It’s not pristine

Speaking of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Former Senator from Alaska (and present day Governor) Frank Murkowski, on the floor of Congress, said that ANWR is

>”flat, it’s unattractive, it’s not pristine — this is what it looks like. Don’t be misinformed.”

In a similar vein, George Will writes:

>Few opponents of energy development in what they call “pristine” ANWR have visited it. Those who have and who think it is “pristine” must have visited during the 56 days a year when it is without sunlight. They missed the roads, stores, houses, military installations, airstrip and school. They did not miss seeing the trees in area 1002. There are no trees.

A marked improvement over the former Senator. But not visiting ANWR doesn’t disqualify one from speaking of it; the absence of trees in an *arctic* area (and the presence of a small number of humans) doesn’t disqualify it from being “pristine.” By the way, *Post* editors and Mr.Will, “pristine” means “in original condition” (whatever that condition might be–cold, boring or even treeless). Determining what might deserve this designation will perhaps be a matter of reasonable disagreement. But there seems to be little doubt that ANWR qualifies.

More inane than the pristine confusion, however, is Will’s claim that

>But for many opponents of drilling in the refuge, the debate is only secondarily about energy and the environment. Rather, it is a disguised debate about elemental political matters.

No evidence (not even the usual straw man kind of evidence) is offered for this claim. He continues:

>For some people, environmentalism is collectivism in drag. Such people use environmental causes and rhetoric not to change the political climate for the purpose of environmental improvement. Rather, for them, changing the society’s politics is the end, and environmental policies are mere means to that end.

In addition to the lack of evidence, no actual people are named. Will can usually muster up a few badly misinterpretated arguers or arguments to make his outlandish claims. But here no one.

>The unending argument in political philosophy concerns constantly adjusting society’s balance between freedom and equality. The primary goal of collectivism — of socialism in Europe and contemporary liberalism in America — is to enlarge governmental supervision of individuals’ lives. This is done in the name of equality.

And so what started as an argument about the proper disposition of *federal* property, has ended with the claim that objections to its privatization are motivated by a desire to control individual choices and expand government supervision over individuals’ lives. We’ll not bother with the grand conspiracy claim that concludes the argument–liberals are trying to create energy scarcity (fuel efficiency anyone?)–we’ve already wasted too much time on this psuedo-intellectual pablam.

5 thoughts on “It’s not pristine”

  1. Thank you for posting this response. George Will should educate himself.

    What disturbs me is how misleading this article is. You correctly point out that
    trees are not in this area because it is not a “forest” but is a artic tundra worthy of
    protection in its own right. We do not have to see the carabou being killed to decide
    that it is worth preserving.

    And how about the fact that the oil taken from ANWR constitutes less than a year of oil
    for the U.S.? We should be decreasing our DEPENDANCY on oil, not looking for ways to
    extend it. Try increasing car efficiency and increasing public transit. That would do
    far more to increase to decrease our dependancy on fossil fuel… and it is clear that
    we have to kick the habit if we want have an earth worth passing on to our children.

  2. Foresight/values=collectivism? So, if I value the environment and wish to conserve/preserve it for future generations of people, animals, and flora, then I’m a commie. I think Will would prefer to force this connection because so many Americans have strong gut reactions against “collectivism”. However, if we look at the issue of environmentalism without these political inuendos, it is apparent that we need not ascribe to any particular position with regard to private or public property in order to value the integrity of the environment.

    Given that the ANWR is already “public” property, Americans can legitimately express their opinions/enforce their values about what ought to be done with the land. I don’t see how my values regarding the ANWR have anything to do with “collectivism” other than the fact the the US government already is “collectivist” in many respects. It owns land, produces materials in factories, and runs medical centers.

    By Will’s reasoning, any move to block the privatization of one of these government owned and run resources would be “collectivist.” I would call it “conservative.”

  3. One more thing:

    “…to enlarge governmental supervision of individual’s lives.”


    I guess surveillance isn’t considered supervision. Or, Arabs aren’t indviduals.

  4. not just the bush administration, but nearly any form of government at the ver least espouses collectivist tendencies. thus the need for the promotion of exclusionary sentiments such as patriotism and nationalism. no sane, fre-thinking people will submit arbitrarily to an authoritarian system, but give them a common enemy or go on all themajor networks fearmongering to get your piece of shit legislation re-upped, and they eat it up with a spoon. thye have to unite us in some way other than screaming “can’t we all just get along?!” this again functions to different ends; one, it keeps the populace satiated as to the safety of their personal peace and affluence and it shifts the gaze from what actually might be going on(aren’t two rather prominent republicans awaiting trial? notice how quickly will turned the argument from environmentalism into mccarthyism?); it subverts our base emotions and submits them to the politicians eager molding. when one begins to actually talk of an empowered populace and social activism, the quickest way to marginalioze that person and their claims is to toss the flaming bag of poo labeled communism on their porch, as will has done, however, not nearly as deftly as our grammatically challenged, yet fearless leader did last night.

  5. George Will should NOT educate himself. The highest service he could provide us is simply to shut up – and failing that, to have the decency and good grace to shoot himself.

    Of course, our politics does need a fundamental change. Simply amazes me folks don’t understand what is really going on in our political life and how to change it, but nothing much has changed since H.L Mencken’s time and he had us all pegged pretty well.

    Neither party is about anything a person who truly believes in principles could possibly support. Until and unless there is a return of a spirit in the people as a whole of what I shall call early 20th century progressivism, that is, the Fair Deal principles of Theodore Roosevelt as expressed in his speech “The New Nationalism,” you can talk until the cows come home and the basic truth about American politics will not change one bit.

    If the Abramoff matter doesn’t make that apparent enough for folks, no amount of education will suffice to wake them up. Abramoff is not an aberration, for God’s sake, he’s the norm. He’s the bloody model for how things get done here — hello??

    It has always been of interest to me to see how the American people consistently live throughout history in a state of denial.

    It is rather like the American “Christians” I see who are all too willing that our military go forth and kill other peoples and our soldiers die themselves simply to preserve our prerogative to consume the majority of the world’s energy resources so we can continue our absurdly excessive materialistic behavior — all the while blithely ignoring what the founder of their religion had to say about that sort of thing. But that’s Western civilization for you — one long exploitative bloodbath after another covered up in denial and justified by a spurious sort of “faith” in something none of us ever has actually believed or put even slightly into practice.
    Faith in this instance merely means irrational rationalization fooling no one who can actually read more than a few lines or who can pay attention for more than a sound bite or two.

    As for what our politics really are is rather clear and makes all this theoretical Sturm und Drang more than a little tiresome to see.

    The evidence of government for sale is all around us — and it isn’t exactly a new problem. Yet we spend our time talking about ideologies as though any of that twaddle is anything besides smoke to obscure what is really going on. Furthermore, all the arguments and ideology on any side you may choose are quite beside the point of politics — always follow the money and you will get to the point right quick.

    Until and unless a large number of normally flush middle class folks get sunk into a serious economic depression or worse, there has been and will be no serious call for change or reform in this country.

    So both parties remain composed of skilled, pomaded poseurs who give us the mere appearance of being for or against this or that ideological viewpoint or theory of politics. As though the abortion issue is of any real concern to so-called conservatives other than as an issue they can’t afford to see decided finally for fear of losing their ability to rally the troops and raise campaign funds. It gives an entirely different meaning to the term “family values” in quite the same way George W. Bush gives a new meaning to the term “assisted living.”

    Among those with any pretension to serious work, there are no adherents to principle in Washington DC. Those who there may have been have long since given up the ghost and sold out or been ridden out of town on the waves of ridicule that befit such buffoons. You have to remember that Jimmy Stewart and Adam Sandler are just movie actors – and Mr. Smith is just a story.

    In Washington DC if you want love on the job, bring your dog — as true now as when it was first advised by Harry Truman.

    When are folks going to wake up to the obvious? Only when their wallet is empty and the goons come to foreclose on their house, apparently.

    You want some evidence besides Abramoff? How about having a senior insider simply spell it out for you?

    Recently, at a luncheon held for banking executives — CEOs, not underlings — gathered to hear an update on potential legislation and administrative rulemaking over the issue of fair lending laws, a capitol hill staffer made an unusually candid presentation.

    This senior unelected power broker was good enough to lay it out the way it is. He said that he was still amazed after all these years to find people with the foolish preconception that those on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch are engaged in some sort of process together whose aim is the furtherance of the greater good, the public interest, or the best thing for the largest number of people, or, in short, the “right thing.”

    According to this long-time insider, nothing could be further from the minds of those in Washington who toil doing serious work — and I will confess I count myself among them.

    The staffer then told the bankers the honest truth: all of us in government, in all of its many branches or manifestations, work only to please our constituents — we all represent certain interests and it is those we serve and no other. He said further that this is exactly what the founding fathers intended and how in fact the whole system was set up to work in the first instance.

    Consequently, almost all the discussion one sees about “issues” is of no real account. Issues are the lies we tell ourselves to justify our greed. Issues are what we clothe our naked desire to advance our interests. We change our rationales as easily as we change our socks. Most of the time these “ideas” come in waves of fashion, just as clothing does. Most of the time these interests are basically about economic advantage. Even when these interests are about pure power, there are economic interests at the end of the trail. The Hill folks have a rather direct connect to private sector economic interests — the executive folks a less direct but no less real one. There is always a revolving door. And then there is always the fundamentally economic issue of preserving your agency’s prerogatives in order to maximize your appropriations and increase the people, the full time equivalents under your control — constantly enlarging your agency’s “mission” to extend the need for yet more money and more people, which gives you more and more power to do more of the same.

    Everyone has their hand out, you see — and politics is, if it is about anything at all, about who gets their palm greased and who gets to decide that most basic of all political issues.

    Now then, let’s talk about THAT for a change — try reality and see how much fun you have then. Betcha it dries up a lot of the chatter right quick, too.

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