Edward Abbey: The damnation of a free-flowing river is an act of terrorism

I’ve been reading Postcards from Ed— Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast, published in 2006 by his wife Clarke Cartwright Abbey.

One of Ed Abbey’s letters (Nov 13, 1982) is directed to Eugene Hargrove, Editor, Environmental Ethics  He reminds Mr. Hargrove that his book The Monkey Wrench Gang is pure fiction and not a manifesto, and that the “book does not condone terrorism in any form”.

He defines terrorism:  “It means deadly violence — for a political and/or economic purpose — carried out against people or other living things, and it is usually carried out by governments against their own citizens… or by corporate entities …. against the land and all creatures that depend on the land for life and livelihood.  .. The damnation of a flowing river followed by the drowning of Cherokee graves, of forest and farmland, is an act of terrorism.”

Of course Abbey’s view contrasts sharply with that of the dam’s proponents who claim noble public purposes— economic development, community amenity, upscale housing choices, recreation, flood control, and pubic water supply.  Nevertheless, in Abbey’s view, the builders of dams are terrorists because their product is lethal.

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