employed by Intel, a manufacturer ofrnmicrochips based in California whichrnhas recently built the world’s largestrnmanufacturing plant on the edge of thernWest Mesa across the river from Albuquerque.rnArriving from everywhere, thernretired build retirement communities forrnthemselves and settle into them behindrnthe adobe walls, palm trees, cedars, andrncypresses protecting their country clubs,rngolf courses, and tennis courts. Theyrnkeep to themselves, seeing no one fromrnbeyond their artificial enclaves and hardlyrnventuring into the surrounding countryrnexcept to drive on the interstate tornvisit doctors and dentists, shop, andrncatch planes in Albuquerque. I havernmet people, by no means all of them elderly,rnwho have never explored the surroundingrnmountains; who don’t hunt,rnride horseback, camp and climb, or evenrnpicnic in this spectacular and—relativelyrnspeaking—hospitable country. Exceptrnfor the sun (represented by the stylizedrnZia symbol on the state’s yellow-and-redrnlicense plate), the absence of real cold,rnand the desert expanse, they might asrnwell be living in Oak Park, Illinois, orrnsomewhere on Long Island. In the communityrnof Tierra Grande south of Belen,rnwhere Jim Rauen built his house andrnwhere the majority of the residents arernnot retired, I have gone months in thernpast two winters without once seeing arnliving soul working in his yard, walkingrnon the road, or riding one of the severalrnhorses that are boarded here.rnThe economy of New Mexico, whichrnhas a population smaller than that of thernborough of Brooklyn, New York, is Intel.rnThe plant takes millions of cubic feet ofrnwater daily from the Rio Grande andrnfrom the immense aquifer underlyingrnthe city of Albuquerque to wash its microchips.rnSince the 1970’s, urban growthrnhas depleted the aquifer substantially,rnand now Intel is proposing to buy waterrnLIBERAL ARTSrnLOST CLASSIC FOUNDrnBY CONSERVATIVESrn”Medea, by Aeschylus. People forgetrnwhy Medea ends up killing her ownrnsons; it’s because Jason, whose consortrnshe has become, decides to makerna strategic marriage with Creusa tornenhance his own political ambitions.rnAnd so Medea takes her revenge.”rn—The Weekly Standard,rnFebruary 12, 1996.rnrights 120 miles to the south in the vicinityrnof Socorro. Rio Rancho, formerly arnsuburb of Albuquerque and today an incorporatedrncity—in 1995, the fastestgrowingrnin the United States—owes itsrnexplosive growth entirely to Intel. Environmentalistrngroups predictably haverngone on the warpath against the company,rnattempting to mitigate its abuse ofrnthe water table. Yet Intel is helping tornmake New Mexico in one sense the environmentalistrnmovement’s dream: its developmentalrnmodel for the future of thernSouthwest, and the Intermountain Westrnas a whole. Before Intel, New Mexicornhad been financially dependent on thernfederal government: Kirkland Air ForcernBase, Roswell, White Sands, and Alamagordo.rnBut the United States is notrnbuilding or testing bombs anymore, andrnKirkland Base in Albuquerque barelyrnsurvived the round of base closings lastrnyear. It is unlikely to survive many morernrounds. The New Mexican population isrnpredominantly urban, and the rural populationrnunder unremitting attack fromrnenvironmental activists in the cities, whornwish to bring ranching, mining, and timber-rncutting to an end throughout thernhinterland. Increasingly, New Mexico isrnpolarized between high-tech professionalsrnin Albuquerque and Santa Fe, andrnagricultural and extractive interestsrnaround the state. Environmentalists dornnot want to live in and work with nature,rnthey want to manage it from a distance,rnventuring outward from the confines ofrntheir high-tech and supposedly nonenvironmentallyrnexploitive urban enclaves tornplay in it without touching, and admire.rnThe achievement of this ideal seems alreadyrnwell underway.rnA recent book by Wallace Kaufmanrn(No Turning Back: Dismantling the Fantasiesrnof Environmental Thinking, BasicrnBooks, 1994) suggests the potential environmentalrndestructiveness of that ideal.rnThis is ironic, since Kaufman intends tornshow that what he sees as the repudiationrnby environmentalism of modern sciencernand technology would, if acceptedrnby society at large, abort the micro- andrnmacromanagement of nature that is necessaryrnto redress the damage done by industrialismrnto global ecological systems.rnBut Kaufman overemphasizes environmentalists’rnLuddite propensities by acceptingrntheir condemnation of sciencernand technology at face value. Environmentalismrnis a postmodern phenomenon,rnlike deconstructionism, virtualrnreality, and collarless shirts. Typically,rnenvironmentalists are part of the socalledrnknowledge revolution, operatorsrnof sophisticated electronic systems thatrnpower the communications and propagandarnindustries, as well as industrial science.rnThey belong to the techno-industrialrncomplex that produced Intel, andrnthat Kaufman believes essential to reversingrnthe environmental degradationrnproduced by the old industrialism.rnEnvironmentalists often talk as if theyrnbelieved that taking rural lands out ofrnproductive use and turning them over tornrecreationists and the recreational industry,rnwhile persuading rural populationsrnto withdraw to the cities for their livelihood,rnwere the best and perhaps thernonly means of preserving the integrityrnof nature, particularly “wilderness.” Butrnas anyone who has recently visited Jacksonrn(Wyoming), Aspen (Colorado), orrnPrescott (Arizona) knows, in actualityrnthere is no reason from an environmentalistrnstandpoint to prefer the presentdayrnresort town of Park City, Utah, to thernmining town that was Park City 100 yearsrnago, but rather the opposite. Today inrnPark City, people ostensibly do nothingrnmore environmentally destructive thanrnchopping divots from golf courses or, atrnthe worst, adding a new ski run. But thernpopulation of the modern town is probablyrnten times that of the old one; ranchrnand farm land has been destroyed tornmake way for it, air quality has beenrnruined, the terrain disrupted and rearrangedrnby bulldozers—an entire landscaperntransformed by the hand of man.rnThe problem with the leave-nothingbut-rnfootprints, take-nothing-but-picturesrnapproach to nature is that culturernin the true sense of the word is created byrnwork, not by play or “recreation,” andrnthat a sustainable relationship betweenrnman and nature depends upon the existencernof an integral culture. If the rise ofrntechno-industrialism were really the culturalrntriumph that Wallace Kaufman,rnGeorge Gilder, and other of its apologistsrnsay it is, then why are the centers of techno-rnindustrialism—our blighted cities—rnthe cultural wastelands and nightmaresrnof the human spirit that almost everyonernrecognizes them to be? The notion thatrnthe beauty and integrity of the naturalrnworld can or will be protected by peoplernwhose daily aesthetic experience is of urbanrnchaos and inhumanity, commercialrnarchitecture, consumer culture, andrntechnocratic values is absurd, as thernlawyers say, on the face of it. But as NewrnMexico goes, so goes the West. <&rn50/CHRONICLESrnrnrn