State of the Field: Modergasm – The flaccid finality of modern erections

FDR, sometimes credited as a benevolent dictator, brought the US out of the Great Depression through his New Deal

Effective management of any landscape or seascape must attend to context such as unique attributes of the ecosystem, local cultural values and norms, and broader governance constructs. Conservation managers often joke that the best way to incorporate this context is to install a benevolent dictator at the helm. His or her role would be to see the big picture and make decisions based on expected community benefits. Others would call the term benevolent dictator an oxymoron – but there have been some documented cases of such idealistic planning. Sadly, it seems such “high modernism” is not the answer. In his book Seeing Like A State, James Scott documents cases of agricultural land, cityscapes, and whole communities that ended up having unexpected consequences to high modernist rule due to incomplete foresight and incorrect prediction of people’s reactions. He cites these examples as warnings for the modern conservation movement as they choose between philosophies to move forward.

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