Involuntary Parks

Bruce Sterling: “They are not representatives of untouched nature, but of *vengeful* nature, of natural processes reasserting themselves in areas of political and technological collapse.”

“They bear some small resemblance to the twentieth century’s national parks, those government-owned areas nervously guarded by well-indoctrinated forest rangers in formal charge of Our Natural Heritage&c;&tm;. They are, for instance, very green, and probably full of wild animals. But the species mix is no longer natural. They are mostly fast-growing weeds, a cosmopolitan jungle of kudzu and bamboo, with, perhaps, many genetically altered species that can deal with seeping saltwater. Drowned cities that cannot be demolished for scrap will vanish wholesale into the unnatural overgrowth. The idea is farfetched, but not without precedent.

Here are some contemporary examples of Involuntary Parks:

  • The very large and slightly poisonous areas downwind of Chernobyl, which have been reported to feature wild boars and somewhat distorted vegetable and insect forms.
  • The Korean Demilitarized Zone, which is about a mile wide and stretches entirely across the Korean Peninsula. It is festooned with deadly landmines, and rumor says it has tigers.
  • The Green Line between Turkish Cyprus and Greek Cyprus. Intruders are shot or arrested there, and in the many years since the unrecognized Turkish secession, the area has become reforested; wildfires there are considered a public hazard.
  • Abandoned military test ranges.
  • Very old and decaying railroad lines in the United States, which, paradoxically, contain some of the last untouched prairie ecosystems in North America.
  • Aging toxic waste dumps, whose poisons legally discourage humans but not animals.”

Landmines, by acting as a deterrent to humans, have created several involuntary parks.

Related: “A fascinating and poignant photographic travelogue through abandoned, radiation-contaminated towns near Chernobyl” by a young Ukrainian woman motorcyclist [via null device]

The Port Huron Statement at 40

“‘If we appear to seek the unattainable, as it has been said, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable.'” Tom Hayden’s reflections on the 40th anniversary of SDS’ mission statement, which has been surprisingly neglected retrospectively but which has defined the shape of progressive struggle since. Hayden does a wonderful job of capturing the complex sociological trends that coalesced in the nascent student Left of the ’60’s. The extent to which he claims John Dewey and C. Wright Mills as its major intellectual forebears and shows how the genuine American leftism that arose distinguished itself from European Marxism is particularly illuminating. —The Nation [thanks to wood s lot]

How Bush can destroy Kerry fast

Dick Morris says that, in choosing Kerry over Edwards, the Democrats have “broken from the pragmatism and moderation that dominated their party’s profile under Bill Clinton and Al Gore” and returned to the liberal extremism that was their downfall under Mondale and Dukakis in the ’80’s. Morris predicts Kerry will be easy prey and, despite the buzzword, that he is unelectable. He suggests Bush “take advantage of this by implementing a three-part strategy in the coming campaign”. The first prong of the strategy is the predictable focus on Kerry’s liberalism; Morris pooh poohs the suggestion that the Bush campaign might avoid negative ads, although it is not clear to me that anyone ever seriously doubted how dirty the campaign is going to be. But, outrageously, the second and third prongs of the Bush ‘campaign’ are actually suggestions for administration policy decisions. First, he should elevate the sense of threat Americans feel to raise the profile of the War-on-Terror® “so that his advantage as a war president begins to count.” Second, he should bring the American troops home from Iraq in time to stop the body counts in advance of the election. Morris authored Off With Their Heads: Traitors, Crooks, and Obstructionists in American Politics, Media, and Business.