I am not an environmental enthusiast – a “tree-hugger”. This is not to say that I don’t understand the moral sympathies of such people, my enthusiasm simply falls into different categories. But like any good piece of literature, this story is not about circumstances, but about conflict and the natures of those waging it. This carefully-crafted, satirically pleasurable, intense and near-unbelievable story is about the courageously convicted against the farcical power of man’s progress. Oh, Hell’s Bells, let’s call it what it is. Destruction.
It seems to me that passionate lovers, whether for nature, music, art, literature, sex, most often promote the object of their convictions. It is a rarer thing to see those lovers aggressively, though methodically, dismantle the opposition over their love. While corporate lovers, Self lovers, dismantle the opposition to their convictions with moral ease, violence, unwarranted retaliation and hypocritical ambition. There is nothing God-like about the domineering egotism or hypocrisy of the bishop, or the legislators and law enforcement “allowing” and justifying the destruction of God’s naturally evolved creation. Yet what they would defend as the great progressiveness and power of America is still subject to the sabotage of the Land’s defenders. It is still a finite and vulnerable power. And it cannot hold back the vehement and violent love for nature.
And even though progress is vast and swift, it does not have the power to squelch its resistor. Yet as love for the land may be strong and focused, it cannot squash the destruction of progress. Which passion will survive the firefight? If we can learn anything from The Monkey Wrench Gang, it is that the conflict itself is inextinguishable, as Haydukes will rise, masked and furious, over and over again; against all corporate reasoning.
I had not heard of Edward Abbey before reading this book but I am pleased to learn of yet another gifted American prose stylist and visionary. The characters who comprise the Monkey Wrench Gang contrast and balance perfectly into the ends of the plot. The philosopher with the gun savvy lunatic and the polygamist Mormon with the sexy Jewess. It’s perfect! But let’s not forget the smarmy narrator, that all-seeing and verbose vulture in the sky laughing, crying and holding truths so enviable to the little antlike bipedal creatures scurrying on the dry earth below.