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Understanding The Interactions Essay, Research Paper

Understanding the Interactions of Environment and Society

For Worstner, the idea of a political economy is key to understanding the interactions of environment and society. Worstner is useful to point out the role of government working together with certain privileged business interests to create the political economy, which is a new environment-devouring creature of the twentieth century. (Gallagher paper) Through Rivers of Empire, we observe the social, economic, political, and environmental developments that detect the workings of our political economy in full stream and the long-term effects. In short, public subsides for private power and profits.

Society discovers a better way to fulfil its aspirations through new developments in order to achieve the social and economic goals set forth in the West. From the earliest beginnings of urbanization, we clearly see society conforming itself into a hydraulic society. The imperial city would make the valley its colony for whoever controlled the water in the land, controlled the destiny of life depending on it. (Rivers of Empire pg. 71) Easily stated, more property, more power. The ones who owned land separated themselves in a class all their own, being the rich, while several other races owned none. They were categorized as the poor, leaving hired labor opportunities open where low wage and poor living accommodations were a part of everyday life. This later brought, attention to the structure of power and poverty associated with a maturing irrigation system. (Rivers of Empire pg. 224) As the years went by, more and more people were being put into the poor social class by investors outbidding their land leaving fewer and fewer in the higher class.

The potential of the desert valley flourishing was limitless. It would ensure the future growth of a population, industry, and agriculture, would avert a social and economic stagnation. (Rivers of Empire pg. 264) These glittering generalities used to describe the West won the hearts of many. Everyone felt that they had a chance to own property, and have a better chance at life. By using resources surrounding them, they were able to make a dry barren desert into a prosperous city. This led to the thriving economy we now have in California where our state has the most diverse and abundant agricultural domain. Briefly, the California people were, rescued from sagebrush and desert, [and now] are easily among the richest agricultural regions of the world. (Rivers of Empire pg. 232) Through this industry, we have created monstrous dams, which now effect the contents of our water supply, drained several lakes, rivers, and streams through irrigation and rerouting water systems, and killed several thousand people.

Ideals in the new West changed dramatically throughout several years. When settlers first arrived, they saw the land as everyone s. Let everyone pursue his own interests freely let everyone use nature as he likes, and the world will become richer and richer, [and] peace will automatically prevail. (Rivers of Empire pg. 93) They never imagined their socialistic ethics being transformed into capitalistic ones. What was once shared was now a thing in the past. Greed once again prevailed over the common good where the more land you took, the more power you had. In that drive to replace the common law, a river became a mere instrumentally to satisfy entrepreneurial drives, a utility, a marketable economy to be bought and sold and made to earn money to whoever got there first. (Rivers of Empire pg. 90) With so many opportunities to become rich, many sought out land to section and use. Where there was an abundance of natural wealth lying about waiting to be easily gathered up and made use of capitalism as a culture and as a social order got along without much centralization of its energies. (Rivers of Empire pg. 283) Capitalism led to intense competition where the state out bid the rich allowing only the state to have control of the land. The West, more than any other American region, was built by state power, state expertise, state technology, and state hierarchy. (Rivers of Empire pg. 135) This dominance led to the abuse of irrigation, agriculture and much more.

The West went though dramatic changes. We see that the different morals in these chapters where the greed of mankind prevails over the communal distribution of wealth. Total power, total possession of program. Nature in the West could not be allowed to defy it, nor could human cussedness. (Rivers of Empire pg. 188)


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