[Marxism] The Totem Thieves

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Dec 28 10:33:37 MST 2018

In 1899, railroad tycoon Edward Harriman put together an expedition of 
naturalists, scientists, painters and fellow robberbarons to explore the 
coast of southeast Alaska. The shrewd Harriman, head of the Union 
Pacific, even rented the services of John Muir, the father of 
environmentalism and founder of the Sierra Club, thus striking a bond 
between corporate villains and mainstream greens that thrives to this day.

The object of the two-month foray, which was heralded as the largest 
survey of its time, was to size-up Alaska’s riches (timber, gold, furs, 
oil) under the guise of scientific exploration. Karl Grove Albert, the 
famed geologist, picked at rocks. Bernard Fernow, the dean of the 
American forestry, cruised timber, calculating the number of board feet 
per acre. Edward Curtis lined up Haida and Tlingits for romantic 
mugshots and the painter Louis Agassiz Fuertes, taking Audubon’s 
tradition to a new level of barbarity, shot thousands of animals in 
order to render them in his sketchbook.


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