industrial Radical will debut at the Molinari/C4SS booth at Libertopia in San Diego next month.

The Industrial Radical

The 40-page first issue focuses on market anarchist solutions to the various disasters that have dominated the headlines over the last decade – from the financial crisis and Middle East wars to hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, and the Fukushima tsunami and reactor meltdown. (The Hokusai print on the cover is our combined nod to Katrina and Fukushima.)

We also have a special section on the 2012 election, in which we advise you on whom to vote for. And yet, as a nonprofit, we cannot endorse candidates! So how can we offer voting advice? How can this antithesis be synthesised? (Okay, you’ve probably already figured that out.)

Contributors to issue #1 include Kevin Carson, Gary Chartier, David D’Amato, Phil Jacobson, Charles Johnson, Ben Kilpatrick, Tom Knapp, Sheldon Richman, Darian Worden, and your humble correspondent.

Want to write for The Industrial Radical? See our information for authors and copyright policy.

Want to subscribe to The Industrial Radical? Visit our online shop.

(If you’ve already subscribed in the misty past, we’ll be contacting you in October to verify your mailing address; if you don’t hear from us, contact iradical@praxeology.net.)

Want to help us bring The Industrial Radical (along with Markets Not Capitalism and other FM@C literature) to the eager throngs at Libertopia? Contribute to our transportation expenses and exhibitor’s booth fees at our ChipIn page.

Want to express your implacable opposition to everything we stand for? Buy an enormous stack of The Industrial Radical and hold a public burning! We promise not to complain.

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