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Purveyors of Environmental Justice: Edward Abbey's "Monkey Wrench Gang"

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The border wall, flanked by a road on both sides, is shockingly ecologically harmful. Edward Abbey’s fictional eco-saboteurs rebelling against a military-industrial complex are relevant to real life …

The border wall, flanked by a road on both sides, is shockingly ecologically harmful. Edward Abbey’s fictional eco-saboteurs rebelling against a military-industrial complex are relevant to real life protestors against the border wall. A very small minority of people will practice eco-sabotage, because of its fatal potential, but a much larger percentage will support the cause non-criminally. Edward Abbey’s “Monkey Wrench Gang” would have actively contested the building of the border wall if the novel had taken place in this decade rather than the 1970s.

Environmentalists have made winning strides with legislation, but Congress allowed the Department of Homeland Security to waive environmental and conservation laws if they impeded the construction of the border wall. Since Big Brother changed the rules, rendering legal avenues ineffective, audiences can find cheap solace as the “monkey wrenchers” rally for environmental justice by destroying billboards, bulldozers, bridges and dams.

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  • 1. Purveyors of Environmental Justice: Edward Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang By Tiffany C. Anderson
  • 2. Role of Border Wall On Environmental Justice
  • 3. Role of Border Wall on Environmental Justice
    • Real ID Act of 2005
    • Congress allowed the Department of Homeland Security to waive environmental and conservation laws if the laws impeded the construction of the border wall.
  • 4.
    • When it comes to the laws that have been waived, most people say there are too many to list. I have taken the liberty to show which environmental and conservation laws have been waived for the construction of the border wall in Hidalgo County, alone.
    • (Department of Homeland Security)
    • Let’s have a moment of silence.
  • 5.
    • THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT, THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT, THE FEDERAL WATER POLLUTION CONTROL ACT (COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS THE CLEAN WATER ACT), THE NATIONAL HISTORIC PRESERVATION ACT, THE MIGRATORY BIRD TREATY ACT, THE CLEAN AIR ACT, THE ARCHEOLOGICAL RESOURCES PROTECTION ACT, THE SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT, THE NOISE CONTROL ACT, THE SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL ACT (AS AMENDED BY THE RESOURCE CONSERVATION AND RECOVERY ACT), THE COMPREHENSIVE ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSE, COMPENSATION, AND LIABILITY ACT, THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION ACT, THE ANTIQUITIES ACT, THE HISTORIC SITES, BUILDINGS, AND ANTIQUITIES ACT, THE FARMLAND PROTECTION POLICY ACT, THE COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT ACT, THE FEDERAL LAND POLICY AND MANAGEMENT ACT, THE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE SYSTEM ADMINISTRATION ACT, THE FISH AND WILDLIFE ACT OF 1956, THE FISH AND WILDLIFE COORDINATION ACT, THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE ACT, THE RIVERS AND HARBORS ACT OF 1899, THE EAGLE PROTECTION ACT, THE NATIVE AMERICAN GRAVES PROTECTION AND REPATRIATION ACT, THE AMERICAN INDIAN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT, THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT, THE FEDERAL GRANT AND COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT ACT OF 1977
    • (Department of Homeland Security)
  • 6. Who voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006?
    • US Congress
      • 283 State Representatives
      • 80 Senators
      • (United States House of Representatives) / (United States Senate)
  • 7.
    • John McCain
    • Hillary Clinton
    • Barack Obama
  • 8. Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife
    • Sierra Club: 1892
    • Defenders of Wildlife: 1947
    • Both of these activist organizations have campaigned and made winning strides with environmental legislation, but some people like to take a different approach.
  • 9.  
  • 10.
    • Earth First! was spawned by the Monkey Wrench Gang audience 4 years after the book’s publication (Pozza 78).
    • The group is equivalent to social justice organizations such as the Brown Berets and the Black Panthers in their protest methods.
    • What is this group against?
      • ineffective environmentalists
  • 11. What is their motto? “No Compromise in the Defense of Mother Earth!”
  • 12. Edward Paul Abbey
    • (Initials E. P. A.)
    • Never joined Earth First!
    January 29, 1927 - March 14, 1989
  • 13. Monkey Wrench Gang…
    • … is a Western about four desert-lovers who fight against the machine, the puppet of the U. S. government.
    • “ The characters in Monkey Wrench Gang engage in industrial sabotage in order to defend a land they love against industrial terrorism.” -Edward Abbey (Abbey and Petersen 129)
  • 14. Monkey Wrench Gang
    • It all starts with a trip down a river in 1970s Utah. The four characters criticize their society and search for a solution: they plan to fight for their desert and sabotage the development of the West, especially Glen Canyon Dam.
  • 15. Joseph “Seldom Seen” Smith
    • “ jack” Mormon river guide and watermelon farmer with three wives
    • Out of work due to Glen Canyon Dam
    • Prays for a “ pre- cision earthquake” below Glen Canyon Dam
  • 16. He never quite gets the answer he wants from God. Since no earthquake takes down the dam, he does what he can to fight the development of the West.
  • 17. His nemesis:
  • 18. Glen Canyon Dam
  • 19. Glen Canyon Dam
    • Glen Canyon Dam cost $300 million in 1964, which would amount to more than one billion dollars in 1999 (Cassuto 87, 163).
  • 20.
    • Smith’s old paddling grounds are now as lost as Atlantis due to this structure.
  • 21.
    • And there’s his buddy…
  • 22. George Washington Hayduke
    • Ex-Green Beret
    • POW
    • Victim of PTSD
  • 23. Hayduke: always looking for beer, always looking for a fight.
  • 24. A. K. Sarvis, M. D.
    • A. K. A. “Doc”
    • Financial resource for the gang
    • Doc metaphorically introduces the gang to Ned Ludd, their role model saboteur from the 1880s.
  • 25. Ned Ludd: leader of a movement to sabotage machines at the onset of the Industrial Revolution
  • 26. Machines were replacing skilled laborers, leaving the laborers unemployed. Laborers threw their wooden shoes, or sabots , into the gears of those machines. Sabot- age:
  • 27. Doc Sarvis: Burns billboards as a hobby
  • 28. Bonnie Abbzug
    • Doc’s secretary
    • Doc’s girlfriend
    • Originally from the Bronx
    • Lives and meditates in a geodesic dome
  • 29. Antithetic Point of View
    • Against modern technology , but they use flashlights. Hayduke likes guns.
    • Against highways , but they drive vehicles
    • Protect the environment , yet they litter the highways with cans
  • 30. Antithetic Point of View
    • They protect the West from commercial enterprise, yet half of their fun comes from an anarchist’s shopping list.
    • Against industrial development and industrial tourism , yet Seldom Seen Smith is a whitewater rafting guide
  • 31. Monkey Wrench Gang’s Inner Compass
    • Something as abstract as legal threats will not hinder the gang’s desire to use force against inanimate objects such as machinery.
    • Morally, they hold back. They will not harm or kill living creatures.
  • 32. Questions Raised by Monkey Wrench Gang
    • 1970s: Eco-Sabotage
    • Post 9/11: Eco-Terrorists
    • Did the author intend for people to mimic the eco-defenders?
    • Would the novel be as interesting if the eco-defenders took an approach like Ghandi’s?
  • 33. Did the author intend for people to mimic the eco-defenders?
    • I think the author was proud that his novel spawned an active environmental group, but I don’t believe the author intended for readers to mimic Monkey Wrench Gang actions.
  • 34.
    • “… if the reader is impelled to act out in real life the exploits of Doc, Bonnie, Slim & Hayduke, that too is a matter for decision by the individual conscience. But first and last, it should be remembered that the book is fiction, make-believe, a story and no more than a story.” -Edward Abbey (qtd. in Abbey and Peterson 129)
  • 35. “ I write to make a difference.” -Edward Abbey (qtd. in Quigley 32)
  • 36.
    • The 10th Anniversary Edition included illustrations by Robert Crumb.
    • Cartoons defy the laws of physics.
    • Does this denote reality ?
  • 37. Would anyone say Wile E. Coyote’s experiences with TNT are believable ?
  • 38. Do we believe we should imitate his behavior?
  • 39. -Edward Abbey (qtd. in Abbey and Petersen 128) / (qtd. in Baker 6 qtd. in Igham 13)
    • “… please note that The Monkey Wrench Gang is a novel, a work of fiction and--I like to think--a work of art. It would be naïve to read it as a tract, a program for action or a manifesto. The book is a comedy, with a happy ending. It was written to entertain, to inspire tears and laughter, to amuse my friends and to aggravate our enemies. (Aggravate their ulcers.)…The book does not condone terrorism in any form. …How the reader chooses to interpret all this is the reader’s business.”
    • “ But above all I wanted it to be entertaining.”
  • 40. Would the novel be dramatic if the gang took an approach like Ghandi’s?
  • 41. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. -Percy Bysshe Shelley (Shelley 48)
  • 42.
    • Had the world been full of people that were too eager for environmental justice, Edward Abbey might have written an entirely different novel.
    • Dramatic points:
      • Sitting in a bulldozer’s path…and sitting… and sitting…
      • Legislative environmental protection efforts
  • 43. Protest methods
    • Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and C ésar Chávez promoted nonviolence because people were too excited and eager for social justice.
    • Malcolm X and The Monkey Wrench Gang want to see more effective methods for positive results.
  • 44. Conclusions from the book
    • Actions of the Monkey Wrench Gang are not to be taken literally, but as a call to action.
    • Edward Abbey wanted to get people motivated about environmental justice.
  • 45. -Edward Abbey (qtd. in Peiffer 47)
    • “ Writers are shameless liars. In fact, we pride ourselves on the subtlety and grandeur of our lies.”
  • 46. My Thoughts
    • Edward Abbey would have fictionally contested the border wall had his novel taken place in this decade rather than the 1970s.
    • Interesting enough, in 1984 he published a collection of essays about living away from the city under the title Beyond The Wall.
  • 47. “ Iron Curtain” with Border Wall
  • 48. “ Iron Curtain” with Border Wall
  • 49. “ Iron Curtain” without Border Wall
  • 50. My Thoughts…
    • Since Big Brother changed the rules as soon as the environmentalists were winning, rendering legal avenues ineffective, audiences can find cheap solace as the “monkey wrenchers” rally for environmental justice.
  • 51. My Conclusion: Do what you can to enjoy the game. Go kayaking.
  • 52. Recreational activity displaces illegal activity.
  • 53. “ Iron Curtain” without Border Wall new addition: my friend, Frank
  • 54. Pro-Kayak
  • 55. And you can bring your dog…
  • 56. Last but not least: let’s build more bridges, not border walls.
  • 57. Anzalduas Bridge
  • 58.
        • Works Cited
        • Abbey, Edward. The Monkey Wrench Gang . New York: HarperCollins, 2006. Print.
        • Abbey, Edward, and David Petersen. Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast . Minneapolis, Minn.: Milkweed Editions, 2006. Print.
        • Anderson, Tiffany. Iron Curtain. 2010.
        • Cassuto, David N. Dripping Dry: Literature, Politics, and Water in the Desert Southwest . Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 2001. Print.
        • Compass Rose. 7 May 2010. <http://www.leehansen.com/coloring/Pirates/pages/compass- rose.htm>.
        • Crumb, Robert. “D o c Burns Billboards.” Cartoon. 7 May 2010.
        • <http://joshshalek.blogspot.com/2009/12/r-crumbs-ed-abbey.html>.
        • Crumb, Robert. “D o c Sarvis TV.” Cartoon. 7 May 2010.
        • <http://farm1.static.flickr.com/183/410557751_d3027a6344.jpg>.
        • Crumb, Robert. “G e orge Hayduke.” Cartoon. 7 May 2010.
        • <http://lowbagger.org/monkeywrenchgangreview.html>.
        • Crumb, Robert. “T h e Monkey Wrench Gang. ” Cartoon. 7 May 2010.
        • <http://lowbagger.org/monkeywrenchgangreview.html>.
        • Crumb, Robert. &quot;The 1987 Monkey Wrench Gang Calendar.&quot; Cartoon. Abbey's Web . Web. 7 May 2010. <http://www.abbeyweb.net/calendars/mwg1987.html>.
        • Department of Homeland Security. DHS: DHS Exercises Waiver Authority to Expedite Advancements in Border Security . Department of Homeland Security | Preserving Our Freedoms, Protecting America . U. S. Department of Homeland Security, 1 Apr. 2008. Web. 10 March 2010. <http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/pr_1207080713748.shtm>.
        • Earth First Fist. Cartoon. 7 May 2010. <http://www.earthfirst.org/about.htm>.
        • Ingham, Zita. &quot;Edward Abbey.&quot; American Nature Writers. Vol. 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1996. 1-19. Print.
  • 59.
        • Jones, Chuck. “W i le E. Coyote blows up dynamite too soon. ” Cartoon. 7 May 2010. <http://earlyrecovery.wordpress.com/2010/03/>.
        • Jones, Chuck. “W i le E. Coyote on a rocket. ” Cartoon. 7 May 2010. <http://nerdismcomics.com/4website_Editorial_JackBauer.html>.
        • Letcher, Andy. &quot;The Scouring of the Shire: Fairies, Trolls and Pixies in Eco-Protest Culture.&quot; Folklore Oct. 112.2 (2001): 147-61. JSTOR . Web. 28 Feb. 2010.
        • Monopoly Money . Digital image. World of MONOPOLY.com . Hasbro. Web. 7 May 2010. <http://www.worldofmonopoly.co.uk/fansite/>.
        • Peiffer, Katrina Schimmoeller. Coyote at Large: Humor in American Nature Writing . Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 2000. Print.
        • Photo of Edward Abbey. 7 May 2010. <http://sonnietrotter.com/2010/02/05/rip-edward-abbey/>.
        • Photo of Ghandi. 7 May 2010. <http://bananaloggirl.wordpress.com/2009/10/>.
        • Photo of Glen Canyon Dam. 7 May 2010.
        • <http://www.12legstravel.com/tag/edward-abbey/>.
        • Pozza, David M. Bedrock and Paradox: the Literary Landscape of Edward Abbey . New York: Peter Lang, 2006. Print.
        • Quigley, Peter. Coyote in the Maze: Tracking Edward Abbey in a World of Words . Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1998. Print.
        • Sabotage. Cartoon. 7 May 2010.
        • <http://www.theaccidentalcommunicator.com/passion/a-presenters-greatest-threat-self- sabotage>.
        • Shelley, Percy B. &quot;Defence of Poetry.&quot; The Harvard Classics, . Vol. 27. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1937. 1-48. Bartleby.com: Great Books Online -- Quotes, Poems, Novels, Classics and Hundreds More . Bartleby.com, 10 Apr. 2001. Web. 7 May 2010. <http://www.bartleby.com/27/23.html>.
  • 60.
        • Spinning Jenny. Sketch. 7 May 2010. <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TEXjenny.htm>.
        • United States. House of Representatives. Final Vote Results for Roll Call 446 . Office of the Clerk of the U. S. House of Representatives . U. S. House of Representatives, 14 Sept. 2006. Web. 17 April 2010. <http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2006/roll446.xml>.
        • United States. Map. &quot;MLB Teams: Rename Some; Realign All!&quot; The Pecan Park Eagle . Wordpress.com. Web. 7 May 2010. <http://bill37mccurdy.wordpress.com/2009/10/07/mlb-teams-rename-some-realign- all/>.
        • United States. Senate. Legislation & Records. U. S. Senate . U. S. Senate. Web. 17 April 2010. <http://www.sentate.gov/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress= 109&session=2&vote=00262>.