Jeffrey Tucker on nature and the absence of social cooperation

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December 17, 2011 by galudwig

One thing that always ticks me off is when people talk about how great the wilderness is, and how happy we’d all be if it weren’t for the blight of civilization having built cities where there once used to be forests, untouched by the defiling hand of man who destroys all that is beautiful by turning tree into wood, stones into brick, animals into burgers. How good do the uncivilized tribes have it, these preachers of the gospel of the environment continue, who live in harmony with nature, who gather around the fire and tell stories, and live a sustainable lifestyle, unlike us, greedy Western fat-cat consumers, who have lost touch with our true nature.

Well, of course the wilderness seems very nice, watching National Geographic as we sip from our espressos in our comfortable sofas, but in reality, the wild is a dreadful place. where death lurks around every corner and the standard of living is a tiny fraction of what we take for granted in societies that have any notion at all of property.

Nature is to be tamed, not worshipped.

Jeffrey Tucker puts things into perspective in his excellent Bourbon for Breakfast,

The cruel competition for survival is not limited to animals. It extends to plants, to all things. And it could easily characterize the actions of people, absent the civilizing institutions of exchange, ownership, and the marketplace—the scene of peace in which man uses his reason to create and develop, cooperate and flourish. And what is war but the very opposite of this impulse, a reversal of reason and an attempt at practicing authentic “environmentalism” in which the choice is to kill or be killed?

I couldn’t agree more. Notions of private property, exchange and the marketplace are polar opposites of, and incompatible with, the “return to nature” ideology of some radical environmentalists. And this state of nature which is supposedly so superior is much more akin to the state of war in those uncivilized and trying times of “civilized” society, when property is not respected and humans become but mere cogs in the war machine, when the wants of the individual are brutally subjected to the collective war effort, and when, at last, the state reigns supreme, returning to the savage natural environment which is a total Hobbesian war of all against all.

It must be said again and again. Nature is to be tamed, not worshipped.

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