By William Walter Kay
What follows is a critical and supplemented condensation of three books on the history of environmentalism written between 1985 and 1994 by Oxford History Professor Anna Bramwell. The latter two books were published by Yale University. The books make clear the Third Reich was a radical environmentalist regime. The Nazis promoted organic farming, reforestation, species preservation, naturalism, neo-paganism, holistic science, animal rights, sun-worship, herbalism, anti-capitalism, ecology, anti-urbanism, alternative energy, hysterical anti-pollutionism and apocalyptic anti-industrialism. At the same time the British ecology movement was stridently, treasonously fascist. While these aspects of Bramwell’s writings have been commented on, however inadequately, much less has been said about her treatment of post-WWII environmentalism. Here she provides useful insights into the wholesale corruption of the scientific community, the capturing of key organizations and the manipulation of the mass media by the environmental movement. Bramwell is not a passive observer of this process and conceals key players, interests and motives.
Table of Contents
Bramwell remembers the English countryside before the “ruination by roads” and “intensive farming” and before she: “began to think about ecological problems in the 1960s, [when] it was a rarefied interest. My friends, many of whom were attracted by Maoist or other revolutionary ideas, or were active in student politics, seemed to me to miss the crucial danger point of that time’s politics, which was the steamroller of Western – and American-dominated - culture ironing out all values, whether rural or spiritual, on a worldwide basis.” (1)
The first of twin revelations to hit Bramwell was a timely spark that Thatcher was right, “state planning was bound to fail” (2). The second occurred while she stayed on a small farm (a rite of passage for some) where Bramwell “learned of the unquantifiable pleasures, and through knowing the ex-farmers, something of the unique quality of faces untouched by television expressions, or modesty, unselfconsciousness and worth – virtu.” (3) This farm experience was a “constant inspiration”, regurgitated in each book. Had she not met the ex-farmers she “would not have recognized what it was that so many ecologists were trying to preserve.” (4) Because reviewers complained her treatment of the rural couple was condescendingly High Tory, she atoned in her next book acknowledging the lives of such people consisted of dirty low-paying toil. She then takes flight again over England’s verdant countryside naming several species of trees from the farm concluding she: “is not without sympathy for ecological values” having “retained a gut feeling about the value of the rural life and the countryside”. To this she later adds, “I live in the country still, because I am happier there.” (5)
Her books are polemical. The second volume begins: “Perhaps unusually for an academic book, I have tried, deliberately, to include my own views in the analysis.” And later:
“I refer in passing in this work to the harmony and beauty of nature. I have taken this as a given....I have not formally addressed or endorsed the reality of the claim that rural life is in some way morally superior. I have however felt it throughout as an underlying argument, hard to prove, not academically acceptable, yet presiding within the assumptions of our culture...Paeans of praise for the yeoman spirit fall easily into cliché, and while such people were in evidence, it is hardly necessary to delineate their virtues in detail; it was a common presumption of the culture at the time, and like all such presumptions, it was not – it did not have to be – articulated convincingly.” (6)
Bramwell never truly reveals her opinions. About her early intellectual development she provides:
Correction! Williamson's (and Hamsun's) books were given to Bramwell by her mother, an ardent Communist, in the early 1960s before Williamson's connections to Nazism were well known. Bramwell never read these books until well into her academic career.
Both were hard-core Nazis. The passage coming closest to spelling out her views is: “The habit of the English businessmen of returning to their rural homeland as soon as possible – so bewailed by critics for over two hundred years – shows that the first ‘good’ that is purchased after one’s sustenance is the quality of life we associate with the countryside. And the nurture of the countryside is the first long-term aim of those who live in it, belong to it, and wish to transfer it intact to their heirs.” (8)
So what is that capitalist doing in our Constable? Why, he’s obscuring the presence of another community of wealthy men who never left the “rural homeland”. Bramwell’s values are those of the aristocratic reformist environmentalist movement whose principal beefs are: “the domination of American culture in Europe – especially Britain – via the media, the slow but final removal of meaning from many of our institutions (church, family, law) which has already amounted to a revolution, the dissolution of language and meaning is another blow”. (9)Of this social movement’s four 20th century field marshals – Otto von Hapsburg, Prince Philip, Prince Bernhard, and Count Coudenhove-Kalergi – she mentions only the latter; then briefly and only to justify her own racism. (10) She makes one reference to the British Royals only to rush to Charles’ defence after he was knocked for decrying modern architecture and advancing rural values; or as the headline put it: “Prince Charles love of thatched cottages like Hitler”. (11) Bramwell dismisses critics who see “aristocratic malice” behind this social movement; who see men striving for “a world of impoverished serfs in which only the educated planner-king enjoys port and motor-rides to the rural hinterlands.” (12)
Bramwell’s Ph. D thesis (Oxford 1982) was: National Socialist Agrarian Theory and Practice with Special Reference to Darre and the Settlement Movement. In 1984-5 she published 3 essays on Nazi agricultural policy and her first book: Blood and Soil; Richard Walther Darre and Hitler’s ‘Green Party’. The book’s preface thanks Oxford History Professor John Clarke (Fellow of All Souls’ College): “for his long-term interest and encouragement of this project.” She researched Blood and Soil in Germany courtesy a British Academy grant. Writing Blood and Soil was, for Bramwell, “a voyage of discovery” into the question of why were the Nazis the first radical environmentalists in charge of a state. (13)
She was a Research Fellow at Trinity College, Oxford when she wrote Ecology in the 20th Century. Lord Quinton (Trinity’s President) along with Lord Beloff and Prof. John Farquharson read her drafts, made corrections and pointed out avenues of research. Additional assistance was provided by the Friends of the Earth (UK) energy expert.Ecology, being published by Yale, reached a wide audience of environmentalists from whom her treatment of the Nazi-Ecology connection elicited hostile reviews. The Guardian called the book “dangerous and perverse”. The British Green Party was upset because, as Bramwell saw it, she removed environmentalism’s history from their control. The Times Higher Education Supplement came to her defence saying she merely overturned a stone and dismayed liberals with what lay beneath. (14) Of this period Bramwell pines: “discussing the roots of ecology to an audience of pained undergraduate green sympathisers made me realize the impenetrability of the partisan mind.” (15) However, “once the fuss had died down”, Ecology became an influential text and her word “ecologism” (political ecology) gained currency among environmentalist professors. Ecology is on most environmentalist history and ethics reading lists. An American textbook was developed around the ecologism concept. (16)
Her work was part of a team effort to write biographies of Green Nazis within a larger academic project called the “historicisation of National Socialism” through which the Third Reich is deconstructed and its policies separated and re-categorized:
Bramwell says there are many reasons for “re-categorising the past” but it is usually done for “polemical motives”, adding:
Blood and Soil’s bibliography cites 2 books by leading holocaust denier, John Irving, whose Goring (1989) is an example of the Green Nazi biography genre. Yet, there is much to be done:
Bramwell’s contribution required overcoming significant research obstacles. German Agriculture Ministry files, including personal letters of leading bureaucrats, were destroyed by Allied bombing. On the other hand, her contacts to German archivists gave her access to “restricted” files on leading Nazis. Her contacts included: a Nazi cabinet minister’s wife, the Nazi socialite Princess Marie Reuss zur Lippe, and most importantly Hans Merkl, a Nuremburg trials defence attorney. Bramwell’s Blood and Soil is a re-working of the defence Merkl gave on behalf of Nazi Agriculture Minister Walther Darre. Bramwell assures us: “wherever possible [she] avoided using defence documents presented at the Nuremberg Trial as a sole source”. She was given access to Darre’s “diary”. The original was purchased from a state archive and “burnt in the late 1960s”. Bramwell was allowed to read (but not photocopy) extracts from the original edited by two Darre associates who deleted anything of a “personal, prolix and libellous nature.”(20)
Her archival research was essential because: “there were two levels of ecological support in the Third Reich. The first was at the ministerial level, the second was at the planning and administrative level, in the new party organs.” (21)Her general research leaves no doubt: “German National Socialism had a strong ecological element”. (22) More specifically in relation to her archival research: “we do not have to strain at gnats to show there was a strain of ecological ideas among Nazis: the evidence is ample. It would be better known if it were found in the more well-known of the authorized texts referred to above, but it does exist in the ministerial, planning and personal archives of the Third Reich.” (23)
Bramwell’s voyage of discovery was not confined to 1933-45. Her analysis of environmentalism between 1945 and 1993 is a treasure but requires some decryption. For example, she repeatedly kicks around “left-wing” and “right-wing” in what are history of ecology texts wherein: “It is part of my argument that those who want to reform society according to nature are neither left nor right but ecologically minded.” (24)However she also informs us that those who claim to be “neither left nor right”, particularly Third Way promoters, are “the radical Right and revolutionary conservatives” for whom “the call for a third way is also seen as a means of avoiding the past”. (25)
Also confusing is her trisection of environmentalism into the sub-categories: Green, Environmentalist and Ecologist which she does not use consistently. Generally, Bramwell sees “environmentalists” as reformist, realistic, rural-orientated, low-key, Pan-Europeanists appearing as “single-issue and non-ideological activists, who are concerned with problems such as air and water pollution or protecting wildlife”. (26) The “Greens” are national Green Parties, especially the German Green Party, who opportunistically appropriated environmentalist ideas into a left-liberal grab-bag of election promises to appeal to the urban mob. The other bad guys are the “Ecologists” (particularly the Deep Ecologists) who are a philosophically-inclined radical flank of the movement distinguished by their extreme and sometimes violent opposition to urban-industrial society. Bramwell is on the former side of the following fault lines within environmentalism: rural versus urban, reformer versus radical, Pan-Europeanist versus nationalist, lobbyist versus electoralist and pro-nuke versus anti-nuke.
Bramwell’s polemics were part of a movement purge organized by the Pan-European reformist-environmentalists. During the 1950s and 1960s this elite core of the movement conducted a long-term, widespread campaign of lobbying, infiltrating, acquiring and building key political and cultural institutions. They undertook mass mobilizations starting in the late 1960s. Bramwell chronicles how: “environmentalism was the preserve of the few for so long and then became a mass movement” adding “the rise of environmentalism caught sociologists by surprise”. (27)Movement leaders were also taken by surprise by the rise of far right ecological extremists and by green left-nationalists. From the first tendency, they feared the rise of a German Pol Pot. (28) The reformists were also furious at left-lib urbanites for exploiting the green symbolic repatoire to further the precise welfare, wage and housing policies which the elite viewed as the problem. Reformist environmentalists backed the nuclear industry which the urban greens and deep ecologists opposed.
History, like uranium, is a dual-use technology; it can make tools or weapons. For Bramwell it is a weapon because she knows: “environmentalism is a radical belief with a hidden history”. (29) She knows environmentalism belongs nowhere along the socialist-to-libertarian continuum of utilitarian political thought. Part of her critique of the 1980s activist spouting green rhetoric was that: “it is not widely known that similar ecological ideas were being put forward by Darre in National Socialist Germany, often using the same phrases and arguments that are used today. (30)From this it followed that: “linking green ideas with Nazism is explosive particularly in Germany where the Greens have embraced soft leftist values of feminism, egalitarianism, and anti-nuclear activism.” Historian Bramwell had two targets to strike. Firstly, by unveiling the history of environmentalism, using the power vested in the swastika, she hits the left-lib urban greens. “Reds”, according to Bramwell, “will have nothing to do with the folkish”. (31) Her second targets, the ecologists, are made to look ridiculous by exposing the history of the myth-making process underlying the enviro-scares upon which ecologists predicate their draconian agenda. One minute the ecologist is on an Oslo street corner shouting “billions must die” and the next minute he learns he has been brainwashed by the people that gave us Beatle-mania.
Bramwell can be frank about environmentalism’s pathological dishonesty because it is a quality she approves of. Buried throughout her writings is a fragmented chronology of environmentalism’s corruption of science. The untruthfulness of environmentalist propaganda is so obvious she conserves paper debunking it:
The link is important because:
“Platonism”, or “Neo-Platonism”, is a 2400 year old writtentradition of arch-conservative analysis and advice. The tradition began and remains an expression of the nobility. Studying Neo-Platonism brings the jarring realization that our cherished religions are utterly deliberate concoctions of wise old men who hammer out mythological frames with the express intent of hoodwinking and controlling the masses. Writings about preserving social harmony through the “veiled nature truth” date back millennia. (36) Bramwell recounts the tradition’s honoured legacy: “The scientific efflorescence of the Renaissance was connected with the creative cosmologies of Neo-Platonism, not the rational discourse of Aristotle.” (37) Neo-Platonists formed one camp in the British culture wars of the early 20th century. In the rival camp was H. G. Wells who saw the struggle as between the believer in science and the “reactionary who is trying to restore a disorderly past”. Wells opposed “religion, monarchy, peasants, Greek Professors, poets and horses.” (38) In Bramwell’s Neo-Platonist camp were followers of Burke, Ruskin, and Oakeshott of whom she writes:
“Their main characteristic is that of myth-making. Myths are needed either to convey a non-earthly or spiritual concept, or to maintain social stability and to protect society from excessive and destructive rationalism (constructivist rationalism, as defined by Hayek, and exemplified by Bentham). This is a constant of Conservative thought.” (39)
For the Neo-Platonist “the truth is hardly bearable” and politics is a carnival of lies:
This attack on truth is a continuation of the Counter-Enlightenment attack on reason, science and the possibility of objectivity:
Extreme subjectivism defined Platonism for centuries and has persisted in many forms: “Scientific relativism is to be found in Engels and in the New Left today.” (42) What seems ridiculous to one generation seems sound to the next. “Orthodoxy derives from heresy” declares Bramwell. (43)Predictably, she hits the obscurantist’s default button with: “It takes a creative mind to invent quantum physics or to believe in relativity, and it takes a certain kind of credulity to take these wonders on trust.” Then she gets dizzy, suggesting astrology and Steiner’s magical magnetism are taken seriously by science. (44)
To this mindset the “truth” consists of myths so widely accepted they have become “public opinion”. Myths are not lies but widely, or narrowly held, belief systems. A social movement’s struggle to popularize a mythical framework is a struggle to convert it into a truth. To achieve this, social movements convert and recruit opinion leaders such as teachers and preachers, but most importantly politicians and their handlers. (45) Conversion of statesmen to the Cause will inevitably turn movement myths into truths. Bramwell gives a relevant example of this perspective: “Some argue that as sustainable development is accepted by all world leaders and spokesmen as a goal, it must represent popular opinion.” (46)
The challenge for contemporary Neo-Platonists is to implant a mythology capable of solving “the knotty problem of the political acceptability of no-growth policies”. No-growth or slow-growth economies are perennial favourites of this movement. Environmentalist leaders “believe that ‘growth’ is a misconceived ideal, best abandoned as soon as possible.” Implementing this program is problematic but: “public opinion would be behind no-growth policies, providing they were explained clearly and a crisis atmosphere engendered (for example the greenhouse effect, the ozone layer)”. (47)Thus, during the 1960s enormous “efforts and resources [were] put into promulgating the doctrine of the Doomsday syndrome”. Because “the certificate of scientific origin is crucial to the effectiveness of the ecological argument” this initiative began “with dissident scientists as their main driving force.” (48) Environmentalists mobilized a cadre of converted scientists, connected them through journals and networks and subjected them to unique forms of peer pressure. (49)Thus arose: “scientists who saw the light and decided to save the human race...scientists who have turned their attention to managing the planet’s affairs”. (50) This mobilization resulted in “the conversion of a significant part of the intelligentsia.” (51)Bramwell describes the “Green Doomsday” choir, and ecologists in general, as “scientists against science”. (52) She continues:
The UN publication Only One Earth (1972) helped scientists conceptualize “environmental problems in a worldwide context” and “won over many in the rationalist scientist camp who were unaffected by the scientific mysticism of Teilhard Chardin”. Another milestone was the giddy reception surrounding the release of Nobel Prize-winner Peter Medawar’s Pluto’s Republic (1982) which “marked the wholesale conversion of a scientific elite to Doomsday thinking.” Medawar argued the technosphere was out of balance with the biosphere. For evidence he reprinted disproven prophecies which he felt justified in reissuing because reputable scientists endorsed them. Medawar declared his new scientific mission was to: “develop for the earth as a whole the deep and passionate sense of allegiance, which youngsters are brought up to feel for their birthplace, school or nation.” Neo-Platonic corruption of science is doable because scientists “have non-rational parts of their psyches like the rest of us” and as such “their critical mechanism can be unhinged”. (54)The corruption occurred because: “Establishment people are as prone to unreality, to the dictates of fashion or politics as anyone else. To rise in the establishment you do not take an exam that guarantees you against ever having any dotty ideas; you simply take an exam that ensures you have the same dotty ideas as your peers.” (55)
Scientific corruption requires having well-known scientists make alarming pronouncements about matters outside their areas of expertise; a process facilitated by a “characteristic of the scientific mind...to believe that once successful in one field, you can solve problems in others”. These celebrity endorsements avoid critical attention because scientists within the relevant discipline treat the celebrity scientist’s remark as the statement of a lay person. Thus the names of famous scientists get attached to unscientific statements. In her words: “the history of political ecology has thrown up, and indeed depends on, many scientists who, outside their own disciplines, appeared to lack any saving element of reductionism, any critical analysis.” (56)
Scientific corruption involves herding lesser-known movement motivated scientists onto the relevant, controversial fields. (57) For decades: “the scientists and activists who campaigned on ecological issues arrived at their beliefs from a variety of disciplines, and experienced considerable cross-fertilisation of their ideas.” (58)Thus thetypical Green Doomsday scare is formulated by movement scientists making “extrapolation(s) of present trends, taking the worst possible estimate of such trends, and assume no technological or social change, no new resource discoveries”. (59)These predictions are stamped by celebrity scientists and then sent to the media who bomb the public until: “claims which, a few decades ago, would have demanded an analytical response now quickly become clichés, part of our mental furniture”. (60) Now it is only the “daring citizen who will doubt the scientific forecast.” (61) Bramwell dares to mock the “prophesies”. She points out that by 1982 the dire predictions of 1968-72 were completely discredited. She is amazed the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth (1972) was written by a team of prophets absent any social scientists, economic historians or development specialists yet became “accepted as a charter for global planning by global agencies”. (62)
The “oil crisis” of 1973-4 was “manna” for the movement. The media informed the public that the environmentalists were right – industry was physically exhausting the planet’s petroleum reserves. Bramwell knows: “the oil crisis of 1973-74 seemed to come as a vindication of the Doomsday scenario. In imitation of finitude but through the old fashioned mechanisms of the cartel, the oil price went up four times, and the energy crisis burst upon the world.” Oil crisis propaganda fused finite resource arguments with biological arguments and “seemed to prove the economic ecologist argument beyond doubt”. (63)However Bramwell, faithful Neo-Platonist, argues the myth of petroleum scarcity served Europa by kick-starting serious work on hydrocarbon conservation and energy alternatives. The oil crisis was a response to Europe’s victimization by the “energy imperialism” of the oil-rich states.(64)
Similarly, the official rationale behind the massively wasteful recycling industry is that recycling is necessary to cope with the scarcity of minerals and the shortage of land-fill sites – both myths. She realizes recycling glass “is illogical as sand is super-abundant and the recycling process is energy-intensive.” Recycling programs are uneconomical yet useful:
After the oil crisis the environmental movement launched a succession of aeromancy scares: acid rain, ozone-holes, global warming etc. About the latter she mentions: “fears of global climactic change began to be taken seriously (a process that owed more to the accidental conjunction of Sir Crispin Tickell and Mrs. Thatcher than to any new scientific evidence on the subject)”. (66) These mythic frames served the movement well:
Divining silver threads from these treasonous frauds Bramwell argues each scare is remotely possible hence research into them, and preparations for them, are beneficial to humanity. In her words: “The greenhouse effect still remains in the realms of hypothesis, but one should accept on methodological grounds that human behaviour could cause a climatic catastrophe, and any discussion of ecological apocalypse should be prepared to acknowledge that fact.” (68) Similarly, although she is aware new oil discoveries abound, she claims “logically” petroleum reserves are finite hence planning for oil’s exhaustion is prudent. (69)
One of the primary ways Neo-Platonists implant mythology is through fiction. Bramwell links English ecology, not to a scientist, but to literary critic John Ruskin. He asserted faith in science leads to error. (70) More than any other group, fictionists and lyricists have popularized environmentalist myths like the Noble Eco-Savage, the wonderful country life, and benevolent Mother Nature. Bramwell shares Oakeshott’s view that art by definition produces myths. Myths are the purest form of truth. Myths provide: “a dimension of escape...a transcendental other to comfort and to solace, to help maintain society.” (71)orget art-for-art’s-sake:
“No literature can be serious, just as no philosophy can be worthwhile, if it does not include the sense of wider interests known loosely as ‘politics’, based on an unreticent acceptance of one’s own values, and a care for the spiritual and moral life of the nation.” (72)
The promotion of environmentalist thought is ubiquitous in English fiction:
Clergyman Gilbert White’s late 18th century nature-romanticizing was carried on in the 19th century by Richard Jeffries – a High Tory known for militant country-dwelling, pantheistic love of nature and hatred of London. 20th century reactionary writers Mary Mitford and Hugh Massingham romanticised simple village folk. For reasons not given, Bramwell dismisses “self-consciously ‘reactionary’ writers like Evelyn Waugh” (74) but she approves of E.M. Forster’s novels for protesting the hectic pace, “the telegrams and anger”, of urban living.Contempt for urban capitalists and their alleged greed is a standard literary theme. She notes: “G.K. Chesterton and the Oxford Inklings (the group led by Tolkien and C.S. Lewis) linked a dark destructive greed with evil.” (75)
Tolkien’s efforts in myth-making were the boldest. Like all “Inklings” he mourned an England severed from its myths, folk-memory, and Nordic roots. He was a North European nationalist inspired by paintings like the Berggeist. The source of the famous Middle Earth scene of: “the shire despoiled, the poisoned water, the tainted loyalties, the good perverted and bought, lay in his experience of the industrialization of parts of the West Midlands countryside just after WWI.” (76) In the 1940s Tolkien created a complex, value-laden epic to guide and bind the English in the way the Kalevala had united Icelanders. His trilogy’s climax is “the cleansing of the shire” – the demolition of the mills and the replanting of the forest after the “bearers of exploitative capitalism have been chased out by the sword and the fist.” This irrationalist, rural fantasy appealed to more than just “nice conservatives who fell with relief upon Tolkien’s values”. The Lord of the Rings joined pirated translations of Rosenberg’s, Myth of the Twentieth Century, on Neo-Fascist must-read lists. Tolkien was a favourite of “deracinated hippies”. In Italy “far-right groups print Hobbit tee-shirts, and have Hobbit summer camps which teach bomb-making and runes.” (77)One Italian Neo-Fascist magazine had a feature issue entitled “Hobbit, Hobbit”. (78)
Bramwell’s treatment of Tolkien warrants supplementation in light of the increase in his popularity due to movie versions of his books and due to the many writers who have taken up his magical medievalist fantasy genre. (79) Tolkien’s books are full of animist scenes like mountains causing blizzards to thwart travellers and great rains weeping on battlefields. Tolkien’s religion, Catholicism, is tolerant of animist intermediate spirits but his Middle Earth is clearly fashioned after the pagan world, Midgard. Tolkien wrote: “In all my works I take the part of the trees as against all their enemies.” His books refer to 64 real types of plants and 8 imaginary ones. His ‘Ents’ are sentient trees, led by chief Ent, Fanghorn, who war against Sauron, ruler of industrialized Mordor. (80) A 2002 movie version of The Two Towers has an amplified scene of Fanghorn passionately rallying trees and tree protectors. (81) Fanghorn is the symbol chosen by the anti-road construction crowd in Britain and by radical US environmentalists opposing forestry. The terrorist Earth Liberation Front (ELF) chose their name so they could refer to themselves as ‘Elves’; an idea one spokesperson, Tara the Sea Elf, says was inspired by Tolkien. English Wiccans also incorporate Tolkien into their lore. (82)
Neo-Platonists even develop myths about themselves as in the Holy Grail Theory of environmentalism’s origins. Bramwell begins her rendition of this theory with a “readers will remember” that King Arthur’s knights became bored with lives a-plenty in Camelot and craving adventure crusaded off to find the Holy Grail. In the 1960s, according to this theory, youth in the industrialized West became bored with affluence and: “their dissatisfaction led them to search for ideas embodying spiritual values, not only ecological or environmental values but also the ‘irrational’ and occultist mystical ideas mentioned above.” (83) The sheep lead the shepherd! The Holy Grail Theory is a myth veiling what was a top-down imposition of environmentalism/occultism onto the unsuspecting youth of the West by busy rich old men.
For icing on the cake Bramwell digresses to add the following anecdote:
“The speech of a Red Indian chief to an American President on the proposed purchase of Indian land has become a totem for fundamentalist ecologists like Rudolf Bahro (at a recent Schumacher Conference this speech was cited several times by different speakers.) (84)
She could only be speaking of the famous “Chief Seattle’s speech” which she no doubt knows is a complete fraud. The notorious bushwhacker, slave-monger and devout Roman Catholic, Chief Seith (a.k.a. Seattle) gave a speech to an assembly in 1854. He spoke in the rare, forgotten Lushootseed language. No one has a clue what he said. The flowery speech which became the environmentalist anthem is a rendition of a revision an article appearing in a Seattle newspaper in 1884 written by the physician-poet Dr. Henry Smith. (85) Bramwell does not appear to have made an effort to disillusion the conference attendees; nor does she disillusion her readers. (The English can be naughty that way.)
The definition of “peasant” in the Oxford Dictionary comes with a caveat:
The dictionary supplements this with a quote from a leading social science journal:
Because “peasant” means anyone active in agriculture, from wealthy businessmen to penniless hired-hands, the word is useless to both sociologists and the public. Bramwell uses “peasant” around 1,000 times! She sometimes narrows in on, actually pretends to promote, the small owner-operator yeoman-type of “peasant” but in the main she uses the term very loosely. Towards an operational definition of “peasant” she quotes Oswald Spengler:
To clarify this Bramwell adds: “The peasant, this undifferentiated blob, this crab-like plant person is the foundation, the soil for the mysterious spirit that produces a culture.” (89)One of her favourite novelists, Knut Hamsun, described his hero-peasant as: “a barge of man...a tiller of the ground, body and soul; a worker on the land without respite”. (90)So peasants are crab-like barges ferrying mystical blood-blobs. Peasants are mythical beings. They are the food fairies. They are soil elves. They’re lawn ornaments.
Eulogists of peasants, or “peasantists”, are known by different names. In revolutionary Russia peasantists were “Norodniks”. They hailed from the Russian gentry’s intelligentsia and they portrayed peasants as a mysterious caste in which the salvation of Russia was stored. Similar views were held by the anarchist disciples of Russian Prince Kropotkin. Peasantists are also known as “Catonists” meaning: “those who look to the peasant as saviour of the nation, and to peasant values as a corrective against urban corruption”. (91)For a Catonist example Bramwell picks the leader of Italian Fascism. “Mussolini fits the Catonist model in that he always referred to the peasant as the backbone of the nation”. Mussolini espoused national agricultural self-sufficiency, championed “peasant values” and channelled state resources into collecting and disseminating “peasant songs” and folklore. (92) Leading Asian peasantists were Mahatma Ghandi and Mao Tse Tung. In Northern European fascist propaganda the “peasant”: “was seen as a cure-all for various social, economic and moral evils.” (93) The Nazi-peasantist connection is widely accepted: “various observers have already pointed to the rural values lying, as a style or rhetorical tendency, behind much of Nazi ideology.” (94)
Not all Fascists embraced peasantism in the same way or with the same fervour. To the Parisian fascist:“nature was a bore, and peasants were something rather distasteful” because the “French fascist was locked in the very prison of urban individualism and irony he claimed to despise.” Fortunately for the movement: “After the defeat of France, the Vichy Government’s propaganda did stress the role of the sturdy peasant as well as rural life in general.” (95)Italian Fascists were peasantist but lacked the soil-worshipping ecologism found further north. To the East: “the peasant national socialism of the Green Shirts in Hungary and Rumania might seem to resemble those of the ecological intelligentsia discussed in earlier chapters. Peasant radical fascism in Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria was strongly anti-Semitic and anti-capitalist, as well as being anti-communist.” The Rumanian Iron Guard consisted of “anti-liberal, anti-democratic, peasant terrorists.” The Iron Guard’s “fanatically Christian peasants” were “the closest approximation to early Nazism.” (96) They identified capitalism with Jews and held it: ‘responsible for the destruction of the very fabric of traditional peasant life be it the destruction of the ancient forests of Transylvania or the decline of the Orthodox church.” Their slogan was: “Up above, we will defend the life of the trees and the mountains from further devastation. Down below (in the towns) we will spread death and mercy.” German peasantists were the most ecologically minded. They envisioned a Germany at the centre of a Pan-European “Peasant’s International”. (97) Their slogan was “Blood and Soil” which Bramwell defines by relaying a Neo-Fascist definition: “What we mean by nation, everything we got from the magic fluid of our ancestors and from our sacred land...” (98)
Her personal definition reveals her bias:
Her books are sown with peasantist passages. She believes “critics of the rural ideal...ignore the mounting evidence that peasant farming was a practical approach to the problems of securing the national food supply.” (100) Blood and Soil racism is acceptable to her because:
In any case, intra-racialism is an intrinsic part of the peasant ideology, although it is unfashionable to stress this in the west today. The Third World and ethnic minorities in the west are more openly racialist. The idea of a network of kinship is intrinsic to a definition of a peasant, and must by definition exclude those alien to that network. The ideal peasant farm is orientated to the long term, the family and the future of the tribe. ‘Peasantness’ cannot absorb alien cultures, religions and races without the risk of self destruction.(101)
Northern European peasantist ideology was planted in the public mind via novels, poems, short stories, and lyrics. One trend-setter was the 19th century French ultra-conservative Barres who although “a fastidious, urban, sleek-haired dandy” wrote a novel that “tenderly portrayed a tragic peasant family.” (102)A.E. Houseman was an effeminate London bureaucrat unable to graduate from Oxford because of the emotional turmoil of having his homosexual advances rejected by a young athlete. He assumed the persona of a hearty farm-labourer for his popular peasantist poetry collection A Shropshire Lad (1896). (103)
Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun entered Berlin during its 1890s Scandinavian craze. He wrote love stories and semi-autobiographical tales extolling the “aristocratic values” of chivalry, honour and quixotery. After twice crossing the Atlantic he delivered a series of lectures in 1905 denouncing America’s business ethics and consumer culture. He hated things English. English-speaking people were “Protestant Jews”. Much is made of “Knut the Peasant” but by the time he purchased his first farm (1911) he was already a wealthy writer. “The farm was used for inspiration” for Knut who: “lived in luxury, feted by European society”. (104) His second wife was a famous actress. He used his Nobel Prize money to restore a mansion. 1911 marks Knut’s conversion to peasantism and soil worship. He set out to develop “the ideology of the peasant or small farmer...the crucial component of the nation, the man on the land.” (105) He promoted national agricultural self-sufficiency and the preservation of the pristine peasant community. Between 1913 and 1915 Hamsun wrote two novels about idyllic Norwegian villages ruined by industry; ruined by margarine and store-bought shoes. Bramwell describes Hamsun’s approach as a “total criticism” and this “absolutist quality is another hallmark of the ecological thinker.” (106) Hamsun had other hallmarks of the ecologist such as a relentless search for roots and a reflexive hostility to trade. His most successful novel The Growth of the Soil (1917) starts with illiterate “countryman” Isaac (“a ghost risen out of the past to point to the future, a man from the earliest days of cultivation”)heading out to homestead with an axe and a sack of seeds. (107) His next major novel, Wayfarers (1927), juxtaposes the rooted, honest peasants against the uprooted capitalist hucksters exemplified by the fraudulent Jewish watch-dealer. The novel concludes with a symbolic burning-down-of-modernity scene emblazoned with the message:
Hamsun praised “peasant virtues” and “peasant wisdom” and saw Nazism “as an attempt to take over the world in the name of thatched roofs, folk dances and solstice celebrations.” To Hamsun in “the fight between town and country, artificial and natural, which had been the main theme of his work, Hitler indisputably was on the side of nature.” Germany would rescue the European peasantry. In Hamsun’s mind there was a: “clear link between support for what he perceived as the rural values of German and Norwegian National Socialism and his ecological world-view.” Hamsun’s novels were widely translated but were exceptionally popular in Germany where they inspired top Nazis Rosenberg, Darre and Gunther. Hamsun endorsed the Norwegian Nazi party and both his wife and son were active members. Hamsun met privately with Hitler and Goring during the war. Thousands of German soldiers on the eastern front requested copies of his novels. The Nordic Society paid his wife to give readings of his work to troops on the eastern front whereat: “to a hushed room full of soldiers she would describe in precise but biblical language the peasant seeking for empty land to till, and the arrival of a woman”. SSers wept. Condemned Nazi war criminals ask to read Hamsun before their executions. (109) After WWII the Norwegian government declared Knut a traitor, seized his assets and threw him in the nuthouse.
According to Bramwell, Henry Williamson was “one of the greatest English novelists of the Twentieth Century”. (110) He was a pioneer of green rhetoric. His “nature books, his chronicle and the volumes of country tales all hammer out an environmental point of view”. He combined an apparent concern for water and air pollution with a campaign for “rural regeneration”. In what is standard testimony of “20th century country-lovers” Williamson was forced to watch “his childhood fields brutalized into garish shops and ugly suburbs.” Williamson’s spiritual rebirth is dated to a chance reading of Jeffries from whom he borrowed, among other things, the habit of using numerous metaphors built around the image of sunshine. (111) Williamson’s discovery of Jeffries coincided with his discovery of the aristocracy during WWI – “the war taught him to ‘fit in’ with the country gentry he had never encountered before. The old families became a touchstone of comparison, a glimpse of an old order and better world.” Thus hissympathiesafter the war “were with the Quixotic, chivalrous, natural men of the upper and lower classes.” (112) Walking the gentry walk, Williamson purchased a farm in Norfolk at “the height of the agricultural depression, with good farming land going for 10 pounds an acre”. He farmed it organically after agonizing over whether to let it revert to wilderness. (113)
His most popular writings were children’s nature fiction like Tarka the Otter (1927) and Salar the Salmon (1936). His adult writing aimed at the rural-urban divide. He opposed industrial agriculture in diatribes against processed foods. He held the bran of the “Wheat berry” (or “white berry”) to be sacred. “The white bread of the cities was not only a cause of war, but a symbol of the loss and destruction that deracinated men feel.” His novels describe London as “an emanation of solar death” over which “hundreds of tons of organic and inorganic matter were in suspension”. Hishero looks disdainfully at London’s Saturday afternoon cyclists: “all hurrying, staring ahead with tinkling bells, backs bent, faces set as though they were in a race, they crouched over handle-bars”. Williamson returned from a Nuremburg rally in 1935 pumped about the future and deriding London as a great sore “about to burst and pus to run throughout the body politic”. (114)He was infatuated with Wagner’s Gotterdammerung finale with the gods in flames and Europe drowning in a rising Rhine.
Williamson contributed to the Anglo-German Review and supported British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley. In addition to calling for an English-German bund: “the Anglo-German sympathizers of the period were united by a common interest in nature and ecology.” (115) Williamson boasted a German grandparent. (116) In 1941 a stridently pro-Fascist novel of his was censored as treasonous. Williamson: “blamed capitalism, competition, the free market, and the lack of planning for pollution, white bread and stunted physiques.” (117)He believed: “People had to be taught the life on the farm while young enough, in farm labour camps if necessary, to retain this link to the land.” He combined Mosleyite political rhetoric with pantheistic longing: “One day our children...will see salmon jumping again in the Pool of London” (118)Williamson got locked up during WWII.
After 1945 Williamson retreated into “spiritual ecologism”. (Bramwell mentions other “defeated fascists” who changed from “politics to meta-politics”.) Williamson then penned the 15-novel, semi-autobiographical “Chronicles of Ancient Sunlight” series which was “permeated with ecological motifs. The clear water, the shadowless sun, the kind harmony of nature...” (119)He dedicated A Solitary War to the Mosleys. The next novel compared his struggle to restore a farm with Hitler’s struggle to restore rural values. In the second last of the series, Lucifer before Sunrise, (1967) Hitler is portrayed “as a flawed Christ, a saint killed by the lack of imagination of others” and Nazism is described as an altruistic effort to cure the division of mind and body through the cult of agricultural labour. To Williamson “Hitler was a chaste Saint, above earthly impulses.” The release of Lucifer “signalled the end to reviews and reprints” andbrought “serious embarrassment for many of his fans.” The final Ancient Sunlight novel, Gale of the World (1969), explored Gnostic and Jungian psycho-analytical cults and was named in honour of a martyred Yugoslavian Royalist. The hero, Philip, resolves to explain fascism to the next generation. The Ancient Sunlight series demonstrated Williamson’s “obsession with clear unpolluted water as a symbol of truth, reality and hope for the future”. Through Philip, Williamson synthesizes images of pollution with the corruption of aristocratic values: “Philip could not bear to look into the river; he felt its condition to be symbolic of the system, of the dark pollution of the spirit of Man, of the lack of honour in the body politic.” Philip ponders: “is it mere illusion to link the pollution of an English river with the general pollution of the European vision?” (120) (Answer, yes Philip it’s an illusion.)
Williamson’s anti-Americanism was his ticket into the late 1960s protest scene where: “Youth had begun to care about the environment. He was a sensitive friend to many such people”. To English youth Williamson preached Buddhism, deep breathing and ‘diatonics’. The BBC broadcast an interview with Williamson from his farm, deleting footage of the giant swastika on his barn. His writings were reprinted in The Rural Tradition, deleting explicitly fascist passages. Williamson retained “a cult following which is increasing as more people find their environmental and ecological interests reflected in his work.” The Poet Laureate spoke at his funeral. (121)
Bramwell finds ecologists amusingly clueless about their own history. Most ecologists believe ecology sprang out “fully formed in the 1960s”. (122) Others, following Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger (ecology’s metaphysician), date the ecology to the Bronze Age. (123) Philosophical ecologist’s search for ecology’s origins in “what went wrong with humanity, what separated man from nature.” Ecology is the reaction to the Fall. (124) Thus, some ecologists believe their discipline emerged after “the growth of the natural sciences in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries produced a separation between ourselves and the world.” (125)Historian D. Pepper posits: “German ecologists point to the holism of Goethe, Paracelus, Nietzsche...Americans see Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman as the first, or at least most important, celebrators of man and nature.” (126)No scientists among the founders. Goethe and Paracelus were science saboteurs. Pepper isolates “two roots of environmentalism in Britain, a scientific root derived from Malthus and Darwin and an unscientific romantic concept stemming from Mathew Arnold.” (127) While he is right about Arnold, Darwin has little to do with this movement, and Malthus was not a scientist but an apocalypse-spreading reactionary preacher whose theories have been completely refuted. Historian, A. Mohler, argues the “ecological package deal” grew out romantic-reactionary ideologies in the 1920s. (128)
Bramwell also roots ecology into Romanticism. She channels to mid-19th century Germany with Republican riots raging outside Wagner’s window as he dreamed of pacifying the mob with the artistic-religious synthesis only Greek theatre could provide. To Bramwell, “the development of Green ideas was the revolt of science against science” beginning around 1860 and becoming identifiable in its modern form by 1890. On early ecology she writes:
In the 1860s J. Bachofen promulgated a myth about an idyllic Bronze Age matriarchy destroyed by the patriarchal Iron Age. (130) The 1860s also marks the beginning of the American national park systems and American academic biology. In the 1860s American George Perkins Marsh’s Man and Nature “pointed to deforestation and other destructive results of human action.” The English-speaking world soon imported from Germany: “the new science of forestry” which “was accompanied by a mystique of the forests” that “attributed almost everything bad in the past to deforestation.” Later English editions of German forestry texts were purged of mystical passages. (131)
Although Ernst Haeckel coined the word “oekologie” in 1866 he was never a practicing ecologist. Bramwell maintains: “he (Haeckel) does not display any notable insight into the dynamic principles of ecology”. (132) Nevertheless Haeckel was a believer in ecology because he saw the universe as a balanced organism and because he gave humans and animals similar moral status (“at least some humans”). He thought society should be organized along natural lines. These are not scientific beliefs. Haeckel is often grouped with Darwin even though Haeckel did not support the theory of natural selection but clung to the thoroughly discredited Lamarkian belief in “immortal germ-plasm”. (133) (Lamarckians believe if a woman works as an apple-picker while she’s pregnant her kid will have long arms.)
Haeckel popularized a scientific-sounding theocratic pantheism. His “new pantheism had a somewhat dominating nature at its centre, a Nature expected to educate and guide humanity.” (134)Haeckel’s religion was popular in Britain and Germany. By 1900 a German magazine, with a circulation of 5 million, regularly published his writings. Haeckel founded and chaired the Monist League whose goal was to merge “spirit and matter” and “truth and poetry” into “the perfect harmony of Monism”. Haeckel was active in “the expansionist, nationalist Pan German League”. He printed pro-German war poetry in the Monist’s journal. He called for a powerful German state to undertake a program of “radical social change” in advance of racial hygiene and in accordance with Natural Law. Haeckel was pro-Buddhist and anti-Christian. To Haeckel, Christianity “contributed not only to an extremely injurious isolation from our glorious mother ‘nature’, but also to a regrettable contempt of all other organisms’. (135)
Literary critic John Ruskin’s: “influence on the political ideals of British ecologism can scarcely be overestimated.” He is kept in the historical closet because: “Ruskin was too unscientific, too religiously moral in his political prescriptions to qualify as an ecologist” (136)Nevertheless, Ruskin best articulated the ecologists’ contempt for “uprooted money” and their disgust at the “ugliness” of industry. He promoted the Back-to-the-Land movement but more importantly, he commanded a legion of writers who constituted a vital flank in a social movement Bramwell defines as an alliance of “scientific-planners and atavistic poets”. (137)
In the 1890s ecology was almost synonymous with “ethology” – a “new” field wherein academics studied animals in their natural habitats. Charles Whitman and Julian Huxley “revolutionized zoology” with bird-watching. They declared their scientific revolution had implications for humanity and asserted their knowledge was superior to conventional science or economics because they observed the real world it its natural environment outside the confines of laboratories or offices. (138) Their man-as-part-of-biological-life-cycle rhetoric and Earth-as-organism metaphor levered readers toward the “holistic vision”. They believed: “untrammelled economic growth would use up natural resources and pollute the earth irrevocably”. (139) Ethologistsarguedtheirscienceenabledhumanityto control the “primate curiosity” (“the pseudo-scientific mentality that plays with a watch and breaks it”) which they reckoned caused humanity’s estrangement from nature. (140)They were not well received by the conventional scientific community rather: “Green biologists often had to work away from recognition, from outside the traditional system. They failed for decades to break into orthodox science”. (141)The “I’ve-gone-camping-hear-me-roar” line had limited resonance.
Haeckel’s final work, God-Nature, (1914) was a bible for disciples Bolsche, Driesch and Ostwald. Bolsche’s biography of Haeckel mythologized him as a great scientist. Bolsche also wrote romanticized biology books like Love-Life in Nature which helped assemble the conceptual scaffolding of socio-biology. Hans Driesch published The Philosophy of the Organic in 1909 and lectured at numerous British Universities about that mysterious vitality at work in the universe. Driesch believed “the only way to explain the marvels of the human consciousness and animal life was that something or being had intended it to be.” (142)In 1911 Wilhelm Ostwald merged Vitalism with fudge about entropy to cook up “energy economics”. His entropy dread was “known to a wide circle of literate people since the 1880s.” He insisted that because matter tends to dissipate only a divine force could account for the increasing complexity of Life. (Bricks crumble yet are used for building complex and durable structures. And if all that is left to Vitalism is the statement that Life is a process of resisting death and decomposition...well, no shit Sherlock, we try.) Bramwell, unforgivably, cannot escape entropic sophistry, claiming it “has not been satisfactorily refuted.” (143)Entropy dreaders held that because energy stores (coal reserves) were finite the Industrial Revolution had a built in kill-switch.(144)This type of thinking passed as serious science but eventually: “Vitalism retreated into philosophy and lost its status in mainstream science. It remained as a vigorous sub-culture, finding expression in existentialism, as well as in popular science after WWII. The religious overtones of the life-force seemed to make it unacceptable for scientific discourse.” (145)
In 1921Count Coudenhove-Kalergi “prefaced his call for a new nobility with a ringing declaration that mere scientific veracity was irrelevant.” (146) The 1920s witnessed the “scientific aberration” of ecologism become a self-conscious crusading political discipline no longer “a preserve of a small section of the European and American intelligentsia”. (147) British ecology became a High Tory bullhorn blasting technophobic myths of soil erosion and famine prophecies. (148) Ecology’s self-conscious phase developed in the context of an academic infatuation with the romantic spiritualism of Bergson and Nietzsche and with the obscurantist new sciences of quantum physics and chaos theory. The artistic contribution to this zeitgeist was an “attack on consensus” througha “fragmentation of presentation”. (149)
Ecologists were natural supporters of fascist parties. Ecology and fascism were both pro-rural and anti-capitalist. They shared the core “anti-transcendental” principle believing that humanity cannot transcend nature; that nature imposed limits on industrial development. Both fascism and ecology had “a tradition, in practise as well as in theory, of looking to nature for philosophical guidance”. (150) Much of this movement described themselves as “naturalists” meaning men who: “go to nature to learn, and return with the recommendation that one clings to the wheel because it is the most sensible path of action. To do so requires sweeping away past identities, past traditions and past errors.” The naturalist: “glances at earlier rural times to eliminate the misdirecting signposts previous generations obeyed.” As well, “The naturist is a natural protestor.” (151)
Entropy-dreading Vitalists morphed into energy economists motivated by perceived injustices in the distribution of the world’s energy resources and by a fear of civilization collapsing. They were haunted by Malthusian “fears of land shortage, of a failure to produce enough food to feed the population”. They believed coal reserves were near exhaustion. Their science fiction and fantasy novels expressed a pull-up-the-drawbridge mentality. Energy economists were trained natural scientists who “tended to switch disciplines and pursue reform in areas remote from their original field, but which seemed to present the same kind of problems.” (152)
Ecology’s two strands, holistic biology and energy economics, fused “when the oil crisis threatened the West in the early ‘70s, [and] the same arguments about finite resources reappeared, and the same plans to re-structure society so that the most economical use could be made of land and energy. (153) Thus “ecology” became a popular word in the English-speaking world rivalling “environmentalism” as a green label because: “ecology was the science which could interpret the fragments of evidence that told us something was wrong with the world – dead birds, oil in the sea, poisoned crops, the population explosion...What it meant was everything links up...Here was a new morality, and a strategy for human survival rolled into one.” (154) Bramwell repeatedly reminds us this: “‘package deal’ of ecological ideas that appeared in Europe in the nineteenth century mimics that of today in a surprisingly complete way.” (155)
Today ecologists are “a small section of the trained intelligentsia” incorporating biological-holism, entropy-dread, and Vitalist-pantheism into “diagnoses of large scale syndromes of global sickness”. (156) Ecologists are drawn from the “Northern White Empire” (a.k.a. the “protestant triangle”). Ecologists are from industrial cities. “We do not call peasants ecologists, nor Indian tribesmen.” Ecologists are “from the university intelligentsia, though sometimes dropouts from it”. (Generally, the “educated classes are the backbone of the environmentalist movement”.) (157) Ecologists prefer to live in the country and commute which explains why: “ecologists seem to need more of the earth’s resources than other people”, but does not explain why “ecologists absolutely have to travel everywhere by aeroplane”. (158)
Bramwell stresses - ecology is a pantheisticreligion not a scientific discipline. Paradoxes abound: “ecologists perceive science as bad, yet rely on it...it is a truism for Greens that ‘science’ equates with the mechanistic world-view they believe was created by Descartes, Newton, and Bacon.” (159)Ecologists appropriate the symbolic repatoire of scientific discourse to create scientistic defences of the Industry-Hurts-Earth movement framework. Ecologists share a uniform “scepticism of traditional science”. (160) They believe: “science is good when it claims to discover a greenhouse effect, and bad when it invents a chemical fertilizer.” (161)Ecologists superstitiously imbue “Life” into inanimate objects like the soil, the oceans, or the planet. (Animism is the root of religion; even a dog will bark at a flapping patio umbrella.) Like a religion, Ecology from its inception has been “interested in values and justifications of values”. (162) Ecologists believe “orthodox science” is lacking because “it does not allow for values, is purely positivist and ignores problems of relativity”. (163) Ecologists crusade to turn “ecological ideals” into widely accepted moral standards. Ecologists claim moral obligation and moral authority to impose drastic remedies on humanity. (164) Drawing on their ideological roots in “the proto-fascist and High Tory criticism of the mercantile world”, ecologists argue that the desecration of Nature results from a sinful craving for the “unnecessary consumerist fripperies in the West.” Ecologists demand sacrifice. They demand withdrawal from the exploitation of nature. (165) Ecologistsbelieveinamythical “essential harmony of nature...to which man may have to be sacrificed.” (166) Bramwell adds: “Despite its rejection of organized and traditional Christianity, the ecological movement still carries the burden of its heritage, the legacy of the crucifixion, symbol of death, suffering and surrender.” (167) Ecology: “is a total world-view which does not allow for piece-meal reform...it fears the dissipation of resources and it is not anthropocentric. Man’s existence should not be considered primary for a moral stance towards nature...ecologists want to reform man”. (168) To ecologists, Western ideologies pollute pristine primitive cultures and frustrate the “psychic needs” of European fanciers of those cultures. Ecology is a theocratic religion; a political religion holding that:
Political ecologists accept as a given: “there are too many people in the world, and those here are about to die in their billions due to famine. They call for a return to pre-scientific cultures and economies and for a permanent cabal of scientific planners to manage global industrial activity. Today’s political ecology is “a re-working of geo-politics, but without the sense of history, in a sense fascism without the nationalist dimension.” Ecologists believe the hunter-gathering economy is viable. Bramwell believes three quarters of humanity would not survive two weeks in the bush. Ecology has an anarchist-nihilist tilt towards: “the burning before the replanting, the cutting down of the dead tree. The father of the movement is an utter rejection of all that is, and for the last three millennia all that was.” (170)
Bramwell is impressed by ecology because “to have reversed the idea of acceptable and provided justification for so doing can only be the work of a vigorous ideology”. (171) This vigorous ideology should not be viewed in isolation. Ecology is Pantheism. Pantheism is Neo-paganism. Neo-paganism networks into Occultism, Astrology, and the New Age movement. This is a big part of this social movement:
In a re-run of fascist occultism Neo-Paganists use “Atlantean theories of a lost Golden Age” which connect various ethnic groups to vanished super-races. By the late 1980s mysticalsymbolismwas popular among “minority European nationalisms” and “the CND made the death-rune famous.” Occultism’s new respectability is connected to changes in media policy such that: “the Druid cult, appear(s) to us now in the tamed form of bespectacled neatly collared men in flowing white gowns.” Druids were showcased ina 1987 BBC pop-history series on wizardry, myth and ritual. British Druids are mostly Welsh exemplifying the role Neo-Paganism is playing in the minority-nationalist revival which has “an echo all over Europe”. (173)
Bramwell does a lame job of mapping rural Germany’s social structure and its relationship to the important issue of tenant-farmer mobility. She acknowledges that in the 19th century the “broad pattern of landholding was to hold from a landlord” meaning the ‘toiler on the soil’ worked someone else’s land. She is also aware restrictive land practices ensured “labourers could not reject low wages in favour of new uncultivated land”. (174) The little market power tenant-farmers had resulted from offers made to them by rival aristocratic syndicates. A diminishing rural labour force compelled Frederick the Great to offer relocation incentives to Dutch colonists in the mid-1700s. In the early 1800s Prussia sweetened the deal with reforms compelling estate owners to provide pensions for tenants. Throughout the 1800s Russian and Polish aristocrats poached German tenant-farmers. Rural emigration and shrinking tax revenues compelled German micro-states to form ‘land settlement commissions’ to entice tenant-farmers into their polities. However, by the late 1800s land offers in the Americas rang a death knell for German aristocrats.
German aristocrat, J. Von Thunen, examined the causes of rural emigration in The Isolated State (written and rewritten between 1820 and 1845). After reviewing the plight of the landless, over-taxed German agricultural labourer he concluded the solution was to open a “new frontier” for a new class of German owner-operator farmers. This point of view was similar to the utilitarianism dictating the English-speaking world’s agricultural policy. Other views prevailed on the Continent. One Frankfurt parliamentarian blamed land-flight on the rural poor’s inappropriate craving for land-ownership a syndrome he thought curable through indoctrination. More influential was Count Von Bernhardi who in 1849 began publishing studies alleging that in terms of “energy units” peasant productivity was superior to large capitalist farms. To the Count, Europe’s agricultural problems resulted not from technological backwardness but from flaws in capitalism. The Count, and other ‘peasant advocates’, argued the market incorrectly costed agricultural inputs. (175) They promoted distrust of middlemen and advocated economic self-sufficiency to rescue agriculture from the skewering affect of international swindlers. From 1880 on the “Jewish cattle dealer was a stock target for anti-Semitic attacks” by peasant advocates whose disinformation fused the concepts “Jew” and “capitalist”. (176) German environmentalist-geographer, Friedrich Ratzel, blamed “soil erosion and loss of mineral resources” on the Robber-economy. To Ratzel “nomadism” was a mindset introduced to Europe by Semites. Nomadism caused capitalism. (177) Consistent with this hostility to mobility, and to block the outflow of agricultural labour, Bismarck launched a Prussian Settlement Commission and summoned G. Ruhland to report on European agriculture. Northern European agriculture was growing in productivity particularly in Flanders and Denmark but more slowly in Germany where farming remained labour intensive and resistant to new machinery. Improvements in production and foreign trade were causing gluts and depressing prices. Ruhland, a raging anti-capitalist, led an Agrarian League protest that temporarily shut the Berlin Stock Exchange. In 1908 he published a 3 volume diatribe demanding the removal of agricultural from the capitalist market.
Bramwell claims there is a misperception about 1920s German rural society which is: “widely seen as split between two extremes” – Junker versus peasant. However she grudgingly admits “the typical Junker farm was about 1000 hectares in size” while many German farms were 2 to 5 hectares in size. (178) She does not discuss the landless rural labourer. She accepts the persistence of pre-WWI social structures well into the 1920s and is aware of the unusually large number of Germans living in rural areas. But she attempts to confine the aristocracy to “the large estates of the south-west, often the remnants of Holy Roman Empire holdings” thus ignoring the north-east a place famous for the persistence of the ancient regime. She concedes Prussia was a place where: “the Junkers had considerable political power”. (179) By attempting to deny the existence of a German aristocracy she is concealing the fact that German fascism was an extension of the old-school restorationist movement. Bramwell coils at this suggestion. In her view, among the German “radical nationalists” of the 1920s “the warlike Professors, conservative landowners, Catholic reactionaries, and others who receive a bad press in most history books, were in a minority.” (180) Generals are minorities within armies.)
Evidencing the extent to which Bramwell goes to paper over the aristocracy is her treatment of the 1926 Referendum on the Prince’s Property. After the 1918 Revolution removed princes from office many Germany statelets took possession of princely property usually through generous buy-outs. However the princes fought back in the courts, which were ruled by judges connected to the dynasties, and were winning even larger settlements. This prompted an urban-leftist coalition to launch a referendum on the following proposal:
The Weimer constitution’s Article 73 required that before a proposal be put to a referendum a petition on the relevant question be signed by 10% of the electorate. For the referendum to succeed over half the entire eligible electorate had to endorse it. The electorate numbered 40 million. During intense campaigning over 12 million signatures were placed on the petition and over 15 million Germans voted in favour of the referendum which was far more than were opposed, and far more than voted for any party in the previous election; but it was still short of the required 20 million. The Nazis allied with the princes. The referendum process was the largest experiment in direct democracy in human history to date and it seared Germany. Bramwell devotes at least 100 pages on interwar German politics with a tunnel vision focus on land issues and conservatism yet spares not a word on this event. (181)
Between 1890 and 1914 a new social movement coalesced in Germany at the front of which was a massive Youth Movement championing a return to primitive farming methods and the creation of an agricultural frontier on the contested eastern borderlands. The Youth Movement hatched the radical Wandering Birds sub-movement. These roaming bands (similar to hippies) chirped an anti-urban, anti-industrial song as they flittered about German forests and valleys searching for alternative ways of life. In 1913 the Youth Movement assembled at an enormous hill-side rally organized and hosted by publisher and founding Nazi, Eugen Diederichs. The rally was the debut of Ludwig Kleges’ Man and Earth which protested “the rape of nature by humanity”. (The “neo-conservative philosopher” Kleges, although a trained natural scientist, wrote books like The Spirit as Adversary of the Soul damning technology and praising Vitalism.) The hill-side rally was attended by an organization of ultra-nationalist German teachers who: “wanted to replace Christian traditions and myths with Germanic ones. The Holy Land was Germany; the holy symbol the swastika; the holy river the Rhine; the holy mountain the Wartburg.” Youth Movement celebrity Thomas Mann wrote novels combining bizarre sex scenes with negative, orientalised images of Slavic people. Drawings of Neo-Feudalist artist Fidus were movement favourites as were sci-fi novels boosting rural decentralization and anything romanticizing American Indians. The movement’s artistic intelligentsia built on existing traditions within German poetry’s cryptic wilderness-based language – a blue flower symbolized the unknowable; the forest was a synonym for home etc. This literature contained: “one of the constant themes in German writing on nature...that it is seen as a pointer or a path. It goes somewhere. Nature is a teacher.” (182) Ecological-environmentalist thought was evident in the druidical, occultist, and neo-paganist groups popping up across turn-of-the-century Germany. The term “environment” (umwelt) was first used in the modern sense by physiologist J. Von Uckhill in 1909 and gained currency shortly thereafter. Ecology was a widely-used word in German academia and in a broader commercial-cultural field. “Ecology was formulated in Germany and many ‘alternative’ ideas, in the field of medicine, sun-worship, vitamins and homeopathy, came from German speaking countries.” (183)
The devastation of WWI vindicated and animated this social movement because: “the much mocked fear of steamroller pseudo-democracy, of anti-human technology expressed by the critics of ‘bigness’, or urbanism, was to be made manifest, embodied in the mindless mass slaughtering of the war.” (184) The movement’s solution was a return to the simple agricultural life. In keeping with this, and for other reasons, German governments promised small farms to demobilizing soldiers. Inter-war governments improved tenure-security for tenants and drafted plans to settle 250,000 families around the Baltic. (185)
In the 1920s two soil-oriented movement organizations, “Soil Guardians” and “Anthroposophists”, emerged while the overall movement embraced mystic racism. The vehemently anti-Polish and anti-Western Soil Guardians dreamed of settling the German East. Many Soil Guardians were status-less refugees from the eastern borderlands living on handouts or working without pay on estates in eastern Germany. Soil Guardians marched in the thousands chanting: To the Eastland Will We Go. They flew the swastika. (186) Another sub-movement was launched in 1924 when nationalist poet, Count Keyserling, organized a conference at which Rudolf Steiner lectured on self-sufficient farms, the spirit of the soil, and tilling along magnetic lines. (187) Steiner was an Austrian-born Catholic mystic who preached Anthroposophy - a mix of theosophy, Vitalism, astrology, magical magnetism and primitivism. Bramwell leaves out Steiner’s beliefs in reincarnation and in a complex hierarchy of angels and archangels. She mentions neither his extreme racism nor his extensive psychoanalytical research into myth acceptance. In Steiner’s mythology: “the earth was alive: the soil was like an eye or ear for the earth, it was ‘an actual organ’.” He convinced many that eating foods made with modern fertilizers damaged the nervous system. He named his main administrative building the Goethenaum and he chose the pagan fertility goddess Demeter as his symbol. Steiner named his pre-industrial farming method “Biodynamic Agriculture”. (188) At this time the entire reactionary social movement was embracing “Aryanism”. Bramwell attributes this to a “fundamentally sympathetic attitude to North Indian culture, of which Hinduism was seen as variant.” Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian poet, theosophist and nature-mystic “was received with rapture in Berlin in the 1920s.” Tagore was a Nobel Prize winning multi-millionaire whose philanthropy was directed at developing primitive villages in Bengal. (189)
Leading this culture war on the urban front was Nazi ideologue Hans Gunther who inveighed against modern architecture as “the work of nomads of the metropolis, who have entirely lost any concept of homeland”. This was the master frame of the German far right. The problem was “cosmopolitan, heartless, featureless, modernism.” (190) The villain was the capitalist Jew. Gunther’s Racial History of the European Peoples (1927) was widely-read and influenced Darre and other future Nazi leaders. (191) Bramwell summarises:
Walther Darre’s father was a skirt-chasing, boozing Berlin businessman rescued from ruin by his buddy, the Berlin Stock Exchange President, who put him through a training course before dispatching him to Argentina to front an import-export business. Young Walther lived in a Buenos Aires mansion until aged 9 when he was sent to Germany. Aged 19 Darre enrolled in a training institute for plantation administrators and colonist-farmers but WWI interrupted his studies. He volunteered August 1914 and was twice wounded serving an artillery regiment decimated twice over the course of 30 battles. In 1918 Darre joined the violent arch-conservative veterans group, the Free Corps. He joined Steel Helmet in 1922 and the Freedom Party in 1923. (In the 1920s, with the Nazis surging in the south, Hitler ceded northern Germany to the Freedom Party.) During the turmoil following the 1925 death of German President Ebert, and the subsequent election victory of Hindenburg, Darre marched the streets with Steel Helmut chanting: we will hammer the French. Darre’s private letters from this period (but not his public statements) ranted against “Jewry and Parliamentarianism”. (193)
From 1922-6 Darre, his farming dreams thwarted by high land prices, studied animal breeding at university. Much was later made of Darre’s hands-on farming background but his farming experience consisted of getting hired and fired by three farms in 1921. In 1925 he was disqualified for a job with the Prussian Ministry of Agriculture because the position was reserved for people with farming experience. (194) This left Darre, aged 30, supporting wife and child on an allowance from his father. He turned to writing for a career, publishing 14 articles on animal breeding by 1927. His writing career was aided by his joining the “Nordic Ring” – a racist group centered around senior bureaucrat H. Konopacki-Konopath and the Princess Marie Adelheid whom Darre called “little sister and whose children he godfathered. Through the “Ring” Darre attracted financial support from Silesian aristocrat De la Vigne Eckmannsdorf, another champion of peasant culture. This affiliation introduced Darre to more sophisticated forms of peasantism and his writing soon blurred the distinction between peasant and aristocrat with gibberish like: “The lower German is a born aristocrat in character. No one is more recognizably aristocratic than the true peasant.” (195) His first popular article “Internal Colonization” (1926) attacked “dreams of empire” arguing Germany would not regain its colonies nor was this even desirable because foreign colonies undermined the Fatherland. In 1927 (while living with his parents) he wrote The Peasantry as Life Source of the Nordic Race castigating things mercantile, uprooted and urban. He “envisaged a Northern European ‘green’ union, spreading from Holland to Finland” (196) Darre promoted labour-intensive farming and local self-sufficiency as steps toward national agricultural self-sufficiency. As a disciple of Haeckel and Bosche, Darre’s peasantism blended Vitalism, Monism, and Lamarckianism. In the late 1920s Darre published another book and 40 articles including “Pig as Criterion regarding the Nordic and Semitic Peoples”.
In 1928 Darre, co-founded the “Union of Noble German Peasants” and hooked-up with Soil Guardian leader, Georg Kenstler, whose recently launched “Blood and Soil” magazine urged colonization of the eastern borderlands. To Kenstler “Blood and Soil” meant the “integral link between the tribe and the land, a link to be defended by blood if necessary”. Darre helped Kentsler organize a “nationwide network of cells among racially minded peasants”. Darre received financial assistance from Kenstler associate, Paul Schultze-Naumburg, whose estate was a centre for volkish activities and peasantist ideologues. He preached hereditary farms were an expression of divine law. With these people in mind Darre’s A New Nobility from Blood and Soil called for mandatory primogeniture, an end to the sale of land, and a prohibition on farm foreclosures. (197) The aim was a landowner’s state within the state. Younger, disinherited sons of rural landowners would form the militias, armies and city police forces of this future state. The landlord’s state would use food as a weapon against German cities to complete the conquest. (198) Darre thought “land reform” was a conspiracy started by economist Ricardo, an English-speaking Jew. Ricardo’s attack on high rent was interpreted an attack on the peasant. Darre blamed Jews for the Peasant War of 1525. He contended Jews damaged their nervous systems by incessant wandering and were genetically rootless and usurious. (199) Darre drew on the anti-market ruralism of Ruhland and organized study groups around his books which he tried to republish.
1930 began with Darre having sold a few thousand copies of his own books and working without pay for agricultural associations. Bramwell implies this work, which involved travelling the Baltic and Finland, had an intelligence gathering component however it could not have been significant as Darre complained in a letter: “I can’t even afford clothes.” In May, Schultze-Naumburg’s wife arranged for Darre to meet Hitler. They spoke for a few hours. Hitler told Darre to prepare a report outlining “the possibility of a peasant coup, to be carried out by force against German cities.” In June, Darre joined the Nazi Party after accepting an offer to be Nazi agricultural organizer at 600 marks a month, paid by Darre’s publisher.
Because the Nazis did poorly in the previous election Darre’s job was to help build an electoral machine for the party’s rural wing. Towards this end, and to build his own power base, Darre organized the “Agricultural Organization” (AO) within the Nazi Party’s Labour Department. As AO executive, Darre reached out to former colleagues in Steel Helmet and the Freedom Party, and infiltrated farmer’s groups across Germany. All AO men joined Himmler’s Protection Squads (SS) and Himmler became Darre’s main ally within the party. For a deputy Darre recruited Herbert Backe; a ‘Skald Order’ activist since 1910. The Skalds shared the view that profits and peasants were incompatible. Skalds wanted to criminalize migrating to America. Skalds believed: “that soviet rule in Russia could not last, and that in the welter of successor states that would arise from a dismembered Russia, Germany could seize land in the east, and German farmers migrate there in force.” (200) In preparation for the eastern conquest Darre and Backe solicited party funds to establish a Race and Settlement Head Office in 1932.
Darre’s writings from 1930 to 1933 reflected the fact that his AO men were competing with agitators from the German Communist Party. These were hard times for the German rural poor. Half of farming operations were losing money. Darre had to be critical of the big landlords to preserve credibility among exasperated rural masses. He criticized the aristocrats as worn-out and gleefully showed articles written by out-of-the-loop conservatives calling him a Communist. He idealized the small farm and promised security of tenure to tenants and protection against foreclosure to small-holders. (201) In 1932 Hitler declared the Nazis were “the greatest peasant party” and a few months later he approved Darre’s statement calling for a “total change of the agricultural marketing and production structure.” (202)The Nazis called for greater subsidies for egg, grain, and dairy producers. On the other side, the Chamber of German Industry issued a report telling the government to end subsidies and allow market forces to reorganize farming. The Industry Chamber’s: “concept of the peasant as a profit-making businessman able to buy and sell his land at will, was opposed to all Darre and his staff stood for.” (203) The Nazis argued: “that foreign trade and industrialization had been designed by manipulative capitalists to force the rural population into towns”. (204) When the Nazis captured power, the Chamber report’s author fled to America where he “criticized the Junkers for their backwardness, obstinacy, and continued political power.” (205)
Chancellor Hitler appointed Darre: National Peasant Leader, Minister of Agriculture and Chairman of the Council of Agricultural Organizations. Backe became Darre’s deputy. Hitler immediately addressed the German aristocracy’s concern that Darre planned “to divide up the large estates” after the National Landowners Association complained to Hitler about Darre’s attacks on the “agricultural plutocracy”. Hitler ordered Darre to meet privately with President Hindenburg who came representing “conservatives” fearing Darre planned to “destroy the great estates”. (206) Hindenburg left laughing. Weeks later, in what set the pattern, Backe’s plan to level out the agricultural debt burden was decisively rejected by cabinet.
In September 1933 Darre created a new agricultural marketing board, the National Food Estate, which he headquartered in the original capital of the Holy Roman Empire, Goslar. His “dream was to make Goslar the centre of a new peasant’s international; a green union of northern European peoples.” He started a Peasant University in Goslar and held rallies on nearby hill-sides, addressed by Hitler, and attended by up to 500,000 supporters. His Agriculture Ministry received budget increases of 700% between 1934 and 1939 (average ministry increase - 170%). From 1933 to 1944 Agriculture went from being the 8th largest to the 4th largest ministry. Darre was “a prominent and popular figure” holding court in Goslar where “visitors flocked to him” including “organic farming enthusiasts from England.” (207) The court at Goslar listened as Darre “expounded his radical proposals to de-industrialize Germany, to leave the cities to decay, and to concentrate resources on the land.” (208) He championed a “new modernity” for agriculture as it was obvious “the day of mechanized cash crop farming was over.” (209) Darre published ecological articles and had a captive audience for impromptu science lectures. Here’s Darre on the stump in 1935: “our forefathers had always unconsciously venerated trees and other living plants. We now know that plants give out useful and desirable chemicals, so that old plant physiology was unconsciously very efficient”. (210) His books sold in the hundreds of thousands. Every town had a ‘Darre-House’.
Minister Darre was racist activist. He ordered signs placed in town centres proclaiming: “Race is the key to world history”. (Bramwell counter-balances this by alleging the sentence’s original author was a Jew.) (211) Agricultural Ministry publications contained articles on “positive racial education” accompanied with photos of athletic young Germans. He was scandalized by the revelation that a cover-girl on “New Folk” magazine was half-Jewish. Darre, along with Schultze-Naumburg and Princess Zur Lippe, established the eugenicist “Society of the Friends of the German Peasant”. He financed experiments on rats to better understand Jewish nomadism.
Darre kept several Anthroposophists on his staff. Anthroposophy had been boosted back in 1930 when former Chancellor Georg Michaelis assumed leadership of the Society for the Furtherance of Bio-dynamic Agricultural. (212) Bio-dynamic colonies sprang up across Germany including militantly anti-industrial varieties where field workers lived in huts. Darre firmly shared the belief that soil was alive and that industrial inputs eliminated valuable nutrients. Darre and the Anthroposophists viewed the peasant as the biological unit of the body politic. Their goal was “maintaining the Idea of Peasantness”. Darre believed only: “biological-dynamism was compatible with peasant farming. In its complete disavowal of industrial projects – artificial fertilisers, mass-produced grain, insecticides – it rejected industrial capitalism.” Darre: “claimed in public to support organic farming because it seemed the sensible sane way to farm, producing nutritious food without damaging the soil; privately, because it helped the peasant cause.” (213)Darre argued Bio-dynamic made superior food and: “if the scientists and past agricultural teaching cannot explain it that is their problem.” (214)He commissioned a top Anthroposophist to start a bio-dynamic farm at Marienhole. The farm’s journal, Demeter, had the motto: “Health through Natural Living – Harmony between Blood, Soil and Cosmos.”
In 1934, during a ritual at the February Stone, Darre received a memo from Thor. He then pressed to have the Nazi Party declare its opposition to Christianity. This was resoundingly rejected. Darre and Himmler pushed on; using state resources to promote Neo-Paganism. Rosenberg’s diary reads: “the SS, together with the peasant leader, Darre, is openly educating its men in the Germanic way, that is anti-Christian”. Darre sent pagan calendars to every farmhouse to “awaken an interest in the old German religion”. He declared naming house pets after Norse gods was a sacrilege. (215) He protested the closing of the German Order of Druids, arguing Druids were good Germans.
Once in power Darre dropped the talk of the new nobility and he never delivered on his promises to the peasantry. His ballyhooed Inheritance Law (1933) merely gave smaller farms the same protection against foreclosure as the large estates had and legalized pre-existing north German customs of primogeniture. Darre saved face by calling for a voluntary program whereby landowners would provide workers with garden plots to grow their own food. Darre’s Settlement Act (1935) was a further face saving exercise wherein the government gave itself powers to purchase land and create small farms but provided no funds. In 1938 Darre prepared his last reform, the Entailed Estates Law (‘entails’ were mortgage-like attachments on agricultural property to ensure payment of pensions). Bramwell notes this legislations’ importance to 1,400 large agricultural estates mostly “in noble hands”. The German aristocracy “flooded him with invitations”. Darre “was wined and dined by various members of the nobility.” Darre’s law “removed all restrictions on use, pension obligations, life interests, and other barriers to land alienability” thus allowing aristocrats to renege on pension obligations. The law created “more market-oriented behaviour than before” yet was advertized as a death blow to capitalism. He further bowed to aristocratic pressure adding “a protection clause for private forests, to prevent their division and sale.” The number of new small farms created per year inside Germany declined under Darre. (216)
Darre was buffeted as Nazi agricultural policy zigzagged from statist to liberal to statist. In January 1934 Goebbels attacked Darre for not using agricultural resources to help the Nazi winter charity campaign which Goebbels said “played an important role in maintaining the Party’s image as friend of the working class.” Darre’s 47-page rebuttal prompted a meeting where they squabbled briefly before Goebbels stomped out. A poor 1934 harvest left German livestock producers needing to import fodder which Economy Minister and Reichsbank President, Hjalmar Schacht, “the liberal”, did not want to pay for. Pro-production Goring joined the fray submitting a 30 page list of complaints about Agricultural Ministry policies. (217) Hitler stepped in and agreed to meet with Darre and Backe. During the meeting while the two peasantists delivered well-rehearsed pleas for more money for food producers, Hitler read a newspaper. Darre pontificated into the back of the newspaper until Hitler threw it down asking Darre what the “mystical romantic” price of bread should be. (218) Darre did an Olympic 180 degree twist telling the Fuhrer he wanted a low price for bread for the urban worker. Hitler agreed and ended the meeting. Hitler then appointed a price commissioner known for liberal leanings and a willingness to oversee: “the elimination of the inefficient farmer”. However, in 1935 Nazi war-planning led the inner circle to a re-think agricultural policy as they confronted the likelihood of a Germany besieged. Goring summoned 19 ministers for input on a new Four Year Plan. Darre left this meeting elated because Hitler “made a thorough going attack on ‘economic liberalism’” leavingSchacht “perplexed and helpless”. (219)
Goring picked Backe as the Four Year Plan Council Agricultural representative because he thought Darre was a flake as did Backe who further complained: “Darre could not control his staff, who were pretty useless anyway and that Darre had no understanding of economic questions.” Darre was stymied by the economic questions arising from the rearmament-caused labour shortages after 1937. Labour shortages caused acute problems in the agricultural sector and thwarted labour-intensive farming policies. (220) More generally, the surge in industrialization cut against the ideology permeating Darre’s staff. A Darre contemporary is quoted: “the static model of Darre’s peasant policy became deeply affected by industrial and economic growth. Only defensive answers were given to critical questions. A resigned attitude reigned.” (221)
The controversy over bio-dynamic flared at a Battle for Food Production cabinet meeting in 1937. Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess was the main bio-dynamic booster. Goring and Bormann were the most opposed. Bormann did not want Darre’s National Food Estate advisers promoting bio-dynamic. Undeterred, Darre redoubled promotion of bio-dynamic farming methods both within the National Food Estate and the Nazi leadership. Darre dropped Steiner’s mysticism, and changed bio-dynamic’s name to “organic” (organische). In 1940 Darre sent a questionnaire on organic farming to Third Reich Ministers – all but Hitler responded. 7 ministers were openly pro-organic, 3 were unsure, 3 were hostile because of the Steiner link, and 9 were opposed because they feared undermining the war effort.(222)
In May 1941 Rudolf Hess parachuted down ten miles from the Duchy of Hamilton. In Germany this prompted an attack on Hess and his circle. Leading Anthroposophists found their names added to the list of targets in a pre-existing campaign against “confessional and occult circles”. In October 1941 the murderous Heydrich weighed in on the debate writing: “bio-dynamic farming emerged from the spirit of Anthroposophy, and can only be understood in connection with it...Despite its temporary appearance of German Nationalism, Anthroposophy is essentially Oriental in its nature and origins.” (223)
While “oriental” was not a compliment, Nazis had worse insults. The Gestapo closed the Union of Anthroposophists but they allowed its most important arm, the National Union for Bio-dynamic Farming to carry on as the German Society for Life Reform. Regarding the victims of this purge Bramwell lowers a weighty but cryptic bob: “the brave handful of top Nazis, who resisted Heydrich in this matter had their children cared for by Anthroposophists after the Second World War”. (224) The role played by Anthroposophists during the Third Reich is controversial but clearly the purge did not suppress organic agriculture and Anthroposophists remained its principal proponents. Darre, again undeterred, appointed a special working committee on organic farming and continued to personally gather information on the topic. He devoted his last years as minister to organic farming declaring it one of the three areas where he was prepared to “go to Hitler” and fight (the other 2: peasant settlements and labour shortages). (225) Darre had to fight because to Goring “organic” meant production decline. Goring circulated a report from Baden showing the switch to organic caused a 20-25% output reduction. (226) Furthermore Goring and Backe “hated the mystical twilight” coming out of Darre and they further elbowed him out of the cabinet.
Backe wrote a report on Russia’s food producing capacity expressing confidence the invading German army could feed itself with locally-produced food. He overestimated Russian food production and underestimated how few calories a retreating army can leave behind. In 1942 Backe was crying “the entire eastern army must be fed from Germany at a time when the Ruhr potato crop had been ruined by frost.” (227) Nazi agricultural strategy warped under the deteriorating military situation. Policies were improvised, “plan succeeded plan”. (228) The more the war dictated policy, the more Goring, Bormann and Backe called for mechanized scientific farming. (229) As part of Darre’s opposition to this, he wove an elaborate conspiracy theory winding around an alleged secret letter written by an I.G. Farben executive outlining a plot against organic agriculture to protect the chemical industry.
Bramwell tries to distance Darre from activities in the east with a long, absurd argument that his contribution to eastern colonization was actually a preparatory step for settlements within Germany. This is complicated by “Germany” being an elastic concept to Darre for whom “within Germany” meant the Baltic area and beyond. Bramwell admits “it is fair to ask exactly where Darre thought the Baltic ended”. (230)Darre was active in several private-public partnerships dedicated to planting German farmers in the east including one he personally re-organized in conjunction with Duetche Bank. Settlement began in August 1938 with the establishment of the Sudetenland Protectorate. Darre’s staff scoured the area for “a supply of cheap, if not free, land for settlement.” German officials snapped up farmland at 20% market value. (In 1940 Jewish-owned farmland, within the grasp of the Third Reich, was seized at far below market value.) (231) Himmler’s settlement model, which Darre endorsed, called for fortified warrior-farmer villages consisting of 30 farming families governed by a few trained SS men. (232) Settlers were vetted through the Darre-founded racial screening bureaucracy and Darre’s peasantist cultural revival played a motivating role for the colonization project. His patronage of peasant art extended eastward: “The rural architecture of the settlement projects so dear to his heart had to reflect peasant building traditions...Buildings made of local timber and stone, with roofs steeply pitched against the wind and snow seemed more sensible.” (233)
Peasantist symbolism did not translate into support for small farms because the German Army High Command “supported the existence of large estates on the grounds that they were the only effective farms.” (234) The German aristocracy loved peasantist rhetoric but in practice had another agenda: “a different plan was to use the conquered acres of the east to establish large estates on the Prussian pattern, to produce grain and potatoes with hired Polish labourers.” Labour shortages stopped eastern agricultural colonization by December 1942.
“Darre gave himself up to the Allies in Thuringia on 14th April, 1945, and was sent to Spa in Belgium, where he wrote a report on the food situation. He seems to have envisaged the Allies appointing him an interim food minister, and he offered many suggestions about the role of the RNS and food production...Gradually he realized the seriousness of his position.” (236)
Then the organic dirt-bag ratted out his compatriots, or as Bramwell puts it: “His first reaction to his imprisonment seems to have been that he could at last be revenged upon his enemies on the Third Reich, and he was eager to cooperate.” He drew the line at naming SS names. During his interrogation Darre lied about his 1920s membership in the Nazi-puppet, Freedom Party and for that, and other reasons, his American evaluators described him as an “unreliable and untruthful” man who clearly cobbled together a story after his arrest. They found Darre “disingenuous about the racial element of Blood and Soil” and “wilfully ignorant” about Nazi atrocities. On the other hand, they concluded he did not have detailed knowledge of many crimes as he had been outside the loop since 1939, due to his physical illness. His eczema saved his skin. (237) The Americans recommended he be charged with 8 war crimes.
Darre’s trial was named the Ministry Trial because the 22 accused were bureaucrats. Darre’s lawyer, Hans Merkel (from the National Food Estate’s legal department) used his “deeply imaginative streak” to portray Darre as a tragic, King Lear, figure. Merkel presented “a defence that was remarkably blunt and uncompromising by Nuremberg standards. It defended Blood and Soil and the idea of a peasant Germany”. All 22 were charged with 8 counts but “crimes against peace” and “common plan and conspiracy” were tossed out as these men never attended meetings where aggressive wars or genocide were planned. The counts of “membership in a criminal organization” and “offences against German nationals” were also tossed. Darre was found not guilty of “involvement in Jewish extermination” however the court singled out his anti-Jewish statements for censure. He was found not guilty of “ill-treatment of prisoners of war” however his political use of food rations was described as “callous”. He was found guilty of “expropriating land under value”. He was found guilty of the “plunder and spoliation” and “enserfment” of hundreds of thousands Jewish and Polish rural families. (238) In April 1949 Darre was given 7 years minus pre-trial custody. The prevailing sentiment in the English-language press was that Darre got off lightly. Even Bramwell believes Darre was lucky he was not charged with financing genocide because much of the dirty work was done by men whom Darre’s ministry was rewarding with valuable farmland. From Japan to Ireland men kill their brothers for such things. The judges bypassed the Blood and Soil defence saying: “it is not a crime to evolve or advocate new or even unsound social and economic theories”. (239)
In jail Darre was “bombarded” with organic food propaganda from his supporters. Upon release in 1950 he returned to the cause. His first stop was Stuttgart where: “he met an organic farmer, a meeting arranged by the former secretary to the Anthroposophist Society, and he explained his plans to start a German version of the English ‘Soil Association’”. During his last four years Darre was financially supported by Anthroposophists. He was cheered by a 1951 letter from an organic farming expert’s son who, commenting on an East German revolt, claimed: “the spirit of Marienhole still lives and breathes.” In 1952 Darre met the Goslar Town Clerk to incorporate a society promoting “organic ideas, a healthy soil, and care for the homeland”. Darre lined up financing and free legal advice. He was conflicted over his passion for organic agriculture and his fear that his personal involvement might taint “organic” with the stigma of Nazism. Under the pseudonym Carl Carlson, Darre wrote “Peasant and Technology”, “Mother Earth” and other articles attacking “large corporations” for not making machinery small enough for market gardening. He blamed “factory farming” and “exploitative attitudes to the land” for “dissolving ancient forms of being”. Of this writing: “the articles on organic farming were usually inspired by English works, such as those by Sir Albert Howard, Sir George Stapleton, and Lady Eve Balfour although he also referred to the USA’s ‘Friends of the Soil’”. Darre wrote about soil erosion, the dangers of artificial fertilizers and the need to maintain biomass. He wrote an enthusiastic review of Lady Eve Balfour’s The Living Soil. In 1953 as Darre’s health deteriorated the Bavarian Farmer’s Union president insisted on paying Darre’s medical bills out of his own pocket. (240)
Bramwell further advocates for Darre maintaining he believed in only defensive eugenically-oriented racialism and in defensive racial nationalism. (245) To Bramwell Darre was a hero; a purist; a revolutionary who passionately believed the peasant life: “was the most sensible, practical and fulfilled way to live.” (246) Bramwell justifies:
If only Hitler had listened to Walther – “A system of organic farming, if adopted well before the war to allow for the temporary drop in productivity caused by the new techniques, would almost certainly have improved agricultural self-sufficiency”. (248) Maybe we would be speaking German. There’s hope: “It took eight hundred years before the old (Goslar) imperial palace was rebuilt in the nineteenth century: one hopes it will not be so long before the brief episode of Goslar, the National Peasant City, can be exhumed again, examined and remembered...Darre was directly in the tradition of much of today’s ‘Green’ thinking. In his belief in a peasant international stretching from England to the Baltic.” (249) Finally: “it is the core of my argument that one should not let the existence of the uniforms and the swastikas interfere with the evaluation of Darre’s attempt to watch over the inviolability of the possible” (250)
Around the turn of the 20th century, rural England’s decline prompted landowners to come up with creative ways to keep people down on the farm. They needed a return to labour intensive farming practices. Bramwell mentions: “the sight of weed-strewn derelict acres in East Anglia, and other fertile arable counties, common after the collapse in land and produce prices....would not only imply the need for the intensive use of land which small-holder farming entails. Land lay under-utilized everywhere.” (251) One movement strategy was the Back-to-the-Land mobilization. English urbanites were encouraged to form cooperatives and take over rundown farms. Thus: “colonies and private small-holding associations sprang up everywhere. Often located in Southern England and near towns, they were intensively farmed market gardens.” The English Land Colonization Society (est. 1892) created 400 farming colonies. (252)
The Back-to-the-Land mobilization was but one initiative of a broad anti-industrial/anti-urban social movement. The movement was an extra-parliamentary land lobby exerting profound influence on British culture. The movement developed a nation-wide medievalist Arts and Crafts revival and a folk dancing fad which was as ubiquitous as it was phony. Regarding architecture and town-planning, this social movement spawned the urbano-phobic Garden City Movement (renamed the Modernists) who designed projects with the aim of “preserving the countryside, controlling development and shifting the population out of big cities”. (253) The Garden City crowd, and their movement allies, sought to usurp a de facto veto power over land-use decisions. In the early 20th century: “the fact that garden city ideals were incorporated into ‘normal’ politics meant in turn the exclusion of environmental projects that did not fit with the prevailing ethos.” (254)This social movement persuaded Prime Minister Lloyd George to push through the Small Holdings and Allotments Act (1907) which provided a limited amount of funding for agricultural development and a state-financed tree-planting scheme to take land out of production. (255)
During the inter-war period this movement generated a number of peasantist organizations and an academic auxiliary. Dartington Trust was founded in the 1920s to promote “rural regeneration”. The Council for the Protection of Rural England (est. 1928) developed an extensive branch structure of local organizations that were the force behind the Town and Country Act (1932). The Council was joined in 1935 by another sprawling rural network, the Ramblers Association, but both these groups were overshadowed by Montegu Fordham’s innovatively romantic and chauvinist Rural Reconstruction Association (est. 1926). The RRA focused on price supports for British food producers and took credit for the Wheat Act (1932). (Fordham was a movement veteran having written the eco-mystical Mother Earth in 1907. His The Restoration of Agriculture (1945) incorporated British Union of Fascists proposals.) At the same time British academia witnessed “the full development of the group of ideas we call ecologism today”. The ecologists contended that industrial-capitalist agricultural methods had to be abandoned before they caused “total soil pollution”. Ecologists were pro-German, anti-capitalist, High Tories bitterly opposed to the marginalization of the Crown, House of Lords and the Church. Their enemies were the pro-industry, openly Utilitarian, eternally optimistic, “new Jerusalemers”. (256)
Literature from this era is characterized countryside worship. So many writers were Back-to-the-Landers that “artists who tried to make a living from chicken farms in Cornwall became a cliché in popular British literature between the wars”. (257)Countryside literature entered a new phase in 1916 when best-selling romantic novelist Maurice Hewlett penned a lengthy saga on the English toilers of the soil. (Hewlett later joined the fascistic Kibbo Kift Kin.) This genre’s most successful novelist, D.H. Lawrence, was an outspoken admirer of Ernst Haeckel and “extended Haeckel’s interests to cover soil erosion and resource conservation.” Through Lawrence many English soil and nature activists learned of Monism and Vitalism. (258) Lawrence planned Back-to-the-Land communes his entire life. His wife, Frieda von Richtofen, acquainted Lawrence with a German artist colony characterized by a “green proto-Nazism...the distinctive German brand of serious nature-worship and sun-worship”. (259) He called urbanization a “corruption spreading over the face of the land”. However Lawrence, according to Bramwell: “was not a programmatic ecologist, as I have defined it...but (his) detailed perception of landscape, and the people embedded in that landscape, have the total nature defined earlier as essential to the ecological package deal” and: “appear to resemble the language of the proto-Nazis.” (260)
Lawrence’s most political novel, Kangaroo, is a semi-fictitious sketch of John Hargrave. Hargrave’s breakaway Boy Scouts sect combined outdoor activity and youth-recruitment with a pantheist, eugenicist Anglo-Saxon nationalism. (261)
his cult, Kibbo Kift Kin, strove to create: “a national myth, a substitute folk-memory for those destroyed by the false gods of laissez-faire and industrialization.” Kibbo Kift Kin was a “counter-society”; its leaders viewed themselves as a “potential counter-government.” Their uniform was a Prussian Army overcoat. (262) In 1931 Hargrave changed the cult’s name to Legion of the Unemployed and changed their uniforms to green shirts. The Greenshirts were the mass base of a party controlled by an elite “Iron Guard”. Unfortunately for the Greenshirts, Hargrave became too cryptic and occultist. He came up with embarrassing chants like “All is Energy” making the Greenshirts look like a “small fantastic cult of nature-worshippers”. The Legion was renamed Green Shirt Movement for Social Credit in 1933 and Social Credit Party of Great Britain 2 years later. They were beaten in the streets by the British Union of Fascists (BUF). In 1936 both parties changed tactics as uniformed marches were banned.
In 1925 G.K. Chesterton took over his brother’s anti-capitalist “Distributist” journal. Chesterton dreamed of a financial collapse followed by a real Back-to-the-Land movement charging out like “a sortie from a besieged city, sword in hand.” (263). Distributist contributors were Catholic and High Anglican fans of backward towns and primitive businesses. Bramwell takes a swipe at describing this milieu’s world-view:
A visionary within this set was town-planner Patrick Geddes; a biology student under Huxley and a Kibbo Kift Kin activist. Geddes claimed the rural village was the natural human unit. He praised the Back-to-the-Land efforts of Tagore in Bengal and Russell in Ireland. Geddes’ envisioned a continent-wide, Village Eutopia of small towns relying on biological sources of energy. As a loyal ecologist he held to the counter-intuitive theory that rural emigration would be slowed by removing farmland from the market through reforestation. Geddes “ardently believed in Marsh’s theory of deforestation as a contributory factor to the decline of past civilization.” He defended British presence in India “on the grounds the British were best suited to managing the forests and reclaiming the land.” He coined the phrase Human Ecology. His green rhetoric in defence of “the small scale community, for the burgher ‘folk’, was echoed by many twentieth century ecologists”. He too, established a ruralist college. (265)
Rolf Gardiner was a wealthy landowner and son of a famed Egyptologist. In the 1920s he bought a Norfolk estate to farm with pre-industrial methods. He co-edited a book calling for a British-German alliance that was translated into German by the Wandering Bird Bund who distributed it along with a Youth Movement events calendar. Gardiner published the English-language pro-German “Youth” magazine which praised Social Credit economics and folk dancing. (266) He considered the BUF “too lower middle-class and urban”. Gardiner thought national regeneration could come only through an aristocratic-yeoman alliance bypassing the cities and their demonic suburbs. (267) In 1932 he wrote World without End (dedicated to Lawrence) wherein he railed against “the pathetic attempt by suburbia to re-establish itself in the soil”. He quoted Jeffries and Steiner on the need to heel the soil with organic matter. He called for a redoubled Back-to-the-Land movement and more farmer cooperatives. Gardiner thought Brits had to study and respect Nature’s authority: “Here is our whole program, the discipline of organic relationships and organic growth. The study of ecology, in this extended sense, now becomes our most imperative science.” (268)
“Gardiner was enthusiastic about the Nazi takeover” and visited Darre a number of times in the 1930s. He was Darre’s house guest. After the tragic Battle of Britain however, Gardiner went on BBC radio to distance himself from Nazism, explain his support for Darre’s rural values, and protest Nazi misuse of these sentiments. Remaining “a fervent supporter of Nazi rural policies and paganism” after the war, Gardiner corresponded with Darre several times. In 1951 he let Darre know that “the development of the English organic farming movement had been due to his (Darre’s) inspiration.” Gardiner had BUF agriculture expert, Jorian Jenks, send Darre the latest puffery. Gardiner’s dream of a rural university got as far as a small academy of writers one of whom penned The Worm Forgives the Plough during WWII. In the 1960s Gardiner was High Sheriff of Dorset. His daughter married an Oxford Don. His legacy carries on in the Fontmell Magma centre for rural studies and organic farming. (269)
In 1934 Lord Lymington (later Earl of Portsmouth) resigned as Conservative Member of Parliament in disgust at Conservative agriculture policies. His club “English Mystery” morphed into “a similar but more activist group called the English Array in 1936”. English Array was composed of landlords and ex-army officers opposing war with Germany. Lymington frequently travelled to Nazi Germany to visit bio-dynamic farming communities and to hob-knob with Darre. (270) His Anglo-German Review article “Escape from the Slums” praised Nazi de-urbanizing efforts. The readership of English Array’s “New Pioneer” magazine overlapped BUF membership. New Pioneer’s lead writer was Gardiner and its co-editor was a British National Socialist League leader who denounced the BUF as soft on Jews.
British fascists were a motley crew, the “interlocking circles around Gardiner and Lymington spanned British National Socialists, men with ugly haircuts and razor-scarred faces”. British fascism also encompassed: “country gentlemen who wanted peace with Germany and rowdy baronets.” (271) Bramwell, straining to fit facts into her procrustean Europa-sans-aristocrats Middle Earth, grudgingly admits “there were more landowners among the British Union of Fascist membership than agricultural labourers or small farmers”. However, she assures the idea British fascism arose from a “reactionary gentry” is a “fantasy”. She knows this because she is privy to the relevant MI5 files; a privilege she doesn’t share. (272)
New Pioneer promoted agricultural nationalism through exposing “the deleterious environmental effects of imported food”. Readers learned “the collapse of civilizations was due to the soil becoming desert when cities forget the soil on which they are fed.” (273) Lymington’s Famine in England (1938): “prophesied a future of soil erosion and degradation in an England unable to feed herself”. This was one of many soil apocalypses written during this period the main exhibits for which were photos and stories about the catastrophic North American “dust bowl”... yet another myth.
The Devil, readers will recall, left Texas complaining it was too dry for a hell. Early 19th century maps of North America refer to the Great Plains as the “Great Desert”. Droughts are frequent with geological evidence pointing to a dire one lasting from 1605 to 1637. The 1930s were the hottest decade on record in North America and on the plains this heat was accompanied by little rain for years. Due to recent breaking of grasslands dry soil was swept up by prairie winds creating spectacular dust clouds. FDR’s policies of tree-planting and farming advice were of little consequence. Rain returned in the late 1930s and over the next 50 years the soils of the Great Plains, written off as ruined by European ecologists, issued forth the greatest increase in agricultural production in human history. Fascist myth-makers blamed the colonizer’s plough for the drought and “apocalyptic conclusions were drawn from the American experience of the period – the dust bowl, the apparent seizure of an advanced technological society.” (274) To German and British ecologists the dust bowl proved industrialism was unsustainable and vindicated their call for the ruralising of Europe. Fascistic elements within the FDR administration circulated an apocalyptic documentary in the US in support of the myth but farmer’s protests stopped showings. (275)
Lymington’s Famine in England aroused sufficient interest to mobilize an aristocratic-centred association of bio-dynamic farmers and nutrition cranks called Kinship in Husbandry. Bramwell tells of its creation:
In attendance were Lord Northburne, Sir Albert Howard, and George Stapleton, each an author of a book denouncing industrial-capitalist agriculture. The Kinship circle included Dr. Alexis Carrel (later to run a holistic medicine institute in Vichy France) and Oxford Professor Edmund Blunden who lectured pupils that soon Herr Goring would be Protector of England. Under Protector Goring English villages would have blacksmiths again. (277)
Lymington “admitted he was lucky he was not interned under Regulation 18b during the war as happened to various members of the BUF and Anglo-German Fellowship”. (‘Lucky’, some might call it privileged.) While most Brits were in the streets celebrating VE day Gardiner and Lymington were burrowing away in the Soil Association’s foundation. Lord Teviot was tapped to be SA’s founding president. The SA “supported whole food and organic farming decades before such matters became common currency.” (278) Anthroposophists were well represented among SA founders and eager to share their knowledge about the harms of “chemical based agriculture” and the proper moon phases for gathering compost materials. A 1950 SA conference brought over Lymington’s favourite German organic farmers and while the presence of an SS officer was embarrassing it did not keep the conference from laying the groundwork for Anglo-German joint ventures. (279)
The “founder of grassland management science”, Sir George Stapledon sat on the Rural Reconstruction Association board where he rubbed elbows with Lymington, Michael Beaumont (an English Mystery man and Conservative MP from 1929 to 1938) and Hugh Massingham. Stapledon wrote The Land, Today and Tomorrow in 1935 to expose the soil erosion caused by agricultural mechanization and to call for state distribution of agricultural products and the re-introduction of labour-intensive farming. (280) His next book called for a land management commission, with requisitioning authority, to oversee all British land use. In Human Ecology (1944 re-issued 1964) Stapledon heralded the UN as the only organizational system capable of planning an ecologically-correct, minimal-resource-use world. (281)
Hugh Massingham joined Kinship to oppose “rationalized farming”. His utopian vision involved increasing the number of small British farms by one million. He wanted Europe divided into small regional polities. He complained the classics of formal education “entirely failed to be ecological.” His articles in the journals “New Age” and “The Field” attacked the “money power”. (“New Age” was edited by A.R. Orange, the patron of the treasonously fascist poet Ezra Pound.) Bramwell confirms the attacks on the “money power” came from Jew-haters. Massingham blamed the Jews for opposition to an early piece of environmentalist legislation designed to prevent trade in wild bird feathers. He later described his pre-1943 targets as: capitalists, speculators and “traders whom for months we had been pillorying for the knaves and Judases of German Jews they undoubtedly were.” Massingham shelved his “anti-Semitic outbursts” after 1943 and when the Third Reich crumbled he came out calling Nazism “Satanic”. Allied with conservative German émigrés he contended German “farmers and landowners had been hoaxed” by Nazi propaganda which ingeniously “articulated a language that touched the most sensitive nerve of the peasant”. In 1947 a Massingham-edited book on small farms and ecology made a variation on the movement’s master frame. The Problem – the best men were being lost to the land and the best soil was being lost to the sea. The Villains – the fertilizer, chemical and weapons industries that were conquering agriculture. The new Solution was Catholicism. Massingham, a Catholic since 1940, treated capitalism and Protestantism as sides of the same coin. In his Tolkienesque “medieval folk Catholicism” Massingham repeatedly referred to the “rural Christ crucified” and “the peasant destroyed by Rome.” (282)
Massingham was influenced by Nobel Prize-winner and Royal Society Fellow, Frederick Soddy – an Oxford Professor specializing in economic ecology (later energy economics). As a well-versed Comtean, Soddy was an authoritarian pseudo-scientific Neo-Platonist. As well “Soddy was a disciple of Ruskin. He believed that positive science was a myth, and wanted scientists to be ‘responsible’”. Soddy was a Sun-worshipper whose famous insight was that “all energy came from the sun. Coal, wood, food and human energy depended on sunlight.” To Bramwell, this emphasis on the sun as “the internal energy of life” coupled with his belief agriculture was the “key industry” brought him within the definition of ecologist. Soddy believed Jewish bankers undermined the white race by siphoning off precious ancient sunlight. (283)
The BUF’s Jorian Jenks authored articles and pamphlets on agricultural policy. He too wanted all British land managed by aristocratic-dominated “local councils” who would set rents, wages and prices. Bramwell describes BUF land-use proposals as “garden city on stilts”. Jenks and several hundred fellow traitors were imprisoned during WWII. At Fascist-organized prison banquets Jenks drank toasts “to the Land”. After the war Jenks edited both the low-budget “Rural Economy” and the Soil Association’s flagship “Mother Earth”. Both journals had an ecological orientation warning of soil erosion, falling birth rates, diminished resistance to pests and diseases, and declining crop yields. Jenks ridiculed: “the generic attack on ‘backward, inefficient’ peasant farming and the desire for agricultural ‘industrial efficiency’”. He became SA Secretary and a key player on the Rural Reconstruction Association’s Research Committee (“a group which included several ex-BUF members and Mosley supporters”). (284)
The SA high priestess was Lady Eve Balfour (Arthur Balfour’s niece). In 1939 she was given a couple of farms by a sympathetic landlord to launch Haughley experimental farms:
In Lady Eve’s The Living Soil (1944) Middle Earth is covered by “a living organism” called soil. The book poetizes the sun-to-soil web of creativity and attacks monoculture and pesticides. Bramwell concedes the Lady did not marshal much supporting evidence. (286/E216) Lady Eve was active in the SA’s foundation along with “several landowners who practised organic farming on their own estates...including three who had strong right-wing sympathies before the war.” (287) “Mother Earth” was a pivotal publication in helping mobilize and motivate organic farmers and in bringing together suppliers, producers and consumers. Bramwell notes: “Many family farms which have always farmed according to the older ways were helped to survive by SA advertizing and publicity of their products”. “Mother Earth” was a template for French and German knock-offs. (288)
Bramwell’s most deceptive sleight of mind is her selection of Darre as Father of the Greens when there are so many other Nazis worthy the title. Darre was an eco. He was an exceptional “mechanicalphobe” who idealized pre-industrial Europe and proclaimed his “Holy Trinity” as “Peasant, Soil, and God”. (289/B206-7) Like many Nazi intellectuals Darre defined himself as a Naturist and/or Anti-transcendentalist with the latter meaning he believed nature had set limits which technology could not transcend. Here’s Darre the Anti-transcendentalist: “The birch tree never oversteps its possibility. The colony of bees dwells in its possibility....It is one thing just to use the earth, another to receive the blessing of the earth...in order to shepherd the mystery of Being and watch over the inviolability of the possible.” (290)
Correction: the above quote concerning anti-trancendentalism is from Heidegger not Darre.
Nazis in general, incessantly spoke of Natural limits and the “attack on materialism and exploitative technology [was] made by diverse Nazi writers including Hitler.” (291) The Fuhrer was a vegetarian and animal rights supporter. Hitler accused Haeckel’s biographer of diluting ecology to make it palatable to the urban herd. The Hitler Youth were “a nature cult” wherein the “peasantry were the object of deepest emotion.” Hitler’s was the first regime to insist new tree plantations include deciduous trees as well as conifers and “there was a department for wind energy production in the Third Reich which was studying windmill technology till the end of the war, while methane gas plants were seen as an energy source of the future.” (292)
Hitler’s chosen deputy, Rudolf Hess, was a fervent believer in Naturism, Anthroposophy and homeopathy. Hess helped write Mein Kampf and held Nazi membership card #16. (293) Hess’s staff included several leading ecologists whom he directed to draft reports on the need for “organic, ecologically sound land use and planning.” Hess’s top land planning officer called soil “the foundation of the formation of the community”. (294) Hess was an inner-cabinet Nazi until, on his astrologer’s advice, he made his ill-fated flight to the Duchy of Hamilton. Hess hung himself with an electrical cord in Spandau prison in 1987.
Greener than Hess was “influential ecologist”, Alwin Siefert. He was a landscape architect from the Todt Organization specializing in embedding motorways into landscapes – organically. In 1939 Seifert “persuaded Hitler to put a stop to any further land improvement in Germany, on the grounds that drainage and similar projects would ruin Germany’s water tables.” (295) This overrode Darre’s Agriculture Ministry efforts to increase the supply of farmland through moorland drainage. Siefert, as an ecologist, never framed the debate in terms of supply and demand of farmland; rather, he insisted Germany’s water supply depended on wilderness preservation. Siefert pestered Darre with letters outlining the necessity of retaining wild plants and on magnetism’s affect on food production. Seifert called “scientific farming” a discredited 19th century concept. To Seifert, “artificial fertilizers, fodder and insecticides were not only poisonous, but laid an extra burden on agriculture through transport and import costs.” Seifert was adamant German soil was so sick it could be nurtured back only by a return to “peasant-like natural, simple” farming “independent of capital”. He envisioned agriculture without ploughing or weeding. Seifert was greener than Darre. (296)
Another candidate for Father of the Greens is Hermann Goring. He grew up in a castle, married a Swedish baroness, and spent WWII in a sumptuous palace surrounded by a 100,000 acre estate. He was an early member of the Nazis, wounded in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. He held a variety of posts: Air Force Commander, Four Year Plan Trustee and successor designate to Hitler. Typical of the aristocracy, Goring was a hunting fanatic. He was the Reich’s Chief Huntsman. His “devotion to the chase” led to him to clashes with Darre’s Agriculture Ministry who defended farmers from pro-hunting, crop-damaging policies. Goring, favouring forest over field was on the green side of this debate. Goring threatened to personally murder a forestry official for suggesting local farmers be allowed to cull a rampaging wild boar herd. His first act as a cabinet member was to rush through new gaming laws which were the most hunter-friendly in the world. In 1937 Goring organized and hosted an International Hunting Exhibition attended by thousands of wealthy hunters; a community Hitler referred to as “the green Freemasonry”. Goring outlawed culling methods like trapping which he viewed as cruel and unsportsmanlike. He created a legion of game officers each a dedicated Nazi and animal lover. As Prussian Prime Minister he rushed through anti-vivisection laws and broadcast his intent to throw violators into concentration camps before the law passed. As Air Force commander he discontinued the cruel practice of using animals to test weapons; he used people. (297)
Goring’s Forestry Office created nature reserves and landscape protection areas across an already well-forested Germany. He poured resources into species preservation and into the restocking of lakes. He spent an inordinate amount of time reviving German bison and elk herds. Goring preached “the forest is God’s cathedral”. (298) At this time, 90% of state-owned Prussian land and 80% of local authority-owned land across Germany was under forest. By the end of Goring’s rein 40% of Germany was a forest. The existence of this surplus land did not stop the drive for more land because: “despite the general belief that Germany was desperately short of land, land with trees on it was seen as sacrosanct. Not only was it not planned to cut down trees, but landowners offered to exchange their arable land for publically owned forest.” Forest protection was also a ground for war: “German spies in Poland in 1937 saw an outbreak of pine bud mite, which destroyed vast tracts of forest along the German-Polish border, as tantamount to an act of war – the Poles had not only taken their trees, they had neglected and destroyed them.” (299)Goring reforested large portions of conquered Polish territory. Almost as much land (500,000 ha.) of confiscated Polish farmland was allocated to reforestation as was allotted for German agricultural operations (800,000 ha.) (300)
Upon arrest Goring was completely defiant. He shouted down prosecutors and defended every action of the Third Reich. He was sentenced to death but committed suicide moments before his appointed hour. They cremated him at Dachau and threw his ashes in a trash can. (301)
The winner of the Father of the Greens award is....Heinrich Himmler. This vegetarian was a professional farmer with a religious passion for soil. He was an early member of the Nazi party; another Beer Hall Putsch veteran. As SS Field Marshall he was the second most powerful man in the Third Reich with virtually all police forces under his command in addition to the SS Army which eventually rivalled the regular army. He was in charge of concentration camps and the mobile death squads. He was the principal architect of the extermination of Jews whom he viewed as invasive species to Europe.
Himmler was an extreme mystic believing in astrology, mesmerism, herbalism and homeopathy. (304/Sny146) He was a practicing Neo-Paganist and so enthralled with Asian mysticism he sent the SS to Tibet to find Shangri-La. He cloaked the SS with pagan symbolism. The oak leaf was their emblem. (305/B89-90) Rosenberg believed Darre was responsible for Himmler’s religious views but Himmler held these beliefs prior to their acquaintance. Like Darre, Himmler’s core doctrine was Blood and Soil which he thoroughly “percolated through to the SS managerial level”. SS recruitment brochures read:
To infiltrate the SS into the Agriculture Ministry and National Food Estate Himmler recruited men like Dr. Kummer whoaimedat “restoring the pre-1918 status quo”. Bramwell notes: “The upper echelons of the agrarian lobby, such as, for instance, all (State Peasant Leaders), had always been encouraged to join the SS.” Central to the SS mobilization were promises of free farms in an East to be ruled by a caste of racially homogenous German landowners. Himmler began his racial-segregation and eugenics campaign 18 months before the Nazis took power by creating a Racial Office within the SS to ensure farmers were of proper pedigree. Prospective spouses of SS men needed clearance. In 1937 Himmler, after receiving “a barrage of requests” from SS men for farms, directed SS commanders to form corporations and scoop up lands made available by his closure of Catholic orders. Himmler and Kummer ran their own settlement program using state funds and seized land. (307) SS farmers understood “the superiority of organic farming methods as opposed to artificial fertilisers”. Himmler’s land-planning officer called for the criminalization of chemical fertilizers. Produce from SS-run farms and market-gardens was usually organic. After the invasion of Poland Himmler dispatched Race and Settlement officers “in search of farms that could be farmed organically”. (308) The largest, most commercially successful organic farming operation was the SS-owned German Research Institute for Nutrition and Food which grew bogus peasant-medicinal herbs in fields around the Dachau death camp. Thousands of inmates of both genders and all ages worked in all types of weather under guards instilled with sadistic bravado. Exhausted workers were drowned face-down in puddles. (309)
Bramwell seeks to distinguish Darre from Himmler. Darre was merely a “racial tribalist” while Himmler was “an imperialist with romantic racial overtones”. Darre was nationalistic and pre-industrial while Himmler was the Pan-European and technocratic. These alleged differences did not prevent the two men from remaining good friends; referring to each other as Richard (Darre’s nickname) and Heini. (310) Moreover, the Nuremburg judges found Darre’s “differences with Himmler were the result of power struggles, not of ideology.” (311)
But to Bramwell, Himmler was different:
And what was the master plan?
In 1945 Himmler slipped into British controlled Germany in disguise. Under interrogation he identified himself and swallowed a cyanide pill. Himmler was the worst Nazi. Himmler was the greenest Nazi.
In addition to the systematic rounding up and killing of Poland’s Jewish population, large areas of rural Poland were cleared of people to make way for German-owned farms and German-managed forests. Millions of Poles were simply shot and buried or conscripted into labour battalions never to be seen again. Lest anyone be in denial, here is Encyclopaedia Britannica:
Here is an official US government account:
Bramwell defends Nazi activity in Poland on the ground that the area in dispute was formerly, and hence rightfully, German land. Bramwell claims ethnic Germans were wrongly driven out and that the Poles owed them compensation. She stresses: “German claims of ill treatment of their minorities in the intra-war years in Poland was not a figment of Nazi imagination”. (She admits the Nazis perpetrated a diabolically effective hoax in September 1939 issuing fake news bulletins graphically describing thousands of ethnic Germans being slaughtered in Poland. These lies drove the German people into frenzy.) (316)
The ethnic Germans who did leave the borderlands after WWI were joined by hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans fleeing Russia and the Baltic area. This influx increased the demand for land. Bramwell quotes a Police Chief arguing the 10,000 refugees, under his watch, should be first in line for Polish farms. (Betraying her Lamarckianism Bramwell claims some Germans lost their peasantness and hence: “turned out to be especially difficult to settle in farms, and in December 1940 Himmler ordered them to be put into labour battalions instead.”) Shortly after the invasion of Poland, Hitler established the National Commissariat for the Strengthening of Germanness to coordinate SS and Agriculture Ministry settlement programmes. Darre’s sub-department, the Race and Settlement Office, drew detailed maps of Polish areas slated for colonization. By 1940 35,000 German farms had been established in the east, mostly in Poland where Darre and Himmler were building a blonde province. According to Bramwell, by 1941 100,000 square kilometres had been set aside for the Germans who “heard the call of the Fuhrer and returned to the Greater German homeland”. (317)
There was a conflict among the Nazi elite regarding Poland. Darre, and rank and file SSers, wanted to populate Poland with hundreds of thousands of small, diverse, German-run farms. Aristocratic Nazis had a goal “of making the Wargenthau (western Poland) a haven for German upper-class landed gentry, using Polish labourers.” Bramwell quotes one SS report, siding with Darre, arguing that only the use of German agricultural labour would make the area racially German. Darre used statistics showing the superiority of the small German farm in fat and milk production to aid his case that: “only the peasant could make the Wargenthau a German country – he (the peasant) alone rendered the Polish labourers redundant.” The other side countered that “even if every centimetre of Polish land were to be farmed by the Germans, the population [of Poland] would still be only one quarter German” because some German farmers needed Polish labour and because millions of Poles lived in towns and cities. By 1941 Goring got Himmler to agree to structure Polish settlements into large operations using Polish labourers to harvest monoculture grain crops and maintain herds of pedigree cattle. Goring ordered the consolidation of Polish “dwarf farms” and the creation of a modernizing agricultural class. Goring’s proposals met “the demands of wealthy men who wanted farms...something stressed by the Wehrmacht.” As merciless as Goring’s policies were, they were not as harsh as what Darre was proposing. Goring wanted to exploit Poles. Darre wanted them gone. (318)
In the early 1940s the SS expelled the occupants of Poland’s “dwarf farms” causing hundreds of thousands of additional deaths. Although only comprising a few hectares, the “dwarf farms” were roughly the same size as many viable German market gardens. The “dwarf-farms” destroyed were precisely the ‘Blood-and-Soil’, low-tech multi-generational farming operations that the Berlin bookworm Darre and the rest of the peasantists had been praising for decades. Bramwell uses these farm’s smallness and backwardness to justify the expulsion of their occupants. Bramwell argues these clearances were somewhat defensible because “Poland was virtually an agriculturally undeveloped land”. (319)
he quotes a Nazi administrator trashing the rural Poles as “primitive, poverty stricken and filthy”. She implies that in light of past British-American imperial activity the Nazis were entitled to a “you did it too” defence. To these fightin’ words she entertains the argument “the Poles brought it on themselves” by displacing Germans in the first place. (320)
Bramwell has a habit of asking the reader up to six questions a page. Poring over Gestapo files must fill one with a craving to interrogate. Don’t let them drag you to chapter 9 of the second volume! There Hannah barks questions while plunging the reader’s head into a bucket of Heidegger. It’s traumatic, all I can remember was Heidegger saying: “technological domination spreads itself over the earth...the thingness of things...the shoes vibrate the silent call of the earth...” and “...the evil and thus keenest danger is thinking itself...” (321)
It was within Heidegger’s critique of technology and consumerism that many defeated English fascists took refuge after WWII when “ecological ideals lay dormant for a period” (322). Sadly for this lot, 1945 was not 1815: “there was no restoration of the ideals of sword, honour, church and tradition.” Instead: “in the bombed out ruins of Europe those who linked ecological values with the Right began to re-think their positions, and retreat into pessimistic isolation.” (323) Movement diehards kept the fire burning but:
Gone was the talk of re-taking the land sword in hand. The landed interest returned to quiet lobbying for farm subsidies, price supports, marketing boards, the protection of marginal hillside farms, and various local land use restrictions. Bramwell approves of this strategy because: “the structure of agricultural marketing and land use was possibly more relevant to the preservation of the countryside.” (325)
In 1949 a group lead by ecologist Professor Charles Elton (who “extrapolated from animals to man in his interest in preserving a stable and balanced environment”) successfully petitioned the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature to establish the Nature Conservancy Council. (326) Bramwell does not use this event to launch into the NCC’s history or that of its sister organizations, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and World Wildlife Fund – two environmentalist power houses. Writing a history of these groups would involve a lengthy treatment of Prince Philip and Prince Bernhard; the men who made the WWF the worlds’ largest and most effective environmentalist organization. Thus in a trilogy chronicling the 20th century European land lobby Bramwell does not name either of the two men who led the respective British and Dutch land lobbies during the pivotal period.
British environmentalism’s core consists of conservative, rural-preservationist, low-membership, low-profile lobby groups. These groups are attacked by the “agribusiness, medicine, and chemical industries” for being occultist and Anthroposophist. The larger periphery of British environmentalism emerged post-1970 and consists of mass membership urban-left groups, some with electoral pretentions. In the 20 years following WWII the English environmentalism was a collection of right-wing cliques of elitist country gentlemen stuck in “muck and mystery” and anti-Semitic conspiracy mongering. (327) Hence “by 1960 nothing could have seemed more irrelevant to the diagnosis of Britain’s ills than environmental projects” and “pollution was low on the list of complaints.” This political marginalization of the landed conservatives led to a: “fantastically wasteful programme of city centre development and public housing programmes.” (328)
After WWII aristocrats no longer marched under the Peasant banner, rather they came representing an equally deceptive social category – the Middle Class. Even with that innocuous name it was not easy being green because: “environmentalist’s claims were in general weakened by the public perception of them as cranky, right wing, middle class, irrelevant and ‘selfish’...the term NIMBY, meaning ‘not in my back yard’, had not been invented, but if it had it would have been used continuously.” (329) Worse for the movement “there was a tendency to interpret attempts to conserve the countryside as the selfish response of a threatened landowner class.” (330)Bramwell repeats several times: “as long as environmentalism was perceived as a middle-class-orientated movement, it was unlikely to succeed.” (331) In response, English environmentalism took on “the prevailing colouration of radicalism”. (332) In her words:
And again: “environmentalism had to move left to become acceptable to the media and to grant-givers who help form public opinion and whose support is essential in forming the seed-bed of new political movements.” (334)
The social movement behind the Clean Air Acts (1956 and 1968) was neither new nor populist, rather:
Similarly, the sudden popularity of “ecology” in the late 1960s conceals the efforts of ecological societies chartered a half century earlier. Alongside the quiet post-WWII re-networking of local land-use mafias, the organic farming movement spawned several pressure groupsand continued to build its core, for-profit, commercial constituency.Churches and philanthropies long active in the land preservation struggle returned to the fray. The Rowntree Trusts provided substantial seed money and other support for both Friends of the Earth (FoE) and Greenpeace. (336) FoE founder, former Sierra Club executive, David Browder, became a principal environmentalist spokesperson. Bramwell condescendingly describes FoE as a pressure group using good-humoured demonstrations to promote recycling and bio-degradable food wrap. (337) “Environmentalism”, “ecology” “organic” and “green” were the catchwords chosen by the landed elite to mobilize a parallel urban social movement. This mobilization required movement strategists to broaden and nuance their rhetorical repatoire such that post-1965: “the main issues stimulating ecological concern were resource fears; population fears; anxiety over destruction of the rural landscape, trees, plants and animal species; air pollution; water pollution, especially from agricultural and nuclear power.” (338)
The late 1960s British student activist wave did not have an environmentalist contingent. Student activists tended to be leftists and anarchists embedded in anti-nuclear and anti-war coalitions. Within a decade many of these protesters would be environmental activists. (339) British environmentalism also absorbed “Celtic nationalism” and “feminist exclusivism” into sub-movements. (340) By 1972: “the explosive mixture of conservative values, enshrined in an agriculturally based world-view and the more radical finite resource economists and scientists, had already formed, and it was this mixture that was to dominate British environmentalism for the next decade and a half.” (341)
For the movement to succeed: “the media had to present ecological issues seriously”. Fortunately for the movement, the media: “was helped to do so now by well-organized, massively-financed conferences, conference reports and press releases from authoritative sounding bodies. The mixture of vague alarm about forthcoming doom and convincing statistics extrapolated from current experience proved irresistible...the media now dealt with intellectuals who spoke and understood the jargon of growth.” (342)Bramwell says nothing of the 1950s mobilization of organizations and personalities behind this massive finance. Media hysteria deflected public attention away from mundane local land-use squabbles and onto apparently more urgent global environment problems. According to Bramwell: “it took the globalization of environmental issues to make them more acceptable, to make them seem relevant”. (343) The Think-Global-Act-Local strategy succeeded. Preserving “countryside values” became guilt-free and scientifically endorsed. Half this battle was fought by international organizations like the Club of Rome and the United Nations Environment Programme who used the mass media to create a “crisis atmosphere”. The other half of the battle was fought by professional grassroots activists and volunteers whose brains were filled with global doomsday propaganda while their bodies were movement foot-soldiers engaged in parochial land and water use battles. This global-local pincher strategy endured. “Sustainable Development started off as a global concept, but in practice is being developed at micro-level, by local authorities and municipalities, since governments cannot grasp the nettle of zero growth of population control.” (Emph. added) (344)
Overlapping the drives for restrictive land-use policies and generous agricultural subsidies, the social movement lurking behind British environmentalism had high on its agenda: the containment of London and the suppression of coal. Environmentalists argued that concentrating people into London was inherently wasteful and merely a convenience for industry. Londoners, as megalopolians, lost their sense of ecological responsibility because they were too detached from their resource use and waste. (345) The motives behind the movement’s coal policy were far from ecological. “By 1972 the political power of the (coal) miners was such that their strike helped bring down the second Conservative government of Edward Heath.” (346)In addition, the British military-industrial complex wanted to replace coal-fired electrical generators with nuclear plants in order to defray the costs of developing the nuclear bombs and depleted-uranium armour and ordinance that no serious state can be without. The political conundrum was that the uranium-industrial-complex was precisely the sort of giant industrial undertaking with far-flung mining and milling operations and toxic by-production that environmentalists condemn. Opposition to nuclear energy began in 1958 and was soon entwined with the debate about stationing of nuclear weapons in Europe. In Britain the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) joined the peace movement to forge a formidable anti-nuclear force by the late 1970s. To counter this in the early 1980s the reformist environmentalist movement and the nuclear lobby developed the global warming myth to facilitate the replacement of coal-fired plants.
The war on coal was an opportunity for British environmental “entryists” to establish a beachhead within the British Conservative Party’s controlling mind. Prior to this, environmentalists had been systematically “entering” Conservative Party constituency associations in southern England where the party subsequently assumed a leadership role in opposing new land development. The Tory ‘Wet’ faction was connected to the Rowntree Trusts. (347) Bramwell’s term “entryism” is leftist lingo meaning the surreptitious infiltration of an organization with a view to capturing, or changing, it. Leftists used “entryism” to capture labour unions, peace coalitions or other leftist sects. There is a big difference between “entryism” conducted by small, poor leftist parties and “entryism” conducted by a social movement larger than all British political parties combined:
Bramwell is defensive about British environmentalist entryism: “Greens have to be moles in Britain, because of the two-and-a-half party system”. Environmentalist entryism affected all major British political parties. Bramwell notes “there has been growing ‘entryism’, especially within the Liberal Party and middle-class Labour constituencies.” (350)The Liberal Party being based in the Celtic fringe of the countryside was always green. The British National Front embraced environmentalism in 1984 and much of the racialist-nationalist scene followed. (351) Entryism, coupled with media manipulation, accounts for “the resounding success of the integration of environmentalism into Britain’s lobbying system”. (352)
In the early 1970s some environmentalists became convinced entryism and lobbying were not the best way to go. They wanted an exclusively environmentalist party. The leader of this faction was Edward Goldsmith, of whom Bramwell speaks highly:
In 1972 Goldsmith organized the “Movement for Survival” – a coalition including the Soil Association, the Henry Doubleday Research Association, the Conservation Society, Survival International, and Friends of the Earth. The Journal of the Soil Association’s editor resigned to work full-time for Goldsmith. (354) The Movement for Survival was “committed to act at a national level and if need be assume political status and contest the next general election.” For this purpose they formed the ‘Ecology People’, soon renamed ‘Ecology Party’, to reach out to “disillusioned” conservatives wishing to “escape the old class-based framework”. (355) Their manifesto the Goldsmith-edited Blueprint for Survival (1972) mixed familiar “resources are finite” and “the cycles of nature are disrupted” arguments with blazing endorsements from “upwards of a dozen assorted scientists, economists or public figures” (albeit “few of them had any expert knowledge of the matters under discussion”). Blueprint proposed draconian cutting of populationnumbers to prevent ecological catastrophe. Addressing England’s appalling overpopulation required a special police force and restrictive immigration laws. Finite resource extraction and mechanized food production were declared inherently unsustainable. Blueprint called for an end to road-building and a nation-wide conversion to organic farming. The Ecology Party contested local and national elections throughout the 1970s with some local, but no national, breakthroughs. After 10 years and with party membership at 5,000, they changed their name to the Green Party. (356) Green struck a chord in England where it is the colour of both the countryside and a national pagan deity - the Green Man of the Woods. The name change did not work any electoral magic. Their best tally, by far, was a 15% share of the British vote in the 1987 European Parliamentary elections. The media could install movement frames into the public mind but could not shift voting behaviour. Bramwell explains: “the media may have helped to whip up support for Greens, but the nitty-gritty of Green policies is not terribly relevant to tender images of animals and wilderness.” (357)
Although uncritical of Goldsmith, Bramwell is hostile but hopeful about the Green Party. In the 1980s the Party divided between a majority faction of urban Red-Greens and a minority of “more conservative Goldsmith supporters, who wanted holistic science, a return to strong family values, and who were opposed to feminism and open national boundaries.” Red-Greens are public sector employees seeking subsidies for fuel-wasting, half-empty government-owned airplanes to fly around in. Even with the Red-Greens dominant the Green Party did serve the larger movement as a useful hub with 80% of party members belonging to environmental organizations and 50% belonging to the CND. Bramwell was encouraged by the Greens 1989 conference where they acknowledged the European Community as a fast effective forum for promoting environmental regulation. (358) Bramwell supports the shift from British to European strategizing because environmental rules coming out of European institutions are more stringent and better enforced than national regulations. (359)
Moreover: “The combination of green clout and a policy-making process where the Commission does the work and the Council is a rubber-stamp means the British Greens could, at one jump, find themselves in a position to do some effective lobbying that would have taken years if not decades within Britain itself.” The EC: “provides a parallel political platform, more effective than the British one, the body is capable of massive regulatory intervention”. Like other Green Parties, British Greens tapped the EC for cash – “funds available for research and studies into environmental pollution have naturally been courted.” (360)
The 1960s wave elevating environmentalism nearly capsized the Soil Association. Pre-1965 the SA’s “strongest influence came from Anthroposophy, and many members believed in vitalism and holistic science.” They self-defined as Vitalists and were contemptuous of orthodox science. Pre-1965: “in so far as there was a political ethic it was that of stewardship, with the mildly feudal overtones that implies. Values, and the need for individuals to fight for those values and live according to them are stressed. Most SA members also believed in alternative medicine, communes and crafts; many were vegetarians.” But “the dearth of mildly feudal and charismatic leadership” within the SA was such that in 1969 Barry Commoner became vice president. Commoner was a hip American “leftist” whose appointment tilted the SA towards trendy green issues like global resource scarcity and Third World development. “Mother Earth”, renamed “Journal of the Soil Association” in 1968, published favourable articles about Mao Tse Tung and advocated very small farms (60 ha. was too big). (361) Worse for traditionalists, Ernst Schumacher became the SA’s senior executive in 1971. Bramwell dislikes this pre-WWII German refugee. Putting the jackboot on the other foot, she attributes his hostility to capitalism to his ethnicity and accuses him of embracing Romanticism and “other Eastern values which characterised German ecologism”. (362) Schumacher’s scarlet letter was his role as adviser to the National Coal Board:
In 1965 Schumacher’s Intermediate Technology Development Group “caught the media (if not public) imagination” with its promotion of low-tech alternatives to Third World Westernization. (364) He was “a moral leader enunciating a creed”. He claimed the Burmese were happier than Americans. His Small is Beautiful (1971) “became a cult book all over the world.” To evidence her assertion that Schumacher’s popularity resulted from bias within “the opinion forming classes” Bramwell contrasts the attention “opinion formers” lavished on Schumacher with their neglect of E.J. Mishan whose books were written at the same period and on the same topic with the difference being Mishan’s “unashamed appeal to values”. (Mishan’s books were re-issued.) (365) Schumacher then founded the Schumacher Society (SS) – a “Green umbrella organization and alternative voice in Britain”. The SS “seems to have expunged the older conservationists from its memory”. In 1986, of its 105 recommended books only 4 covered organic farming and only one was by an old-school ecologist – K. Coomaraswamy (a Lymington colleague) whose appeal to Schumacher was his past as a Jain monk. The SS reading list was mostly Jungian mysticism, American anarchism and feminist-exclusivism. (366)
In the late 1970s “under the later guidance of Secretary David Strickland the Soil Association reverted to its original preoccupation, organic farming.” Under men like Strickland: “with persistence and amid growing publicity about the harm of pesticide residues and food additives, the health food movement began to expand.” The 1988-92 environmentalist media blitz was a major boon for the SA and the rest of the global organic foods industry. The SA and one of its benefactors, the Henry Doubleday Association, circulated mountains of agitprop on the harmfulness of chemical-based agriculture. (367) Anthroposophist merchant banks were established across Europe. (368)
The lobby is mightier than the party. The problems facing any independent Green party are symptomatic of an underlying social fault – “the determination to be democratic and indulge in the minutiae of party manipulation has prevented natural leaders from playing their obvious part.” She does not name these “natural leaders”. One suspects they wear elaborate hats. The problematique is: “values-based cultural criticism cannot be reduced to a programme because it is too individual, too personal and, in the end, too hierarchical.” (369)
From her 1993 vantage point, the frontlines of the movement were the struggle to restrict immigration and finish off heavy industry. She sounds like a British National Party supporter:
She is bitter about policies treating the UK’s “poetical Celtic minorities” so preciously co-existing with policies allowing a massive influx of non-British people onto the island. As well, as a reformist environmentalist, she has sights set on “paternalist policies in Britain that sustain what were formerly coal and iron communities – polluting industries gradually discarded by market forces.” (371)
Bramwell only takes us to the early 1990s and hence does not cover her hero Edward Goldsmith “anti-globalization” mobilization which dominated movement politics for the balance of the decade and beyond. On the Continent several assemblages associated with Goldsmith played crucial roles in this drive. One organization was the Movement for France led by the Catholic reactionary nobleman, Philippe de Villiers, who was brought to prominence by a $3.5 million gift from James Goldsmith. De Villiers was part of a murky network encompassing the Belgian Neo-Fascist Vlaams Bloc, the Pan-European ‘Synergies European’ and GRECE (a think tank associated with the French National Front) all of whom worked with Goldsmith against “globalization”. Each of these organizations, or subsidiaries of them, published ecology magazines. Goldsmith’s Neo-Platonist opus The Way was compulsory reading within this element. Goldsmith was assisted by his long time ally Antoine Waechter who founded the French Green Party in 1974 but quit twenty years later complaining it was too leftist. ‘Synergies’, by the end of the decade, had chapters across Europe integrating into the ecology, regionalist and spiritualist sub-movements. Amongst their many goals is a Europe “liberated from the worship of the Jewish God” through a return to the solar cult. In 1994 Goldsmith was the guest of honour at the 25th anniversary of GRECE; an event attended by a potpourri of Neo-Fascist clubs. In 1998 GRECE launched “Return to the Forest” to bring together environmentalist and neo-pagan organizations. By this time Goldsmith’s Ecology magazine was carrying ads for the anti-Semitic fanzine Nexus. (372)
The Allied makeover of West Germany included distributing new textbooks. The Allies burned German biology books because: “the ‘biologic’ point of view that saw man as one with nature had been part of the tradition encouraged by the Nazis” and “‘human biology’ was held responsible for the Nazi’s racial creed”. The Allies wanted: “to purge the intensely ideological ‘nature-loving’ aspect of biological education that had been encouraged by the Nazis. Biology was to follow the methodology of an exact science such as physics and chemistry and take a low priority compared to them.” In pre-1968 Allied-dominated German culture: “any talk of holism, or love of nature that adduced certain values from nature and strove to adapt humanity to those values was suspect” and sowas “the discredited rhetoric of land and folk.” (373) Specifically: “prior to the late 1970s, Greenness was seen as incipiently sinister conservative or even Fascist idea in German thought.” (374)
On the other hand, there was no concerted effort to suppress either German organic farming or more cautiously worded forms of radical conservatism. Anthroposophists thrived commercially, advertizing themselves through low key but persistent vilification of modern agricultural technology. In the 1950s ‘Demeter’ resurfaced as a multi-faceted marketing brand name for the burgeoning German organic foods and herbal remedies industries. While outright Nazi propaganda was censored, anti-industrial preaching from the likes of F. Junger swam through the net. Starting in the 1940s Junger wrote books and edited journals on “alternative” ideas culminating in a widely-read 1970s manifesto listing every potential ecological disaster. By the 1960s W. Siedler was distributing an array of anti-technological publications. (375)
The movement’s mass mobilizing in Germany began after the mass mobilizations in the English-speaking world. Bramwell stresses: “ecological issues re-emerged in mid-1970s Germany as a conservative cause.” (376) Modern German environmentalism began with the publication of the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth (1972) which sold 500,000 copies inside the country. This was followed by the equally popular Plundering the Planet (1975) by Club of Romer, and Christian Democratic Union parliamentarian, Herbert Gruhl. Utilizing the hype around Gruhl’s book his followers began networking with another green milieu growing atop the anti-nuclear movement. (377) In 1978 Gruhl resigned from the CDU to lead Green Action for the Future. Green Action attempted to herd the urban anti-nuclear, anti-American, anti-patriarchal activists whom Bramwell thrice calls “middle class” before casting them down as “school teachers and civil servants”. (378) Bramwell chuckles over urban-leftists embracing a philosophy so “unrelated to the old working-class left politics”. Environmentalist mobilization was countered by Social Democrats and trade unionists who mobilized to kill emissions legislation in 1975 and organized a massive demonstration in favour of nuclear energy in 1976. Thus by 1979, save some air and water pollutions laws, environmental regulations were “thin on the ground”. (379)
The 1968 German student protest scene was not green but leftist. Many in this scene referred to the Anthroposophists and their allies as “the fascists”. (380)
To Bramwell the German Left was “a highly organised phenomenon” staging rallies where “the ghost of Stalin hovered over the crowd, directing them with his invisible baton...in zombie-like obedience.” (381) Nevertheless, this protest scene proved “a fertile seedbed of later Green activists”. Some 1960s activists first appeared as left-anarchists or New Leftists attacking “bourgeois ethics and materialism” only to reappear in the 1980s “suitably embourgeoisified and prosperous” and running the Green Party. (382) A water-cannon of green propaganda pounded German students. From 1972 to 1982 the youth cohort was converted from being generally undecided about technology to being 70% openly hostile to technology. (383) As in the 1920s, the 1970s propaganda implanted into young minds an “end-of-the-world mentality”. The extent of the social re-engineering is evidenced by the fact that in 1970 there were no “alternative life-style” newspapers in West Germany while by 1980 there were over 200 independent “alternative” publications offered for free in West German cities. (384)
The German Green Party emerged in the late 1970s out of Citizen Initiatives. The CIs were originally formed to campaign around local development issues. They were “middle class and a-political” societies who held meetings, wrote letters to the editor, and circulated petitions. Membership in CIs formed exclusively for environmental campaigns grew from 300,000 in 1977 to 5 million in 1981. Most environmental activists were recruited into the anti-nuclear CIs whose leadership, in 1977, began steering away from mass demonstrations toward taking advantage of Germany’s proportional representative electoral system. The first ‘Green List for the Protection of the Environment’ ran in Saxony, under the chairmanship of a well-known ecologist and veteran CI campaigner. They received 3.9% of the vote. (385) The next Green List began as an association of conservative farmers from Schleswig-Holstein. (386) (Bramwell mentions: “some German Greens have claimed that they took up ‘nice’ or ‘soft’ left ideas to differentiate themselves firmly from old Fascist ideas”.)In Hamburg the conservative Green List competed with an Anarchist-Feminist-Communist ‘Rainbow List’ for the protest vote. The Rainbows garnered 3.5% to the Greens 1%. The first Berlin ‘Alternative List’ was Maoist dominated. Historically illiterate New-Left-Anarchist types joined the Greens only to discover “with some irritation that others had got there before them: Conservatives, Anthroposophists romantics and farmers and worse.” In their minds: “the ecological train belonged to the left but had been hijacked by the conservatives.” In 1979 500 delegates drawn from various “green lists” convened to found the Green Party in time to participate, with funding, in national and European elections. Founding groups included a right-wing alliance of Anthroposophists (Third Way), Herbert Gruhl’s Green Action, the Schleswig-Holstein Green List, the Green Alternative List and the Action Association. Criminal Neo-Nazi cells infiltrated the Green Party from the get-go. The Greens 3.2% vote share in the 1979 European Parliamentary elections entitled them to sufficient funding to set up offices across Germany. (387)
Bramwell bemoans how the German Green Party permeated European environmentalism in the 1980s. They were (and remain) the largest, best-financed Green Party. Urban Green parties benefited from free publicity Bramwell complains was never extended to environmentalism’s rural wing. She believes the party was never as green as their name because it was led astray by opportunistic urban left-liberals for whom environmentalist proposals were just trendy election promises. The German Green Party was full of New Left clichés about capitalism collapsing. They exhibited: “the sad fact that ecological movements have been given impetus and organization by the recent left-wing entryism.” (388) Bramwell expands on this:
Civil servant and veteran anti-nuclear activist, Petra Kelly, quit the Social Democrats for the Greens in 1979. Bramwell describes Kelly as naive, emotional, crude, and phony. Kelly was chairperson of the Green Alliance and later house-speaker for the Green Party (1983-4). She resisted cooperation with Social Democrats, continued extra-parliamentary activity in feminist and anti-nuclear street demonstrations, and organized disruptive heckling in parliament. In the 1983 national elections the Greens won 30 seats. In the Kelly gang’s 1983 manifesto only 5 of 46 pages dealt with “environment and nature”. Equal space was allotted to Third World issues. The manifesto called nuclear energy a threat to democracy, military safety, and human rights and an avoidance of the real problem – “the constant increase in consumer consumption”. The manifesto opposed electrical advertizing, trucking, most uses of the automobile and all new road construction. It supported alternative energy but also: open immigration, welfare increases, wage subsidies, full employment and the nationalization of the steel industry – policies Bramwell contends are not remotely environmentalist. (390) Contradictions were inevitable because German Greens: “ran into a problem that was to dog development of Green party politics elsewhere: conflict with ‘old left’ working class supporters of left parties...hard hat types who were not sympathetic to the dream of reversing industrialization.” (391)
The party’s split between “realists” and “fundamentalists” was really a split between “urban left-wingers and nature-loving farmers”. Gruhl broke from the Greens in 1981 and took many supporters with him. He espoused a conservative ecologism and allied with Christian Democrats and parties further to the right. His Green Action carried on the cause using recycled paper not the “glossy Gucci greenness” of the Greens. (392) One leading fundamentalist was celebrity East German dissident, Rudolf Bahro, whose best-selling book Bramwell concedes is incomprehensible. Bahro considered utilitarian-capitalism “the death drive of the Northern White Empire”. He denounced: “the industrial system, the dynamic of capital, the European cosmology, patriarchy i.e. the whole mental drive of the spiral of death”. He viewed reformist environmentalism as resulting from industry cooptation and hence as a betrayal of the ecological ideal of actually rolling back industrialization. (393) He resigned from the Greens in 1984 and jetted to the USA. By this time the Greens had lost those members who wanted nothing to do with policies that “had nothing to do with ecology”. (394/E221) On the other side, the urban-oriented Greens rejected the conservative’s policies as being the “sentimental and reactionary promoting (of) rural life and the value of county living.” (395)
The German Green Party was but one organization swimming in a massive social movement mobilized after an “increased ‘Green awareness’ of the German establishment.” Enveloping this mobilization was this German establishment’s unprecedented ‘acid rain’ media blitz which by 1984 reached 99% of the German population brainwashing 75% of them into believing German forests were dying. (396) The propaganda played on German’s “deep rooted love of forests”. Forests cover 1/3 of Germany. In 1984 the Israeli Ambassador to Germany complained air pollution news stories contained restructured descriptions of gas chambers. The Ambassador accused German environmentalists of “wanting to write out of history the Nazi murder of the Jews”. On this Bramwell blithely quips that apparently: “by some, Greens are seen in danger of breeching one of the main conventions of Western democracy since the war, the centrality of the Jewish experience under the Nazis.” The acid rain scare was eclipsed by the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the hysteria around which further bolstered the overall movement. (397) A higher level of hysteria came during the global warming propaganda campaign of the early 1990s.
Unification hurt the Green Party revealing fundamental flaws in its socio-political world view. In the December 1990 elections West German Green support dropped dramatically while the East German Green Alliance received only 1.6% of the vote. East German environmentalists allied with Christian Democrats fared better than those allied with the Greens. (398) The German Government, breaking its own laws, pretended the Greens received 5% of the vote to preserve their funding. Whereas many West German Greens had leftish roots East German Greens were vehemently anti-communist. The left-liberal western Greens “lost some of their illusions” when they met the “hard-headed Greens in the East.” (399)
Nazism continued to haunt German Greens “who feel unease at some of their ideological forebears.” (400) The issue flared in the late 1980s when a faction representing “an element of old folk nationalism within the Green Party” produced a pro-peasant poster loaded with Nazi symbolism – sunflowers and acorns. (401) The issue had not diminished by the 1990s: “German Greens were, and are, particularly worried about the pre-war link between Nazism and rural rhetoric and anxious to avoid being tainted with right-wing thinking of any kind.” (402)
Bramwell accurately foresaw the German Greens would become a permanent minority party with many nice leftist policies and a diluted environmentalist agenda. She likes some Green realists like Joschka Fischer who became Hesse Environment Minister in a coalition government in 1987 and went on to be German Foreign Minister. (406) She praises realist Green, Otto Schily, a lawyer raised in the Waldorf way by his Anthroposophist father. Otto’s brother founded Germany’s first private university. (407)
All European Green Parties were divided between young members with leftist collateral beliefs and older supporters holding traditional right-wing positions. The Austrian Green Party was notably conservative and focused exclusively on conservation issues. By the 1990s: “Green parties have flourished in Northern and Central Europe, in a wedge stretching from Finland to Austria to Belgium.” Greens outnumbered Communists in the European parliament by the mid-1980s. (408) The Belgian and Finnish Greens peaked at 7% in the 1980s then stagnated. This path was followed by other Green parties who then engaged in the compromising politics of coalition courting. In the early 1990s European Parliamentary elections support fell for the Greens everywhere except for Luxembourg and Ireland. (409)
Bramwell repeats the phrase “the fall of the Green Parties” as though it were a fait accompli by 1993. What “fell” was the likelihood of a Green Party winning a national election. Green Parties fell: “because the established political parties, together with international agencies, took on board those environmental programmes and criticisms that could be incorporated into established, institutional forms of political life.” (410) Bramwell implies mainstream parties got their ideas from the Green Parties and not from the larger social movement which created Green Parties in the first place.(411) National Green Parties outlived their usefulness to the forces behind the Pan-European reformist environmental movement. By 1993 reformist environmentalism was a semi-institutionalized social movement in Germany, Britain and the Netherlands and focused on mobilizing state resources to pressure the EC and UN.
Bramwell gloats over Petra Kelly’s corpse (and the other one) lying in her apartment for three weeks: “No visitors, no calls. Like old ladies who had had a fall in the bath they lay there.” Kelly, the poor dear, “had become alienated from the world” and “disillusioned” bythe “virulent reaction against Western liberalism” prevailing in post-unification Germany. Kelly’s refusal to abide the Green Party’s leadership-rotation rule brought her close to a break with her party. In Bramwell’s requiem Kelly remains a feminist culture shocker who luckily caught the anti-nuclear wave. Kelly was charisma, not substance. Kelly’s “dehistoricizing” process which began with her American upbringing was “completed by a period at the bright new European Commission”. Bramwell briefly mentions Kelly’s “surprising link with Gert Bastion” and her “salacious” relationship with Sicco Mansholt. (412) Bramwell grants many were suspicious about the murder investigation. She does not say:
Bramwell knows little of America. Her history of US environmentalism consists of several book reviews including one by a man who waxes on the liberating affect of wearing bell-bottom pants. On the central preservationist-conservationist dichotomy she has the definitions reversed. She does not use the word “philanthropy”. Her analysis has little educable value. She relies on movement historian John McCormick to inform us that: “between 1962 and 1970 saw the transformation of the environmental movement into a powerful force...especially so in the USA a country he sees as leading organised environmentalism.” (414) He believes Carson’s anti-pesticide tirade Silent Spring released in 1962, was the start of an American-led social movement! This is well-juxtaposed aside a quote from fascist Lord Lymington’s autobiography: “by 1928, I was probing the problems of Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ and leaping by instinct rather than knowledge towards some of her 1962 conclusions.” (415) Carson’s basic argument was far from new.
Late 1960s US environmentalism was an organizational field incorporating bureaucratic conservation organizations, stuffy New England faculties, a back-to-the-land commune movement, and hippies. Many hippy communes were self-described ecological colonies about which Bramwell comments:
Bramwell dwells on a favourable media pictorial on hippy communes showing “row after row of blonde, thin, hairy heads; small, tow-headed children were rocked by their mothers”. (417) Hippy politics were: anti-pollutionism, anarchism and occultism. One: “New Mexico commune established in the early 1970s, of the authoritarian ecological type, followed bio-dynamic organic gardening techniques”. The colony maintained a library of ecology books. (418) A novel circulating in this element, published in California in 1966, envisioned an Eco-Nazi takeover of the Americas followed by the herding of Indians into gender segregated tree-planting camps to restore ecological balance. The novel explains how car manufacturers destroyed public transit. (419) Bramwell does not mention that California’s premier Eco-Nazi sect, Charles Manson’s eco-terrorist ATWA, dates to this precise period.
The prophesies of re-ruralisation in Charles Reich’s The Greening of America proved false; as did the apocalypses by American enviro-crusaders Paul Ehrlich and Barry Commoner. Such books were ubiquitous 1966-1974. Joining the “reputable scientists” were American eco-feminists who excavated the Bronze Age matriarchy myth from 19th century German Romanticism. Also in the parade were Murray Bookchin’s social-ecologists – a small anarcho-communist sub-movement fully dependent for justification on the eco-apocalyptic master frame. (420) The writings of Peter Singer revived an animal rights movement which Bramwell sidesteps thusly:
American environmentalism also had a profound impact on the Left. Late 1960s student radicalism was a leftist-anarchist-pacifist medley not environmentalist. As the radicalism burned off: “many leftists in Berkeley exchanged the proletariat for the environment as their new god.” (422) Some heralded Ol’ Karl as the first ecologist. (423) Not everyone in the Left agreed. Bramwell summarises: “Indeed, the 1970s saw a battle between Marxists and pure ecologists. Ecologists were suspected of being unreliable in their predictions, inspired by a bourgeois protest against pollution, and eco-fascist...” (424)
Not all fascists hide. Bramwell tells us briefly: “There exists still a group of Indian Nazis who believe that a Hindu-German alliance would save the world from pollution and industrialization. Indeed, neo-Nazi movements in general all seem to have been inspired by a strong ecological input.” (425) She adds a passing comment on modern ecology magazines put out by the German radical right. This is no surprise, Ecologists/Neo-Nazis/Neo-Pagans: “are all anti-capitalist, anti-growth...they believe that a decomposition of nation-states boundaries will remove the causes of war. They oppose the market economy on principle and object to man’s attempt to escape from the laws of nature. They favour a long-term view. They have apocalyptic expectations of desertification and mass famine. They support a return to tribal society...” (426)
The New Right (Neo-fascists) of France, Italy and Belgium found common ground in European environmentalism’s anti-Americanism. To out-of-the-closet Neo-fascists: “opposition to environmental pollution and landscape destruction is an automatic part of their values.” Neo-fascists, like environmentalists, are anti-colonialists. Neo-fascists use socio-biological arguments stressing the importance of race and culture. Both the New Right and the environmentalists advocate devolving Europe into a hundred ethnic enclaves. (427) However, the New Right is less spiritual than the environmentalists and not so opposed to trade. (428)
Italian “environmentalism” surfaced circa 1950 led by the arch-conservative Italia Nostra – a heritage lobbying organization with an elite membership networked into establishment groups devoted to landscape protection, historic monument preservation and assorted land-use issues. Rescuing Palladian villas was the mobilizing cause celebre. Around 1970 this movement brought on board urbanites of the “typically proto-ecological subculture” (disaffected youth, anarchists and “neo-oriental religious groups”). Italian leftists also took up “causes such as worker health, which easily led to a commitment to environmental preservation.” The transforming opportunity was the 1976 accidental dioxin release by Seveso Chemical after which the Italian green scene blossomed with “ecological” organizations fronted by legitimizing “intellectuals who had a scientific background”. (431) When the Italian Government then announced plans to build 20 nuclear plants the two wings of Italian environmentalism, the Italia Nostra types and the urban groups formed a coalition with a strongly worded charter. The Italian environmental movement thus became unusually united and capable of cooperating closely on hunting and nuclear referendums. Their Green List culled a respectable 600,000 votes (2.1%) in the 1985 election. Also within this scene: “Eco-terrorism in Italy appeared in the late 1980s in a particular political context, namely a passive and non-militant left and an extreme right-wing movement dedicated to terrorism, after a period of relative quiescence in violent or direct action.” However, generally, by the 1990s the Italian political dynamic vis-à-vis environmentalism stagnated, with: “the old working-class left defend[ing] its jobs and plants against the environmental demands of the new left and middle class – a phenomenon that appeared briefly in Germany.” (432)
Post-WWII East European states, reflecting the Nazi experience, had constitutional clauses declaring the exploitation of nature essential for humanity. This political climate led to few environmental laws being passed before a 1960s Cold War thaw. The thaw coincided with a spurt of environmentalist activism with “concerned scientists” from East and West issuing joint pronouncements albeit less apocalyptic and more concerned with public health than Western environmentalist pronouncements. When the thaw ended Eastern environmentalists were locked in lunatic asylums. (433) The Czech Spring of 1968, as with previous uprisings in the East, did not have an environmentalist component. The surge of Eastern environmental activism began mid-1980s and: “everyone knows environmental protest was a major factor in pulling down the ruling communist regimes”. (434)
West European greens blame capitalist greed and mindless consumerism for environmental problems. East European greens blamed socialist state planning. Czech greens opposed their government’s development of mechanized monoculture grain production. Polish greens called the construction of a steel-works near old Krakow, a Communist defacement of Polish heritage. State-driven industrialization and road-building were decried by Slovakian greens as an “attack on their landscape and way of life”. Bulgarian and Hungarian environmentalists were nationalistic peasantists whose “smuggled-out dissident literature” mourned destroyed villages. Eastern activists “wrote movingly of the importance of the peasant to the nation” and about “the peasant’s religion, folkways and buildings and care for the land.” (435) Bulgarian greens were spiritualist technophobes expressing a disgust at industrial pollution rivalled only by Scandinavian Deep Ecologists. Bramwell marvels at the mythological base of these emotions. Bulgaria was a pre-industrial country without industrial pollution. (436)
In the 1980s the UN, in conjunction with the British “Green Alliance”, developed and disseminated data on East European “acid rain” and related cross-border, anti-coal canards while: “Greenpeace and other pressure groups published data, guesstimates and anecdotes from dissident groups in the East which revealed an appalling state of affairs.” NATO-state academics of “all political persuasions” were paid to help local environmental dissidents “who tried to keep records albeit with inadequate equipment”. Alarming stories about industry-caused health crises and pollution-damaged historic buildings were spread via word-of-mouth campaigns and through low-budget journals. Cross-border pollution myths predominated. Polish environmentalists protested air pollution drifting in from East Germany and Czechoslovakia. Romanians and Bulgarians squabbled over pollution to a shared river, aptly named the Ruse. East German power stations and Czech mining operations were accused of raining acid down on Europe’s forests. Across Eastern Europe: “environmentalism, therefore, became the focus of a general political syndrome of dissent, which included many members of the ruling system, the apparatchiki.” The breaking opportunity was the Hungarian government’s announcement of plans to dam the Danube. Anti-dam protests were organized by Budapest University professors and students who emphasised the dam’s threat to the Danube’s cultural, historical and international value. Protests compelled the government to hold a referendum on the issue. The government lost and cancelled the project - an Eastern European first. The anti-dam protest movement reorganized into the Hungarian Green Party in 1990.
In the West a blowback occurred because Western use of an environmentalist critique on the East enhanced the legitimacy of environmentalism back home, particularly in the US. In their eagerness to score propaganda points against the Soviet Union, Americans made full use of East European environmentalist disinformation. Bramwell recalls “the press in the USA and in Britain was full of reports of the extraordinary level of environmental damage” in the Soviet bloc. Affirmation of the environmental problems of Communism became a loyalty test. Western politicians were trapped for “clearly pollution in Eastern Europe could not be ignored as the invention of a lot of tiresome Greens. But if pollution was real, was a concrete phenomenon, in the East, how could it be ignored in the West.” (437)
After the sweeping changes of 1989-91 “saving the environment” became a rationale for Western Aid programmes to the East. Administering these programmes was a boon for “pressure groups and non-government organizations who had begun to work with industry and found they could offer expertise and contact with East European activists.” Modernizing East European industry was big business. Greenpeace and the Green Alliance “were especially favourably placed” to participate as were other European reform environmentalists “who were evolving specific programmes for industry”. (438)
Bramwell has a poorly edited chapter on the environmental movement’s radical flank – the Deep Ecologists. Sometimes she uses the terms ‘Green’, ‘Ecologist’ and ‘Deep Ecologist’ as distinct categories; sometimes as synonyms. She describes the Deeps as “the most consistent and least democratic of ecological theorists”. The Deeps preach eco-catastrophe is inevitable and humans are responsible. They reject “sustainable development” as too utilitarian; too humanitarian. (439) They assert the survival of wilderness is more important than the survival of humanity. (440) Deeps reject conventional political parties and lobbying. They oppose mainstream environmental organizations because these groups implement reforms buttressing a system the Deeps believe should be allowed to collapse. (She mentions “anecdotal evidence from the USA” of reformist environmental lobbying being undermined by Deeps.) Deeps argue: “if democracy cannot solve pollution problems and prevent the greenhouse effect, then ‘new forms of government’ should develop that can do so.” To this Bramwell quickly adds: “the word ‘new’ is a formulation often used to obscure meaning or veil a lack of meaning and its frequent use is a characteristic the Greens share with the pre-war European Fascists.” (441) Bramwell is impressed such an extreme ideology became popular and speculates that Deep Ecology was designed to fit a psychological need for religion. In many East European countries Deepish environmentalism is the only flavour on offer. She suspects Deep Ecology will continue to grow and sees it is a threat to reformist environmentalism.
Norwegian Arne Naess coined the concept Deep Ecology in 1972 and his writings are central to the Deep sub-movement but not that far from regular ecology. Philosophically, Naess: “attacks the mainstream of European philosophy – Descartes, Bacon – for the same reasons ecologists attack what they claim is the mainstream of European science, arguing that it is mechanistic, analytical and reductive.” Naess’s contempt for Western thought “appears constantly in the works of ecologists”. (442) Deeps suffer the same love-hate relationship with science as does the rest of the environmental movement. Nevertheless, “writers on deep ecology give their work a scientific gloss, using terms drawn from theoretical biology or cybernetics, and illustrating them with graphs and models. (443)
Naess extols local democracy as a block to industrial development as though ‘locals’ are always anti-industry. His anti-capitalist diatribes about uprootedness ignore the fact that “even the rooted peasant has proven surprisingly apt to wander about, even if only to the nearest stretch of vacant land.” Most damningly, Naess was soft on communism. Bramwell notes how seldom he wrote about East bloc pollution even though he “attended conferences in the former Soviet Union and should have observed the situation there, and might even have searched for information from protestors on the spot.” She makes the connection – the deeper the green, the less the anti-Soviet rhetoric. Thus Bramwell “smells a rat” and accuses Naess of opposing, not pollution and resource depletion, but the West itself. (444)
(Bramwell mentions Edward Goldsmith’s billionaire patron-brother James but has nothing to say about Arne Naess’s wealthy brother. Erling Naess made a fortune in the whaling business in 1920s and 1930s before transitioning from whaling tankers to oil tankers. He received financing from J.P. Morgan & Co. in 1946 and formed a consortium with the Rockefellers in 1954. His innovation was flying flags of convenience. He was a founding executive of Intertanko (1970) and soon ran the consortium. In the 1970s there was a surplus of tankers with 20% of ships sitting idle, thus Erling pressed to have older tankers decommissioned using their potential environmental hazard as a rationale. This campaign benefitted from high profile oil spills. The US Justice Department had an extensive file on Erling and were close to, with Congressional support, charging Intertanko with monopolizing the tanker trade. Erling died in 1993. The Intertanko syndicate now owns 2,900 tankers – two-thirds of global capacity. Fear not, Intertanko is committed to “a fair and competitive market” and to environmental protection.) (445)
Leading Deep Ecologist Bill Devall teaches people to “think like a mountain”, “sing like a river” and “become one with the earth”. The main Deep symbol is a guru meditating on a mountain. They believe meditating in the wilderness brings superhuman powers and insights. Also the: “metaphors of the earth mother and father rapist that permeate deep ecologist literature are Oedipal; they show the urge to kill the father and marry the mother.” (446) Bramwell reminds: “the Nazis presented themselves as the victimized, oppressed, ravaged woman figure, one with the forests and with nature, exploited by the demonic capitalist system.” (447) Deep propaganda comes in canoe-loads of “noble savage” fantasies. Bramwell believes the historical illiteracy of Deeps is essential to keeping their sub-movement alive. (448)
Bramwell denounces Deep Ecologists as extremists. “They genuinely want to reintroduce the lifestyles of the Palaeolithic tribe”. She mocks their contradictory advocacy of both a return to the Stone Age and the formation of an international techno-state to police growth and trade. (449) Deeps characterize the fight for rights for trees and wildlife as being similar to the struggle for rights fought by blacks and women. They propose a constitutional amendment that: “wildlife must not be deprived of life, liberty or habitat without due process of law”. Bramwell opposes extending human rights to “lettuce” arguing non-humans have no rights but humans have duties. She sees the fight for tree rights operating against the fight for human rights. Talk of allotting rights to nature is not even remotely utilitarian or humanitarian, but the product of an irrational, religious mindset. Bramwell says of Deep ecology: “Consciously or otherwise this is a death-wish. We are not talking here about eschewing food additives and colouring matter, whole food in a whole land, as were the earlier ecologists, but something different – and deathly. (450)
The Deep Ecologist-Eco-terrorist connection is obvious: “Direct action groups are a predictable consequence of a religious ideology. Deep ecology is such an ideology.” (451)Deeps cultivated the doctrine of civil disobedience furthest in Scandinavia however American Deeps are the most violent, followed by the Italians. Germany has violent eco-groups as does Britain – primarily animal rights activists. (452) Most environmentalist civil disobedience is predicated on the notion of having “a state which is fundamentally on your side” and as such it would not have worked for British ecologists during WWII. She continues: “the ecologists’ belief in effective civil disobedience implies a certain trust in the state, trust and resentment, an attitude that parallels that of youth to its parents.” The typical Deep has a personality like that of an “angry disenfranchised child”. Bramwell gets cruel, calling the Deeps urban-based “Holiday Ecologists” merely “vacationing in nature, yearning for community, before returning to their protected lives as children of the state.” (453) Deeps are shallow!
In 1993 Bramwell predicted: “the next hundred years will be the century of the global ecologist” (454). Other predictions from Bramwell: “in the process of rationalizing environmentalism, of costing it, of playing trade wars with it, our concern for the intangible beauties of the natural world, our entirely specieist love for the most intelligent animals, may go by the board. (455) In other words, this social movement is a chameleon temporarily lounging on a leaf. Atmospheric controversies will soon cloud over. Similarly: “the cultural criticism dimension of Green ideology is not likely to go away, but is likely to be further marginalized possibly dissolving into disparate occultist, matriarchal feminist and other similar groups.” (456)In addition, the movement’s future is in the UN and other transnational organizations.
The growth of the UN as an environmentalist resource is tracked by the growth of its use of the term “sustainable development”. The phrase “the sustainable use of the environmental” circulated in the 1970s until the IUCN abbreviated it to “sustainable development” and led the charge to plant SD into the UN. By the 1990s “the commitment to a sustainable economy, has attracted a remarkable degree of consensus among the great and the good.” (457)Even though SD is a widely-used phrase there is no consensus on its meaning. To the Brundtland Commission’s Our Common Future (1987) SD was a directive that the world’s government: “shall maintain eco-systems and ecological processes for the functioning of the biosphere, shall preserve biological diversity, and shall observe the principle of optimum sustainable yield in the use of living natural resources and eco-systems.” Environmental economists twisted SD toward meaning the “valuing qualitative aspects of the environment in aesthetic and spiritual terms.” A 1989 OECD study revealed dozens of different SD definitions. A World Bank paper complained SD remained operationally undefined thus confounding Bank enviro-economists who encountered problems in “costing” sustainability. Other phrases such as “carrying capacity” or “generational equity” also lack operational definitions. The vagueness of these slogans has not prevented governments and businesses from dedicating departments to promoting them. (458) To the Centre for Our Common Future in Geneva and the World Resources Institute (Washington, DC) SD means “environmentalists must be given a major say in planning” through strengthening and expanding of Environment Ministries as in New Zealand where Environmental Ministry assessors are placed in every government department.
SD has two strong, and two weak, principles. The strong principles relate to stopping the depletion of natural resources and improving global equity. The weak principles call for using more renewable resources and for state monitoring of national resource use and waste absorption capacities. The “strong” principles are a platitudinous black hole. Implementing the first “weak” principle engendered colossal recycling and alternative-energy industries now employing millions. The second weakling led to the establishment of environmental accounting offices in every modern state. The UN’s World Bank and United Nations Environment Programme developed ‘satellite accounts’ using “national resource accounting” to help countries undertake inventories of resource and “biological accounts”. By 1993 the World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction, and European Investment Bank were using SD Thought to select which projects to finance. The World Bank likes “complementary projects” i.e. compelling mining companies to establish tree plantations in order to get financing. The Institute of World Economics in Kiel is seeking the implementation of a global SD court to allocate liability for global pollution. (459)
Many environmentalists believe SD and economic growth are incompatible. They counsel zero-growth, ‘steady-state’ economics. Their challenge is to prune the desire for growth in lesser developed countries or, if growth is to be allowed in developing countries, then off-setting this growth with de-industrialization elsewhere. Amongst other initiatives, implementing the SD agenda involves re-framing Nazi propaganda. In lesser developed countries “Jew” has been replaced with “White Man”. The movement is active: “in the Third World demoniz[ing] the ‘white man’” and the “white capitalist” and promoting “a racialist viewpoint with idealist overtones.” Environmentalist tirades against globalization and the white devil’s technology fan opposition to industrial growth. (460)
Serious SD requires a “critical load approach” i.e. basing pollution caps on academic assessments of soil, air and water tolerance levels as opposed to relying on observable environmental damage. Scandinavian critical loaders set the tolerance level of Scandinavian soil to acid rain at zero. Bramwell argues Dow and Monsanto are not committed to SD because they are not committed zero emissions. Enviro-economist Hans Opschoor wants “total environmental pressure” taken in account and believes SD means “the use of relatively rare non-renewable resources should be close to zero”. Hans dreams of a world where “accumulated pollution in air, sea or soil is not permitted.” In 1991 the Dutch Environment Ministry, “anxious to prevent further exploitation for minerals”, concluded each Earthling should be allotted a CO2 emissions “ration”. (461)
Bramwell comments: “towards the end of the 1980s, the environmental movement abruptly moved out of the shadows into the forefront of political consciousness throughout the West.” (462) Environmentalism was not “in the shadows” before the late 1980s it was the already the world’s biggest social movement. But she was correct in writing, circa 1993, that “support for environmental causes has grown, and reached unprecedented levels”. (463) She laurelizes this triumph with a Maoist metaphor about the “long march through the institutions” undertaken by 1970s radicals who by the 1990s populated newsrooms and classrooms. (She borrowed the Maoist metaphor from top Lutheran, and ardent environmentalist, R. Dutschke.) (464) The march ended when US Vice President Al Gore “published a bestselling book on global Green philosophy that encapsulates all the rhetoric of the Green activist”. (465)
The 1988-92 environmentalist mobilization was primarily a media blitz. She chuckles: “for TV programme-makers, the troubles are all man-made; the virtues are all natural.” (466)Greenpeace-style ‘save-the-whales’ campaigns caught the public imagination. The media implanted the movement frame of “a valuable and beautiful rural world is being laid waste”. The media blitz, like the 1968-72 one targeted youth. This appeal to youth is important in Europe where the old remembered fascist rhetoric and symbolism while those: “who were born one or two generations later came newly-minted to the desire for cultural values, for roots, national memories, and the mystic symbols of ancient tribes.” (467)Sociological studies on environmental values in Germany and the US concluded: “the younger, the greener”. Nature worship fosters a generation gap because: “when one learns from nature, as opposed to learning from one’s parents, one learns something new and different”. (468)
Environmentalist entryism moved into the international arena. The UN’s ‘jurisdiction’ over oceans and cross-boundary environmental issues made it the optimal forum for promoting “wildlife protection, nature reserves, deforestation, soil and air pollution and issues concerning the sea”. (469) Thus UN organizations were targeted by the international environmental movement as part of their ongoing “strategy of capturing global institutions and using them to enforce ecological reforms.” (470) Bramwell muses about: “the advocates of Third World self-sufficiency are happily moling away in the World Bank...securely embedded in the very system they attack.” (471) At the same time a “quiet revolution” was underway “in the interstices of institutions”, between environmental organizations and multi-national businesses. Circa 1993 thiswas where “the real development of environmentalism was going on”. (472) This quiet revolution was heralded in Green Capitalism (1987) which promoted “pollution control pays” as a slogan and claimed certain big businesses realize “environmental management is a powerful corporate tool for improving efficiency”. After much movement work: “Industry [was] beginning to adopt environmentalist policies, and it is the largest companies that are the most anxious to do so.” Amongst international businesses: “the most radical corporate thinking on the environment is taking place in European and North American chemical giants.” (473)Reformist environmentalists work with industry and concede some need for economic growth.
SD was enshrined as a policy aim in the European Commission’s Fifth Action Plan (1992) and its implementation became job one for the Pan-European reformist environmental movement. (474) Thus by 1993 the baton was passing to:
The role environmentalists played in the ‘Velvet Revolutions’ gives Bramwell confidence Eastern states would soon find it difficult to sell landfill sites or use banned pesticides. West European protectionism, and promises of EC membership, will force Eastern states to impose environmentalist policies. (476)
So impressed were they with Ms. Bramwell’s work on Walter Darre that Oxford University awarded her a Ph. D. and Yale University agreed to publish her next books. Over 80% of the text of the three books consists of biographical information about, direct quotations from, and paraphrases of the opinions of the following men: Walter Darre, Auguste Comte, Sir Albert Howard, Count R.N. Coudenhove-Kalergi, D.H. Lawrence, Dr Alexis Carrel, G.K. Chesterton, Alfred Rosenberg, Friedrich Nietzsche, J.R. Tolkien, Count Bernhardi, Edward Goldsmith, Hermann Goring, Rolf Gardiner, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Rudolf Bahro, Sir John Ruskin, Bill Devall, Count Arthur Gobineau, Herbert Gruhl, Knut Hamsun, Heinrich Himmler, Richard Jeffries, Count Keyserling, Sir Oswald Mosley, Ludwig Kleges, Patrick Geddes, Frederick Soddy, Hans Gunter, Arne Naess, Ernst Haeckel, Rudolf Hess, Konrad Lorenz, Robert Graves, Jorian Jenks, Julius Evola, Herbert Backe, Sir George Stapledon, Oswald Spengler, Hugh Massingham, Julius Langbehn, Alwin Seifert, John Hargrave, Henry Williamson, Benito Mussolini, Richard Wagner, Lord Lymington, Rudolf Steiner, Martin Heidegger and Adolf Hitler. Bramwell has not written a history of fascism; but look at those names! Her trilogy is an authoritatively accepted history of European environmentalism. The history of the environmentalist social movement and the history of fascism are the same. Environmentalism is neo-fascism.
The social movement’s primary mission remains the creation of land-owner’s states-within-states across Europe. The mission is to form parallel governments in Europe dedicated to usurping ever more power from nation states. The movement seeks to increase: land prices, rents, food prices, and tax-based subsidies to landowners. This is a process of enserfment. In the rest of the world they wish to replace pesky humans with glorious forests.
Bramwell repeats how “explosive” her information is. Her mission was to blast away the leftist-greenies and Deep Eco wing-nuts from the main movement juggernaut. Me fears Green Annie pack’d a bit much in th’ charge. There is enough here to blow the whole Enviro-Hindenburg out of the sky. It’s not just Reds who want nothing to do with the swastika. As for Bramwell herself she was last sighted heading up an EU environment program suppressing industrial development in Kazakhstan. (481) Himmler gazes up upon her with a smile.
Correction! Bramwell recieved her doctorate for a work entitled "National Socialist agrarian theory with special reference to Darre and the Settlement Movement." Her book "Blood and Soil," a "spin-off" of this research, was published three years later.
Correction! Bramwell disputes the notion that her mission in Kazakhstan, as head of a EU aid operation, had a de-industrializing objective. She claims she was promoting trade liberalization and the enhancement of local export opportunities for high-tech products such as horsemeat.
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