Auctions in the Forest

Francis Gooding

  • The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
    Princeton, 322 pp, £22.95, September 2015, ISBN 978 0 691 16275 1

‘As a land-user thinketh, so is he,’ the American conservationist Aldo Leopold wrote in his essay ‘The Land Ethic’ in 1948. People needed to ‘quit thinking about decent land-use as solely an economic problem’; he wanted to transform our vision of humankind’s place in the natural world from ‘conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it’. For Leopold, conservation was about creating a respectful and productive system of co-operation, and he was a vocal critic of irresponsible exploitation, especially of the destruction caused by logging companies. Leopold worked for the United States Forest Service between 1909 and 1928, so he knew what he was talking about when he described the lumber trade of the early 20th century as ‘land-pillage’.

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