It cannot be denied that the environment has undergone massive degrading in recent years. In addition, several environmental features and resources have been used by authoritative regimes to fund their own selfish interests and the average citizens who own these resources no longer enjoy them. In his essay ““Freedom, Wilderness, Wilderness and Freedom”, Edward Abbey conducts a comprehensive outlook on how political machinations have led to the improper manipulation of the environment such that it is no longer an enjoyable feature to earth’s average inhabitants. He contends that wild places especially the wild is very important and meaningful to the traditions and cultures of earth’s inhabitants and as such, there is a need for them to be separated from political interference. He makes a strong appeal to his audience by conducting comprehensive analysis of the enormous effect of political interference to the environment. This essay will try to link Abbey’s assertions about the need for environmental sovereignty and political interference and how this affects the average person’s view of the current environment situation.
When keenly analyzed, Abbey’s assertions can significantly influence mental process, emotions and behavior of human beings. The interference of political machinations on the environment has affected people in a variety of ways. According to Abbey, “We need wilderness because we are wild animals. Every man needs a place where he go to crazy in peace..for the terror, freedom and delirium” (Abbey). This freedom is what Edward Abbey advocates for in his article. He is of the opinion that even though that the current society may appear to be living in a free society, this is not the case. The government is essentially too big and possesses too much authority. This becomes obvious when even features such as mountains, forests and deserts are enthusiastically manacled in the colorful tape of administration. Too much power is placed in the hands of a few people, for instance the group of representatives or lawmakers in the society.
In the beginning, no one had any reservations about trusting the governments such as national forest and national agencies to appropriately and responsibly manage the wild and open fields. However, as the years progressed, these agencies’ missions changed and the “managing” aspect changed into something very different and this is “ownership”. Instead of the wild being left to be the wild where everyone can access it, it has been become a private commodity, which is in real sense auctioned out occasionally to high biding individuals such as oil prospectors, strip miners, grazers and so on. Abbeys laments this control, development, and regulation of the environmental wilderness by political machinations by claiming that claiming, “If the entire nation is urbanized, industrialized, mechanized and administered, then our liberties continue only at the sufferance of the technological mega machine that functions both as a master and as a servant, and our freedoms depend on the pleasure of the privileged few who sit at the control consoles of that machine” (Abbey, 229)
Abbey’s statements in this essay make clear one fact; social complexities and social administration structures will always determine the behavior of the society. A society may be constructed in such a way that only a few people govern and when these people have too much power, the freedom of the people slowly becomes taken away. There obviously needs to be a change in this aspect and the government’s power over environmental resources needs to deregulate. It would however be difficult to change this social complexity, for example, the government control over the wilderness id in effect because of lack of another alternative. If people are left to use the wilderness as they like, they may not take care of it and may lead to even further degradation.
Abbey, E. Freedom and Wilderness, Wilderness and Freedom in The Journey Home (p227-238). New York, U.S.A: Plume. 1977.