tions. As Ortega y Gasset’s revolt of thenmasses enters its final phase, the bioregionalistsnstress local self-determination,nfreedom from the tyranny ofnmass institutions, and human-scalenactivities such as potlucks, workbees,nand barn dances. In a roodess age, thenbioregionalists work toward “reinhabitation,”nthe recovery of a sense ofnliving-in-place, the restoration of communitynby force of will, the creation ofn”new natives.” Movement leadersneven claim as ancestors the antiindustrialnregionalists of the old Southnand the Vanderbilt “Southern Agrarians”nof the 1930’s.nIn truth, though, these are not thenchildren of Calhoun. The movementnhas more recent origins. The “bioregion”nidea was actually born in an1973 monograph by biologist RaymondnDasmann. He defined the termnas an ecologically uniform area wherenthe native species of plants and animalsnvaried by no more than 20 percent.nHumans, Dasmann continued,nformed natural bonds to such bioregionsnas they learned to recognize itsnflora and fauna, to respond to its climaticnregime, and to grow familiarnwith its limits. As another writer fromnthe I970’s put it, bioregions representn”a terrain of consciousness—a placenand the ideas that have developednabout how to live in that place.” Dasmannnpredicted that if persons couldnsomehow be freed from the tyranny ofnindustrialism and big government,n”some new array of ethnobiotic entitiesnwould take the place of the existingnnation states.”nThe bioregional idea took rootnamong scattered survivors of then1960’s “counterculture,” and dozensnof new entities took shape, includingnOzarkia, Cascadia, Siskiyou (northernnCalifornia), and Katuah (the southernnAppalachians). Publications with bucolicntides such as Tilth, Rain, TalkingnOak Leaves, and Earthbank wove togethernthe campaign. In May 1984,nthe first North American BioregionalnCongress met in Ozarkia (formerlynMissouri), where 200 representativesnfrom 80 bioregions and support organizationsncarved out a shared agenda.nTheir platform might best be summarizednas ecological anarchism bound tonan agrarian romance. The secondnCongress met this summer in thenGreat Lakes Bioregion (formerlynMichigan) and declared its adherencento a “Green” vision of the future,nconstructed within the decaying politicalnorder.nThe antimodernist right, alwaysnalert to signs of an authentic back-tothe-landnmovement, will find any lingeringnillusions about bioregionalismndispelled by Kirkpatrick Sale’s Dwellersnin the Land. The author—best knownnas the admiring historian of the Studentsnfor a Democratic Society —noffers a candid explanation of bioregionalism,nrevealing its agenda asnnothing less than the full destructionnof Western Christian civilization.nSale opens with the image of Gaea,n”earth mother” to the Greeks, “a livingncreature, one and visible, containingnwithin itself all living creatures.”nThrough various contortions of history,nhe argues that Gaea-styled femalesnhave been the natural deities in allnhealthy human societies and that femalengoddesses, and probably femalenpriests, were dominant in all earlynMediterranean religions. Such femalengods brought to their worshipers “anliberating, psychically healthy sense ofnwholeness, of oneness, of place,” andnan awareness of being inhabitantsnwithin “a world alive.”nThe corruption, Sale argues, camenfrom “the male-god Indo-Europeans”nwho invaded the Mediterranean worldnin 4500 B.C. and imposed male monotheismnon the inhabitants. The “old,nsimple, almost vegetable unity betweennman and nature” collapsed, andn”the poisons” of the male gods took itsnplace. In Greece, he says, the triumphnof Zeus over Gaea brought ecologicalndisaster, the fall of the Mycenaeansnand the Greek Dark Ages. Sale avoidsnmention of how the Classical Greeksnput their civilization back together butndoes emphasize the “ecological hubris”nof the Romans, “whose cumulativenassaults on the Mediterraneannecology were almost certainly a centralnfactor in the collapse of their empire.”nThe worship of male gods and inattentionnto nature, he says, also broughtnthe destruction of the Sumerians, thenMayans, the T’ang and Han dynasties,nand “numerous other imperial peoplesnwho matched the dominance of humansnwith their dominance of nature.”nThen came the peoples of the Abrahamicnreligions—Judaism, Christi­nnnanity, and Islam—who battled for twonmillennia to purge most forms of goddessnworship. For Sale, though, thenChristians were surely the worst. It wasnthey who abandoned Gaea on an unprecedentednscale and gave birth tonthat vilest of abominations: the scientificnworld view. “Nature was no longernbeautiful or scary,” he writes, “butnmerely there, not to be worshipped orncelebrated, but more often than not tonbe used . . . by humans, for humans.”nChristian Europeans also besoilednthe New World, where twoncontinents, “pristine jewels of unimaginednglories, were perceived as nothingnbut empty spaces for unwanted populations,nrepositories of wanted ores,ntracts of trees to fell and fields to plow,nvirgin territories with no other purposenbut to be worked.” Then came nationalism,nthen capitalism, and the worldnnow stands on the brink of another, yetnfar greater, ecological catastrophe.nWhat can be done? Sale is clear: thenAbrahamic ascendency must bencrushed; science abandoned; thenAmerican Imperium destroyed. Inntheir place, we must contrive “thenmodern equivalent of the worship ofnGaea,” learn that the ecosphere isnsacred, and discover “a holy way toncomfort her and her work.” The beginningnof this task is “to becomendwellers in the land, to relearn thenlaws of Gaea” in the immediate placenwhere we live. And that, he says, isnbioregionalism.nDisillusioned with Marx and Lenin,nit seems. Sale has sought consolationnin the arms of discarded ancient deities.nThe loony confrontation in thenfilm Ghostbusters pitting Dan Aykroydnand Bill Murray against a reborn Hittitenfertility goddess actually bears annuncanny similarity to Sale’s earnestnvision of environmental apocalypsenand rebirth. That the Sierra Club—nrespectable if always strident—feelsncomfortable in publishing a book ofnthis nature is disturbing, symbolic notnonly of the profoundly dangerous turnnthat America’s environmental movementnhas taken but also of the truenphilosophical sickness that afflicts ourntired civilization.nAllan Carlson is president of ThenRockford Institute.nFEBRUARY 1987 / 29n