…Ecotopia Emerging…

By Ernest Callenbach

This piece was originally published in Home! A Bioregional Reader, edited by Van Andruss, Christopher Plant, Judith Plant, and Eleanor Wright, New Society Publishers, copyright 1990.

By early in the new year the relationships between the Ecotopian shadow government and the state governments in the Ecotopian territory had become very complex and delicate. After the Puget 1 disaster and recall election, Washington state had a de facto Survivalist government. Margaret Engstrom and her followers, however, knew that they could not exist long in isolation, and that the drama between the regional Survivalists and the federal government had only begun. They marked time, awaiting developments to the south. In Oregon, the state government had been a national leader in environmental matters for years, and there were many Survivalists in government departments on all levels. No confrontational issues had yet tested the relative loyalties of either the state apparatus or the citizenry at large. It was known to everyone, however, that the Survivalist Party was laying plans to contest all posts in the next election, and its support was solid and widespread; political observers predicted wholesale defections from both Democratic and Republican ranks.

It was in California, where the conflict over the Madera decision had been especially sharp, that the situation was most tense and problematic. Governor Clark’s political base lay chiefly in the southern part of the state. He regarded the Survivalists as an insult to his federalist instincts and to his presidential ambitions, but he realized that their ideas were now deeply entrenched throughout the northern areas. He was not greatly worried by the direct electoral threat this constituted—he was confident that his solid southern backing could win him re-election. But the widening split between north and south on water and other questions seemed increasingly forbidding, and with this Bolinas nonsense, the prospect of actual civil disorder had begun to arise. Attempted secession from a county could be put down and laughed off. But the idea of secession from the nation was, he had been forced to admit, no longer merely a lunatic-fringe notion; and the idea of splitting the state had also developed a dangerous appeal in the north…

Ernest Callenbach (1929-2012) was a writer and editor. He worked for the University of California Press from 1955 to 1991. His interest in environmentalism grew out of his work frequently editing their Natural History Guides. He is the author of several books on ecology and sustainability, most notably 1975’s Ecotopia, which presented the belief that technology could be successfully integrated with humanity and the environment and anticipated some later developments in the real world.

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