Scapegoating Mountain Bikers

There is a small but determined group of people claiming to protect wilderness by scapegoating mountain biking and mountain bikers.  Their normal tactic is to highlight one or two absolutely true—but nonetheless isolated—facts about how mountain bikers are a threat to wildlife in particular areas to suggest that mountain biking should be banned to protect wilderness/wildlife.  On the surface, this seems appealing.  But the problem is that once you scratch the surface this is a highly chauvinistic approach that involves absolving hikers/backpackers/horseback riders/etc. from their own threats to wilderness/wildlife.  This can be detected even in the language that these self-styled protectors of wilderness use.  The best is “backcountry”.  This is a term that denotes at least limited openness to hiking/camping/homesteading!  When deployed in conjunction with words like “protecting”, what we see is not a plea to protect wildlife and wilderness, but to protect certain human uses in certain sparsely populated areas from certain other human uses thus reserving those areas for selected uses.  Here is an article that sums up this phenomenon:  “Griz Expert Says Mountain Bikes Are a Threat To Montana’s Bears.”  (actually, the headline was changed in response to some of the negative feedback).  It is worth reading the comments because people absolutely nail the author’s anti-bike bias (which the author explicitly denies!) and cite countervailing evidence that the author ignores or actively minimizes.  This article is not isolated, though.  People like George Wuerthner write similarly—for instance, he deplores the self-identities that mountain bikers and ATV operators cultivate but excludes from his scorn the self-identities that hikers, etc. cultivate (he does note in passing that hikers can also harm wilderness, but minimizes those admissions and quickly returns to biker-bashing scapegoating).  This is basically typical political liberalism: policing the line between the community of the free (the “good” hikers/backpackers/etc.) and those unworthy of liberal freedoms (the “bad” mountain bikers).  What is pernicious is that this is “discourse of the university”, that is, the advancement of normative political/ideological positions in support of a disguised mode of social domination.

Mertonian CUDOS-norms

Link to Robert Merton’s four norms that constitute “four sets of institutional imperatives taken to comprise the ethos of modern science… communism, universalism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism.” (CUDOS is the acronym):

“Four Mertonian Norms”

 

(contrast that with this: “Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex”)

Rob Urie – Race, Identity and the Political Economy of Hate

Link to an article by Rob Urie:

“Race, Identity and the Political Economy of Hate”

 

Bonus links: “Why Liberals Separate Race from Class” and “The Politics of Identity” and “The Ideology of Postmodernism is to Present All Existing Injustice as an Effect of Discrimination” and The Trouble With Diversity and Racecraft and “Should We Care About Inequality?” and “King of the Hate Business: Inside the Southern Poverty Law Center”

Lance Olsen – Why All the Uproar Over the Green New Deal?

Link to an article by Lance Olsen:

“Why All the Uproar Over the Green New Deal?”

 

Bonus links: “Will A Green New Deal Save the Climate, or Save Capitalism?” and “A Class Struggle Strategy for A Green New Deal” and “The Green New Deal, Capitalism and the State” and “A Green New Deal for Agriculture” and “This Historical Moment Demands Transformation of Our Institutions. The Green New Deal Won’t Do That.” (the Stan Cox quote is willfully obtuse — R. Buckminster Fuller? — but otherwise the article is good) and “How Green is the ‘Green New Deal’?” and “Modern Money Green Economics for a New Era” and “Communism, Fascism and Green Shaming” and “Politics, Democracy and Environmental Rebellion” (“Calls for a stripped down Green New Deal, one that forgoes a robust Job Guarantee, is a ploy to engineer a capital strike where millions of workers will be tossed out of their jobs to ‘prove’ that the economy requires environmental destruction and militarism.”) and “Planning the Green Tech Revolution” and The State and Revolution

John Steppling Quote

“I am struck almost daily, I think, with the fact that the worst and often most psychologically unstable and damaged people are in the positions of the most power. And the second horror is the apathy of those who are able to see this. They see it and justify to themselves their own lack of action. There is another group, the not apathetic, but the rationally fearful. And this sort of leads back full circle to the first horror. For it is not insane or irrational, at all, to fear arrest and punishment by the state. By the organs of the state. And the power of these organs of state are in existence because the people in authority are never so crazy as not to protect their own authority and power.”

John Steppling, “Algorithm Kids”

 

Bonus links: Critique of Cynical Reason and Alain Badiou Quote and Snakes in Suits

Ivan Bruneau, Julian Mischi & Nicolas Renahy – Rural France in Revolt

Link to an article by Ivan Bruneau, Julian Mischi & Nicolas Renahy:

“Rural France in Revolt”

 

Bonus links: ressentiment and university discourse and The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker and Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right and “For What It’s Worth: The Yellow Vests and the Left” and “A Leftist Plea for ‘Eurocentrism'” and “Sending in the Troops”