[Marxism] Re: [PEN-L] Nazi ecology?

Michael Perelman michael at ecst.csuchico.edu
Fri Mar 31 10:44:41 MST 2006

Thank you for the pointer to this very interesting article.  Here are some random thoughts 
and over generalizations that I am putting out in the hope that the list can educate more 
about the subject.

Germany had the greatest concentration of science along with pretty poor natural resources.  
It was more of a self-created nation out of a hodgepodge of many states.

On the micro level, Germany certainly showed a great ability to manipulate nature -- in the 
sense of creating a multitude of products out of coal.  I had read before in Seeing like a 
State about how the German inclination toward order affected its natural resource policy.

Scott, James C. 1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human 
Condition Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press).

12: "In state "fiscal forestry," ... the actual tree with its vast number of possible uses 
was replaced by an abstract tree representing a volume of lumber or firewood."
  13: "Gone was the vast majority of flora: grasses, flowers, lichens, ferns, mosses, 
shrubs, and vines.  Gone, too, were reptiles, birds, amphibians, and innumerable species of 
insects.  Gone were most species of fauna, except those that interested gamekeepers."  
"From an anthropologist's perspective, nearly everything touching human interaction with 
the forest was also missing from the state's tunnel vision. The state did pay attention to 
poaching, which impinged on its claim to revenue in wood or its claim to royal game, but 
otherwise it typically ignored the vast, complex, and negotiated social uses of the forest 
for hunting and gathering, pasturage, fishing, charcoal making, trapping, and collecting 
food and valuable minerals as well as the forest's significance for magic, worship, refuge, 
and so on."
  18: "How much easier it was to manage the new, stripped-down forest.  With stands of 
same-age trees arranged in linear alleys, clearing the underbrush, felling, extraction, and 
new planting became a far more routine process.  Increasing order in the forest made it 
possible for forest workers to use written training protocols that could be widely applied.  
A relatively unskilled and inexperienced labor crew could adequately carry out its tasks by 
following a few standard rules in the new forest environment.  Harvesting logs of 
relatively uniform width and length not only made it possible to forecast yields 
successfully but also to market homogeneous product units to logging contractors and timber 
merchants.  Commercial logic and bureaucratic logic were, in this instance, synonymous; it 
was a system that promised to maximize the return of a single commodity over the long haul 
and at the same time lent itself to a centralized scheme of management.
  19: "the German model of intensive commercial forestry became standard throughout the 
world.  Gifford Pinchot, the second chief forester of the United States, was trained at the 
French forestry school at Nancy, which followed a German-style curriculum, as did most U.S. 
and European forestry schools.  The first forester hired by the British to assess and 
manage the great forest resources of India and Burma was Dietrich Brandes, a German.  By 
the end of the nineteenth century, German forestry science was hegemonic."
  19: The Germans planted monocultural stands of Norway spruce.
  20: The first generation produced high yields, but the second rotation fell by 20 to 30 
percent because the trees were mining the soil of the old forest.
  20: "It took about one century for them [the negative consequences] to show up clearly.  
Many of the pure stands grew excellently in the first generation but already showed an 
amazing retrogression in the second generation.  The reason for this is a very complex one 
and only a simplified explanation can be given ....  Then the whole nutrient cycle got out 
of order and eventually was nearly stopped ....  Anyway, the drop of one or two site 
classes [used for grading the quality of timber] during two or three generations of pure 
spruce is a well known and frequently observed fact.  This represents a production loss of 
20 to 30 percent." Plochmann, Richard. 1968. Forestry in the Federal Republic of Germany, 
Hill Family Foundation Series (Corvallis: Oregon State University School of Forestry): pp. 

The French, in contrast, seemed more intent on manipulating nature by creating very 
artificial gardens.
-- Michael Perelman Economics Department California State University Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 530-898-5321
E-Mail michael at ecst.csuchico.edu

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