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Capitalism and the Wilderness Idea: Conservation, Labor, and the Industrial Forest

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Abstract:

Can a capitalist society also be a “green,” environmentally sustainable one? And if it is possible for corporations to behave in environmentally responsible ways, in what instances and to what extent have market imperatives, cultural forces and political considerations caused companies to embrace ideas of sustainability?

This paper examines these questions through a case study of the Great Northern Paper Company—which was, for most of the twentieth century, the largest American manufacturer of newsprint paper. By the early 1960s, Great Northern had amassed over two and a half million acres of working timberland in the storied North Woods of Maine, its spruce and fir trees feeding a massive, vertically integrated supply chain that delivered daily newspapers to millions of Americans. But as Great Northern assembled its empire of timberlands, its private landownership came under increasing pressure from conservation groups, who sought to create a national park in the heart of the company’s working forestland.

The paper explores how Great Northern ultimately succeeded in stymieing a national park, by forging alliances with its own laborers and with local communities, and by adeptly striking an accommodative stance to conservationism—ultimately earning the company a commendation in 1967 from the Wilderness Society, which praised the firm for its cooperation in creating Baxter State Park around Mount Katahdin, for contributing to the protection of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, for opening its private roads to public recreational access, and “in view some of their conservation activities, for providing leadership within the industry.”

The story reveals a complicated interplay between extractive industry, conservation, labor and class—bringing together unlikely allies to construct new ways of imagining environmental stewardship in a capitalist world.
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Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171005_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Cohen, David. "Capitalism and the Wilderness Idea: Conservation, Labor, and the Industrial Forest" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171005_index.html>

APA Citation:

Cohen, D. "Capitalism and the Wilderness Idea: Conservation, Labor, and the Industrial Forest" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171005_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: Can a capitalist society also be a “green,” environmentally sustainable one? And if it is possible for corporations to behave in environmentally responsible ways, in what instances and to what extent have market imperatives, cultural forces and political considerations caused companies to embrace ideas of sustainability?

This paper examines these questions through a case study of the Great Northern Paper Company—which was, for most of the twentieth century, the largest American manufacturer of newsprint paper. By the early 1960s, Great Northern had amassed over two and a half million acres of working timberland in the storied North Woods of Maine, its spruce and fir trees feeding a massive, vertically integrated supply chain that delivered daily newspapers to millions of Americans. But as Great Northern assembled its empire of timberlands, its private landownership came under increasing pressure from conservation groups, who sought to create a national park in the heart of the company’s working forestland.

The paper explores how Great Northern ultimately succeeded in stymieing a national park, by forging alliances with its own laborers and with local communities, and by adeptly striking an accommodative stance to conservationism—ultimately earning the company a commendation in 1967 from the Wilderness Society, which praised the firm for its cooperation in creating Baxter State Park around Mount Katahdin, for contributing to the protection of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, for opening its private roads to public recreational access, and “in view some of their conservation activities, for providing leadership within the industry.”

The story reveals a complicated interplay between extractive industry, conservation, labor and class—bringing together unlikely allies to construct new ways of imagining environmental stewardship in a capitalist world.


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Karl Marx’s idea of General Intellect, Immaterial Labor and Venture Capital in the XXI Century

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Working Class Wilderness: Immigrant, African American, and Working Class Leisure in the Forest Preserves of Industrial Chicago


 
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