The Limits of Environmentalism Without Class: Lessons from the Ancient Forest Struggle of the Pacific Northwest

By John Bellamy Foster - 1993, Monthly Review Press - Capitalism, Nature, Socialism

John Bellamy Foster is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He was served as the editor for Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, which is a project of Monthly Review Press. He has written numerous books, including The Vulnerable Planet and The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism. He is also a regular contributor to The Monthly Review.

Acknowledgment. The author would like to thank Michael Dawson, Chuck Noble, Doug Boucher, and Alessandro Bonanno for their comments and support at critical stages in the preparation of this article. Acknowledgment is also given to Judi Bari, whose criticisms were useful in the development of the final version of this manuscript.

This pamphlet is a joint project of Monthly Review Press and Capitalism, Nature, Socialism/Center for Ecological Socialism. It will be published in a slightly different form in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 4, no. 1 (March 1993).

Capitalism, Nature, Socialism (CNS) is an international journal of theory and politics which combines the themes of history and nature, society and environment, and economics and ecology, and promotes the ideals of ecological socialism and feminism. The journal is especially interested in joining the discourses on ecology; feminism; struggles for social and environmental justice; radical democracy; and the theory of capital and politics of class struggle.

CNS is published four times a year. The journal is edited by an International Editorial Board of 50 members from 18 countries and over 150 Editorial Consultants on every continent. CNS regularly publishes reports on red green politics in different countries; theoretical and empirical articles; debates; theoretical notes; conference reports; research notes; poems; review essays; and reviews.

Ecologia Politica, the Spanish language edition of CNS, is published in Barcelona and Capitalismo Natura Socialismo, the Italian language edition, in Rome. A Sibling journal, Ecologie Politique has been launched in Paris. Plans are being made for an international Forum of left ecology journals in different countries, spearheaded by Lokoyan Bulletin (India) and CNS (USA).

CNS is non-sectarian; it is affiliated with no political party or organized political tendency and is open to diverse views within the international red green and feminist movements. The journal seeks to maintain the highest possible standards of scholarship, as well as to encourage discussions and debates about all of the issues bearing on our subject.


Over the last five years, the northern spotted owl has been transformed from an obscure species residing in the old-growth coniferous forest of the Pacific Northwest into a potent national symbol of the supposed irreconcilable struggle between environmentalists and workers. "The northern spotted owl," Michael Renner noted in Worldwatch's State of the World 1992, "has become a symbol of the seemingly intractable conflict between jobs and environmental protection--and of the larger tensions between the health of the economy and that of the natural world on which it ultimately depends." In the 1992 presidential election campaign, the Republican ticket of George Bush Sr. and Dan Quayle referred daily to "jobs vs. the owl." "You ought to talk to the timber people in the Northwest," Quayle exclaimed in the nationally televised vice-presidential debates, "where they [preservationists] say that, well, we can only save the owl, forget about jobs!" Bush used the example of the owl in the campaign to argue that the Endangered Species Act is a "sword aimed at the jobs, communities and families of entire regions."[1]

Yet this highly symbolic reduction of the struggle for environmental protection to one of the owl vs. jobs, which the Bush administration did so much to promote, only serves to obscure the fundamental problem, even within the Pacific Northwest itself. Behind the owl lies the question of whether the ancient forest of the Northwest, consisting of trees that are centuries

old, is to be treated as an inventory of billions of board feet of standing timber to be sold off according to the dictates of the market, or whether it is to be looked upon as an ecosystem of immeasurable value, the home of numerous endangered species.

Similarly, behind the issue of "jobs" lies the deeper question of who owns these jobs, under what conditions and for what ends. The central actor in the regulation of the timber industry in and around the national forests has never been workers, conservationists, or even the government, but rather the large timber corporations themselves.

Ultimately, the battle over the ancient forests is as much a class struggle as it is an ecological one. If forest product workers find their jobs threatened, this has far less to do with the struggle of environmentalists to preserve the ancient forest and the owl than to the efforts of capital and the state to promote profits at the expense of both workers and the environment.[2]

Ecological Catastrophe and Social

At the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the ancient conifer forest, dominated by trees hundreds of feet in height and centuries—sometimes more than a millennium—old, covered some 20 million acres in western Oregon and western Washington alone. Today only around 12 percent (2.4 million acres) of actual "old-growth

forest"—which consists of a multi-layered canopy of centuries-old trees, numerous large dead standing trees or "snags," and large downed trees on the ground and across streams—remains, according to the most advanced old-growth inventory available from Peter Morrison of the Wilderness Society. Since private capital has cleared its land of nearly

all of the original forest, the ancient forest that is left is to be found almost exclusively on public lands. Moreover, these last stands of late successional forest are largely confined to the higher elevations (above 2,500 feet) and are to be found in a crazy quilt of isolated patches—the result of previous logging, road building, and land clearances. According to data released in June 1992 by NASA scientist Dr. Compton J. Tucker, who has led a project comparing satellite photos of the Pacific Northwest and Amazon forests, the Northwest forest has been subject to "severe fragmentation" and "has been literally cut to pieces;" "When you compare the situation in the Pacific Northwest to the Amazon of Brazil [in this respect], the Northwest is much worse." Biologists have drawn an analogy between the Northwest forests and a shirt perforated again and again, to the point that there are now more holes than cloth. About 800,000 acres of the remaining intact old-growth forest, according to the Morrison estimates, are currently protected in parks and wilderness areas. The other 1.6 million acres—more than half of which are highly fragmented—are open to exploitation. In the 1980s, these stands of old-growth forest were disappearing at a rate of perhaps as much as 70,000 acres a year. If the recent rate of cutting were to continue, the unprotected regions of the old-growth forest in Oregon and Washington would be gone in less than thirty years.[3]

It was under these general conditions that two opposing forces converged in the 1980s to form a highly volatile situation with respect to the management of the old-growth forest. The first of these was evident in the implementation of a process of economic restructuring, arising out of the economic stagnation of the early 1980s, that required the ever more rapid

liquidation of the old-growth forest, together with increased exploitation of forest products workers.

Responding to a decline in the secular growth trend of the economy, capital in the Reagan period attempted to restructure the economy and state in ways that would remove any regulatory limits that had been placed on free market exploitation of the natural and human "conditions of production."[4] As we will see, in the case of the Northwest national forests, this meant a subversion of the long-established principle of sustained yield insofar as this could be interpreted as a "non-declining even flow" of timber, and its replacement by a policy of increased cutting and rapid old-growth liquidation designed to maximize government revenues, bridge the gap in private timber supplies, and clear the ground for a "fully managed" system of plantation forestry in the national forests.

The second converging force took the form of a rapidly growing environmental movement determined to defend the ecological integrity of the Northwest forests. In the face of a stepped-up campaign of forest restructuring aimed at the liquidation of the remaining old-growth, environmentalists in the 1980s struck back with every means at their disposal: blockading logging roads with their bodies, tree sitting, and filing a flood of legal proceedings designed to slow down and eventually halt the removal of ancient timber. A crucial turning point in the struggle came in 1988 when a federal court in Seattle upheld an environmentalist lawsuit claiming that the federal government had violated the requirements of the Endangered Species Act in failing to take steps to preserve the habitat of the northern spotted owl, a rodent-eating predator high up on the old-growth forest's food chain.

Environmentalists were aided not only by a strong environmental law--the Endangered Species Act--but also by a series of scientific advances in the ecological understanding of the oldgrowth forest that strongly reinforced the case for preservation. With the release of the landmark 1981 study, Ecological Characteristics of the Old-Growth Douglas-Fir Forests, authored by Forest Service ecologist Jerry Franklin and his associates, together with other related studies, it was demonstrated that the late successional or old-growth forest was by far the richest and most ecologically complex stage in the forest's existence, supporting an as-yet uncataloged diversity of life forms, many of which are now endangered as a result of forest fragmentation and destruction of critical habitat. Individual stands within the old-growth forest were discovered to be "unrivaled both in the size and longevity of individual trees and in the accumulation of biomass of individual stands." Among the coastal redwoods, the old-growth coniferous forest was found to exceed that of any tropical rain forest thus far measured in total accumulated biomass per unit area by a ratio of seven to one, while forests throughout the old-growth coniferous region were found to support biomasses far beyond those of tropical forests (though the latter are unrivaled in the sheer diversity of life that they support).

Moreover, it was revealed that the old-growth forest stored more carbon per unit area than any other terrestrial ecosystem thus far measured, making it a significant factor in the stabilization of the world's climate in the face of global warming. These and other new discoveries thus represented a scientific advance in forest ecology that seemed to point inexorably to the imperative of preservation.[5] Environmentalists became adept at disseminating this new ecological understanding--much of it the product of the work of government scientists, some of whom were drawn into the controversy as it unfolded--to an ever larger public through an impressive outpouring of critical articles, books, and videos. Biologists thus obtained the enmity of those determined to maintain high levels of cutting in the Northwest national forests. Yet charged by the Endangered Species Act with evaluating the chances for preservation of the critical habitat necessary to maintain a threatened species, government scientists in study after study continued to confirm the dire threat to the northern spotted owl, and indeed to the entire Northwest forest, reinforcing the environmentalist argument.

The convergence of these opposing economic and ecological forces in the early 1980s therefore signaled the emergence of contradictory conditions of the kind that Carolyn Merchant has associated with "ecological revolutions." These are characterized by "widening tensions between the requirements of ecology and production in a given habitat and between production and reproduction."[6] As it became clear that the very existence of the ancient forest ecosystem was in danger, environmentalists, scientists caught up in the dispute, the judicial arm of the state (under the pressure of the Endangered Species Act), and certain sections of the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service bureaucracies came to identify with "the requirements of ecological reproduction," while the forces of capital and the command posts of the state (mainly within the topmost echelons of the federal executive) leaned toward the interests of production. The result was a widening ecological and class war as capital stepped up its efforts to exploit the old-growth forest, environmentalists responded on behalf of the forest, and the workers, caught in the middle, struggled to defend their economic livelihoods.

In April 1990, a scientific study carried out in conformity with the Endangered Species Act by an inter-agency panel of government biologists and known as the Jack Ward Thomas report after the panel's chair, proposed setting aside more than 5 million acres of federal timberland in the form of "habitat conservation areas" to protect the northern spotted owl. If implemented, this would effectively double the amount of protected lands in the public forests of Washington, Oregon, and northern California, and would lead to an almost 50 percent drop in annual federal timber sales from the region. But even if this habitat conservation plan was fully adhered to, according to the biologists who prepared the report, the northern spotted

owl's population would plummet by as much as one-half, from its current level of about 3,000 pairs, over the next several decades.

It is important to stress that since the remaining old-growth acreage is not only limited but exists only in the form of scattered patches, the preservation of the owl habitat depends almost as much on the preservation of numerous "corridors" linking areas of widely dispersed old-growth forest (often occurring in a checkerboard pattern) as on the protection of the intact old-growth forest itself. Moreover, environmentalists have naturally struggled to preserve those acres of forest land that, while not conforming to the strictest definition of old-growth--usually because the ecology had been damaged in some way--nevertheless embody a wealth of biological values; including the capacity to help support owl and other endangered species populations. Finally, in practice the issue has often boiled down to where to draw the lines on the map, raising practical, jurisdictional issues related to the extent and usage of various sections of the national forests.

From the very start therefore, the battle to preserve the ancient forest in Washington, Oregon, and California involved several times the area represented by the 2.4 million acres in Washington and Oregon that, according to the Morrison estimates, could be classified as fully intact oldgrowth forest. Environmentalists, in fact, tended to view the Jack Ward Thomas plan--despite its commitment to setting aside more than 5 million acres--as inadequate for the preservation of the old-growth forest ecosystem, since this plan envisioned a further drastic decline in northern spotted owl populations over the ensuing decades. On the other hand, the Forest Service estimated that the Jack Ward Thomas plan would lead to the loss of 28,000 timber jobs over the next decade while industry estimates placed the number of jobs that would be lost due to the direct and indirect effects of the Thomas plan at more than 100,000. Soon the northern spotted owl was on the cover of Time magazine--under the sardonic heading "Who Gives a Hoot?"

Under pressure from the law, environmentalists, and the courts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, acting on the results of the Thomas report, officially listed the northern spotted owl as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in June 1990. From that point on, the crisis only seemed to intensify. In April 1991, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would evaluate up to 11.6 million acres in Washington, Oregon, and northern California for possible protection to preserve the habitat of the northern spotted owl. Over the course of the following year, while court in junctions effectively banned most logging in the old-growth forests pending the adoption of plans in conformity with the Endangered Species Act, the number of acres under consideration for protection dropped from 11.6 to 8 to 7 million acres; and when the Fish and Wildlife Service unveiled its final recovery plan for the owl in May 1992, the amount of critical habitat to be protected had been reduced to 5.4 million acres--approximately equal to the Jack Ward Thomas plan--with projected job losses at 32,000. In contrast to the Thomas plan, however, the recovery plan estimated the loss of less than one-quarter of the total owl population, with the expectation that the remaining habitat would support 2,300 pairs of owls, in comparison to the present 3,000. Moreover, the multidisciplinary scientific team responsible for the recovery plan presented a fairly optimistic scenario suggesting that the owl population would be sufficiently large and well dispersed for the owl to survive, replenish its numbers, and at some point be removed from the threatened species list.

Nevertheless, in the view of the Bush administration, the recovery plan provided by the Fish and Wildlife Service in conformity with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, although a necessary step in getting the courts to allow a resumption of logging in the Northwest national forests, was not acceptable. The idea was to undermine it from the outset, as part of a larger campaign against the Endangered Species Act itself. Secretary of the Interior Lujan had publicly voiced the opinion that, "Maybe we should change the [Endangered Species] law...The spotted owl business is probably the prime example." The first major thrust in the Bush administration counterattack, dubbed an "Act of

God" by the Southern Forest Products Association, was to convene in 1992 (for only the third time in its history) the Endangered Species Committee, commonly known as the God Squad because of its power to override species preservation on the grounds of economic necessity. The second major thrust was to release a separate Interior Department plan at the same time as the Fish and Wildlife Service recovery planwith the express purpose of undermining the latter.[7]

The God Squad's membership, as set out in the Endangered Species Act, includes the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Army, the heads of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, the Environmental Protection Agency, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (all of whom are presidential appointees), and a representative from each affected state (in this case Oregon). On this occasion, the God Squad had been convened at a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) request to decide on whether to override the Endangered Species Act in the case of forty-four sales of Bureau of Land Management timber. As reported in the Portland Oregonian (17 May 1992), "The God Squad met ... in the Interior Secretary's small, wood-paneled ceremonial conference room. Access was tightly restricted, but Lujan's staff reserved ten seats for 'constituents.' All ten were filled by representatives of the timber industry, labor unions and timber communities."

The result was as expected. In May 1992, in a largely symbolic attack, the main effect of which was to throw doubt on the Endangered Species Act, the God Squad voted five to two (the head of the EPA, William Reilly, and the Oregon representative dissenting) to exempt thirteen BLM timber sales from the requirements of the act.

Immediately following the God Squad vote, Lujan released both the recovery plan mandated by the Endangered Species Act and the rival Interior Department plan promoted by Lujan himself. In the Lujan plan, prepared by a small team of Interior Department officials that included no biologists, the area to be protected would be slashed by nearly one-half (to only 2.8

million acres), reducing the number of habitat conservation areas from 196 to 75, while the surviving owl population, as estimated by the plan, would decrease to a maximum of 1,300 breeding pairs out of the 3,000 pairs now existing. According to Lujan, this Interior Department plan would result in the loss of only 15,000 jobs. However, since the Lujan plan would fail to protect the threatened species throughout its range, it represented a clear break with the provisions of the Endangered Species Act, and would require special Congressional legislation to be put into effect. Environmentalists immediately labeled the Lujan proposal an "extinction plan." Further, those who saw the Interior Department plan in these terms included scientists responsible for the preparation of the Thomas and recovery plans. In the cautious estimation of Jonathan Bart, who headed the government's multidisciplinary recovery plan team, by providing insufficient habitat, the Lujan plan would "eventually result in extinction" over many decades of the northern spotted owl.

Confident that the wind was changing in their direction, supporters of the timber industry greeted the Lujan plan with only a lukewarm response. Although some timber industry representatives declared that the Interior Department plan was a "step in the right direction," other defenders of the Northwest industry, such as Republican Senator Bob Packwood from Oregon, refused to support even the Lujan plan on the grounds that it would eliminate too many jobs, claiming, "It comes down to this: Are you for people or for the bird?" Others declared that even the seventy-five conservation areas to be set up in the Lujan plan were unnecessary, on the spurious grounds that the owl could survive in second-growth forests.[8]

For many, however, the virulence of the Bush administration's assault on environmental legislation, the northern spotted owl, and the old-growth forest no doubt came as a considerable surprise. Indeed, what has made the nature of the ancient forest crisis so mysterious from the beginning has been the tendency for most establishment discussions to focus in fetishized fashion on timber, owls, loggers, and environmentalists while ignoring the major historical agent of change: capital itself, including the capital-state partnership ("a partnership between two different separate forces, linked to each other by many threads, yet each having its own separate sphere of concern").[9]

From the beginning, the giant forest products firms deliberately stayed behind the scenes, leaving the defense of their interests to their major political lobbying organizations, the American Forest Resource Alliance and the National Forest Products Association. Meanwhile, few mainstream commentators have thought it worth their while to explore the historical dimensions of this ecological catastrophe brought on by the accumulation of timber capital. The public is thus left with the distinct impression that the whole problem can be reduced to an irreconcilable conflict between workers and environmentalists, between owls and jobs--a conflict in which the state is presumably neutral and capital is notable mainly by its absence. It is this great silence with respect to timber capital's historic role, including its partnership with what might be termed the "natural resource state," that must be penetrated if a realistic understanding of the fate of the forest is to emerged.[10]

Monopoly Capital and Environmental Degradation: The Case of the Forest

Most forest land in the United States is privately owned. The largest part belongs to farmers, ranchers, and small owners, while a handful of giant timber corporations, owning only a small portion of the whole but in control of vast tree plantations in the most productive tree-growing regions in the Southeast and the Northwest, dominate

timber production nationwide. These "even-aged industrial plantations," with their monocultures of pine and fir, have been dubbed "forestry's equivalent to the urban tower block."[11]

Such concentrated control of the conditions governing the production and marketing of timber by a relatively small number of firms at the apex of the industry, Veblen argued early in the twentieth century, emerged in accordance with "the characteristic traits of the American plan [of natural resource exploitation]initial waste and eventual absentee ownership on a large scale and quasi-monopolistic footing." In the Northwest, the giant private forest holdings were formed during the monopolistic drive at the turn of the century, with the largest tracts emerging from railroad property. In 1900, the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company came into being when the Northern Pacific Railroad sold 900,000 acres of virgin timberland to a group of mid-western logging entrepreneurs headed by Frederick Weyerhaeuser. Today six companies, led by Weyerhaeuser, own more than 7 million acres of forest in the Northwest. As a result, these firms are able to dominate the entire forest product industry in the regionfrom the growing and harvesting of trees, to the operation of lumber and plywood mills and pulp and paper factories, to the marketing of the final products. Smaller forest product companies, lacking significant private forest lands of their own, must rely almost entirely on access to public timber to feed their mills.[12]

From the beginning, the power of the large timber firms depended on their ability to limit competition and prevent prices from falling by keeping an oversupply of timber from reaching the market. By the late 1920s, however, the Northwest timber industry was experiencing a serious glut of supply, followed by a depression in 1929.

Timber capital therefore encouraged the federal government to add tens of billions of additional board feet of "standing timber" to the national forests (150 billion board feet [bbf] were added in 1933 alone) to be harvested, in contrast to the more rapid rate of cutting on private lands, only on a sustained-yield basis. In this way, the major corporations were able to achieve the following three objectives: (1) limiting the supply of timber on the market; (2) maintaining higher prices for their own timber; and (3) establishing timber community stability (hence the existence of a readily exploitable labor force) in what were essentially company towns.

With the coming of World War II, market conditions changed and total national timber production leaped up from a low of seventeen bbf in 1933 to thirty-six bbf in 1941. Timber production continued to climb after World War II as a result of pent-up demand for housing and programs such as VA mortgages. It was the Korean war boom, however, that produced the peak in private timber harvests in the Northwest. In 1952, corporations removed enough board feet from private lands in Oregon alone to house Oregon's entire 2 million population and San Francisco's 700,000 residents." From this point on, private timber harvests declined sharply. Yet corporations continued to cut trees at a frenetic pace and were slow to replant prior to the 1960s. As a result, timber companies and home builders began to demand more intensive harvesting of high value old-growth on public timberlands to compensate for the shortages in private supplies. Annual removals of national forest timber rose from three bbf in 1945 to thirteen bbf in 1970.

Yet this was not enough for the corporations. In 1970, a Nixon administration task force, bowing to pressures from industry, wrote that, "A goal of about seven billion board foot annual increase in timber harvest from the national forests by 1978 is believed to be attainable and consistent with other objectives of forest management."[13] By the 1980s, this "mining" of ancient timber had produced a sharpened contradiction between ecological and economic requirements. On the one hand, an

environmental movement grew by leaps and bounds as a result of growing concern over the vanishing forest, reinforced by a more sophisticated scientific understanding of the late successional forest ecosystem. On the other hand, conditions of economic stagnation in the late 1970s and 1980s--reflected in a drop in housing starts from 2 million in 1976 to 1 million in 1982--put renewed pressure on capital to restructure its relationship to both labor and the environment, speeding up its exploitation of both.

In this developing contradiction, it was the immediate economic imperative that initially had the upper hand. During the Reagan years, increased sales of national forest timber were seen as a means of lowering lumber prices and overcoming a severe slump in housing. At the same time, the pull of the world market was exerting increased pressure on U.S. timber supplies. More and more timber was finding its way abroad in the form of unprocessed logs destined mainly for Asia, where the current selling price for logs is up to 50 percent higher than in the United States. In 1987, three bbf of logs were exported from U.S. Pacific ports to Pacific Rim countries--almost 70 percent to Japan alone. By 1988 this amount had reached four bbf (equivalent to about 60 percent of the total harvest from federal lands in Oregon and Washington). Meanwhile, U.S. imports of Canadian lumber between 1975 and 1985 rose from less than one-fifth to one-third of U.S. softwood lumber consumption.[14] Although the government prohibits the export of logs from federal forests, the mere fact that logs from private lands are being shipped in large quantities abroad means that the overall demand for timber is increased and local sawmills are forced to rely more and more on public timber from the old-growth forests for their supplies.

Eager to exploit growing world demand for logs and at the same time force down U.S. lumber prices, the Reagan administration pursued every means at its disposal to accelerate federal timber harvests. The man appointed to accomplish this was Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment (hence the boss of the Forest Service) John Crowell, Jr., formerly general counsel for Louisiana-Pacific, the largest purchaser of federal timber. No sooner was his appointment confirmed than Crowell proposed a doubling of the rate of harvest from federal forest lands in Oregon and Washington from an annual rate of five bbf to ten bbf by the 1990s. Since this rate of cutting was far beyond what could be regarded as sustained yield, it was immediately apparent that Crowell stood for the quickest possible liquidation of the remaining stands of ancient forest. The chief barrier to "more efficient National Forest management," Crowell claimed, "has been the timber policy of 'non-declining even flow'...The volume of wood present in these old-growth forests far exceeds what would be present as growing stock inventory once the forest is in a fully managed condition"[15] Or as he stated more succinctly elsewhere, "If you cut the old-growth you're liquidating the existing inventory and getting the forests into a fully managed condition."[16]

The entire Reagan strategy of increased exploitation of the U.S. national forests depended on a vastly accelerated rate of cutting in the Northwest in particular, since it was from these national forests that the great bulk of the net proceeds from federal timber sales were obtained--although most federal timber placed on the market came from forests in other parts of the country. In 1987, 90 percent of the net receipts from Forest Service timber sales came from the twelve Northwest forests, which nevertheless accounted for only one-third of the timber harvested from U.S. national forests that year.[17] Costs associated with timber sales (road building, etc.) depend on the area sold, but revenue depends on the volume of timber sold as well as wood quality. Both volume/area and quality are very high in the Northwest old-growth forests, which make them by far the most profitable area of U.S. Forest Service operations. Profit criteria therefore demanded higher rates of cutting in these forests. And since almost everywhere else in the United States the Forest Service was in fact selling timber at a complete loss, continued sales of high value old-growth timber in the Northwest were essential to keep the overall timber sales budget in the black and thus to prevent enormous losses elsewhere--and hence the full extent of the federal timber subsidy to capital--from becoming visible.

But in order to carry out its plan of increasing sales and harvest levels in the Northwest national forests, dictated by all of these factors, the Reagan administration found it first necessary to deal with the crisis in the timber industry brought on by the depression in the national home-building market, which had been badly hit by the effects of skyrocketing interest rates in the early Reagan era. And this meant further lowering the price charged to timber companies for federal timber from the Northwest. Contract arrangements for federal timber have traditionally allowed firms to purchase cutting rights for standing timber and to delay harvesting for two to five years until market conditions become favorable--a policy that has encouraged widespread speculation. The housing crash of 1982 thus left timber firms sitting on vast inventories of federal timber that were now overpriced in relation to depressed domestic lumber prices. Through the timber contract bailout of 1984, signed into law by President Reagan, the federal government made it possible for firms to profit from this situation by releasing them from contracts for billions of board feet of uncut timber and then reselling the same trees back again to the companies at bargain-basement, recession-level prices. Profits soared as corporations and Northwest members of Congress forced the sale of high volumes of low cost federal timber (with both sales and harvests reaching near record levels) throughout the remainder of the 1980s and in the first year of the following decade.[18]

Meanwhile internal BLM plans in 1983 to trim cutting and introduce longer rotation times in the forests in western Oregon under its jurisdiction, in the face of dwindling agency timber supplies, were suddenly scotched late that same year (some of those involved believe by the BLM's parent agency, the Interior Department, then headed by James Watt) and timber harvests were instead increased. Thus it comes as no surprise that internal BLM memos made public in 1990 warn that the agency had been harvesting at unsustainable levels and was running out of trees to cut. "In some cases there is no place to go after 1991," one internal memo observed.[19]

Equally disastrous from the standpoint of sustainability was the adoption, beginning in 1984, of federal subsides for private log exports--under rules pertaining to a wide variety of export commodities--which allowed timber firms with foreign-based sales operations (i.e., multinationals) to obtain tax exemptions of 15 to 30 percent of their export income. By 1992, this was costing the U.S. Treasury $100 million a year in lost revenues. According to Congressional Representative Les AuCoin (D-OR), Plum Creek Timber (formerly Burlington Northern) used these subsidies for log exports--to export, in effect, over 5,000 U.S. forest product jobs in the 1980s, while pocketing $33 million in tax savings.[20]

Ecological Conflict and the Class Struggle

The first real sign that the traditional and rather peaceful give and-take between accumulation and conservation had been radically transformed by the 1980s in ways that suggested the emergence of an era of confrontation occurred in April 1983, when four Earth First!ers appeared out of nowhere in the Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon and took their stand between a running bulldozer and a tree. Before long radical environmentalists were sitting on company dynamite to prevent blasting, tree spiking (driving large nails into trees in order to hinder the cutting and processing of timber), tree sitting, chaining themselves to timber equipment, and forming human barricades on logging roads by setting their feet in cement-filled ditches or inserting themselves in rock piles.[21]

While Earth First!ers chose a path of direct confrontation, other environmental groups relied on legal action. Soon federal agencies found themselves immersed in a flood of lawsuits and administrative appeals. In 1987, twenty-five environmental groups filed the first of three spotted owl lawsuits through the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, thus setting in motion the chain of events leading to the release of the Jack Ward Thomas report and the listing of the owl as threatened in the spring and summer of 1990.

For Northwest forest products workers, these actions by environmentalists were naturally viewed with growing anguish. There can be no doubt that the impending "locking away" of millions of acres of public timberland spells disaster for tens of thousands of workers. Soon, frustration with what they saw as an extreme preservationist ethic was inducing many workers to display angry bumper stickers, such as "I LOVE SPOTTED OWLS--FRIED", in timber areas of the Northwest. On a number of occasions, owls (not always northern spotted owls because they are hard to find) have been found killed and nailed to trees or road signs. One was discovered with its head placed in a noose.

Timber firms have generally sought to reinforce this worker rage against environmentalists, adding fuel to the fire at every possible opportunity, with sawmill owners actually sponsoring anti-preservationist lectures during working hours at the mills.

More tragic, however, is the fact that environmentalists are themselves responsible for needlessly provoking much of this rage through the gross insensitivity with which they have frequently greeted the plight of the workers. For example, an Earth First! advertisement in 1989 announcing a "Going Away Party" in honor of "our departing friends" was deliberately designed to mock woodworkers who had recently lost their jobs when Louisiana-Pacific decided to move one of its mills from northern California to Mexico. At the center of the ad was a cartoon drawing of a hairy logger with his pants down kissing his ass goodbye and declaring "the end is near."[22]

Such unsympathetic attitudes toward workers, while rarely as crude as the above example, are not unusual even among those militant environmentalists who purport to be on the side of the workers in the class struggle. This can be seen in a position recently taken by Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!:

One of my biggest complaints about the workers up in the Pacific Northwest is that most of them aren't "class conscious." That's a big problem...The loggers are victims of an unjust economic system, yes, but that should not absolve them for everything they do...Indeed, sometimes it is the hardy swain, the sturdy yeoman from the bumpkin proletariat

so celebrated in Wobbly lore who holds the most violent and destructive attitudes towards the natural world (and toward those who would defend it).[23]

Despite the radical rhetoric, there can be no doubt that Foreman exhibits an extremely condescending attitude here toward workers (the so-called "bumpkin proletariat") and their efforts to maintain their economic livelihoods. It is surely inadequate to say that environmentalists are not costing the workers their jobs when these jobs are being threatened as a result of environmentalist actions, with environmentalists doing very little directly to aid the workers caught in this situation. It is equally objectionable to complain about a lack of "class consciousness" and absence of resistance among workers while turning a blind eye to the concrete struggles actually taking place. Nor should one be overly hasty to

condemn forest product workers, the majority of whom believe in promoting a sustainable relation to the forest at some level, for adhering to destructive attitudes toward the natural world.

Not only deep ecologists but also mainstream environmental groups commonly distance themselves from workers. Less inclined to adopt the language of class, the latter seldom express their disdain for workers as openly, but their "that's not our problem" attitude--not to speak of their interlocking directorates with major corporations and their white upper-middle class membership base--suggest many of the same biases.

The disdain with which environmentalist groups commonly greet workers in the timber industry is most evident in the general silence in environmental circles regarding the fierce battle that is still being waged between employers and employees in and around the Northwest forests. In the 1980s, forest product workers in the Northwest were hit by a number of major market

conditions that seriously undermined their economic positions and their capacity to engage in effective class struggles. These included: (1) a drastic drop in housing starts; (2) increased exports of unprocessed logs, coupled with rising excess capacity in Northwest mills; (3) a vastly stepped up rate of imports of lumber from Canada (which had the effect of creating deep fissures between Canadian and U.S. workers within the International Woodworkers of America); (4) a rapid decline in employment due to mechanization; (5) wage competition from southern woodworkers (who earned almost $3 an hour less on average in 1986 than their Northwest counterparts); and (6) a general shift of the industry from the Northwest to the Southeast, where faster growing pine plantations and right-to-work laws provide a greater "comparative advantage" in timber production.

Of all of these factors affecting Northwest timber employment, automation has probably been the most important. In 1987, it took only eight workers to process 1 million board feet of timber, compared to ten workers a decade earlier. In 1976, a total of fifteen bbf of timber was harvested from all sources in Oregon and Washington, giving employment to 150,900 workers in the lumber and wood products and paper and allied products industries. In 1989, the same total harvest level employed 135,700, or about 10 percent fewer workers. In Oregon, the state with the largest old-growth forests, employment in the lumber and wood products industries declined by 21.9 percent between 1978 and 1990, with 71 percent of this decline occurring between 1978 and 1988, before the northern spotted owl became a major issue.

Not surprisingly, capital chose this period to launch a wider class offensive. In 1983, Louisiana-Pacific demanded an 8 to 10 percent rollback and the creation of a two-tier wage structure at its fifteen Northwest mills, forcing the unions to strike. With no agreement after a year, the union locals at Louisiana-Pacific's mills were decertified. In 1985, Weyerhaeuser demanded wage and benefit cuts of about $4 an hour at a number of mills. When the unions resisted, the mills were closed. In 1986, having demonstrated its clout, Weyerhaeuser in 1986 was able to force an agreement with the unions that involved wage and benefit cuts of $4 an hour, plus the implementation of a complex "profit-sharing" scheme. Although strikes continued to break out at Northwest mills in the late 1980s, it was clear that the unions had suffered a great reversal in their class war with capital.[24] During these fierce battles between forest products firms and their workers, environmentalists were nowhere to be seen, and scarcely seemed to notice. Few in the green movement saw this as an occasion to demonstrate their solidarity with workers.

The political and organizational consequences of this environmentalism without class, separating environmentalists from workers, is particularly evident at the grassroots in the Northwest. Today the conflict at the popular level in Oregon is visible more and more in terms of the opposition between two large coalitions: on the one side, the Oregon Natural Resources

Council (ONRC), the most powerful regional environmental organization in the country, embracing some 6,000 members and representing some eighty different conservation groups; on the other side, the Oregon Lands Coalition (OLC), a predominantly conservative, pro-industry coalition, embracing over 72,000 members and encompassing forty-seven different organizations. While

the ONRC is closely tied through local chapters to such national conservation organizations as the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the Wilderness Society, and the National Wildlife Federation, the anti-environmentalist OLC has forged close links to Republican figures in the Northwest Congressional delegation and to the American Forest Resource Alliance, as well as more tenuous relations with AFL-CIO locals tenuous because of the reputed anti-union orientation of some OLC member organizations, such as the pro-capital Yellow Ribbon Coalition.

The deep divisions that have emerged in this way between the labor and ecology movements explain much of the success of the Bush strategy in containing the environmentalist assault on the timber industry. Exploiting to the full the divisions among popular forces, the Bush administration early on adopted a strategy of staving off the separate threats represented by environmentalists and workers to the interests of capital through a policy of divide and conquer. Thus, on the one hand, George Bush announced that he was concerned above all with the jobs of workers threatened by efforts to protect the endangered spotted owl: "We want to save the little furry-feathery guy and all that but I don't want to see 40,000 loggers thrown out of work."[25] On the other hand, the administration has repeatedly let it be known that the president was opposed to special legislation designed to assist displaced workers.[26]

Despite the release of the Thomas report in April 1990, and the listing of the northern spotted owl as a threatened species in June, the executive branch ordered the Forest Service to stop working on an owl protection plan. At the same time, the White House suppressed a Forest Service/Bureau of Land Management (BLM) report on the northern spotted owl that had come up with numerous ways to offset the job losses experienced by workers. According to what Democratic Congressional Representative Peter DeFazio has called a "reliable source" in the Forest Service, the Forest Service/BLM study was killed by the administration. A May 1990 draft of the suppressed report contained over fifty-two pages of concrete recommendations, including an $86 million public works program modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s, bans on log exports "for all ownerships," increases in the share of revenues from timber sales to be returned to timber-dependent communities, extensive retraining programs, and money for road reclamation projects. Since this report pointed to the fact that a political solution to the crisis that would meet the needs of both environmentalists and workers was perfectly feasible, "someone in the White House ... I'd lay even money on John Sununu," DeFazio said, simply killed the report.[27]

Overall, the Bush administration was clearly on the defensive on the owl question from the spring of 1990 to the spring of 1992, when the Lujan plan was released. Its initial strategy was to encourage the main federal agencies involved--the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Fish and Wildlife Service--to delay the adoption of plans to safeguard the

northern spotted owl. Such delays would allow the timber companies to extract huge quantities of additional timber from the Northwest forest. For a year this delaying tactic seemed to work. But, beginning in April 1991, the administration strategy collapsed as federal courts (laying the blame on the Bush administration) ruled that the federal agencies were not in compliance with the law, with the result that bans were placed on Forest Service (and, more recently, BLM) sales until agency plans to protect the owl were formulated and put into effect. From that point on, the Bush administration focused its efforts on the more aggressive strategy of undermining the long-awaited Fish and Wildlife Service recovery plan and the Endangered

Species Act itself (which is now coming up for renewal) through the convening of the God Squad and the launching of its own plan for slow extinction of the owl in the interests of greater timber extraction.

By fall 1992, the Bush administration was concentrating on circumventing the Endangered Species Act by means of Congressional legislation that would capitulate to timber interests. Upon the release of the Lujan plan, Senator Slade Gorton, Republican from Washington, announced that he intended to introduce it immediately in the form of legislation in the Senate, as the Bush administration addition to the group of bills presently under consideration in Congress in relation to the ancient forest. In this way, the spotted owl, the opponents of preservation hoped, would become simply another snail darter (to which it has frequently been compared). In that case, Congress overruled both the Endangered Species Act and the God Squad, ordering the completion of Tennessee's Tellico Dam, which threatened the tiny fish. The greatest fear of environmentalists, meanwhile, is that the Endangered Species Act itself will be placed in jeopardy as a result of this continuing crisis. If timber capital and the natural resource state succeeds through the manipulation of the "owls vs. jobs" issue, in extracting the teeth from the Endangered Species Act, the disaster for the natural environment in the United States would extend far beyond the northern spotted owl or the ancient forest to species and habitats throughout the country.[28]

However, by November 1992, the immediate threat to environmentalist hopes seemed to be receding somewhat as a consequence of two new developments. First, in October 1992, the marbled murrulet, a tiny sea bird that nests in the old-growth forests of Washington, Oregon, and northern California, was listed as a threatened species. Although two-thirds of the murrulet's range is already under protection because of the northern spotted owl, the effect of this new listing means that certain coastal forest areas currently not included in the set-asides for the owl will be affected. More important, environmentalists hope that the listing of a second species as "threatened" will remove attention from the owl and focus the controversy instead on the entire old-growth ecosystem.

The second development was the election in November 1992 of the Clinton-Gore administration, which had campaigned on the Pacific coast as a peacemaker in the timber wars, willing to distance itself from the large timber corporations and to stand for the interests of both workers and environmentalists. During the campaign, Clinton argued strongly for the elimination of the subsidy for private log exports, declaring that this money could be better spent on retraining workers. According to Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the new administration is in favor of an economic transition program that would retrain displaced workers, restore forests and watersheds, and boost the productivity of second growth forests.

For environmentalists, the chief hope arising out of the election--voiced by Andy Kerr of the Oregon Natural Resources Councilis that a quick and definitive settlement of the owl question, through the enactment of an economic transition program under the auspices of the new administration, will defuse what is potentially the most explosive issue that could be used by opponents of the environmental movement to undermine the Endangered Species Act when it comes up for reenactment in 1993.

The Oregon Lands Coalition (OLC) meanwhile is pinning its hopes on the new administration's promise to call a timber summit within the first 100 days after the election, which will give the OLC the opportunity to mobilize its forces on the public stage and to generate a political momentum for weakening the Endangered Species Act.[29]

Toward a Strategy of Ecological Conversion

If the foregoing analysis is correct and the environmentalist cause has been impeded by the executive arm of the state acting in tandem with the large corporations, while workers and endangered species are being forced to bear the main costs of the crisis, it would seem to be eminently sensible for environmentalists and workers to join forces around a common platform. A progressive class-oriented response to the old-growth crisis would have to focus on an ecological conversion program that can be enacted at the level of the state. As Victor Wallis has argued, the term conversion has traditionally referred to the switch from a military to a civilian economy but can be applied more broadly to the socially planned redirection of the economy necessary to create a sustainable society.[30]

There is no doubt that an ecological conversion strategy of this sort could be adopted in relation to the old-growth forest crisis. Moreover, there are progressive, ecologically concerned voices within the worker's movement who would back such a strategy. This is illustrated by the position taken by William Street, a progressive policy analyst for the International Woodworkers of America (IWA). Writing in May 1990 in his column in the IWA's paper, The Woodworker, Street explains:

We know a worker's forest policy...starts by recognizing the need for a sustainable and renewable forestry. It recognizes that each portion of the planet must produce its proportional share of the resources it uses. The proportion should be produced as environmentally sound as possible...A worker's forest policy would harvest at a sustainable rate and ensure that those mature trees that are harvested are used for those socially desired products for which there are no substitutes. By thus restricting the use of older trees harvest pressure would be diminished without contributing to unemployment.[31]

This position, taken by a progressive figure within a major forest product union, does not represent a solution to the tragedy of the ancient forest since it does not fully take into account the fragility of the remaining old-growth forest. Yet it represents a view that includes ecological and social components that are crucial to any attempt both to save the forest and safeguard the livelihoods of workers. It constitutes a viewpoint, moreover, that is a far cry from those that single-issue environmentalists almost invariably attribute to workers.

One thing that Street's "worker's forest policy" makes clear is that once the narrow profit-making goals of corporations are no longer seen as the primary constraint in working out solutions to problems of the environment and employment, all sorts of new rational possibilities open up, allowing for the development of common ground between workers and

environmentalists. Clearcutting could conceivably be replaced by the "new forestry" techniques promoted by ecologist Jerry Franklin, in which the aim is to mimic natural processes by leaving behind large standing trees, snags, and fallen trees. Restrictions could be placed on the uses to which mature timber could be put--so that old-growth could not be logged and then pulped to be converted into products like disposable diapers. Highgrading or the selective cutting of the oldest and most valuable timber alone could be prohibited. The use of herbicides and the burning of slash could be eliminated. Current bans on federal log exports could be followed up by bans (or export duties) on private log exports. Early retirement programs could be designed for older workers in the industry, coupled with guaranteed annual employment programs for those in the smaller workforce that remains. Larger shares of forest revenues could be returned to local communities. A Civilian Conservation Corps could be established to construct recreation facilities and carry out ecological restoration projects in the forests. Roads could be reclaimed in habitat conservation areas. Conversion funds could be provided to convert old-growth sawmills into more modern plants equipped to process second growth. A windfall profits tax could be placed on timber corporations that see the value of the timber on their tree plantations rise as a result of curtailments of public timber supplies. Extensive education and retraining programs (a workers' GI bill) could be established for displaced forest product workers. Economic development grants and loans could be made available to distressed communities. Federal programs could be developed to help manage timber more effectively on nonindustrial private forest lands. Current federal timber contract practices could be altered to ensure that timber would be sold at its full value and to decrease speculative purchases. Federal subsidies to timber capital through road-building budgets could be sharply curtailed and the freed up funds redirected to social services in timber communities. Funds could be allocated for the expansion of national forest lands to be managed on a nonprofit, ecologically sustainable basis, with revenue from the land base being used to support working communities. Finally, international agreements could be promoted to establish uniform practices of sustainable forestry and to reduce global competitive pressures that encourage deforestation and forest fragmentation.

What is important to recognize is that only a few relatively minor steps in this general direction would go a long way toward solving the employment problem and the community instability caused by the "set asides" for the protection of the northern spotted owl. A unified labor-environmentalist strategy that would meet the needs of both the forest ecosystem and forest communities is therefore perfectly feasible. What is necessary to make this possible is for society to invest some of its economic surplus in assisting workers whose jobs and communities are being undermined by new ecological requirements.

Unfortunately, people such as William Street are somewhat isolated within union circles and organized labor in the Northwest has thus far been reluctant to put its full weight behind ecological conversion (or industrial transition) programs when limited efforts have been made in this direction, since this is seen as an unnecessary concession to preservationists who wish

to reduce logging levels. Matters are made worse by the fact that the major environmental organizations have shown little direct concern for the plight of the workers and have only recently begun to think in a rather modest fashion about industrial transition. Under these circumstances, it is perhaps not surprising that the labor unions themselves have been overshadowed in this area by conservative coalitions that are unabashedly anti-preservationist and pro-capital. Thus when the God Squad announced in May 1992 that it would exempt thirteen BLM sales from the Endangered Species Act, a representative of the Oregon Lands Coalition was quoted as saying: "This decision is a victory for the workers of Oregon, however small it may be." What is noteworthy about this statement is not so much the position taken as the fact that a conservative, pro-business, and anti-environmentalist citizens' alliance such as the OLC, which includes groups like cattle grazers and realtors as well as non-union workers' organizations such as the Yellow Ribbon Coalition should become--in the absence of a progressive trade union response to the crisis--the main voice for the "workers of Oregon" on the old-growth question.

This failure of the regional unions to push hard for an ecological conversion program is partly explained by the fact that such a program is an extremely difficult strategy for unions in a natural resource industry in an out-of-the way area of the country to pursue on their own--particularly under circumstances of a declining natural resource base, economic depression, capital relocation, union decline, and growing environmental controls. Ultimately, the pursuit of an ecological conversion strategy requires not so much imaginative initiatives in a depressed community as coordinated action on a national scale, and this involves finding the means to force the channeling of surplus into ecological conversion programs throughout the country. That sufficient surplus for this purpose exists can scarcely be doubted.[32]

Recognizing this, the Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers Union has proposed the creation of a "Superfund for Workers" that would offer up to four years of support to people displaced by environmentally destructive industries in order to enable them to pursue vocational retraining, or even an entire career shift by means of extended education. Other possible variations on this Workers' Superfund program include assistance to help form small businesses and income supplements for individuals who decide to pursue less well paid work. The annual cost for a million workers might be $40 billion.[33]

The actual trend in the United States in recent years, however, has been in the opposite direction: toward less and less support for displaced workers. Federal outlays for worker retraining are only one-half what they were when Reagan was first elected. Under these circumstances, workers end up carrying a larger and larger share of the total costs of industrial transition. In 1987, public spending on employment and retraining as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 1.7 percent in Sweden, 1 percent in West Germany, 0.7 percent in France, Spain, and Britain, and a minuscule 0.3 percent in the United States.[34]

This situation is a problem not only for workers and trade unions but for any environmental movement worthy of its name. Capitalism as a system devoted to accumulation without end is inseparable from a capital-intensive, energy-intensive economy--and thus necessitates growing throughputs of raw materials and energy, along with the creation of excess capacity, surplus labor, and economic and ecological waste. This should be differentiated from the basic needs of the broad majority of people, which have to do with the availability of steady and worthwhile employment and an improving quality of life, and therefore have no inherent link to an intensive process of ecological degradation. Northwest timber workers, for their part, want above all to protect their livelihoods and communities. In this respect the export of unprocessed logs, the relentless drive for ever higher levels of automation, the stress on clearcutting as opposed to "new forestry," the use of chemical weed killers, the burning of slash, and so on, make no sense from a workers' standpoint.

The "job blackmail" that often seems to compel workers to adopt an anti-environmental stance can therefore be seen to be tied to a system that promotes profits by means of the exploitation of both human beings and nature.[35] The direct route to the creation of a mass environmental movement is one that seeks to break the seemingly intractable conflict between jobs and environmental protection (a conflict symbolized nowadays by owls vs. jobs) by placing ecological conversion--the planning of new ways of working with nature while fulfilling social needs--at the very core of each and every ecological struggle. This necessarily means moving away from the attitude that environmentalism can somehow stand above and beyond the class struggle.

A shift toward a broad movement for ecological conversion and the creation of a sustainable society also means that the partnership between the state and the capitalist class, which has always formed the most important linchpin of the capitalist system, must be loosened by degrees, as part of an overall social and environmental revolution. This partnership must be replaced, in the process of a radical transformation of the society, by a new partnership between democratized state power and popular power.[36] Such a shift requires revolutionary change that must be more than simply a rejection of capitalist methods of accumulation and their effects on people and the environment. Socialism--as a positive, not just a negative, alternative to capitalism--remains essential to any conversion process, because its broad commitment to worldwide egalitarian change reflects an understanding of "how the needs of the various communities can fit together in a way that leaves nobody out, but that also satisfies the environmental requirements that are global. Within a socialist framework, the sources of the largest scale and most severe environmental destruction could be dealt with head-on, in a way that has already shown itself to be beyond the capacity--not to say against the interests--of capital."[37]

From an eco-socialist perspective there is no difficulty in seeing that the rapid destruction of the old-growth forest is not about owls vs. jobs but ecosystems vs. profits. Ecology tells us that the destruction of a complex ecosystem rooted in a climax forest that took a millennium or more to develop involves thresholds beyond which ecological restoration is impossible. We must therefore find our way to a more rational economic and social formation, one that is not based on the amassing of wealth at the expense of humanity and nature but on justice and sustainability. Whether the issue is species extinction, death on the job, women's control of their own bodies, the dumping of toxic wastes in minority communities, urban decay, third world poverty, the destruction of the ozone layer, global warming, nuclear contamination, desertification, soil erosion, or the pollution of water resources, the broad questions and answers remain the same. As the authors of Europe's Green Alternative have written, we must choose between two logics: "On the one side, economics divorced from all other considerations, and on the other life and society."[38]


[1] Michael Renner, "Creating Sustainable Jobs in Industrial Countries," in Lester R. Brown et al., The State of the World 1992 (London: Earthscan, 1992), p. 138; Bush quoted in the New York Times, 16 December 1992.

[2] For an early article on which portions of the following argument are based, see John Bellamy Foster, "Capitalism and the Ancient Forest," Monthly Review 43, no. 5 (October 1991).

[3] Peter Morrison, in Joint Hearings, Subcommittee on Forests, Family Farms, and Energy of the Committee on Agriculture, and the Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, 101st Congress, First Session, Management of Old-Growth Forests of the Pacific Northwest, 20 and 22 June 1989, pp. 270-78; Portland Oregonian, 15 October 1990; Tucker, quoted in the New York Times, 11 June 1992. The Peter Morrison/Wilderness Society estimate, based on the analysis of satellite pictures, takes account of the extreme fragmentation of these forests. Other estimates, including some by the Wilderness Society, that are broader and less rigorous in their methodology have placed the remaining old-growth forest acreage as high as 4.7 million acres or more (World Resources Institute, The 1992 Information Please Environmental Almanac [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992], pp. 143-45). The figures on protected old-growth forest acreage provided above do not include the habitat conservation areas for the northern spotted owl that are currently under dispute.

[4] For the larger theoretical significance of this see James O'Connor, "Capitalism, Nature, Socialism: A Theoretical Introduction," Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 1 (Fall 1988).

[5] R. H. Waring and J. F. Franklin, "Evergreen Coniferous Forests of the Pacific Northwest," Science 204 (1979); Elliot A. Norse, Ancient Forests of the Pacific Northwest (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1990), pp.20-24, 27-32, 141-44; Catherine Caufield, "The Ancient Forest," New Yorker, 14 May 1990, pp. 46-49; David Kelly and Gary Braasch, Secrets of the Old-Growth Forest (Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Books, 1988), pp.21, 36-37, 63; Chris Maser, The Redesigned Forest (San Pedro, CA: R & E Miles, 1988), p. 53.

[6] Carolyn Merchant, Ecological Revolutions (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979), p. 5.

[7] Lujan quoted in Jonathan King, Northwest Greenbook (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1991), p. 53; Southern Forest Products Association, Newsletter, 7 October 1991.

[8] Eugene Register-Guard, 15 and 24 May 1992; Portland Oregonian, 15 and 17 May 1992.

[9] Ralph Miliband, Divided Societies (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 30-34.

[10] For the notion of the "natural resource state" organized in the United States around the Department of Interior in particular, see Christopher Manes, Green Rage (Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1990).

[11] Edward Goldsmith et al., The Imperiled Planet (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1990), p.94; Richard E. Rice, "Old-Growth Logging Myths," The Ecologist 20, no. 4 July-August 1990): 143-45.

[12] Spider Burbank et al., A Study of the Weyerhaeuser Company as a Multinational Corporation (Olympia, WA: Evergreen State College, June 1975), p. 1; for Veblen quote see Thorstein Veblen, Absentee Ownership and Business Enterprise in Recent Times (New York: A.M. Kelley, 1923), p. 194.

[13] David A. Clary, Timber and the Forest Service (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1986), pp. 80-93, 110-11; William B. Greeley, Forests and Men (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1951), p.206; Con H. Schallau, "Sustained Yield versus Community Stability," Journal of Forestry 87, no. 9 (September 1989): 18; Keith Ervin, Fragile Majesty (Seattle: The Mountaineers, 1989), p. 123; Daniel R. Barney, The Last Stand (New York: Grossman, 1974), pp. 88-89.

[14] U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Production, Prices, Employment and Trade in Northwest Forest Industries, various issues; Marcus Widenor, "Pattern Bargaining in the Pacific Northwest Sawmill Industry: 1980-1989," in Steven Hecker and Margaret Hallock, eds., Labor in a Global Economy (Eugene, OR: University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center, 1991); Widman Management Limited, Markets 89-93: The Outlook for North American Forest Products (San Francisco: Widman Management, 1989), pp. 79, 107.

[15] John Crowell, "Excerpts from a Speech by John B. Crowell, Jr.," in Bureau of Governmental Research and Service, University of Oregon, Old-Growth Forests: A Balanced Perspective (Eugene, OR: 1982), pp. 133-36.

[16] Quoted in Portland Oregonian, 15 October 1990. Crowell's position, while extreme, reflects the dominant Forest Service/timber industry view that a steady or even accelerated cutting of old-growth in the national forests is necessary to close the "window" of a temporary shortage of timber brought on in the last few decades by past failures of forest management and the slow growth of trees in the Northwest. This window, it is believed, will be closed in the first quarter of the twenty-first century when enough second-growth timber will be available to sustain production indefinitely--a point that will be reached, however, only when all of the old growth in the national forests has been removed and the entire timber economy has been put on a fully commodified, tree-plantation basis. In federal forest management, this approach is justified as broadly consistent with "sustained yield" forestry. In practice, however, it has little to with sustainability in either ecological or economic terms, and has become little more than an additional rationale for pursuing timber capital's age-old policy of cutting as much timber as the market will bear.

[17] Caufield, "The Ancient Forest, " 69-70.

[18] Joe P. Mattey, The Timber Bubble that Burst (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 3-9; Portland Oregonian, 15 October 1990.

[19] Eugene Register-Guard, 24 May 1992.

[20] Eugene Register-Guard, 26 October 1992.

[21] Manes, Green Rage, pp. 10-15, 86-88, 99-102, 210-11. Tree spiking is extremely controversial since it is life threatening to workers, who can be injured or killed when saw blades come into contact with the spike. Since March 1990, when Judi Bari publicly renounced tree spiking at an Oregon conference at the urging of timber worker Gene Lawhorn, Earth First!ers in the Northwest have repeatedly repudiated this tactic. See Rik Scarce, Eco Warriors (Chicago: The Noble Press,1990), pp.74-78, 83; Clay Dumont, Loggers and Radical Environmentalists: Cultural Struggles in Timber Country, Ph.D. diss., University of Oregon, 1991, pp. 79-84, 135-37.

[22] See Dumont, Loggers and Radical Environmentalists, p. 39.

[23] Dave Foreman in Steve Chase, ed., Defending the Earth: A Dialogue Between Murray Bookchin and Dave Foreman (Boston: South End Press, 1991), pp.51-52. Notall within EarthFirst! would agree with Foreman's point of view. Judi Bari is the most famous of those Earth First!ers who have adopted a labor-environmentalist stance. On Bari's ideas and position within the movement see Scarce, Eco-Warriors, pp. 80-85.

[24] Renner, "Creating Sustainable Jobs," pp. 150-51; U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Center, Production, Prices, Employment, and Trade in Northwest Forest Industry; Eugene Register-Guard, 3 May 1991; Widenor,"Pattern Bargaining in the Pacific Northwest Sawmill Industry: 1980-1989," pp. 252-61.

[25] Quoted in the London Times, 28 May 1992.

[26] On administration opposition to special assistance for the displaced workers, see Christian Science Monitor, 6 June 1991.

[27] U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, Actions the Administration May Wish to Consider in Implementing a Conservation Strategy for the Northern Spotted Owl, unpublished, 1 May 1990; Eugene Register-Guard, 4 May 1991.

[28] On the Endangered Species Act itself, see Kathryn A. Kohm, ea., Balancing on the Brink of Extinction (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991).

[29] Eugene Register-Guard, 5 November 1992; Portland Oregonian, 5 November 1992; Al Gore, Earth in The Balance (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992), pp. 121, 194.

[30] Walls, Socialism, Ecology, and Democracy" Monthly Review 44, no.2 (June 1992) pp. 15-18. See also Raymond Williams, "Socialism and Ecology" in Resources of Hope (London: Verso, 1989).

[31] William Street, "Ecology Is Not a Four Letter Word," The Woodworker, 20 May 1990.

[32] See Michael Dawson and John Bellamy Foster, "The Tendency of the Surplus to Rise, 1963-1988," in John B. Davis, ea., The Economic Surplus in the Advanced Economies (Brookfield, VT: Edward Elgar, 1992), pp. 42-70. An abbreviated version of this research appeared under the same title in Monthly Review 43, no. 4 (September 1991): 37- 50.

[33] Renner, "Creating Sustainable Jobs," pp.153-54.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid., p. 139.

[36] Miliband, Divided Societies, pp. 228-29, 233.

[37] Walls, op. cit., pp. 16-17

[38] Penny Kemp et. al., Europe's Green Alternative: A Manifesto for a New World (London: Merlin Press, 1992), p 16