Greg Grandin's new book Fordlandia recounts Henry Ford's epic attempt to build a model American town and rubber plantation deep in the Amazon jungle, and while their foray is a disaster, it is a valiant disaster-- one in which Ford tried to introduce hygiene, good diet, and economic stability to a disease-ridden, corrupt region-- but the moral of the story is this: once Ford introduced assembly line capitalism and consumption into the world, there was no way to bottle up the genie, and although he failed to "civilize" the jungle, capitalism is doing a pretty good job of it now, and there are huge free trade zone cities in the Amazon, and all the pollution, poverty, waste, and environmental devastation that come with big cities, but since there's nothing we can do to stop this, our only recourse may be to give up and deforest as we please until it is all gone and we have consumed everything green on earth, and then the human race will finally extinguish itself in a blaze of materialistic glory and magnificent and unexpected new flora and fauna will rise from our rotting corpses . . . but until then, live it up!
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