Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall ofnthe Cattle Culturenby Jeremy RifkinnNew York: E.P. Button, Inc.;n353 pp., $21.00nThe Covenant of the Wildnby Stephen BudianskynNew York: William Morrow;n192 pp., $18.00nIt’s hard to know where to begin to respondnto Jeremy Rifkin’s apocalypticnnew book, Beyond Beef. You could startnwith Chesterton’s famous remark onn”believing anything,” or some of the paleoconservativenruminations on “Gnosticism.”nPerhaps in a time when OlivernStone’s paranoid (and lucrative) fantasiesnpass as history and when even criticsnwho know that there is no truth innthese genuflect before JFK’s “power,”nwe should not be surprised when suchnestablishment organs as Time magazinentake Rifkin’s “ideas” seriously. My peculiarncircumstances as a naturalist withna background in biology who actuallynlives in cattle country have perhaps distortednmy responses, since I find BeyondnBeef to be very nearly hilarious in itsnmixture of hysteria and warped emphasis.n”Ancient beef-eating myths and dietarynpractices,” Rifkin argues, “havenbeen used throughout history to maintainnmale dominance and establish gendernand class hierarchies. In the modernnStephen Bodio writes from Magdalena,nNew Mexico, and is the author ofnQuerencia, published by Clark CitynPublishers.n32/CHRONICLESnDas Kowpitalnby Stephen Bodion”Has anyone ever seen a clean cow?”n—^Anonymousnage, beef-eating has been used as a toolnto forge national identity, advance colonialnpolicies, and even promote racialntheory. . . . We will. . . assess the moralnand ethical implications that flow fromnthe deconstruction of modern meat.”nCattle, he believes, are “the root of allnevil.” “[T]he new Christian cultistsntransformed the Mithraic bull god intonthe new symbol of darkness. The godnof its adversary became the devil incarnate.”nRifkin continues with a lengthyndescription from the Council of Toledonthat ascribes to the devil “a sulfurousnsmell,” but ignores the fact that the devilnwas more likely to be portrayed as angoat (which, were he a country boy, henwould know smells worse than any bullnand will devastate the land more completely)n.nBut of course we’re not talking logicnhere but deconstruction, by which anythingncan mean anything. It soon becomesnclear in Rifkin’s book that cowsnthemselves are not the villain (elsewhere,nhe calls for “partnership with the bovinenand, by extension, the other sentientncreatures”) but human beings, particularlynthose “Eurasian herdsmen who becamenthe first real protocapitalists.” Lestnyou miss the point, he underlines it:n”The emergence of the great Westernncattle cultures and the emergence ofnworld capitalism are inseparable.” Herenwe have the book’s thesis in a nutshell:nthe eating of cattle is responsible for everynimagined horror denounced by thenpolitically correct. “In India”—an accreditednGood Country—“the cattlencomplex helped create a static social order,”n(With such nonclassist structuresnas Untouchables and nonsexist ones asnsuttee, but let that pass.) “In Spain andnBritain”—Evil Countries—“the cattlennncomplex helped ignite the fires of colonialnexpansion, propelling Europe intonthe New World.”n(Incidentally, Rifkin’s approval of Indianncow culture reveals his poorly concealednanimal rights agenda: “At presentnthere are nearly 200 million cowsnin India . . . Although cattle are thenmainstay for much of the economic lifenof the peasantry, they do not competenwith the human population for thenarable land . . . the cattle complex thatnemerged in India managed to strengthennboth the sacred and profane aspectsnof human beings’ relationship to thenbovine. … In central and western Europe,nthe Aryan descendants of thensteppe people were forced to tread a veryndifferent path in their relationship to thenbovine, a far more secular course thatnwould lead to world colonization.” [Italicsnmine.] This argument is especially ingenuous,nas he later states that the presencenof far fewer cattle on far less abradednrange will likely lead to furtherndesertification and to global warming.)nWe proceed, of course, to Columbus:n”In search of spices to enhance the tastenof beef, Columbus found new pasturelandnfor grazing cattle.” No poor personnever enjoyed beef unless he was lednto it. “Wealthy landed aristocrats colonizednthe new lands with cattle,” whonwere tended by cowboys: “[these] seasonalnworkers so glorified in literaturenwere the henchmen and handymen ofnthe rich—their cattle warriors on thenplains of the New World,” helping ton”secure the fortunes of both the Spanishncrown and the new landed gentry in thenAmericas.” Rifkin seems blind even tonhis own recorded facts; on one page henquotes a Swede who visited England inn1798 and was amazed to find that alln