By William Walter Kay
If there is nothing dangerously wrong with the climate there must be something dangerously wrong with society. Exposing “global warming” as a hoax requires exposing the people with the motives and resources to perpetrate such a caper. One of the best explications of the environmental movement is sociologist Donald Gibson’s Environmentalism: Ideology and Power (2002). What follows is a Draconian miniaturization of this book. What follows that is a brief critique of Gibson’s analysis.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Eternal Menace of Aristocratic Conservatism
1600s to 1850
Gibson's Summary Summarized
The Eternal Menace of Aristocratic Conservatism
Prometheus and Zeus allied to overthrow Zeus’ tyrannical father. Prometheus then learned Zeus planned to destroy humanity. Prometheus believed humans were capable of infinite development. To rescue them he taught them fire-making, mining and agriculture. Zeus ordered Prometheus chained to a rock and tortured until he “ceased acting as the champion of the human race.”
Unlike mortals, aristocracies are occupied with preventing others from climbing the ladder behind them, not in climbing rungs themselves. Their efforts to protect their privileged position, often disguised as something new, betray an underlying rigidity. They are hostile to democracy and fearful of change. They have an impulse to slow growth and suspect innovation. They place natural, agrarian values above technological progress and seek to purify society through controlling production. They are pessimistic about the future and cynical about Reason. They devalue human life and view the masses of humanity as the enemy.
1600 to 1850
England, the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, never overthrew its aristocracy. Many English aristocrats embraced commercial farming in the 1600s. ‘Gentlemanly capitalism’ combined an aristocrat’s commitment to order and authority with an entrepreneur’s market philosophy. Such men and thinking were, within a century, atop England’s banks, merchant firms, and filled the upper benches of the judiciary. By 1700 the City of London’s financial hub was spoked with aristocrats. While the Industrial Revolution put English aristocrats on the defensive in the early 1700s they had reasserted themselves by the mid-1800s. They set their sights on controlling the commanding economic heights. They made strategic investments. They gave aristocratic titles to successful businessmen and arranged marriages between male aristocrats and untitled heiresses. An ‘aristo-finance’ elite secured a base in the modern productive system while preserving their antique disdain for productive careers, applied science and industry. They adapted to the modern world and adapted that world to themselves.
Another lobby interested in restraining industrial growth rose when British manufacturers encountered competition from colonies and industrializing nations. In 1851 historian Henry Carey wrote:
“...the whole legislation of Great Britain, on this subject, has been directed to the one great object of preventing the people of her colonies, and those of independent nations, from obtaining the machinery necessary to enable them to combine their exertions for the purpose of obtaining cloth or iron, and thus compelling them to bring to her their raw materials...” (1)
Carey provided examples:
“In 1710 the House of Commons declared ‘that the erecting of manufactories in the colonies had a tendency to lessen the dependence upon Great Britain.’...In 1732, the exportation of hats from province to province was prohibited, and the number of apprentices to be taken by hatters was limited. In 1750 the erection of any mill or other engine for splitting or rolling iron was prohibited...Lord Chatham declared that he would not allow the colonists to make even a hobnail for themselves.” (2)
The aristo-financial elite used conservative political arguments to check domestic progress. Manufacturers used the rhetoric of economic liberalism to restrain progress internationally. At times military force was used to achieve this “free trade imperialism.”
Both anti-development motives were embodied in Thomas Malthus. He was a gentry-oriented Anglican clergyman and a professor at the East India Company’s Haileyburg College. The 1798 edition of his An Essay on the Principle of Population proclaimed a universal law: population growth outstrips agricultural production. Malthus sought to refute widespread views such as those of Condorcet who believed in unlimited progress. Malthus said population growth neutralized advances in agricultural technology: “no stretch of human ingenuity and exertion can rescue the people from the most extreme poverty and wretchedness.” Moreover: “the period when the number of men surpass their means of subsistence has long since arrived.” The Essay’s 1803 edition stressed population control. He recommended non-marriage, late marriage and vice. Alternatives were: war, extreme poverty, severe labour, exposure and poor child-care and the ‘natural’ checks: epidemics and famines. According to the Reverend:
“...premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation; and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence and plague advance in terrific array and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success still be incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.” (3)
Malthus advocated letting the destitute perish: “there is one right to which man has generally been thought to possess which I am confident he neither does nor can possess – a right to subsistence when his labour will not fairly purchase it.” These people had: “no claim of right on society for the smallest portion of food.” To discourage childbearing he recommended a permanent housing shortage. In 1798 Edward Jenner developed a smallpox vaccine and promoted its use. Malthus, believing plagues were necessary, denounced Jenner. Malthusians thwarted smallpox vaccination for decades.
Malthus opposed urbanization and industrialization. Rural landlords were instinctively hostile to manufacturing because it shifted resources, especially labour, away from agriculture. The urban-manufacturing environment was tarred as unhealthy and corrupt compared to the countryside.
Malthus’ defence of Nature’s population laws was actually a defence of a quasi-feudal socio-economic system. His “natural limits” were socio-economic limits. Here is one self-betraying quote:
“...there is nothing perhaps more improbable, or more out of reach of any government to effect, than the direction of the industry of its subjects in such a manner as to produce the greatest quantity of human sustenance that the earth could bear. It evidently could not be done without the most complete violation of property, from which everything that is valuable to man has hitherto arisen.” (4)
In other words, higher levels of production required an overhaul of the property system (land-use policies) protecting the aristocracy. As a loyal servant of the reactionary segment of England’s oligarchy, Malthus voiced their dread that Parliament might forsake the landed interest to facilitate economic growth. The paramount concern was preserving a rural order based on heredity landlordism and labour-intensive agriculture. Resisting urbanization-industrialization and preserving the countryside were two sides of one coin. Capitalism was tolerable providing it preserved the dependent status of the toiling rural masses. Capitalism was good when it met the consumption needs of the aristocracy and its branches in Church and State. Capitalism was bad when it disrupted the comfortable vestiges of feudalism. Malthusian capitalism suppresses living standards and constrains productive forces.
Core ideas with multiple meanings and a hostility to applied science were tell-tale features of Europe’s early 19th century Romantic/Naturalist movement. In 1815 Moritz Arndt tied protecting German soil and forests to a fierce nationalism. His rhetoric was unmistakably environmentalist. His “On the Care and Conservation of Forests” contains the following:
“When one sees nature in a necessary connectedness and interrelationship, then all things are equally important – shrub, worm, plant, human, stone, nothing first or last but all one single unity.” (5)
Nature was romanticized as a fragile web. Disrupting any part threatened the whole balance. The static character of Nature was overstated; the destructiveness of natural forces, understated. The fragile system he really fretted over was the economic system propping up German aristocrats. Industrialization/urbanization threatened forests, landscapes and the status quo. Romantics sought to replace Christian traditions with Pagan ones claiming the latter were more ‘Natural.’
Romanticism was not exclusively German. A “mystique of wilderness” is found in Rousseau’s idyllic State of Nature. Shelley’s Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus was an attack on applied science. (The name ‘Frankenstein’ was a play on ‘Benjamin Franklin’ following Kant’s designating Franklin the “modern Prometheus.”)
By 1850, while proto-environmentalism dominated neither British industrial nor foreign policy, it reigned over land use policy. Malthusianism justified the consequent hardships. Here again is Carey:
“The miseries of Ireland are charged to over-population, although millions of acres of the richest soils of the kingdom are waiting drainage to take their place among the most productive in the world...The wretchedness of Scotland is charged to over-population when a large portion of the land is so tied up by entails as to forbid improvement, and almost to forbid cultivation. The difficulty of obtaining food in England is ascribed to over-population, when throughout the kingdom a large portion of the land is occupied as pleasure grounds...Over-population is the ready excuse for all the evils of a vicious system.” (6)
British admiration for material progress peaked in the 1850s. Industrialism’s subsequent declining popularity reflected the aristo-financiers’ ongoing appropriation of key institutions. By 1896, 167 noblemen, a fourth of the peerage, were corporate directors. Financial services rivalled landownership as a material base for aristocrats. Landownership’s decline counter-balanced the ascent of non-productive forms of capitalism centered in the City of London, especially during the 1870-1914 capital export boom when banks withdrew from long-term investment in domestic industry and became internationally orientated. By the 1890s Britain was dependent on overseas earnings by the financial services sector, international shipping and related investments. Physical exports lagged those of her competitors. The banker-insurer milieu mirrored the aristocracy’s traditional world. Aristocrats mastered a civil service increasingly insulated from Parliament. As the aristo-financial elite became the supreme lobby upon government, anti-industrial prejudices shaped policy and culture. Non-competitive, oligopolistic markets were favoured. Military interventions were undertaken to suppress economic development. Aristocratic values triumphed over scientific-technical ones in higher education. Being “British” became associated with conservatism and class snobbery. Aristocratic and bureaucratic values blended into a lukewarm contempt for expansion, entrepreneurialism, and efficiency.
The term ‘conservationist’ dates to the 1860s. (“Conservancies” were state-run forests in British India.) The aristo-financial-bureaucratic elite formed the base of England’s innately reactionary, High Tory and elitist conservationist movement. Conservationism was an aristocratic survival strategy illuminated by the likes of Mathew Arnold and John Ruskin who promoted no-growth economics and smeared modernity as ‘ugly.’ They led a cultural counterrevolution against scientific-technical progress. Rural nostalgia, and a belief that England’s greatness was rooted in her countryside, became ubiquitous. An organized conservationist movement emerged critical of material prosperity to the point of offering to selectively sacrifice property rights to preserve heritage. The Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society was founded in 1865. An Act for the Preservation of Seabirds was passed in 1869. The Malthusian League was formed in 1878 (by a clique including Theosophists). A Society for the Protection of Birds began in 1889. The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty was established in 1895 around the same time the Duke of Bedford devoted his life to saving wildlife.
Similar, coterminous tendencies arose in America out of the same anxiety over the rising tide of industry, the city and republicanism. Here these ideas found hostile terrain. American political traditions precluded a titled aristocracy and Americans revelled in the conquest of wilderness. American conservationism had to manufacture a base.
British-American connections, dating to the colonial era, were enhanced by mid-19th century economic integration. Financial power-houses Drexel, Morgan and Kidder, Peabody accumulated vast wealth as intermediaries between American railroads and British banks. British finance quasi-colonized the US South into a non-industrializing provider of cotton. They hoped to do the same in the West but American political strength prevented this. American industrialization proceeded in the face of British designs partially because US manufacturers successfully campaigned for tariffs. Leading American anti-industrialists were the “Mugwumps” – an elitist movement situated in New England and the South. Throughout the 1870s and 1880s Mugwumps campaigned against protecting America industry by calling for “free markets” and by denouncing taxpayer subsidies to manufacturers.
Mugwumps figured prominently in the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC, est. 1876): the first US conservationist organization. Foreshadowing the AMC were the writings and speaking tours of Ralph Waldo Emerson et al. and an 1852 campaign to save sequoias led by Atlantic Monthly owner James Russell Lowell. AMC founder, Edward Pickering descended from a famous New England separatist. Other founders (the “Boston Brahmins”) were Harvard profs and scions of New England’s first families: Cabots, Lowells, Peabodys, Lawrences, Eliots, and Higginsons. This chauvinistic “old WASP gentry” was home base for US conservationism.
Over the next generation the US branch of the movement divided between “conservationists” and “preservationists.” America’s untitled aristocracy were more attracted to the anti-modernist preservationist wing. Henry Osborn was their leader. He was Princeton man who went to Cambridge to study under T. H. Huxley. Henry was a descendant of Cornelius Vanderbilt and John Jay and a favourite nephew of J. P. Morgan. He was well connected in London; even more so in New York City where he frequented both the Boone and Crockett Club and the prestigious Century Club. Henry was a protagonist in the Audubon Society, American Bison Society, and Save the Redwoods League. His championed the field biologist and condemned the laboratory biologist. Repelled by America’s urbanization and ethnic pluralism, he called for preserving the Anglo-Saxon elite. He was a zealous eugenicist, Aryan enthusiast and proponent of “aristogenesis” – a belief that those of certain ancestry should guide evolution. His American Museum of Natural History exhibits engendered fear of unrestricted immigration.
Another Century Club member and preservationist was Robert Johnson. He was editor of the influential Century magazine. In 1889 Johnson recruited John Muir to pen articles about the Yosemite wilderness as part of a successful campaign to make Yosemite a national park. On Johnson’s urging, Muir became front man for a West Coast version of the AMC. The “Sierra Club” set sail in 1892 in the offices of Establishment attorney, Warren Olney. Johnson took Muir to Osborn’s Castle Rock estate overlooking the Hudson River. Johnson introduced Muir to British luminary Lord Curzon and the Roosevelts of New York. (Earlier, avid outdoorsman and Boone and Crocket Club founder, Teddy Roosevelt, “TR”, paid a surprise visit to Johnson’s Century office accompanied by Henry Cabot Lodge.) TR and Muir went camping in Yosemite. By the late 1890s Muir was a traveling companion of the ultra-rich Edward Harriman whose wife was the main bankroller of the eugenics movement. Muir himself was born unto well-to-do Scottish immigrants. He rejected Christianity in 1867 in favour of Paganistic nature worship. After he hit the big time he frequented Swedenborgian spiritualist circles. His warblings are motifed with aristocratic clichés about his personal alienation “from the mass of mankind.”
Preservationists and conservationists clashed over a proposed dam on California’s Tuolomne River. Muir led the campaign to block the dam supported by Johnson, the Harrimans, the Osborns, the AMC, Century, Collier’s and Nation magazines, and the New York Times. Conservationists, acquiescing to the dam, were led by Warren Olney and Gifford Pinchot. Gifford was a Yale man who studied forestry in Europe. His first job was Forester on the Vanderbilt’s Biltmore estate in North Carolina. Like his father he was a Century Club member. On TR’s insistence he joined Boone and Crockett. Pinchot was an inner-circle Republican who never openly challenged growth-oriented businessmen or their culture of industry and applied science. Instead he advocated “multiple uses of land and resources.” He wanted land simultaneously used for timber, mining, ranching and homesteading as the prevailing culture desired but also for “recreation and conservation” as his movement preferred. Pinchot’s “resource conservation” was the reformist’s thin-edge-of-the-wedge; ideal for spiking specific development proposals but with a utilitarian rationale. Pinchot modernized Malthusianism by adding to its soil-scarcity phobia new fears of resource scarcity. He claimed North America was running out of coal and iron. Conservationist Pinchot was politically not far from preservationist Muir whom he greatly respected. New England’s elite preferred Muir’s preservationism to Pinchot’s pragmatism but preservationism was alien to the electorate, especially to business interests. TR, as New York Governor, was sympathetic to preservationism but made Pinchot supervisor of state forests. President TR made Pinchot his Chief Forester.
In the mid-1800s Arndt disciple, Wilhelm Riehl, claimed Germany’s forest and peasant based essence was ruined by industrialization. His romantic anti-modernism fused with anti-Semitism to prefigure late 1800s Volkism. Ingredients were: ethnocentric populism; Nature mysticism; a sense of alienation and rootlessness; and hostility to reason and the city. More important than Riehl in this movement was Ernst Haeckel. He coined the term “ecology” in 1867. Ecologists eulogized Nature’s interconnectedness and preached equality of all life-forms. Urbanization was demonized for wrecking, and severing human contact with, Nature. Ecology was a “religion of Nature” programmatically coupled to a right-wing political agenda. Haeckel’s Monist League disseminated Darwinist ideas of Nordic racial superiority and blamed Jews for modernity’s weakening of the Nordic race. Eugenics was the solution to the “Jewish problem.” He was a member of the Thule Society which was directly involved in creating the Nazi Party.
In the early 20th century pessimism and disdain for industry pervaded the domestic British policy discourse. Under-development aims motivated pre-WWI interventions in Latin America. Only during and immediately after the World Wars did pro-industrial forces rule.
British ecologists and Malthusians were inseparable. Both were reactionary, elitist and racist. In 1903 the Society for Preservation of the Fauna of the Empire was founded. In 1904 the British Vegetation Society was formed out of which grew the British Ecological Society. Major Leonard Darwin (Charles’ son) led the First International Congress of Eugenics in London in 1912. The Congress was the fruition of the labour of Eugenics Education Society founder, Sir Francis Galton. Leonard was Galton’s successor. Published in time for the Congress was Havelock Ellis’ The Task of Social Hygiene. In 1927 the Malthusian League confederated with like-minded groups into the Society for Constructive Birth Control. By the 1930s the Eco-Malthusianism was entwined with quasi-feudal High Tory notions that economic forces must accommodate traditional society. Contempt for commercialism and profiteering were expressed by potentates like Viscount Halifax and by academics like Arnold Toynbee and John Maynard Keynes. American-cum-Tory poet, T.S. Eliot, mixed a critique of industrialism with cautions of disappearing resources.
Early 20th century American trashing of industry was confined to small upper class cliques. Seldom was heard a general rejection of progress. This muted opposition to the rise of the machine strengthened along with bonds between the North-Eastern Establishment and the European aristocracy. By 1915, 500 American heiresses had married aristocrats. There were 42 American princesses, 33 marchionesses, 136 countess, 19 viscountesses, 64 baronesses, 46 ladies and 17 dutchesses. Hundreds of similar marriages followed. The Rockefeller and Mellon clans developed close working relationships with Britain’s aristo-financiers. Aristocratic culture also came to America via exclusive social clubs and via prep schools modelled on the British system. Also modelled on a British institution was the remarkably influential New York-based think tank: Council of Foreign Relations. CFR was founded in the 1920s with British participation and it maintained a relationship with the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Rockefellers have long played important roles in the CFR.
What the American branch of the movement lacked in numbers it made up for in media influence. The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Collier’s, Century, Nation magazines brought the enthusiasm of a religious crusade to “save” America from modernization. They lauded the countryside and denounced the artificial, materialistic and dangerous culture of cities. Their clout was revealed in 1908 by TR’s White House Conference on National Conservation. One Conference speaker pled for “conservation” of the Anglo-Saxon race. Racism was standard among conservationists who openly disparaged the Irish, Italians and Slavs. In his 1913 classic, Our Vanishing Wild Life, W. Hornaday wrote: “All members of the lower classes of Southern Europe are a dangerous menace to our wild life...Italians are spreading, spreading, spreading.” Racism permeated the prose of Madison Grant; co-founder of the Bronx Zoo and a leader in the Save the Redwoods League and Boone and Crockett Club. His signature book was The Passing of a Great Race. TR was not above racist commentary.
John D. Rockefeller Jr. gave tens of millions of dollars to the Cause and created his own park at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In 1911 he set up the Bureau of Social Hygiene which, with the Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation, promoted eugenics. His views were not unusual among his peers who collectively took eugenics to a new level in 1921 by founding the American Birth Control League under the direction of Havelock Ellis protégé Margaret Sanger. In the same year, Rockefeller ally Henry Osborn presided over the 2nd International Congress of Eugenics and then headed the committee, formed at that Congress, which founded the American Eugenics Society. Osborn was V-P of the 3rd International Congress of Eugenics held at the American Museum of Natural History in 1932. His keynote address claimed over-population caused the “reign of terror of the criminal and the tragedy of unemployment.” Humanity was bedevilled by six “overs”: over-population, over-mechanization, over-use of resources, over-construction of transportation infrastructure, over-production of food and over-confidence in the future.
Osborn was a movement moderate. Another Congress speaker claimed “dysgenic classes which are rapidly increasing in the US constitute our vast aristocracy of the unfit...This increasing horde will ultimately overrun and destroy the diminishing prosperity of the better classes.” Defectives, whose reproduction needed policing, included: criminals, paupers, the blind, the deaf, the feebleminded, and epileptics. Dr. Alexis Carrel was a senior officer in the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research for 40 years and co-author of a popular conservationist-occultist book with Nazi-symp Charles Lindbergh. In a separate book Carrel called for replacing prisons with places where petty criminals could be scientifically tortured and where serious criminals including those who “misled the public in important matters” could be “disposed of in small euthanasic institutions supplied with proper gases.” At this time Frederick Osborn, Henry’s nephew and protégé, was a partner at the banking firm of Grayson M.P. Murphy & Co; a firm infamous for its involvement in a fascist coup d’ etat plot. Margaret Sanger, co-founder of Planned Parenthood (an American Birth Control League/American Eugenics Society merger) believed Earth was over-populated and advocated mass sterilization campaigns.
Anti-modern, aristocratic ideas appeared in force in the essay collection, I’ll Take My Stand (1930), by the Nashville Fugitives – a cell of Southern intellectuals at Vanderbilt U. They re-articulated Malthus’ warning about unrestrained economic growth’s threat to countryside culture. The book became a manifesto on the American movement’s academic front.
In the early 1900s German ecologists were pivotal in the massive German Youth Movement – a hippy-esque counter-cultural jumble of Romanticism, Asian religions and Nature worship with strong communal impulses. A Youth Movement manifesto was Ludwig Klages’ Man and Earth (1913).Klages ranted against: deforestation, species extinction, urban sprawl, eco-systemic disturbance, aboriginal culture disappearance, and man’s alienation from Nature. He denounced Christianity, capitalism, utilitarianism, over-consumption and progress. (Man and Earth was re-issued by German Greens in 1980.) The USA was viewed in this movement as the prime example of out-of-control technology and soulless materialism. The movement’s anti-Christian sentiment was part Nietzsche-mania. Alfred Baeumler, a top Nazi philosopher, wrote: “Nietzsche asserts the aristocracy of nature. But for thousands of years a life-weary morality has opposed the aristocracy of the strong and healthy. Like National Socialism, Nietzsche sees in the state, in society, the ‘great mandatory of life,’ responsible for each life’s failure to life itself. ‘The species requires the extinction of the misfits, weaklings, and degenerates.”
Nazism is distinguishable from other fascisms by its ecological emphasis. Senior Nazis formulated a “religion of Nature” combining mysticism, misanthropism, and a myth of racial salvation through a return to the land. Themes were harmony with Nature and the superiority of the irrational. Nazism opposed Europe’s modernization into a “mechanical, materialistic” civilization. The primitive was genuine. The countryside was sincere. City life impeded union with Nature’s “cosmic life spirit.” Pagan Nazis, like Himmler and Rosenberg, obsessed about finding man’s lost connection to Nature. Hitler and Himmler were vegetarians and occultists. Hitler boasted much knowledge of renewable energy, particularly wind power. A platoon of greens atop the Nazi state, led by Hesse, pushed through a raft of reforestation, species protection, and anti-industry legislation immediately after capturing power. Their Imperial Conservation Law protected: plants, animals, monuments of nature and “remaining portions of landscape in the free Nature whose preservation on account of rarity, beauty, distinctiveness or on account of scientific, ethnic, forest or hunting significance lies in the general interest.” The Reich Agency for Nature Protection indoctrinated the masses about humanity’s interconnectedness to Nature’s organic whole. Agriculture Minister Darre claimed taking land in the East re-established the natural harmony between Germans and their native land. Himmler was pre-occupied with soil purity in Poland. Nazi ecologists justified genocide by claiming conquered Eastern lands would be used with greater ecological sensitivity. They justified political repression by invoking “Natural laws” to which humans had to submit. Playing the Nazi movie backwards distorts the picture. Science and mechanization became vital for the war effort. Salient 1942-5 images of a pro-production and technophile Wehrmacht are but the hubris-packed final scenes of a movement that for years disparaged reason and industry.
World War II and its aftermath further melded Britain and the USA. The Brits helped create the Central Intelligence Agency and are partners in the National Security Agency. British and American bankers founded the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Bank for International Settlements – entities soon directing global development. The ‘movement’ also integrated. British leaders were Prince Philip, the Huxleys and Max Nicholson. Philip worked closely with Henry Osborn’s nephew, Fairfield Osborn, and with Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. In 1954 Bernhard began a series of conferences, the Bilderberg meetings, where select Europeans and Americans could strategize. Rockefellers were regular attendees. The meetings were instrumental in sexing up the movement into “environmentalism.” In 1960 Bernhard and Philip founded the World Wide Fund for Nature: the world’s largest conservation group. In the mid-1970s, Bernhard passed the Bilderberg gavel to former British PM, Baron Alec Douglas-Home.
Award-winning novelist, Aldous Huxley, was a movement visionary. In 1948 he wrote:
“I see this problem of man’s relation to Nature as not only an immediate practical problem, but also as a problem of ethics and religion....neither Christianity nor Judaism has ever thought of Nature as having rights in relation to man ...the Greeks new better...Xerxes was punished, not only for having attacked the Greeks, but also for having outraged Nature in the affair of bridging the Hellespont...one must go to Chinese Taoism...Whitman comes very close to the Taoist position. And because of Whitman and Wordsworth and the other ‘Nature Mystics’ of the West, I feel that it might not be too difficult for modern Europeans and Americans to accept some kind of Taoist philosophy... ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ should apply to animals, plants and things, as well as to people.” (7)
Aldous’ brother, Sir Julian Huxley, sounded the over-population alarm in the early 1950s (while also putting out UFO propaganda). In 1959 Julian, speaking at a Planned Parenthood luncheon, called for an international effort to combat over-population which he claimed was exhausting the Earth’s resources and posed a greater threat than nuclear war. Huxley compatriot, Sir Frank Darling, agreed and added: “...the only hope for man is internationalism, nationalism is the political ecological factor which prevents any constructive action to curb population increases.”
John D. Rockefeller II’s sons (John D. III, Laurence and David) piloted the movement’s expansion and re-make into “environmentalism.” Key allies were: Henry Osborn’s nephews (Fairfield and Frederick); Ford family and Foundation; William Vogt; William Draper and Henry Moore. In 1952 John D. III’s over-population conference in Williamsburg gave birth to the Population Council. For several years after John D. III (“Mr. Population”) spoke publically on the urgent need for government action on over-population while Rockefeller-linked foundations launched “population research” programs at US universities. The Rockefeller Foundation made “population” a top priority; its medical director likening humanity to a cancer. William Draper, a retired Army general and partner in the banking firm Dillon, Read & Co., took up the population mission. He personally handed his Draper Committee Report to Eisenhower in 1959 before becoming vice-chair of Lammot du Pont Copeland’s World Population Emergency Campaign.
In 1957 Laurence Rockefeller created the American Conservation Association. This added to his work load as Palisades Park commissioner, Hudson River Conservation Foundation director and chairman of Eisenhower’s Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission. When the ORRRC completed its report in 1962, the American Conservation Association spent $800,000 promoting its recommendations. Laurence then drew 150 business leaders and public relations experts into the Citizen’s Committee for the ORRRC Report. Time magazine labelled Laurence the “nation’s most prominent individual conservationist.” He worked closely with Fairfield Osborn whom he met in John D.’s mansion in 1939. He succeeded Fairfield as New York Zoological Society President and penned a piece praising him for Reader’s Digest in 1972 entitled, “My Most Unforgettable Character.”
Fairfield was a product of Groton, Princeton and Cambridge. He founded the New York Zoological Society and presided over it from 1940 to 1968. At a 1948 meeting of the New York University Club he set afloat the Conservation Foundation; another organization he presided over for decades. Laurence Rockefeller was a founding trustee as was Sir John Boyd-Orr, whose book, The White Man’s Dilemma, praised Malthus and called for one world government. Fairfield was active in the Century Club, Save the Redwoods League, Audubon Society, Boone and Crocket Club, American Committee for International Wildlife Protection, International Committee for Bird Preservation, Zoological Society of London, Population Council and Planned Parenthood. A 1969 New York Times obit described him as “one of the world’s foremost conservationists.”
In 1948 a Malthusian tirade by Fairfield was broadcast live on the ABC radio network. Adhering to the Malthusian tradition of disregarding facts, he claimed Earth had 4 billion acres of arable land and, as everyone needed at least 2.5 acres, the planet was over-populated. “Hope for man’s future” he concluded “rest’s primarily, therefore, upon whether he realizes before it is too late that the maintenance of the earth’s fertility is essential to his survival; further, that there is a limitation to the number of people that the earth is capable of supporting.”
In 1948 Fairfield published Our Plundered Planet. The book draws heavily from Haeckel. It discusses soil exhaustion, deforestation and the adverse effects of DDT but picks over-population as “the major cause of the world-wide depletion of the natural living resources of the earth.” Man acted as though he did not have to abide Nature’s laws. Man had to abandon faith in the “marvels of modern technology” and recognize limits on his ability to extract “subsistence from the earth.” Man had to accept “the concept that man, like all other living things, is part of one great biological scheme.” The solution was “world-wide planning” and a cultural shift of such magnitude it could be achieved only by state educational facilities. In 1949 he reiterated the need for global political unity, adding that conservationism was the cause celebre to bring this about. The New York Times credited Our Plundered Planet with reviving the movement. A Ford Foundation environment chief called the book a movement bible. It was translated into 13 languages. Fairfield’s follow-up, The Limits of the Earth, (1953) argued Earth could never feed 4 billion people regardless the technology. Applying Pinchot’s upgrade of Malthusianism, he saw soil as only one of many resource constraints on humanity’s capacity to grow.
Fairfield’s cousin, Frederick, participated in the 1936 Paris meeting of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population. After the war, he spent 3 years on the UN Energy Commission before re-focussing on population. He attended Rockefellers’ 1952 Williamsburg conference, was the first V-P of the subsequent Population Council, and succeeded John D. III as Council President in 1957. Frederick set up the Council’s first offices, organized its demographic and medical programs, and recruited the staff. He chaired the Council’s executive committee from 1959 to 1968. He also helped found the Population Association of America and he presided over the American eugenics community’s transition from advocating racial improvements through sterilization to scientifically analyzing the transmissions of genetic traits. Frederick believed mass sterilization was sound population policy. He complained modern medicine allowed genetic inferiors to multiply. He was a trustee of: Carnegie Corporation, Social Science Research Council, Milbank Memorial Fund, Princeton U, American Museum of Natural History, Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research; and a Palisades Park commissioner. He begot many foundation-funded university research projects. He persuaded the Milbank Fund and Princeton U to establish the Office of Population Research and he facilitated a Milbank-financed multi-university study of socio-psychological factors affecting fertility. This latter project, the ‘Indianapolis Study,’ was the template for a series of influential post-WWII sex surveys.
Self-described ecologist William Vogt descended from New Amsterdam’s first Episcopal rector. Vogt was a member of the Century and Cosmos Clubs. He worked for the Audubon Society in the 1930s and was the Pan American Union’s chief conservationist from 1943 to 1950. Vogt’s Road to Survival (1948) was the best selling conservationist book until Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962). Road to Survival featured an introduction by Bernard Baruch (a Wall Street capo connected to the Morgans and Guggenheims). The book refers to resource depletion and environmental destruction but dwells on over-population: “There are too many people in the world for its limited resources.” He blamed over-population for ruining American hospitals and schools. On capitalism he wrote:
“The methods of free competition and the application of the profit motive have been disastrous to the land...Business has been turned loose to poison thousands of streams and rivers with industrial wastes.”
This syndrome, according to Vogt, spilled over the border:
“Americans of good will have advocated an American standard of living, or something approaching it, for the entire world. ‘Freedom from want’ was the carrot held before the noses of less prosperous peoples, to enlist their support during the war. What a monstrous deception this was, of ourselves and them, should be clear to anyone who thinks in terms of the carrying capacities of the world’s lands.” (8)
Fortunately but belatedly, wrote Vogt, some “leaders have begun to understand that we live in one world in an ecological – an environmental – sense.”
After Road to Survival Vogt became national director of Planned Parenthood (1951 to 1961). In the 1960s he was Conservation Foundation secretary. His People, Challenge to Survival (1960) asserted:a human flood was devastating the biosphere; over-population was worse than nuclear war; technology never improved American’s quality of life; and over-population dictated lower living standards.
In 1953 the Ford Foundation launched “Resources for the Future” to monitor global resources and incorporate modern economic analysis and lingo into conservationism. (Laurence Rockefeller joined Resources’ board in 1958.) In the early 1960s the Foundation set aside $7 million to develop ecology programs at 17 US universities. These programs built infrastructure for activist campaigns to regulate agricultural pesticides and industrial by-products. The Foundation further spread “education” and activism through grants to municipal conservation commissions and the Conservation Foundation. In 1962 the Foundation increased its emphasis on conservation and population and in 1963 they instituted a birth control department. Throughout this period the Foundation donated generously to the Nature Conservancy and Audubon’s land-acquisition programs.
Starting in 1959 a significant sector of the US mass media laboured to increase public receptivity to population control. Elite media bias was evident in their treatment of John F. Kennedy. In November 1959 JFK was interviewed by Establishment hack James Reston on the population issue. Reston’s article, Kennedy Opposes Advocacy by US of Birth Control, linked Kennedy to the Pope. Margaret Sanger said she would leave America if Kennedy were elected. In December 1959 JFK was harshly cross-examined on his population position by James Fischer, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Magazine. (Rhodes Scholar Fischer was a Brookings Institution trustee and a CFR, and Century Club, member.) In 1961 Reston attacked Kennedy for not supporting population control in Latin America and threatened “a decisive revolt against foreign aid one day if the population problem is not faced.” Days later senior journalist, Arthur Krock, assailed JFK along similar lines. His screed was quoted in an essay in the CFR’s Foreign Affairs bemoaning how neither communism nor democracy embraced Malthusianism. In 1963 Reston again attacked JFK in an article quoting Eugene Black (World Bank Pres.; and Rockefeller thingy) arguing over-population negated efforts to raise poor countries’ living standards.
Shortly after JFK’s election William Draper called upon the President to commit federal government funds to population control. In 1963 a nationally publicized pronunciamento, “Population Explosion Nullifies Foreign Aid,” was signed by Osborns, Aldrichs, Rockefellers, Cabots, Chases, Lamonts, Scripps, and Vanderbilts. This was paid for by Hugh Moore, owner of Dixie Cup Co. and director of the Campaign to Check the Population Explosion. Moore and Draper then started the Population Crisis Committee. JFK rejected these initiatives albeit with tiny concessions like agreeing to share birth control data with other countries. He was more receptive to pollution issues. He said the “technological explosion” was “the heart of our agricultural problem.” This explains his participation in the unprecedented hoopla around Rachel Carson’s anti-pesticide diatribe Silent Spring (originally titled Man against Nature).
Another 1962 release, Fairfield Osborn’s Our Crowded Planet, laid out the neo-aristocratic party line. This essay collection had a contribution from Julian Huxley containing the following:
“No grants or loans for development should be made unless the country was willing to frame and stand by a rational population policy aimed at limiting the growth of its population...Man has been overexploiting the natural resources of this planet. He has been misusing its soils and polluting its waters...more marginal land is being taken into cultivation, more forests are being cut down, more soil erosion is taking place... We are well on our way to ruining our habitat.” (9)
Between 1963 and 1975 the movement changed appearance, grew enormously and became organizationally global through the build-up of: International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), World Wide Fund for Nature, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Club of Rome et al. One coup, the UN Conference on the Environment (Stockholm 1972), was followed by the formation the United Nations Environment Programme and by a general movement appropriation of the UN system.
In Britain opposition to techno-material progress became better organized, more aggressive and explicit. This counter-culture campaign, arising in the universities, swept public life. Distaste for industry, always present in Britain, attained catholicity. PM Heath bemoaned Britain had become a “Luddite’s paradise...a society dedicated to the prevention of progress and the preservation of the status quo.” Britain celebrated an equivalent of Earth Day, the Countryside Conference, in 1970 and it was mainly due to Anglo-American pressure that the Council of Europe declared 1970 European Conservation Year.
Amidst an avalanche of enviro-books fell Wildlife in Danger (1969) from a coalition of British conservation and IUCN officials. Its preface, by American enviro-Pagan Joseph Krutch, relayed a quote about Earthbeingcovered “with a writhing mass of human beings, much like a dead cow is covered with a pulsating mass of maggots.” More damning views came in Max Nicholson’s The Environmental Revolution: a Guide for the New Masters of the World (1970). Nicholson said the people of the industrial world had been, from 1950 to 1970, subjected to a “preliminary softening up campaign.” He noted with approval how “the mass media are spreading the message and with significant results.” Thus the stage was set for “finally and unequivocally renounce(ing) all claims to be above ecological laws.” The next task was: “...vested interests which lead mankind into postures and situations inconsistent with that goal must in turn be converted or otherwise brought into line, or in extreme cases neutralised.” Topping Max’s hit list was the scientific community. Here’s how Max perceived the problem:
“Modern science in its origins was closely linked with natural history, and even with the activities which we would now include in conservation...recently however the lavish patronage of armed forces, of certain industries and of the State have swung its emphasis away from general biology and from studies basically concerned with the environment, and have led to a disproportionate artificially induced expansion in physics, chemistry and certain other branches...” (10)
Hard sciences had to be eclipsed by ecology. Nicholson, as a major promoter of Britain’s Countryside Conference and Europe’s Conservation Year, marched in lock step with Princes Philip and Bernhard and Agnelli front man Aurelio Pecci.
The Club of Rome was formed in 1968 at the instance of Giovanni Agnelli (principal owner of Fiat, Olivetti and much else). The Club consists of 100 select members of the international elite. Its The Limits to Growth (1972), one of the best publicized and distributed books in history, predicted imminent resource scarcity. Much deference was given to computers whose dire printouts had an air of reality after the 1973-4 oil crisis. The Club’s next book, Mankind at the Turning Point, referred to humanity as a cancer and argued the “age of scarcity” dictated humanity live in “harmony with nature.”
1971 witnessed the declaration of Humanist Manifesto II. Principal deponents were Lord Ritchie-Calder (Conservation Society), Lester Brown (Worldwatch Institute), Alan Guttmacher (Planned Parenthood) and civil libertarian Corliss Lamont. More aptly named Malthusian Manifesto, the document counsels shifting human rights struggles away from democratic trifles toward rights to abortion, homosexuality, divorce, birth control and euthanasia. It calls for global ecological planning.
President Johnson (LBJ) signalled environmentalism’s arrival months after coming into office with his “Great Society” speech at Michigan U. He denounced unbridled growth and claimed his “Great Society” would be “a place where men can renew contact with nature.” The expansion of cities eroded “communion with nature.” Americans were “condemned to a soulless wealth.” (He added cryptically: “powerful forces, already loose, will take us toward a way of life beyond the realm of our experience.”)In 1965 LBJ addressed Congress on the topic of natural beauty and later on wilderness preservation. Both addresses closely tracked the recommendations of the ORRRC. He deployed the phrase “New Conservation” and quoted Emerson (“In the woods we return to reason and faith”). He invoked the “darker side” of technology and industry. “New Conservation” would address the “total relation between man and the world.” LBJ’s White House Conference on Natural Beauty (chaired by Larry Rockefeller) spawned the Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Recreation and Natural Beauty (chaired by Larry).
“New Conservationism” became “environmentalism” in a late 1960s media blizzard. (“Environmental” was used in its contemporary sense in the 1950s but took a decade to gain popularity.) The movement also appropriated the name “liberal” to mask its highly statist, arch-conservative agenda. But more than names changed. While concern with over-population persisted, the emphasis shifted to pollution and resource scarcity. Moreover, qualitatively larger amounts of philanthropic funding and media coverage were now involved. Before the “environmentalist” makeover the largest eight foundations collectively gave a few million dollars a year to conservation groups. By 1970 these eight were giving US enviro-groups over $40 million a year. Paid recruiters frantically expanded membership in the existing network of conservation and population control groups. New organizations were added. The Environmental Defense Fund was launched in 1967 and within four years it was joined by: Zero Population Growth (ZPG), Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.
The media blitz dramatically increased the percentage of Americans “concerned about the environment.” By 1970 most Americans were “concerned.” Pessimism increased. A 1972 Public Opinion Quarterly article referred to environmentalism’s sudden popularity as a “miracle of public opinion,” adding: “alarm about the environment sprang from nowhere to major proportions in a few short years.” Aside from “a few oil spills” no reason could be found for this sudden change. At this time, the mass media, to obstruct opposition, carefully under-reported decisive ongoing legislative changes.
The New York Times, weeks after LBJ took office, pined “unneeded poverty and unwanted population are inseparable” and admonished Johnson for not focussing on population. In 1964 they published a full page letter cautioning LBJ that his Great Society was jeopardized by the population explosion. Signatories included Exxon, Goodyear, Morgan Guaranty Trust, Gulf Oil and Sears and scions of families like: Aldrich, Cabot, Chase, Draper, Fosdick, Lamont, Loeb, Scaife, Osborn, Prentice, Reid, Rosenwald and Wriston. In 1965 William Paddock’s well-hyped Malthusian best-seller, Famine 1975, hit the book stores. The media campaign caught LBJ’s attention. His State of the Union addresses for 1965 and 1966 connected over-population to resource scarcity. He became the first President to support birth control. In 1966 a Population Office was established in the Agency for International Development with an annual budget of $10 million. (This grew to $125 million per year by 1971). Also in 1966 the Federal Office of Economic Opportunity designated ‘birth control’ a legit community action program. In 1967 a position of Assistant to the Secretary of State for Population was created. LBJ then created a President’s Committee on Population and Family Planning, later named the Commission on Population Growth. (In 1967 Planned Parenthood presented John D. Rockefeller III with its Margaret Sanger Award.)
Paul Ehrlich’s sensational best-seller, The Population Bomb, was released in 1968. Sierra Club exec David Brower was the impetus behind the book. Taking advantage of the Bomb’s fall-out, Ehrlich, Brower and fellow Sierrans started Zero Population Group. In 1969 Ehrlich proposed governments surreptitiously add sterility drugs to water reservoirs and donated food. In 1973 he claimed: “...scientists think the population of the US should eventually be reduced to well under 50 million and that of the world to absolute maximum of 500 million.”
By 1970 there was, swaddled within environmentalism, a quasi-conspiratorial, crypto-racist ‘Population Establishment.’ Its principal organizations (Population Council, Population Reference Bureau, Planned Parenthood, Population Crisis Committee, Campaign to Check the Population Explosion [CCPE] Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund) were entwined with the Council of Foreign Relations crowd. This organizational field overlapped the US government’s Agency for International Development, National Institute of Health, and National Academy of Sciences. Although the Pop Establishment carried on business as “family planning,” “birth control” and “feminism” it was wholly a creature of the ‘old boy’ network. Its extremist flank, ZPG and CCPE, was seamlessly woven to its moderate section. The top five ‘population’ funders were: US government, Ford Foundation, Sweden, Norway and Rockefeller Foundation. Between 1965 and 1976 Ford and Rockefeller Foundations made combined ‘population’ grants of $246 million.
By 1968 philanthropic foundations were in a full court press of environmental agitprop with the largest, the Ford Foundation (FF), leading the way. FF’s generosity to the Nature Conservancy was matched by grants from 128 other foundations including $1 million from the Packard Foundation and $500,000 from the ultra-conservative Lilly Endowment. In 1970 FF recruited a slick of corporate lawyers into the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) which was soon receiving grants from 52 foundations. The idea for the NRDC came from Wall Street lawyers Whitney Seymour and Stephen Duggan. Both were Century Club members and Ivy League grads. Seymour chaired the Carnegie Endowment. They recommended an associate, John Adams, head the NRDC. He ran it for 30 years. (Adams was a director of Earth Day 2000.) NRDC’s starting line-up of scientists and lawyers were “the elite shock troops of the environmental struggles.” The lawyers were Yale men. FF increased its funding of university ecology faculties and in 1971 began an Energy Policy Project which spent $4 million producing 22 volumes of data. The Project’s “energy scarcity” theme dovetailed with the 1973-4 “energy crisis” scam. Energy has since been a central environmental issue.
During the 1970s FF trustees were: Andrew Brimmer (member of: Federal Reserve Board, CFR and Trilateral Commission; director of: Bank America, International Harvester, United Airlines and Du Pont), Hedley Donovan (CFR member and Editor-in-Chief of Time, Inc.), Walter Haas (director of Bank of America and trustee of Levi Strauss Foundation), Robert McNamara (CFR member, Brookings Institute director, former Ford Motor Co. President, Secretary of Defense – 1961-8), J. Irwin Miller (CFR member, AT&T and Equitable Life director, Union Bank chairman), and Frank Thomas (director of Citicorp, CBS, and Alcoa). McGeorge Bundy, FF President from 1966 to 1979, hailed from one of America’s most influential families. Like McNamara, and many environmentalist cardinals, Bundy was a Vietnam War hawk. Bundy went to FF’s executive suite straight from his job as National Security Adviser.
In 1968 Dean Rusk left his job as US Secretary of State to oversee global population operations at the Rockefeller Foundation. Rockefeller’s environment point man was Rockefeller Foundation trustee and former IUCN chairman, Maurice Strong. He was a member of Metropolitan and Century Clubs. On the eve of the 1972 UN Stockholm Conference the New York Times reported:
“... a small miracle in international relations will occur: Representatives of most of the world’s nations will meet at Stockholm to take collective action on global environmental problems. International conferences are no rarity, but this one will materialize scarcely three years after the word ‘environment’ first attracted widespread interest and in a time when any concerted international action is hard to contrive. The architect of this prospective coup is Maurice Frederick Strong.” (11)
Throughout the 1960s the Aspen Institute conducted seminars to sell environmentalism to high-school teachers. (Aspen was founded in 1949 by Container Corporation of America boss Paul Paepcke and Professor Rob Hutchins – later Ford Foundation V-P and U of Chicago President.) Aspen also held conferences for business school deans, industry representatives and business journalists to promote its “post-industrial society” vision. More exclusive Aspen forums were held where executives could discuss the population-environment connection. Aspen chair, Robert Anderson (Atlantic Richfield Corp) helped finance Earth Day and provided seed money for Friends of the Earth, John Muir Institute and International Institute for Environment and Development. He picked Sierra Club’s Brower to run Friends of the Earth. Aspen significantly influenced UN food and population programs.
In 1967 Willis Harman, of the US Office of Education’s Policy Research Center, tackled the “World Macro-problem,” defined as: “uncontrolled technology, application and industrial development.” The problem caused Nature-damaging “diseases.” Cultural symptoms were: over-commitment to technology; positive attitudes toward population growth; and the belief that humans were unique. The Center’s work led to numerous books with mass appeal like Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy. Harman’s An Incomplete Guide to the Future calls for a low-tech “trans-industrial society” in harmony with Nature. Also writing in this genre was Larry Rockefeller fave T. Rozak whose The Making of a Counter Culture and Unfinished Animal: the Aquarian Frontier and the Evolution of Consciousness warn of “technocratic totalitarianism” and extolPaganism.
Environmentalism also opened a religious front in 1967 when historian Lynn White’s article in Science accused Christianity of encouraging the technological progress that caused the “ecological crisis.” The resulting flap in academia led to a 1970 meeting of 20 theologians at Claremont College to discuss Christianity’s role in the “environmental crisis.” They concluded Christianity’s sanctioning of the exploitation of Nature contributed to air and water pollution. The New York Times then printed, The Link between Faith and Ecology, which reiterated White’s thesis, adding:
“This fall the National Council of Churches established an Environmental Stewardship Action Team that hopes to put theologians, scientists and others to work on the problem. Several conferences have already been held by an association of 75 religious thinkers known as the Faith-Man-Nature group...church leaders hope that local congregations – like elements of the new left on college campuses – will soon make issues such as air pollution part of their social action program.” (12)
The newspaper followed this a few years later with an op-ed piece by Arnold Toynbee claiming:
“..to premonotheistic man nature was not just a treasure trove of natural resources. Nature was, for him, a goddess, Mother Earth...Man’s greedy impulse to exploit nature used to be held in check by his pious worship of nature. This primitive inhibition has been removed by the rise and spread of monotheism.” (13)
A post-1968 barrage of enviro-propaganda targeted Americans of all political stripes. Few politicians dared be considered as opponents of this new creed. Erstwhile ‘conservatives’ Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater and James Buckley paid homage to the “environment.” In 1968 the leftish Nation magazine showcased an essay by Robert and Leona Rienow: Conservation for Survival. The Reinows, after a resource scarcity tirade, pitched “revolutionary shifts in values and social goals,” specifically a rejection of the “expansionist doctrine.” In 1972 fellow lefty Barry Commoner, moonlighting as an Eastern Establishment songbird, chirped:
“Air pollution is not merely a nuisance and a threat to health. It is a reminder that our most celebrated technological advances – the automobile, the jet plane, the power plant, industry in general, and indeed the modern city itself – are in the environment, failures.” (14)
In 1974, academic liberalism’s queen, Margaret Mead, wrote:
“...if we don’t have as much population we wouldn’t have as much trouble. True. And if we did have the population without the technology, we wouldn’t have as much trouble. True. And so what! We’ve got the population, we’ve got the technology; the technology has broken the chain of the relationship to nature and endangers the planet; the population continually puts pressure on the use of technology.” (15)
In the same year Psychology Today ran a cover story, Lifeboat Ethics: the Case against Helping the Poor, wherein Garrett Hardin informed: the energy crisis proved oil reserves were exhausted; humanity was a cancer; and a world government was required to contain humanity’s tumour-like growth.
The media’s environmentalist bias was glaring in the run up to Earth Day (April 22, 1970). The New York Times led the offensive in late 1968 with a volley of editorials with passages like: “Beyond the immediate detailed issues of the ecological crisis, one fact stands out: Earth’s capacity to support human life is finite...” and “... unheeding misuse of technology and the refusal to respect ecological values may make earth an uninhabitable environment.” When the Luce magazine empire joined the campaign, even their apolitical Sports Illustrated ran articles bemoaning man’s pillaging of Nature. Luce’s Time and Life were more direct. In September 1969 Time introduced a weekly environment section. Time’s February 2, 1970 cover-boy was Barry Commoner – the ‘Paul Revere of Ecology.’ The accompanying article quoted Paul Ehrlich and Lamont Cole (who claimed urbanization favoured bad genes). Life’s cover story in the same week was: Ecology Becomes Everybody’s Issue. The lead article gloated 20% of America’s law students were studying environmental law and went on:
“...the tide of information about pollution has left us no excuse for not knowing....we are being forced to recognize that the earth is a finite resource, and the public response to this tremendous fact promises to shake American society. ‘The politics of environment....will be the biggest mass movement in the history of this country.’” (16)
In the same week Newsweek’s cover story, Ravaged Environment, trumpeted: “America, a nation profligate with its resources, contemptuous of its natural environment, is suddenly waking up...Ecology, environment, pollution are the stuff of daily headlines.” Sixteen pages of enviro-articles followed. Newsweek General Editor Kenneth Auchincloss (son-in-law of Malcolm Muir: former Newsweek chair and member of: CFR, Conference Board and Ditchley Foundation) speculated “economic growth may well have to be eliminated altogether.” Co-editor George Sokolov wrote “no other issue had ever moved so quickly from the ‘grass roots’ to public policymaking” as had the ‘the environment.’ The editors called for an “Age of Conservation” to replace the “age of expansion.”
Nixon supported Earth Day but was not a True Believer. He made other concessions to the environmental movement like founding a Citizen’s Committee on Environmental Quality (chaired by Larry Rockefeller) but he did not buy the Population Commission’s pro-abortion agenda nor their conclusion that the US should have zero population growth. By 1971, after going along with environmentalists for three years, Nixon came to view them as fascists. He then opposed them behind the scenes but never publically. He deemed a media war against environmentalists unwinnable.
Environmentalism’s debut did not pass without criticism. Investigative journalist I. F. Stone called Earth Day a “gigantic snow-job.” New Republic magazine denounced the “Ecology Craze.” Murray Bookchin and James Ridgeway saw the hand of Big Business behind environmentalism. Anti-war activist and Lutheran clergyman Richard Neuhaus pointed out Earth Day boosters were big corporations and America’s richest families. One Earth Day ad was signed by Establishment pillars Robert McNamara, Lammot du Pont Copeland and George Champion (Chase Manhattan). Neuhaus:
“...the movement’s organizers called the radicals to the barricades, only to find most of the choice places already taken by the executives of the corporate giants...According to the trade paper “Advertising Age,” companies rushing to buy prime time for Earth Day included Proctor and Gamble, GE, Goodrich, Exxon, DuPont, International Paper, Philips Petroleum, Chevron, GM and Atlantic Richfield...they are the positive champions of the war against pollution.” (17)
He added: “To whom, politically speaking, does the environmental issue belong? To the aristocrats certainly. To the monied, misanthropic aristocrats...” He called them reactionaries, akin to Nazis.
From the mid-1970s on, philanthropies ramped up support of environmentalism. A few huge foundations both dominate and lead philanthropy. In 1980 of the 3,138 philanthropies listed in the Foundation Directory, six had 20% of total assets. The largest 25 had 35% of total assets. Likewise in 2000, of 6,200 listed foundations, 20 had assets over $1 billion. The 1984 Grants Index listed $90 million in grants to “environment;” $26 million to “population,” and $28 million to “energy.” By 2000 big foundations (Ford, Rockefeller, MacArthur, Mott) were giving vastly more to these causes. Earth Day 2000 was basically a festival for foundation-funded enviro-NGOs.
Big foundations represent either wealthy dynasties or large corporations but are invariably managed by the same exclusive high-society set. Ford Foundation (FF) trustees in 2000 were not as illustrious as the 1970s crew. Still the Chair, Yale grad Henry Schacht, was a former CEO of Lucent Technologies and a director of Chase Manhattan, AT&T and Alcoa. He was also a CFR, Conference Board and Business Council member. Fellow trustee Paul Allaire was CEO of Xerox and a director of: JP Morgan, Lucent, SmithKline Beecham, and Sara Lee. Allaire had been a director of CFR since 1993. Also on the board were Kathryn Fuller (World Wildlife Fund CEO and World Bank Sustainable Development Committee member) and Frances Fergusson (Vassar College President and Midland Marine Bank director). MacArthur Foundation directors are a banker’s forum with many also belonging to the CFR and Century Club. MacArthur director John Holdren chaired the Pugwash Conferences and was a member of President’s Advisory Committee on Science and Technology while occupying the Heinz family’s Environmental Policy post at Harvard. MacArthur director, Elizabeth McCormack, was the philanthropic adviser to the Rockefellers. Stuart Rawlings Mott, the son of Mott Foundation’s founder, is a Planned Parenthood leader. What the Rockefeller Bros Fund (RBF) lacked in size it made up for in influence. In the 1970s there were six Rockefellers on the board joining family associate, Henry Kissinger.
From the mid-1970s on the FF regularly poured tens of millions of dollars a year into environmentalist groups. Their favourites were: Conservation Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, NRDC and Sierra Club. They gave $2 million to the Aspen Institute between 1974 and 1982. During the same period the RBF gave Aspen close to $1 million. In keeping with an enviro-philanthropy trend, FF’s grant-giving shifted to the international arena. In 1990 the Rockefeller Foundation set aside $50 million to cultivate an international network of enviro-leaders.
A 1977 RBF Task Force brought together: Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, NRDC, Izaak Walton, Audubon, National Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy and ZPG. Their report, The Unfinished Agenda, said the movement’s goals should be the promotion of: contraception, abortion, sterilization, non-marriage, childlessness, and teen sex education; reducing tax deductions for children; restricting immigration; and making foreign aid dependent upon population control programs. They recommended the movement concentrate on television programs and commercials to re-educate the masses. They called for redoubled efforts to protect wilderness and promote alternative energy, especially solar power and bio-fuels. Unfinished Agenda prioritized eliminating nuclear energy. This anti-nuclear agenda was shared by the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Family Fund who, during the heyday of ‘Nuclear Freeze’, poured millions of dollars into the Union of Concerned Scientists and Environmental Defence Fund for anti-nuke activism. US nuclear energy was spiked.
Between 1965 and 1990 US conservation groups (Audubon, Sierra Club, etc) went from having, collectively, 500,000 members and a cumulative annual budget under $10 million to having 7 million members and annual budgets totalling $500 million. The 1990s style of enviro-activist org was epitomized by the Environmental Defense Fund. However EDF remained directed by old-guard bankers and lawyers such as William Parson, a senior lawyer in Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy – the preserve of veteran movement champion, and “Chairman of the Establishment,” John McCloy. CNN founder Ted Turner joined EDF’s board in 1991. Cutting edge green org, Ruckus Society, despite its illegal direct action tactics and “anarchist” veneer, was led by an elite-financed cadre of professionals. Ruckus was behind much of the street activism during the anti-globalization brouhaha. Also among the new generation, the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Amory Lovins who rose to prominence by writing Soft Energy Paths: Toward a Durable Peace in 1977 while a Friends of the Earth employee. RBF’s president gave Lovins the outline for Soft Energy and Appalachian Mountain Club staffers helped him write it. Soft Energy was the focus for Aspen Institute forums and parts of it were reprinted in CFR’s Foreign Affairs (with editorial assistance from CIA honcho William Bundy, McGeorge’s brother). Lovins figured prominently in Earth Day 2000 as did fellow enviro-lieutenant Lester Brown, who has managed Worldwatch Institute since 1974. Brown is involved in Aspen, CFR and ZPG.
Also starring at Earth Day 2000 was eco-saurus Maurice Strong. Back in 1992 Strong was Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development whereat every world leader paid lip service to movement goals. Strong believes: “consumption patterns of the affluent middle class – involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, ownership of motor vehicles and small electrical appliances, home and workplace air-conditioning and suburban housing – are not sustainable.” Strong confided he would like to write a novel wherein a group of leaders conclude the risk to Earth came from rich countries’ refusal to reduce their environmental impact. “So” Strong imagined “in order to save the planet, the group decides: Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t our responsibility to bring that about? This group of world leaders form a secret society to bring about an economic collapse.” (18)Writing for the early 1990s Trilateral Commission book, Beyond Interdependence, Strong declared:
“...the world has now moved beyond economic interdependence to ecological interdependence – and to an intermeshing of the two... the earth’s ecology is the new reality of the century, with profound implications for the shape of our institutions of governance, national and international.” (19)
The book’s forward, by Trilateral Commission founder and CFR chair David Rockefeller, also recommends pushing past economic international interdependence to a “meshing of the world’s economy and the earth’s ecology.”
Steven Rockefeller is the son of former New York Governor and US Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. As RBF chair he meets regularly with RBF directors including one from the WWF board, another who chairs the Conservation Foundation, and another who is a senior exec of Time Warner/AOL. Steven is also a Religion Prof at Vermont’s Middlebury College. In 1992 he co-edited Spirit and Nature, Why the Environment is a Religious Issue and contributed an essay of his own, Faith and Community in an Ecological Age. He believes: “integration of the moral and religious life with a new ecological worldview, leading to major social transformations, is a fundamental need of our time.” He believes the environmental crisis is partly caused by the Christian ideas that Man was created in God’s image and has God-given dominion over Earth. Christianity does not assign intrinsic value to Nature; it is anthropocentric. Plato contributed to the problem by separating the spiritual and natural realms. Descartes caused the Industrial Revolution by subjecting Nature to rational analysis. Then, according to Chairman Steve,
“When aspirations for democratic social change were joined with the forces of industrialization and technology, the idea of progress was born, leading to a new secular faith that emerged as a powerful social force in the late 18th and 19th centuries.” (20)
For authority Steven conjures Martin Heidegger. No mention is made of Heidegger being an unrepentant Nazi. What mattered was Heidegger was something of an ecologist who believed technology destroyed Man’s spiritual essence and who opposed capitalism’s pillaging of Nature. To bolster his case against “rationalism and scientific materialism” Steven quotes Carl Jung without mentioning his affinity to Nazism. Jung predicted the “coming aeon of Aquarius,” disseminated UFO propaganda and pondered the necessity of doing evil. Jung, naturally, was bio-centric. Here’s Jung:
“Nothing could persuade me that ‘in the image of God’ applied only to man. In fact it seemed to me that the high mountains, the rivers, lakes, trees, flowers, and animals far better exemplified the essence of God than men with their ridiculous clothes, their meanness, vanity, mendacity, and abhorrent egotism...” (21)
Steven shares this view:
“Rocks and trees as well as humans are manifestations of this vital force. It is omnipresent and preserves the interconnectedness of all things in the ongoing process of growth and transformation which is the universe. Humans are not superior to this natural process but integral parts of its functioning...” (22)
Steven’s life project is a “Great Awakening” encompassing “diverse religious visions, moral democracy, various holistic philosophies, the new physics, the science of ecology, reverence for life, deep ecology, the practice of I and thou, feminism and the ethics of sustainable development.” He calls upon the world’s religions to “take to heart the ecological idea of global interdependence” as this will usher in a “whole earth community” including plants and animals.
In 1991 The Green Reader, edited by Andrew Dobson, heralded the “Green” movement as “successor to traditional environmentalism.” While the Reader billed itself as a radical departure, its forward is by a Sierra Club bigwig and its contents include re-cycled prose from Carson, Schumacher, Hardin, Leopold, and Huxley. The Reader’s radicalism is confined to its being radically reactionary, aristocratic, and misanthropic. One contributor argued: “our affluent way of life is highly immoral...rich countries must accept the idea of de-development; we should take immediate action towards reducing our material living standards.” Fellow contributor, Friends of the Earth’s J. Porritt, asserts Greens are “neither left nor right nor in the centre...the motorway of industrialism inevitably leads to the abyss.” Dobson adds:
“Green politics settles human beings by humbling them first... There is no room for Prometheus here. The talk around the tables in vegetarian restaurants is off limits: not limits to industrial and population growth, but of the limits to human knowledge that produce the dark side of ingenuity. We take refuge in our ignorance... Green politics responds to an age of uncertainty by teaching us to know our place.” (23)
The Reader actually confirms the movement’s historical continuity and a permeable membrane between movement moderates and radicals. Further examples of this abound. ‘Moderate’ Rene Dubos was a Century Club member and a long-serving Rockefeller U Prof chosen by Strong to draft the “conceptual framework” for the UN’s 1972 Stockholm Conference. Yet here is Rene in a 1975 New York Times op-ed:
“I see little evidence that our civilization has been made more appealing by the recent phenomenal increases in the use of energy.... the healthiest, happiest and most creative persons are likely to be found among those who consume the least” (like street people) (24)
Another ‘moderate’ Ernst Schumacher (author of the best-seller, Small is Beautiful)argues humanity’s plight results from too little time spent doing hard labour. This problemis exacerbated because “the whole drift of modern technological development is to reduce it further.” Schumacher asked us to: “Imagine we set our selves a goal in the opposite direction – to increase it (physical labour) six-fold.” Some heavenly day, “Even children would be allowed to make themselves useful, even old people.” Similarly enviro-pundit William Ophuls dreams of a day where agriculture is more labour intensive because “labour will be cheaper than energy” and because “horticultural agriculture” is “less ecologically damaging.” Hence: “a larger portion of the population will have to be ‘peasants’ in a low-energy steady state society.” Best-selling “post-industrial” author Robert Heilbroner refers to humanity as a cancer and claims in addition to war, over-population, and environmental damage there exists: “a fourth independent threat... the presence of science and technology as the driving force of the age.” He wants to end “the dangerous mentality of industrial civilization itself” even if this means sacrificing democracy. Bio-diversity’s main proponent, renowned professor and author, E.O. Wilson, is an orthodox Malthusian and Social Darwinist. Fellow bio-diversifiers include movement stalwarts Paul Ehrlich and Lester Brown. Biodiversity is a post-modernist Darwinist hodgepodge where Nature is so complex only a handful of bio-wizards can grasp it. They will guide us dummies. Biodiversity is a political camp devoted to battling the planet’s aggressors – humanity. The Club of Rome has declared their enemy to be “humanity itself.”
Julian Simon’s The Ultimate Resource (1981) was the first of a genre debunking environmental “science” without venturing a sociological analysis of environmentalism’s misinformation campaign. This was symptomatic of the Reagan Revolutionaries who were willing to alienate the North-Eastern Establishment by steering Republicans in an anti-environmentalist direction but who placed restraints on the discourse. Republican anti-environmentalism was a genuine reflection of Americans who disagreed with, and were often injured by, environmental regulation. This constituency included: ranchers, miners, loggers, farmers, fishermen, trappers, hunters, off-road vehicle users, property rights advocates and legions of industrialists. A counter-movement temporarily coalesced into the “Wise Use Movement” after a 1988 conference sponsored by the Center for the Defence of Free Enterprise and attended by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation and Alliance for America. They considered environmentalists to be socialists, not reactionary aristocrats. They never mentioned environmentalism’s upper class support nor referred to it as an “ideology.” They zeroed-in on the erroneousness of enviro-scares and vented at big government. It was a pseudo-political discourse.
Gibson's Summary Summarized
Some social movements emerge spontaneously out of grievances shared by a large part of the citizenry; others are manufactured in a top-down fashion wherein work, commonly believed to be performed by volunteers, is done by paid staff. The top-downs are neglected by sociologists. Published research on environmentalism overlooks its upper class sponsorship. The media is silent on this fact and politicians never talk about it. Elite environmentalists used their financial and media resources to mobilize support. The wealth of billionaire dynasties and philanthropic foundations enabled them to set agendas and shape culture. They built a mass base in suburbia – a caste of environmental lawyers, academics, journalists, non-profit administrators and green entrepreneurs. They co-opted large corporations that benefit from manipulating environmental regulations.
Environmentalism’s goal is the self-preservation of an aristocratic ‘Establishment.’ “Save the environment” means “save the oligarchy.” Opposing progress is cloaked as defending Nature. They attack economic development in domestic hinterlands and pre-industrial countries. They fear the rise of new centers of wealth and rival elites. They keep potential opponents dependent and backward. A rival state cannot have a modern military without a modern industrial base. Any polity mobilized for economic progress generates effective governance, growth-oriented entrepreneurs and legions of technicians, managers, scientists and engineers. New elites accompany progress. The march of history makes heredity, privilege and status less important.
Environmentalism is an “ideology,” a “socio-political doctrine,” a “paradigm.” Environmentalist ideas are weapons serving specific interests, levers elevating types of development contrary to popular notions of progress. The aim is controlling development. Conservation is a rationale for opposing prosperity. Conflict over what constitutes “sustainable” is a political struggle. “Spaceship earth,” “the finite world,” “limits to growth” are constructs injecting pessimistic, fatalistic myths about human creativity’s destructiveness and humanity’s confinement within Natural laws. People awed by Nature do not seek scientific or social progress. Environmentalists generate mass anxiety over cancer, acid rain, alar, ozone holes, global warming, over-population and resource depletion. Their propaganda is full of exaggerations, factual disregard and contempt for opposing views. Specific campaigns are abandoned and they never apologize for errors. Relentless enviro-propaganda bombardment is designed to make people submit to phony ‘ecological laws.’
Environmentalism appeals to an array of people not all of whom believe all aspects of it. Environmentalism, to some, disguises the political situation, especially their own self-interest. Claims about resources, population and pollution range from calculated attempts to dupe others to self-deceiving rationalizations. Environmentalism, to others, is a total worldview describing reality and legitimating action but is nonetheless rooted to a concrete historico-social group. Environmentalism is a reactionary utopian social movement led by this concrete historico-social group. The struggle to universalize environmentalism is this group’s bid for state power.
Imagine attending a performance of Macbeth or Hamlet where the director decided not to fill the protagonist’s role. The other players go through their motions, speak their lines, but when it is the protagonist’s turn there is silence and stillness. Imagine it is the first time you saw the play. How confusing! This is the picture one gets from descriptions of environmentalism that ignore the dynasties comprising the movement’s leadership. Gibson studies environmentalism with an unwavering focus on the aristocratic Establishment at its core and he is thus right on the (old) money.
Gibson is wrong for defining environmentalism as the product of the “Anglo-American Establishment.” The environmentalist Trilateral Commission, while not the movement’s hub, is very aptly named. The movement is “tri-lateral” – based in the aristocratic constituencies of the US North-East, Western Europe and Japan. The illusion of Anglo-American centrality results from over emphasis on the movement’s earliest years and on the post-WWII period. The movement, being a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, was an English affair in its early years because the early Industrial Revolution was an English affair. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries this movement was much stronger in Europe and Japan than in the English-speaking world. Fascism threatened the West but ruled Europe and Japan. After WWII the movement’s branches in war-ravaged Europe and Japan were poor and suppressed; hence, the reactionary aristocratic communities of the UK and USA became the movement’s redoubt. Now the movement is again centered in Europe, as it has been for 20 years. Environmentalism is far more popular and institutionalized in Western Europe than in the USA. “Climate Change,” environmentalism’s biggest campaign, is a state-led effort to re-order the global energy industry in ways beneficial to Western Europe and Japan but so disadvantageous to the USA, Canada and Australia it should be deemed an act of economic warfare.
Gibson does not properly explain the aristocrat-banker connection. Many banks in the industrial world hold most of their wealth in mortgages attached to residential, commercial or agricultural real estate. Much of their daily business operations consist of re-financing mortgages, facilitating real estate sales, and processing monthly rent, lease and mortgage payments. They are in the “land” business. As well, because land magnates (aristocrats) favour bank-shares as investments, controlling interest of many banks is in the hands of groups of urban and rural landlords. Such banks uphold the “landed interest.”
Gibson does not properly place environmentalism in the context of land economics. There is nothing irrational or viscerally anti-humanitarian about enviro-campaigns against new land development. These activist projects are rational collective defences of shared material interests. The value of real estate in and around New York, London, Rome, Tokyo, Berlin and other old metropoles would plummet if hinterlands were free to develop. “Conservation” blocks mass out-migration from metropolitan areas. The price of preserving metropole property values is eternal enviro-vigilance.
Gibson rightly connects population control to environmentalism. These two sub-movements have parallel histories, overlapping agendas and common funding sources. Although media-shy as of late, the population control sub-movement remains a multi-billion-dollar-a-year operation. Environmental groups either openly endorse Malthusianism or disingenuously have “no comment” on the population issue.
Gibson accurately criticizes American anti-environmentalism. This counter-movement is led by children of the Cold War. They frame the struggle as a fight against the commies. They’re afraid they will catch heck from dad if they use the “c” word (“class”). They counter junk-science but spray junk-sociology. Exposing environmentalism’s aristocratic leaders is neither a call for the aristocrat’s heads nor for their expropriation. It is truthful explanation of the movement’s phenomenal influence and it is sound ground for tossing out the whole basket of environmental policy proposals. Environmentalism makes sense to a rentier who inherited forty acres of New York City and fat stacks of blue-chip bank stocks, but environmentalist polices are disastrous for the vast majority of the citizenry.
Gibson, Donald. Environmentalism: Ideology and Power; 2002, Nova Science Publishers, Huntington, New York.
- Gibson, Donald. Environmentalism: Ideology and Power; 2002, Nova Science Publishers, Huntington, New York. p 106
Ibid p 106
Ibid p 16
Ibid p 18
Ibid p 11
Ibid p 108
Ibid p 48
Ibid p 43-4
Ibid p 56
Ibid p 70-1
Ibid p 94
Ibid p 75
Ibid p 76
Ibid p 123
Ibid p 124
Ibid p 72
Ibid p 78
Ibid p 94-5
Ibid p 119
Ibid p 116
Ibid p 117
Ibid p 117
Ibid p 128
Ibid p 125