What Mumsy Said

Thanks to the dominance of the machine, to books and bayonets, to printed calicos and missionary pocket-handkerchiefs, to brummagem jewelry and cutlery and beads, a layer of this civilization began to spread like a film of oil over the planet at large: machine textiles supplanted hand-woven ones, aniline dyes eventually took the place of vegetable dyes locally made, and even in distant Polynesia calico dresses and stove-pipe hats and shame covered up the proud bodies of the natives, while syphilis and rum, introduced at the same time as the Bible, added a special physical horror to their degradation.

That was all only one sentence! Just saying.

Wherever this film of oil spread, the living fish were poisoned and their bloated bodies rose to the surface of the water, adding their own decay to the stench of the oil itself.

-Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization, 1934

Fish dead on the shore from an oil spill.


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