Prior to writing Rogue Primate, Livingston wrote The Fallacy Of Wildlife Conservation. Joseph Meeker called it ‘a book written in blood.’ Livingston realized that his life’s work as a naturalist and ‘the fundamental premises of the conventional conservation argument’ were ‘radically flawed’, in fact making things ‘worse’. (iv)
In Rogue Primate, Livingston reviews the fallacy. ‘In a nutshell, the fallacy is the generally unchallenged belief that wild, undomesticated plants and animals and their communities can be enabled to survive the human presence on Earth by means of their careful safekeeping within the rational, managerial framework of “resource conservation”. That belief is fallacious because to see any phenomenon as a “resource” is to see it as a human utility or amenity…. The non-human is permitted to continue to exist solely at the human pleasure…. [The non-human] is no longer Nature but rather an extension of the human apparatus. However argued, resource conservation is a wholly proprietary, human-chauvinist concept.’ (v)
Livingston briefly reviews some timelines and problems and their solutions of what we should do, but he finds they miss the point. He suggests that the problem is not what we do, but who we are. (vi-viii) We might be able change what we do, but can we change who we are?