This is the second part of a three-part essay.
By 1948, the time was ripe for a second world enemy to be proclaimed at large since the French Revolution. Ruling class oppression was the first, but now the ravages of two world wars, economic crises in the intervening years, and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s provided the necessary fuel to ignite new fears of ecological and social collapse. On the first page of his introduction, Osborn writes that, "towards the end of the Second World War," it occurred to him that another and far older planetary war had been taking place, a "silent war, eventually the most deadly war," which was responsible for more human misery "than any that has resulted from armed conflict" and "contains potentialities of ultimate disaster" beyond even the reach of "atomic power." Our Plundered Planet would have made a fitting subtitle for The Communist Manifesto, for in both works war is another word for the course of human events, in Marx by his fixation on class warfare through the ages and in Osborn through the "silent war" that "The Plunderer" began waging thousands of years ago against the earth. Even Marx's view of capitalism as the ultimate predatory force in history finds a corresponding echo in Our Plundered Planet, with "the story" of America's relationship to the land in the nineteenth century representing "the most violent and destructive of any written in the long history of civilization."