Saturday, April 16, 2011

I was reading in a book about the saving of the Alaska wilderness that Theodore Roosevelt became much more radical about protecting nature, then usually called conservation, after he lost a presidential election. I immediately thought of Al Gore. T. Roosevelt had been president, but lost a third party bid for a third term, a third term being at that time against a respected precedent set by George Washington but not against a rule with force. So TR was freed by losing, now getting that he was outside and could speak fully on behalf of the outside. Al Gore had been US Senator and Vice President, and was a known environmentalist, but he didn't go on and on about it until he ran for president and didn't become president. Then he really let rip and travelled the country the way early abolitionists did, his speech of most truth again and again. Which became a movie, an option the early environmentalists didn't have. Wendell Phillips, a travelling, speechifying abolitionist, matter of factly scheduled three nights per town--one for the riot of people trying to prevent the speech, one for the speech, and one for the meeting to start the local anti-abolition committe among people who had been moved by the speech--or who had already agreed and now had a way to get together with others of like heart. Politicians tempermentally wouldn't like that assumption of a riot part. Politics is the art of the possible, and politicians, when active, tend to stay well away from what will cause people to riot. They stay away from things that are deeply inconvenient to the way things are, like ending forced labor, like ending routine attack on the life system. So sometimes it could be Earth our Mother takes them away from where they are so far inside the way things are and puts them where they can say what they know and act on what they know. Not just on the possible parts of what they know, but also the parts that seem to require so big a change as to be impossible. Rachel Carson changed the game profoundly from outside. Earth Mother didn't need to kick her out of anyplace. She wasn't a government official. She wasn't an academic. She was smart, hard-working, and knew how bad pesticides were for particular forms of life and life in general. She also knew how resisted she would be, so she worked very hard to get fact, doulble and triple check facts, make the book ready for the attack from the people of the way things are. "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson--the title refers to the threat of no birds. The book bristles with research and changed everything. Rachel Carson didn't have to be drafted, but sometimes people need to lose the limo or limo equivalent so they can fully think and fully speak.