zondag, mei 07, 2006

My answer door Edward GOLDSMITH op EdwardGoldsmith.com

Edward Goldsmith has come under attack from all sides of the political spectrum for his uncompromising and firmly-held views. In this article of January 2003, he robustly defends himself against his various detractors.

I have been under heavy, often vitriolic, attack in the last year. For some of my critics I am now a racist, fascist, neo-nazi, and "extreme right-wing ideologue" (Eric Krebbers and others of Fabel van de Illegaal). I say "now", as in the past I have been referred to as a Bolshevik (l'Actuel, a French periodical), a "whacko-communist-liberal" (a viewer of the US television programme C-Span), an "anarchist" (widespread sources), a "Jacobin" (Lyndon Larouche), a "Palaeolithic counter-revolutionary" (widespread sources), an "omnivorous pseudo-ecological tribalist" (Bob Finch of the Mundi Club) a "hypocrisy accumulation zone" (same source), a "Gaian-sociobiologist" (Wolfgang Sachs) a madman (Professor Lewis Wolpert), and even more recently, so I am told, the "anti-Christ" (Cardinal Biffi).

This suggests above all that my writings are difficult to classify in terms of today's conventional classifications, also that my views are not as popular as they might be, at least among many sectors of today's industrial society. I have to admit that they could not be more different from those of "Fabel van de Illegaal", my most vitriolic critics today, and of their gurus, Nicholas Hildyard and Larry Lohmann of the "Corner House", but that does not make me a fascist or any of the other things that these people make me out to be.

My views reflect above all my rejection of modern industrial society in just about all its manifestations, including its underlying world-view and its associated values, and the very principle of economic development that they serve to rationalise and hence legitimise. Needless to say, I also reject even more the globalisation of this destructive process, which, by its very nature, can only lead, if it continues for much longer, to the annihilation of the natural world, and among other things to the extinction of our species. I doubt if all the people I work with accept this view, many of them do not see the present situation as being quite as grim as I do. All I can say is that I sincerely hope that they are right.

My views also reflect my experience of traditional societies and my extensive reading of the anthropological literature over the last 40 years. It is quite clear to me that only traditional societies have proved to be in any way sustainable. Only such societies have been capable of satisfying real human needs. These include the need to live in a loving family, a cohesive community, and a rich natural environment, and to be imbued with the religio-cultural pattern that holds it all together. These ideas could not be less fashionable, but I believe them to be true, and it would take more than the venom of Krebbers, Hildyard, and Lohmann, to make me relinquish them. It is no coincidence that not one of my African, Indian, or Polynesian friends rejects a single word of my writings.

These writings also fit in perfectly with the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi (I worked for four or five months in 1974 with the Gandhi Peace Foundation in Delhi), while possibly the leading Gandhian figure in India today, Sunderlal Bahuguna, personally arranged for the publication of a shortened version of my book The Way: an Ecological World-View [1] to distribute among social activists in his country. If my views make me a fascist and a racist then you would have to apply these terms to the members of all traditional societies just about everywhere in the world - including New Guinea tribesmen and Amazonian Indians. [See Note A]

I suppose that by holding these views I could be described as a conservative - but a conservative with a small 'c' - which I take as applying to those who seek to protect society against the state and in particular against the totalitarian state that has always sought to destroy the family and community which it tends to regard as rival social structures. Today, it is above all, the big corporations that seek to destroy social forms and create an atomised mass society made up of egoistic and competitive individuals with no social or ecological obligations of any kind and whose interrelationships are of a strictly economic nature.

To be a conservative with a small 'c' does not mean that I am right wing in the normal sense of the term. Mrs Thatcher had no feeling for society. In fact she once denied that society actually existed over and above the individuals and families that it contained. Right wing governments such as those of Mr Reagan and Mrs Thatcher, Mr Bush and Mr Major, and in effect Mr Clinton and Mr Blair, are totally committed to defending the interests of big corporations - interests that are in many ways in total conflict with those of the citizens who elected them to power.

I hated Mr Major's government and actually set up a Commission that published a 64-page booklet entitled The Tory Record: an Assessment. It was a merciless indictment of its record over the previous eighteen years, showing how it had sided with big industry and against the electors on such issues as unemployment, health, child malnutrition, the privatisation of the nuclear industry, contaminated land, etc; 87,000 copies of this booklet were distributed by Green Party candidates in different constituencies.

It is of course true that right-wing parties do affect concern (sometimes sincerely and sometimes less so) for the destruction of the family and the community, and that of the natural world, but their economic policies can only further accelerate their destruction. For me only a local economy run by small companies, artisans and small farmers, can provide the economic infrastructure for a society made up of solid families and communities, while minimising its impact on the environment and Right Wing governments (including those of Mr Clinton and Mr Blair) are forcing us in the very opposite direction - towards ever greater economic globalisation.

But let us look at the precise accusations that are being levelled at me. The first is that I am a regular participant in the meetings of the French New Right. In fact - and for what it is worth - I have participated in exactly one meeting of the French New Right, that of le G.R.E.C.E. in November 1994. Before being invited to speak at that meeting I had never heard of le G.R.E.C.E., nor even of the New Right. I have also participated in one meeting of the Delta Stichting in Antwerp in 1997, a similar association. [See Note B]

I have been involved for thirty years in environmental, and, to a lesser extent, in social issues that are of relevance for determining a society's impact on its environment. I founded The Ecologist in 1969. I have written, edited, or co-edited 17 books and also written hundreds of articles, mainly on environmental issues, and am invited to speak at meetings of all sorts of groups in many different countries. A year or two before I spoke at le G.R.E.C.E. I toured Switzerland at the request of the Swiss Trotskyist party to denounce the activities of the IMF, which that country was about to join. I have also spoken at the World Bank and at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

There is no point just talking to fellow environmentalists, as I used to do in the early days. It is essential, as far as I am concerned, that people - regardless of their political views - should understand the seriousness of the environmental problems we face today. As for the G.R.E.C.E. after I was invited to speak at their meeting, I was told that they were originally a neo-fascist, intellectual, and cultural association, but that they had seriously changed their tune in the last 15 years. Some people later insisted that this change was of a purely cosmetic nature and that the writings of their guru and main spokesman Alain de Benoist, which I found particularly interesting, did not reflect his real agenda.

At the time I was not in a position to decide whether this is so, nor am I better able to do so today. What is certain is that I do not find anything in his writings to suggest that he is a fascist. For one thing de Benoist has strongly criticised the National Front on many occasions, and their views on social issues - insofar as I can judge them - are by no means the same. In particular, de Benoist has strongly denounced Le Pen's attitude to immigrants in France. Nor is he a rabid nationalist for that matter. [2] He is in favour of European integration, to which I am very much opposed.

In any case, I have never had any contact whatsoever with any extreme Right political party, either in France or in England, let alone funded them, as it is apparently rumoured. The only political party I have been a member of is the British Green Party, whose formation was largely triggered off by the Blueprint for Survival (1972) [4] a book of which I was co-author. I stood for the first parliamentary election that (what is now) the Green Party ever contested in October 1974. I later stood as the Green Party candidate for the County Council Elections in Cornwall, and still later for the European elections representing Cornwall and Plymouth.

What is fascism?
Since I am accused of being a fascist, I think it is worth seeing exactly what fascism really means. The main features of the fascist state - if we take Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy as the models - are: firstly that it is totalitarian. That is to say that it is run by a highly authoritarian and centralized government that brooks no opposition and whose policies are thereby subject to no democratic control.

However, in my book, The Way: an Ecological World-View, I point out that in a traditional society made up of cohesive family and community groupings, there is no place for the State (in the sense of a formal government and bureaucracy, let alone a totalitarian state). I quote the great anthropologist, Roy Rappaport, who describes it as "a special purpose association" [5] - concerned almost exclusively with its own short-term interests and almost invariably oblivious of the real needs of those it has been called upon to govern."

I also quote J.K.Galbraith, who states that "the State, in important matters, is an instrument of the industrial system", and the industrial system I also reject. As I have already noted, I see economic development and hence industrialization, as the cause of all the social and environmental problems of today. What I believe in is real democratic government, by which I mean participatory government at a communal level - the only level at which the individual can make himself or herself heard, the only level at which he or she can truly participate in public affairs, and the only level at which decisions can be taken by those who will be affected by them. [6]

The model, for me, at least in the Western world, is the Swiss Confederation as it once was. Power there effectively resided with the communes rather than with the Cantonal governments and still less with the Confederate Government in Berne. [7] If none of my readers (as I am sure is the case) can name a single Swiss politician - this clearly suggests that the Swiss central government even today has very little power. In any case, to suggest as Krebbers does that for over thirty years I have been "propagating the same totalitarian view of the world" [8] is a downright lie, and he knows it. My view of the world is the very opposite to the authoritarian or totalitarian view. [See Note C]

The second main feature of the fascist state is its militarism and its associated imperialism. Alan Cassel wrote in his book Fascist Italy [9] that "the fascist creed was the injunction 'believe, obey, fight'". The supreme fascist virtues were "Spartan"." The state into which the fascist proposed to integrate the Italian masses was a bleak one. "It demanded sacrifice and duty, and held out the distant hope of national conquest and honours of war. It was less suited to a civil community than to an army," while needless to say German fascism was even more militaristic.

I, on the other hand, utterly reject militarism, as I make clear in my book The Stable Society [10] and in The Case Against the Global Economy, which Jerry Mander and I co-edited, nor would I have worked for the Gandhi Peace Foundation for four months in 1974 if I were militaristically inclined.

The third basic feature of fascist ideology is corporatism. The corporative state was one of Mussolini's most cherished principles. Its object was to encourage industrial activity (not by the small farmers and artisans, as suggested by my critics, but by big powerful companies) and put it to the service of the state. Corporations (industrial associations) were set up for each major industry and included representation from both capital and labour. The government was seen as representing these corporations to the point that in 1938 the Chamber of Deputies was abolished and replaced by a "Chamber of Fasces and Corporations", which was elected or appointed by 22 corporations. [11]

Needless to say it is critical to the thesis of "The Case Against the Global Economy" [12] that democracy is impossible if the economy is run by large corporations that are powerful enough to control our governments as they do today. It follows that we must return to a local economy run by small companies that are more likely to take the interests of the society in which they operate at heart, and which, in any case, governments are better able to control.

The fourth feature of the fascist state, at least in the case of Nazi Germany, was its racism. (Mussolini was not a racist until he was forced to become one by Hitler in 1938). The importance of maintaining the purity of the Aryan blood was central to Hitler's vision. [13] It was this purity which enabled the Aryans to dominate the rest of the world. The Jews had to be exterminated because they wished to interbreed with the Aryans and were thereby a threat to the very survival of the "master race" - which is of course absurd as Jews seek marriage among themselves in order to preserve their identity as a people. Nolte, an authority on the Nazis, [14] regards genocide "as corresponding to the central intention of National Socialism".

To accuse me of espousing these ideas is simply farcical. To begin with I am a Jew myself. Many of my relations died in Hitler's gas chambers. I repeat that I am 100 percent against the totalitarian state, militarism, imperialism, corporatism, and racism, (that is if this latter term is defined as the persecution of racial, or indeed of cultural minorities). [See Note D] It will be noted that the fascist state did not in any way promote the things that I personally believe in, i.e. the protection of our natural environment, of local communities, local economies, small farmers, artisans and local cultural patterns that provide people with a blueprint for relating to their society and to the natural world, and of course local participatory democracy.

As I have already stated, I believe that most people still entertain these views. Among them, I am sure, are many people I would approve of, and some too I would disapprove of. For all I know, Jack the Ripper firmly believed in the local economy. So what? Would any of the idealistic young people who are fighting so desperately to prevent the annihilation of the world's remaining forests simply give up and take a job in a logging company because they had suddenly discovered that Count Dracula had fought just as passionately to save the forests of Transylvania? I doubt it very much.

Krebbers, Hildyard, etc., insist that my reason for attending the meeting of the G.R.E.C.E. in 1994 and that of the Delta Stichtung in 1997 was to help make these associations respectable in the eyes of the environmental movement. I am very flattered of course that they should think that by personally participating in the meeting of an association, whatever it might be, suffices to assure its complete acceptance by the environmental movement. I must have grossly underestimated my influence in environmental circles.

We must realize that we can only hope to win the critical battle we are fighting, by getting the public on our side, and not just part of the public, but as much of it as possible. It is only public pressure that can make governments change their policies, and what is more public pressure is the only force that we can conceivably control. As it happens, possibly half the population of a country like the UK or the US is made up of people who normally vote for Conservative or right wing governments. [See Note E] Just like Left Wing voters they must be converted to our cause - that is of course if we want to win this battle - i.e. if we want our children to have a life worth living on this planet.

This means that environmentalists and those fighting the global economy must not be frightened of making ad hoc alliances with groups with whom we may disagree on many important issues in order to prevent destructive initiatives like the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) for instance. Thus in Seattle there was a de facto alliance between environmentalists and Third World leaders, whose refusal to sign the final declaration actually brought the meeting to a close.

Yet their motivation was not to prevent the further destruction of the planet or to fight the escalating poverty in their respective countries. It was primarily to obtain greater access to the American markets many sectors of which are still relatively closed to their exports. However, to export more sugar cane, palm oil, bananas, tea, coffee, cut flowers, and livestock to the U.S. can only occur at the cost of cutting down still more forests and of diverting still more land and water that is badly required to feed their already underfed citizens in order to accommodate the interests of the corporations that run the export trade in Third World countries.

This is of course something that environmentalists cannot approve of, yet tactically this temporary alliance was of critical importance. One of the first great victories of the environmental movement could never have been scored without it.

On the other hand, if the object of an alliance is to co-operate in building up a new society, this would of course only be possible with people with whom we agreed on most, if not all, fundamental issues. What is certain is that there is a huge difference between these two types of alliances. The former are loose and temporary, whereas the latter are much closer and of course must be long-lasting if they are to achieve their goal.

However, Krebbers goes even further over the top when he attacks the substance of my book The Way: an Ecological World-View. [15] Thus he talks of "my fascistic longings for a stable society," but what on earth is fascistic about a stable society? To say that a living system is stable is to say that it can resist, or, if it fails to do so, recover from a disturbance. A healthy organism basically means a stable organism - as J. Ralph Audy puts it, "health is a continuing property, potentially measurable by the individual's ability to rally from insults, whether chemical, physical, infectious, psychological or social." Of course a healthy organism is also one that contributes to the stability of the larger systems of which it is part in order to prevent conditions from occurring, which it cannot resist or recover from.

The same is true for a society, an ecosystem and for the ecosphere or Gaia herself. A stable society is one in which discontinuities such as the incidence of aberrant social forms like drug addiction, alcoholism, crime, delinquency, massacres, revolutions and wars, etc., are reduced to a minimum. Most normal people would like to live in such a society. Of course, not so our friend Krebbers, for whom a stable society is "clearly opposed to left-wing revolutionary politics". [16] In other words, to please Krebbers we need to create an unstable society with all the misery this will give rise to, just in order to provide people with something to revolt against.

The stability of Gaia or the ecosphere is particularly critical. Global warming which is occurring today should really be referred to as 'global climatic destabilization', since the ecosphere is, as a result, becoming subject to increasing and ever more serious discontinuities such as sea level rises, ever worsening storms and floods, and also droughts and heat-waves. What is more this destabilization could well lead to the freezing up of certain areas such as Northern Europe, for as the ice shelves melt the salinity of the seas is reduced and ocean currents such as the gulf stream weaken and eventually cease to exist.

Among other things climatic destabilization will make agriculture extremely difficult to say the least. How we will be able to feed the world in increasingly unstable climatic conditions is by no means evident. [17] But of course, only fascists would even consider doing such an evil thing as applying constraints on corporations as well as on people in order to stabilize world climate!

Krebbers, and indeed others of my critics, also object to my use of the term 'order'. However, in the context in which I use this term it has nothing to do with the sort of order maintained by a totalitarian government. That is not a real or natural order. Among other things it is terribly unstable. For me order is the opposite of chaos, and is closely related to stability. To maintain the stability of any natural system involves maintaining its basic structure or order.

This is clear in the case of a biological organism, as it is in the case of the ecosphere. As Jim Lovelock writes "the atmospheric concentration of gases such as oxygen and ammonia", and of course carbon dioxide "is found to be kept at an optimum value from which even small departures could have disastrous consequences for life," [18] - as indeed is now proving to be the case. For if climatic change is occurring it is that our industrial activities are systematically and ever more drastically transforming the chemical composition of the atmosphere, disrupting its critical order and hence destabilizing it.

For me, it is equally important to maintain what I take to be the critical order of human society. It is no coincidence that every traditional society known - everywhere in the world - was organized into families and communities. [19] It is only at these levels of organization that most important functions, like the bringing up of children, the care of the old and the sick, the production, preparation and the equitable distribution of food and other resources can best be achieved. [20] It is also only at these levels, that real participatory democracy is even conceivable.

In addition it provides people with their most basic form of security. If the poor of the Third World can survive at all in increasingly difficult conditions it is because of the extraordinary solidarity displayed by family members towards each other. Among the pavement dwellers in the slums of Calcutta, if one brother manages to get a job he will feed not only his own immediate family but also that of his unemployed brothers. As secure, long-term jobs become ever less available within the context of the global economy and as the welfare state is slowly dismantled in order to reduce costs to industry, so will people, in a society in which the family and the community have disintegrated, be deprived of any form of security. How they will survive is not at all evident.

But of course, for Krebbers, Hildyard, Lohmann and other members of the extremist fundamentalist cult of political correctness, the family is unacceptable for it is "patriarchal" [See Note F] - as is the community, which is seen as "exclusive". So it is presumably better to allow children to fend for themselves, rather than be looked after by their evil patriarchal families and for all the other important family and community functions to be assumed by bureaucrats, who, in the words of John McKnight, only "wear the mask of care" - but who presumably Krebbers and his friends regard as incomparably better capable of doing so.

The Unit of Evolution
Krebbers and his friends are also keen to show that I have no interest whatsoever in individual people but only in the evil social groupings of which they are part. In their effort to do this, they quote me as asking "what is so special about the individual organism"? By itself this may seem to confirm their thesis, but let us look at the context in which this question is put. [21] In a chapter on evolution in my book The Way I state that "the fundamental flaw in the neo-Darwinian thesis is that the individual organism is taken to be the basic unit of evolution." But then, I ask, "what is so special about the individual organism? Is there such a fundamental difference between its adaptive strategies and those of other natural systems that it can be viewed as totally distinct from them? The answer is unquestionably no."

I then try to show that if evolution were the product of natural selection then this process would have had to occur not only at the level of the organism but also at that of its constituent molecules, organs and tissues and also that of the family, the community, the society, the ecosystem, and Gaia herself. This is strongly denied by neo-Darwinists and sociobiologists today. They maintain that all these natural systems evolved simply by virtue of being composed of individuals who alone are capable of evolution by natural selection.

Clearly the passage quoted by Krebbers is not in any way designed to reflect my views, or anyone else's views, on the relationship of the individual citizen to the larger society of which he or she is part, as Krebbers clearly must have known from the very start. It is only about the level or levels at which the evolutionary process is directly operative. This is typical of the way Krebbers and his colleagues have extracted passages from my writings in order to make it appear that I am saying things that often could not be further from my mind.

The Hierarchical Ecosphere
Krebbers also singles out for attack the constant reference in my book to the hierarchical organization of the ecosphere. Hierarchy, like stability and order is clearly a bad word in Krebbers' vocabulary. [22] He seems to react to these words very much as Pavlov's dogs were seen as doing. [23] The fact is that the natural systems that make up the ecosphere are organized hierarchically. The ecosphere is made up of ecosystems in turn made up of populations, societies, and, among some forms of life, communities and families, and of course biological organisms, which in turn are made up of organs and tissues, cells, molecules, atoms etc.

If Krebbers doesn't like it, too bad. To deny it is as idiotic as to deny that the earth is round. [24]. Eugene Odum, the most prestigious ecologist in American Academia today, who is the author of what were the standard textbooks on ecology in the USA for many decades ("Fundamentals of Ecology" and "Basic Ecology"), devotes considerable space to the hierarchical nature of the living world. He ends up by telling us that his subject - ecology - is concerned with "the upper end of the spectrum, covering populations and ecosystems".[25]

This natural hierarchy, by the way, is not in any way tyrannical - as can be that of the State and corporations, which are extraneous to the hierarchy of the natural world. As I point out in The Way living things at all levels of organisation do not behave in a purely egoistic way (as we are told by our economists and theoretical biologists, who are nearly all of the Neo Darwinian and sociobiological faiths) except in a totally disintegrated society such as that in which we live in today. They seek, on the contrary, to maintain the order and stability of all the larger systems of which they are part.

This could not be more logical, for as Eugene Odum notes, "the individual organism.cannot survive for long without its population any more than the organ would be able to survive for long as a self-perpetuating unit without its organism". [26] The stable family requires to be part of a community whose stability in turn can only be assured in a stable society, while social groupings at all levels of organization can in turn only be stable if they are part of a stable ecosystem, which in turn needs to be part of a stable ecosphere. To destroy ecospheric or Gaian stability, for instance by destabilizing global climate, means that each of these natural systems will be correspondingly affected. Destabilize Gaia's climate sufficiently and its constituent natural systems will simply disintegrate and die off.

This goes some way towards explaining why the priority of traditional societies has always been to maintain the order of the cosmos (the world of the gods, which was seen as encompassing society and the natural world). It explains too why all these entities were seen as subjected to the same sacred laws of the ecosphere - or Gaian laws - a view which Krebbers, Hildyard, Lohmann, and also surprisingly Wolfgang Sachs, regard as thoroughly evil. [27] They may hate the messenger, but the message could not be better documented.

What is more, if traditional peoples believed that society and the natural world were governed by the same set of laws, and that these laws were sacred, there is another very good reason for it. It is only in such conditions that population control and resource management have ever been possible and hence societies have ever proved sustainable (another word for stable). [28]

In the aberrant modern society, in which we live, we can actually destroy our planet and make our species extinct without violating a single law. In the context of the global economy run by transnational corporations via the World Trade Organization, the situation is now even more preposterous. Not only are there no effective laws to protect the environment, but new laws are being introduced which actually make it illegal to do so. The most outrageous is Article 23.3 of the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which I shall describe further on in this document.

It goes without saying that if we had remained imbued with a traditional cosmic and hence ecological religio-culture we would not be in the terrible situation in which we find ourselves today. Everybody would still feel the obligation to co-operate with his or her fellows and with the community itself. In such conditions there would be little need for government, or for any sort of bureaucracy, and conditions would be incomparably less favourable for the TNCs.

On the other hand, as society disintegrates - i.e. becomes atomized - its citizens are taught, like today, that they have no obligations to anyone except themselves. This, in itself, creates a correspondingly greater need for government, and eventually tyrannical government at that. Hence, by promoting individualism and egoism, as we are doing ever more frenziedly, rather than by accentuating people's obligations to their society and to the natural world, we promote tyranny and totalitarianism - both political and economic.

Krebbers, in his efforts to prove that I am a fascist and neo Nazi, insists that I state in The Way that "I want to eliminate social deviants" [28] - presumably, in my own private gas chambers.

As it happens, the methods that I propose in my writings for maintaining social order and preventing deviancy and crime- and, as it happens too, the only ones that have really proved effective, are the very opposite of those used by totalitarian or authoritarian regimes. For me, it is only via public opinion, reflecting traditional values and exerted at a local level, rather than via a brutal police force, as is the case in a totalitarian regime, that order can be maintained. In an article I wrote in 1971 in The Ecologist I quote the famous anthropologist Ralph Linton on this subject. He writes,

"Eskimos say that if a man is a thief no one will do anything about it, but the people will laugh when his name is mentioned. This does not sound like a severe penalty, but it suffices to make theft almost unknown. Ridicule will bring almost any individual to terms while the most stubborn rebel will bow before ostracism or the threat of expulsion from his group." [29]

Ostracism is indeed the ultimate penalty, the most feared one, as the members of a traditional and in particular of a tribal society cannot imagine life outside their family and community. By the way, this punishment is very rarely applied. In any case, to ostracise someone is not the same as to "eliminate" him or her, with all the distinctly unpleasant connotations clearly intimated by Krebbers.

Of course, once society has disintegrated and we no longer have real communities or any effective public opinion, then this strategy becomes inoperative and so far, we have not developed an effective alternative. As I point out "the state may hire more police officers, spend billions on an ever more elaborate judicial system, and build more prisons, but all this has little effect." [30] In the US there are now two million people in prison, and the overall crime rate is only marginally affected.

Emotional attachment to the natural world
My belief, clearly expressed in The Way, that we need to be emotionally linked to the natural world, is for Krebbers (and also for Lohmann of the "Corner House") further proof of my neo-Nazi sympathies. Krebbers quotes a passage from my book The Way: an Ecological World-View in which I try to show that our sense of aesthetics is an

"important means of apprehending and of understanding our relationship to the world around us, as it is of attaching us emotionally to that which is important to us and to the cosmic hierarchy of which we are part."

I note too that

"it is above all the natural world, in which our aesthetic sense - like all our other faculties - have evolved, that we find beautiful as we do the human artefacts that mimic it."

I then point out, and this is the passage that has attracted Krebbers' ire, that "a Gothic cathedral, is beautiful; for its vault is that of the forest; its pillars the forest trees. On the other hand we abhor what is foreign to nature: unnatural colours, the straight lines of modern buildings, the uniformity of a conifer plantation, that contrast only too sharply with the mosaic of different greens of a natural forest." [31]

Krebbers must have a very twisted mind. With his usual venom he states that

"Goldsmith's fast-growing cohort of extreme right-wing supporters, however, need only a nod and a wink. They know exactly what Goldsmith is getting at. For example, they certainly long to return straight away to the nazi kulturkammer of the Second World War when they read this passage." [32]

Does Krebbers suggest that everybody who is moved by the beauty of the natural world is a Nazi? Were our great poets like Blake and Wordsworth, who derived their inspiration from the natural world, Nazis? Were great painters like Turner and Constable Nazis? All this is so preposterous that it makes me wonder why I am actually spending so much time in dealing with this paranoiac drivel.

I could of course, draw up a whole catalogue of such dishonest devices made use of by Krebbers and his friends to discredit my writings, but let us move now to more practical issues.

As we have seen, Fabel van de Illegaal and others like them reject the family, which is "patriarchal", and the community, which is "exclusive". They also reject culture, which Hildyard considers to be a "new form of racism", and even the mildest form of patriotism, which for them is "nationalistic". They reject too the local economy, which they see as but another form of capitalism. They also viciously attack those who are fighting "the vague fashionable term globalization" [33] (which they often refer to mockingly as "the supposed globalization") for it "is part of the Right Wing ideology." [34] Above all it involves "discriminating against foreign capital" [35] as opposed to national capital and this - unbelievable as it may seem - they see as racist.

The International Forum on Globalisation and Public Citizen
Not surprisingly, they bitterly attack the International Forum on Globalization (IFG), (of which I have the privilege of being a director), as well as Public Citizen. The former, they tell us is "dominated by the extreme Right" [36] and just about all its active members are targeted.

# Maud Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians, (who with Tony Clarke, has led the battle against corporate control in Canada), is a nationalist and a racist because she complains that Canadian education is being taken over by American corporations, and opposes "cultural homogenisation" [37]
# Vandana Shiva, one of the most tireless and brilliant activists today in the battle against genetically modified foods, patents on life and the destruction of traditional agriculture, is also a racist because she has had some contact with members of the nationalist Hindu government in India - whose policies, by the way, are difficult to distinguish from those of the previous government.
# David Korten's "imagery comes close to that of fascism". He has also dared state that his particular approach is "the only one that would be able to get the Republicans out on the street and mix with more progressive activists." Krebbers forgets that nearly half of the US electorate votes Republican. Are they all to be outlawed too? Korten further states [38] that the world is overpopulated - which of course it is, and grossly overpopulated too - and wants to reduce the world population from six to one billion people. "How this is to be done" Krebbers comments with his usual unpleasantness "he has wisely not revealed" [39], intimating that Korten is secretly planning the mass sterilization, or perhaps even the extermination of the world's surplus inhabitants.
# Lori Wallach, who led the alliance, that included environmental groups, church groups, and the AFLCIO, that killed Clinton's proposed fast track to negotiate further free trade agreements with South America, and that spearheaded the successful battle against the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI), is also under vicious attack because she included Republican Senators in her alliance, and accepted funding from Mr Milleken, the textile magnate, who has previously given money to the Heritage Foundation, and other right wing groups.[40] This is apparently untrue, but even if it were, would it not be a good thing that Milleken should be putting his money to good use? Is there any reason to believe that Public Citizen's policies would have been adversely affected by accepting this money? Would it have been more ethical for Lori to have obtained the funding she needed from the World Bank, Monsanto, or even the Clinton administration?
Susan George too is under attack (even though she is the President of the most highly respected Left Wing think tank in Europe) [41] because she correctly stated that without including the Right Wing Republicans in her alliance Lori Wallach's initiative would not have been so successful.
As for Mike Dolan of Public Citizen, he is, among other things, "a chauvinistic American" [42] so much so that this evil man actually wants people in America to eat mainly local produce. Krebbers and his friends forget that by encouraging a country to import cheap goods from abroad they are spelling the demise of all its small producers - and it is of course much worse in a poor country where the small producers make up the bulk of the population. Nor would the poor in the countries from which the food imported by the USA is derived benefit. In most Third World countries between 50 and 80 percent of the good agricultural land is already used for export crops, which means that there remains little land for producing food for local people, who are thereby condemned to malnutrition and in many cases famine.
Krebbers and his friends also attack Ralph Nader, the most selfless and totally committed man I have ever known and one of the few figures in the USA who is respected by almost everybody, including his opponents. His sin is to be the President of Public Citizen, whose trade department is run by Lori Wallach. Also "he has remained silent on abortion, homosexuality and migration." [43] So has Fabel van de Illegaal remained silent on deforestation, nuclear power, genetically modified crops, ozone depletion, and global warming, the last of which is by far and away the most serious problem we face today to the point of dwarfing all others.
Nor is Jerry Mander spared by Fabel van de Illegaal. He is guilty of "technophobia", a serious crime because "technology has made our lives very much more comfortable" [44] , which coincidentally or not is also what the most polluting industries say when attacking the environmentalists who oppose the use of the technologies around which these industries have developed.
Trade unions are also targeted by Fabel van de illegal, in particular the US Transport and Steel Workers Union, because they are only concerned with the interests of American working people rather than with the battle against capitalism and patriarchy. Even the moderate AFLCIO is lambasted by Krebbers, for whom it is hopelessly right-wing because it also joined the alliance against Clinton's fast track and the MAI organized by Lori Wallach.
Fabel van de Illegaal even goes so far as to lambast José Bové, the incredibly courageous French peasant leader who is one of today's most effective activists against corporate control, "for adopting free trade as a primary target," which, they tell us, of course, is "based on a new Right analysis". [45]
Even the French Socialist Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, does not escape Fabel van de Illegal's vitriol, because his refusal to sign the OECD's proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) which effectively killed this totally disgraceful proposal, was only motivated by "French nationalism." [46], which, of course, is precisely how it was interpreted by the WTO and the corporations that control it.
Who then is not a "racist", "nationalist", "fascist", or "proponent of patriarchy"? Presumably only the self-righteous, holier-than-thou members of this absurd and utterly pernicious cult of political correctness, and of course, the unjustly maligned giant transnational corporations, the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO, that alone seem to have escaped the venom of Fabel van de Illegaal.

It is indeed, extremely difficult to understand the motivations of these people. What are they really trying to achieve? They tell us that their raison d'être is to fight racism. But is it really by attacking me and now my colleagues, the members of the IFG, in so vicious and dishonest a manner that they can best achieve this goal? Would they not be best spending their time and money by researching what are the specific social conditions which led to the rise of the Nazis in Germany and the fascists in Italy in order to prevent a recurrence of these conditions and hence a resurgence of the extreme Right?

If they were to do so, of course, they would discover that in Germany one of the important factors involved was the terrible poverty in the late 1920s and early 1930s which was partly caused by the first World War, also by the reparations imposed by the victorious allies, and even more so by the crash of 1929, and the hyper-inflation that followed. This would lead Fabel van de Illegaal, if they were honest, to reconsider their attitude to "the supposed globalisation", for the highly competitive and automated global economy as is convincingly argued by Jeremy Rifkin (another member of the IFG) in his book The End of Work [47], can only give rise to unprecedented levels of unemployment in the industrial world. Already about 20 million people in Western Europe are said to be unemployed, and many of them are now in dire financial straits, especially with the dismantling of the welfare state so as to reduce costs to industry in the highly competitive conditions to which the global economy gives rise.

But this is nothing compared with the unemployment and poverty that it will create in Third World countries. The WTO that spearheads "the supposed globalization" insists on opening up Third World agriculture to Western TNCs, also of opening up their markets to highly subsidized imported goods, including food, which must have catastrophic effects. In India for instance there may be five hundred million small farmers, who often farm no more than a few acres. There is no way in which they can survive if the WTO has its way, and if they go so will the small businessmen, shopkeepers, artisans, service castes and street vendors who totally depend on the farming community for their livelihood.

What we will be seeing is a shift of hundreds of millions of people to the cities. India could then be faced with cities of 30, 40, 50 or even 100 million people, the vast majority of whom would be living in indescribably sordid slums, where there would be unemployment, misery, and destitution on an unimaginable scale. Under such conditions the victims would almost certainly look for scapegoats and it is as likely as not that they would pick an ethnic group they see as different from themselves as they did in Germany in the early 1930s. Already increasing poverty in India has led to growing strife between the Hindus and the Moslems and this strife cannot but increase when poverty and unemployment, already desperate, worsen still further.

It is not only in the nearest conurbations that victims of this appalling tragedy will seek refuge. Vast numbers of them will also be forced to migrate to strange, distant, and not necessarily welcoming lands. The still affluent West, where the amenities to assure their welfare are already under stress, will be increasingly overwhelmed. Unfortunately, as this occurs, so will they be ever less welcome and their future welfare, in spite of the brave efforts of such organizations as Fabel van de Illegaal, will become ever more problematic. Surely it must be the priority of Fabel van de Illegaal, to prevent such intolerable conditions from occurring.

What I have said is evident to all thinking people with any knowledge of the situation in such countries as India, and of course China, and it makes it even more difficult to understand why Fabel van der Illegaal are spending so much time and money attacking and seeking to discredit precisely those groups, such as the IFG and Public Citizen, that are taking the lead in seeking to prevent precisely those conditions from occurring that would be most likely to contribute to real racism and ethnic conflict. This being so, one cannot avoid questioning what are these people's true motives and where they get their money from to fund all their research, and their endless polemical publications?

In seeking to answer this question one cannot avoid noting that Krebbers and his friends, either by coincidence or by design, are promoting precisely those conditions that most favour the immediate interests of the transnational corporations. Let us not forget that the WTO has been set up for one purpose only, which is to remove all possible constraints on the activities of the TNCs so that they can become literally free to do whatever they want, i.e. what is most profitable to them regardless of its human, social, ecological, and moral implications.

To fulfil its appointed task, the WTO has imposed on us a veritable cobweb of overlapping regulations designed in effect to outlaw any government measures that interfere with the immediate interests of corporations. Any measure designed to protect the poor, the unemployed, the sick, the old, local communities, local economies or the natural world from corporate depredations are bound to violate one, if not many, WTO regulations such as those falling under the heading of "National Treatment", "Technical Barriers to trade (TBT)", "Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Standards (STS)", [48] "Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS)" or the "General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)".

However, even if such a measure does not violate a WTO regulation, on the basis of Article 23.3 of the GATS, the government can be sued by a corporation for a sum equal to the profits it feels it would have made if the measure had not been passed. It can be argued that this would not be so if there were scientific evidence that the measure was necessary to protect the environment or human health. However, whether such evidence exists or not would be entirely decided by scientists controlled by the WTO, and their decision could be predicted in advance.

What it means in effect is that it becomes illegal worldwide for any government to pass any measure that would reduce the profits of corporations. It means that corporate profits have precedence over any human, social, ecological, or moral consideration. Do Krebbers and his friends go along with this? By opposing the battle against "the supposed globalization" it would seem that they do.

In addition, by trying to discredit the IFG's goal of moving our society in the opposite direction, i.e. towards the development of a locally-based economy, the Fabel van de Illegaal would be doing the TNCs an equally great service for they do not merely seek to expand horizontally by taking over distant markets that were previously closed to them - like those of India and China - but also to expand vertically by killing off small companies at home and taking over their markets.

Thus the USDA recently proposed a new law which would make it possible to classify as "organic" food that has been genetically modified, nuclear irradiated, and that contained high levels of pesticides. In addition, it would have become illegal for any NGO to set stricter standards than did the USDA. It is obviously quite outrageous that the US Department of Agriculture should have even proposed a law of this sort.

Clearly the USDA had been lobbied by the agrochemical industry, which could not bear the thought that the four billion dollar market for organic foods which was increasing at the rate of 20 percent per annum, could remain out of their reach. They had to take it over, and how better than to get Dan Glickman, the head of the USDA, to do the job for them? Fortunately over 250,000 people wrote furious letters to Glickman, who was forced to change his mind, though it appears that he still plans to satisfy the requirements of his sponsors - this time by more subtle means.

Consider another example. The Commission of the European Union, which is known to be controlled by the European Round Table comprised of the CEOs of the largest corporations based in Europe (as has been amply documented in The Ecologist) [49] has issued a new directive which imposes extremely costly and largely useless installations on all open-air markets on the totally dishonest pretext that they are not hygienic. It is quite clear that the Commission knew well in advance that few local councils could possibly meet the enormous costs involved, and hence that these markets would have to close down. In this way their businesses could be taken over by huge supermarket chains, with which the commission is unquestionably in collusion.

It is to be noted that the same totally dishonestly expedient has already been used to close down all sorts of small enterprises such as local butchers, abattoirs, cheese makers, bee keepers, organic chicken producers etc. Even school kitchens (or rather "food technology units" as they are now referred to) are now being closed down on the same pretext, so that their business can be taken over by new fast-growing catering companies, that will feed out children with low grade devitalised industrially-produced food. In opposing our efforts to defend the local economy it is these shameful policies that Fabel van de Illegaal seek to promote and it is the transnational corporations whose sordid interests they are slavishly serving.

Krebbers and his friends are also doing the multinationals a tremendous favour (as does Nicholas Hildyard and his friends of The Corner House) on another count. They qualify as racist the deep desire by normal people everywhere to preserve their cultural pattern; that which distinguishes them from other social groups and provides them with an identity. This very human desire is a grave impediment to the expansion plans of corporations in the film, television and media industries as well as the food and drink industries. The TNCs want to impose a single culture on the world so that they can make sure that everyone, everywhere in the world uses mobile phones, watches violent and sadistic American films on television, drinks Coca Cola, eats MacDonald's hamburgers, and otherwise helps to maximize the market for the products of Western multinationals.

Worse still, by attacking the institution of the family on the grounds that it is patriarchal they are further contributing to the achievement of this same end. Economic development has always involved, above all, the usurpation by corporations and the State of functions that were previously fulfilled by the family and the community for free - and that are then monetized, commodified and in the former case sold via the market. Corporations are still viewing with greedy eyes functions that are still fulfilled for free by families and communities in the Third World.

The Chairman of Campbell Soup pointed out not long ago how important it was to open up the Mexican market, which would occur with the passing of the NAFTA treaty. "Consider", he is supposed to have said, "that in Mexico there are still 38 million families that make their own soup!" [50] Of course, it would not take long, as I am sure is proving to be the case, for these families to disintegrate under the terrible pressures of economic development in such a way that their members, now disembedded from their families and separated from each other, would be forced to buy industrialised, ready-made and packaged Campbell's soup.

Also by attacking the institution of the community, as Krebbers and his friends do, they are also playing the game of the TNCs by helping to justify the takeover or "privatisation" of all those functions previously fulfilled for free by this other key social system, such as the maintenance of social order, the performance of religious rites and participatory democratic government - further contributing to the poverty and misery that this gives rise to.

Furthermore, by likening the view of the natural world as something sacred that we must preserve at all costs to the Nazi cult of "blood and soil", they are playing still further into the hands of the transnational corporations by discrediting an increasingly important section of the environmental movement - and let us not forget that it is environmentalists who provide one of the most effective oppositions to the TNCs' agenda.

In addition, to deride and vilify the idea that the natural world is governed by laws which cannot be violated with impunity, is to go along with reductionist scientists who have demoted such laws to the inferior status of "statistical regularities" and have thereby liberated humanity so that it is free to create its own laws and to determine the course of its own evolution and hence of its own destiny. This is exactly the message required to rationalize our modern individualistic and competitive society - the global free-for-all that is leading to the rapid destruction of our planet to satisfy short-term economic and political interests.

It may well be that my suspicions are unjustified. In any case, I suggest that Fabel van de Illegaal spend a little time in trying to understand what are the true causes of our planet's worsening problems. I also suggest that if their hearts are so full of pent-up hate, that they vent it on the governments, the international agencies, and the TNCs that between them are making this planet ever less habitable, not on those, who, whatever their failings, are desperately seeking to assure its continued habitability in the face of ever increasing odds.

Additional Notes
Note A
Fabel van de Illegaal do seem to consider tribal societies as thoroughly evil. Helena Norberg Hodge, for instance, in her book Ancient Futures sings the praises of Ladakh society, which she has studied carefully over the last 28 years. "The story of Ladakh serves as a source of inspiration for our own future", she tells us. "It shows that another way is possible and points to some of the first steps to kinder, gentler, patterns of living". This fits in very well with my son's experience of Ladakh, where he worked on a farm in a distant Ladakh village for three months last year. He could not have been more impressed by the happiness, kindness, and hospitality of these people, the remarkable solidarity they display within their community, the incredibly ingenious way in which the cultural pattern they have developed through the ages enables them to live and indeed thrive in a particularly hostile environment.

Helena also notes that the Ladakhis are bonded to their place with intimate daily contact, through a knowledge about their immediate environment, with its changing seasons, needs, and limitations." However, "bonded to their place" in the eyes of Westerlink means that the Ladakhis are chauvinists and racists. Still worse because Helena intimates that they live close to nature, and indeed see themselves as part of it, means for Westerlink that she adheres to the Nazi "blood and soil" thesis.

For him Ladakhi society, about which he obviously understands nothing whatsoever, is "characterised by its outspoken feudal, patriarchal, and religious power relations". For Westerlink and other members of Fabel van de Illegaal this is another way of saying that Ladakh society is thoroughly evil, and undoubtedly he would view all other traditional societies in exactly the same light, i.e. in terms of the aberrant values entertained by the alienated youth of the atomised mass society in which he lives. What he may not realise is that such values serve above all to justify the suicidal course on which our society is set and which will probably make this planet largely uninhabitable within the next century.

Note B
Krebbers accuses me of quoting Konrad Lorenz in my book The Way: an Ecological World-View. Lorenz was apparently sympathetic to the Nazi movement. That could be, but I have to admit that I do not carry out a Gestapo-type investigation into the political acceptability of the people I quote in my writings. In any case, it would have probably taken me more time to carry out such an investigation than to write my book, as in it I refer to at least 480 different authors.

What is more, part of this book is about animal behaviour or ethology, as it is also called. Lorenz's work in this field is outstanding. It is criticized by Krebbers today because Lorenz rightly saw at least some degree of aggressivity as a normal feature of the behaviour pattern of the males of many species. On the other hand, he devoted a lot of space to showing how, in normal conditions, this aggressivity is highly ritualised, leading to few casualties - which was also true of warfare among primal societies, (see my article "The Ecology of War" published in my book The Great U-Turn). Lorenz is one of the most important figures in his field, and I challenge Krebbers, or any of my critics, to find a serious book on ethology that does not quote him. I have before me a small paperback that I extracted from a bookshelf. It is called Ethology: an Introduction by Robert A. Hinde, and it quotes Lorenz no fewer than 17 times.

I am also attacked for having included in my book The Way a quote from the writings of Alexis Carrel. "Science has destroyed the soul of the world" he once said - a valuable quote that I feel has its place in my book, which provides, among other things, a critique of modern science which has played so big a role in assuring and also in rationalizing and hence legitimising the destruction of the natural world. As it happens, I never read any of Alexis Carrel's writings until last month, when I bought a copy of his book Man the Unknown.

However, Pierre Taguief, the recognized authority on the French Right - whose book I recently read, sees the present critical view of Carrel as largely unjustified and refers to "the new obscurantist interests that seeks to nazify Carrel" on the grounds that like Hitler he believed in eugenics. According to Taguief, Carrel defends euthanasia largely, if not uniquely when applied to major criminals if they continue to practice the same crime after being released from prison. Apparently Carrel suggests that such criminals should be gassed. One may or may not approve of this, as Taguief himself admits, but the death sentence by gassing is still applied in a number of states in the USA and though few environmentalists would approve of this practice, few accuse the state legislators and judiciaries involved of being Nazis.

I have only answered a few of the endless accusations levelled against me by Krebbers, Westerink and other members of Fabel van de Illegaal. It is truly astonishing the energy and time they have devoted to scouring my writings for the slightest word, phrase or sentence that could, by the wildest stretch of the imagination, serve to justify their contention that I am a racist, fascist, and neo Nazi.

Note C - Totalitarianism and Mass Society
The American sociologist Robert Nisbet noted that "far from being as is sometimes absurdly argued, the linear product of 19th century conservatism, totalitarianism is in fact the very opposite to it." The power base is the masses. Before totalitarian government is possible, the masses must first have been brought into being. It was Aristotle's thesis in his "Politics" that the great tyrants of antiquity such as Dionysius of Syracuse and Pisistratus of Athens could only have emerged in a vast anonymous mass society.

Kornhauser noted in his celebrated book "The Politics of Mass Society" that in such a society "the lack of autonomous relations generates widespread social alienation" which "heightens the responsiveness to the appeal of mass movements" because it provides the opportunity to express resentment against the mainstream society from which they feel alienated, also because these movements promise people "a totally different world", in particular a substitute for the community of which they have been deprived. In short, as Kornhauser writes, "People who are atomised, regularly become mobilised" and since "totalitarianism is a state of total mobilisation, mass society is highly vulnerable to totalitarian movements and regimes."

Throughout the course of history, totalitarian government, once in power, have sought - sometimes desperately - to destroy the family and the community and other intermediary social groupings. The reason is well stated by Jean Bethke Elshian: "totalitarianism strives to govern all of life; to allow for only one public identity; to destroy private life; and most of all, to require that individuals never allow their commitments to specific others (family, friends, comrades) to weaken their commitment to the state." [Jean Bethke Elshian "The Family and Civil Life", in David Blankenhorn et al, Rebuilding the Nest Family Service America, Milwaukee, 1990.]

It is no coincidence that those political thinkers who have promoted the all-powerful state as an ideal have been enemies of the family and community and the other basic institutions of a real society, and were thereby the proponents of the atomised mass society. Jean Jacques Rousseau, whose writings inspired the French Revolution, which gave rise to the totalitarian regime of the Jacobins under Robespierre - which in turn gave rise to the ultra-militaristic regime of Napoleon Bonaparte, said that society must be stifled and that the state must be set up to do so.

"Each citizen would then be completely independent of all his fellow men, and absolutely dependent upon the state, for it is only by the forces of the state that the liberty of its members can be secured."

Marx also believed in the atomised society. He regarded with hostility "the traditional affiliations of family, community, association and religion". It is worth noting that this has not been a feature of all socialist thinking. Indeed, it earned Marx the hostility, indeed the hatred, of earlier non-state socialists like Bakunin and of the anarchists such as Proudhon and Kropotkin.

Hegel, who very much influenced the Nazis, saw things in very much the same way as Rousseau and Marx. For him the opinion of mere citizens was not even worth taking into account. Only the state could decide what was good for them. He went so far as to deify the state. "Its existence", he stated "marks the arrival of God in the world".

Note D - The definition of racism
The term racism is now used by politically correct fundamentalists like Krebbers, Hildyard, and Lohmann, in a totally new way. It suffices to suggest that Hottentots are physically different from Eskimos to be accused of "differential racism". Even that is not enough, to suggest that groups differ from each other culturally is now regarded by Hildyard and others as a new form of racism, which they seem to regard as just as evil as racism in the traditional sense of the term.

One problem with this definition is that it makes nonsense of the very principle of cultural diversity, which only exists because different social groups see themselves as different from their neighbours. It is because of this cultural diversity that social groups have been capable of adapting to so many different and often hostile environmental conditions. Think of the ingenuity with which Eskimos have learnt to live in the Arctic wastes and the Bedouin in their desert wildernesses.

It also makes nonsense of the important democratic principle of self-determination - the right of people who share a common identity to govern themselves. It makes nonsense too of the very notion of empire. The British Empire was an empire precisely because the British governed vast numbers of very different people, who were racially and culturally very different.

If they were all the same, then of course the British Empire would not have been an empire at all. It would have been indistinguishable from countries such as Denmark and Sweden, except that it was bigger and that an army was required to put down regular revolts by its citizens who, for some inexplicable reason, did not want to be run by the government at Westminster. Are Krebbers, Hildyard and Lohman partisans of empire? It looks that way. It goes without saying, of course, that to define racism in this manner serves above all to trivialize real racism.

Note E
In any case the division between the left and the right is indeed outdated. Today there is no effective difference in the policies adopted by right-wing and left-wing governments. In any case, for responsible people, the true enemy is totalitarianism, i.e. government by an all-powerful state that rejects any form of social control. The totalitarian state, moreover, is just as often left-wing as right-wing.

Stalin's regime in the USSR, for instance, was one of the worst examples of a left-wing totalitarian state. It did not differ substantially from the fascist state in that it was militaristic in the extreme. It was also corporatist in that much of the power resided with the leaders of heavy industries. It was incredibly brutal as in order to replace the peasantry with an industrial proletariat better suited for the sort of industrial state he wanted to create, he disposed of some 30 million peasants by the simple expedient of exterminating them - one of the greatest crimes in history. Stalin was also highly racist in that he classified certain ethnic groups as enemies of the communist regime. These included the Volga Bulgars, the Crimean Tatars, and the Chechens. These and similar nations were expelled from their traditional lands to distant and inhospitable areas where large numbers of their people died.

Other regimes in communist Eastern Europe were scarcely better - nor was the Marxist regime of Mengistu in Ethiopia. In other words, it is not right-wing totalitarian regimes any more than left-wing ones that we must oppose - and oppose strenuously - but totalitarian regimes in general. This basically means recreating societies that are capable of running themselves. That is what real democracy is all about.

It is worth noting that one of the best-known authorities on the French Right, René Remond, regards fascism and conservatism as mutually incompatible. Fascism, for Remond, rather than being a movement of the Right was a movement of the Left, descended from the Jacobinism of the French Revolution of 1798. To Remond it was the revolutionary, violent and authoritarian aspects of fascism that mattered.

Another authority on the French Right was Eugene Weber. For him, Larocque, the leader of the Croix de Feu, that was often referred to as a fascist movement, was too conservative to be a fascist. He was "a respectable, law-abiding man", and "a soldier respectful of the Republican institutions and the law".

Another critic, Ernst Nolte, considered that Mussolini's early followers were quite left wing in their goals. Yet another student of the French Right, Sternhell, an Israeli, also accentuated the left-wing sources of the French extreme Right. Admittedly this was not the view of other authorities on this subject, such as William Irvine, Sam Goodfellow, and Robert Soucy.

Note F
It may be that in the traditional world the family tended to be patriarchal in the sense that the father was the head of the family and also the priest of the cult of the family ancestors. This did not mean that he was a sort of tin-pot dictator, though in some societies he may indeed have been. One must remember that perhaps half of all the tribal societies studied by anthropologists were matrilineal, which means that inheritance is via the mother. In such societies, of course, the mother has a lot of influence.

Many traditional societies are also matrilocal, which means that when a young man gets married he lives in his wife's community rather than his own, and thereby among his wife's family and relatives. In such conditions her influence is particularly strong, and if her husband misbehaves there is hell to pay.

1. Edward Goldsmith, The Way: an Ecological World View (2nd edition). University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia, 1998.
2. Pierre André Taguieff, Sur la nouvelle droite. Editions Descartes & Cie, 1994.
3. Eric Krebbers, Fabel van de Illegaal, Millionaire Goldsmith supports both left and far right. Fabel van de Illegaal, September 1999.
4. Edward Goldsmith and Robert Alllen, A Blueprint for Survival. Tom Stacey, London 1972.
5. Roy Rappaport, quoted by Edward Goldsmith in The Way, op.cit., p.388.
6. Edward Goldsmith, The Way, op.cit., Chapter 60, "The vernacular community is the unit of homeotelic behaviour", pp.385-394.
7. Hans Tschani, "How Democracy Functions in Switzerland". The Ecologist Vol. 7 No. 1, December 1977.
8. Eric Krebbers, Millionaire Goldsmith supports both left and far right, op.cit., September 1999.
9. Alan Cassel Fascist Italy.
10. Edward Goldsmith, "The Ecology of War". Chapter 6 of The Great U-turn - De-industrialising Society. Green Books, 1988.
11. Alan Cassel, op.cit..
12. Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith The Case Against the Global Economy and for a Turn Towards the Local. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1996.
13. Ernst Nolte
14. Ernst Nolte
15. Edward Goldsmith The Way, op.cit., chapter 24.
16. Eric Krebbers, Goldsmith and his Gaian Hierarchy. Fabel van de Illegaal, 16 September 1999.
17. Peter Bunyard, "A Hungrier World". In Climate Crisis, Special Issue of The Ecologist Vol. 29 No. 2, 1999.
18. James Lovelock, quoted by Edward Goldsmith in The Way, op.cit., chapter 36.
19. Edward Goldsmith, "The Family Basis of Social Structure". Chapter 2 in The Stable Society, op.cit.
20. Edward Goldsmith, The Way Chapter 60, op.cit.
21. Eric Krebbers, Goldsmith and his Gaian Hierarchy, op.cit..
22. Edward Goldsmith, The Way Chapter 21, op.cit..
23. Edward Goldsmith, The Way Chapter 38, op.cit..
24. Eric Krebbers, Goldsmith and his Gaian Hierarchy,op.cit..
25. Eugene Odum, Basic Ecology, Saunders, Philadelphia, 1983.
26. Eugene Odum, ibid.
27. Eric Krebbers, "Goldsmith and his Gaian Hierarchy, op.cit.
28 Edward Goldsmith, The Way Chapter 50, op.cit.
29. Edward Goldsmith, The Stable Society, op.cit.
30. Edward Goldsmith, The Ecologist, July 1987.
31. Edward Goldsmith, The Way Chapter 8, op.cit.
32. Edward Goldsmith, The Way Chapter 43, op.cit.
33. Eric Krebbers, "Goldsmith and his Gaian Hierarchy", op.cit.
34. Fabel van de Illegaal, "Self interview about quitting the campaign against free trade", 20th September 1999.
35. Fabel van de illegal, ibid.
36. Harry Westerlink, Fabel van de Illegaal, "The Village Politics of the International Forum on Globalization", April 2000.
37. Harry Westerlink, April 2000, ibid.
38. Harry Westerlink, April 2000, ibid.
39. Eric Krebbers, "Seattle 1999, Marriage Party of the left and the right? op.cit.
40. Harry Westerlink, April 2000, op.cit.
41. Marijn Schoenmaker and Eric Krebbers, Seattle 1999, Marriage party of the left and the right?, November 1999.
42. Marijn Schoenmaker and Eric Krebbers, November 1999, ibid.
43. Harry Westerlink, April 2000, op.cit.
44. Harry Westerlink, April 2000, op.cit.
45. Marijn Schoenmaker and Eric Krebbers, Seattle 1999, Marriage party of the left and the right?. Fabel van de Illegaal, November 1999.
46. Jeremy Rifkin, The End of Work: the decline of the global labour force and the dawn of the post market era. New York, G. P. Putman's Sons, 1995.
47. Debi Barker and Jerry Mander, Invisible Government, International Forum on on Globalization (IFG), San Francisco, 1999.
48. Debi Barker and Jerry Mander, 1999, ibid.
49. Ann Doherty and Olivia Hoedeman, "Misshaping Europe: the open round table of industrialists", in The Ecologist Vol. 24 No. 4, July / August 1994.
50. Personal communication from Zac Goldsmith.

The Dark Side of Political Ecology door Peter ZEGERS op Communalism.org

“[I]f the word ecology is used to describe our outlook, it is preposterous to invoke deities, mystical forces to account for the evolution of first nature into second nature. Neither religion nor a spiritualistic vision of experience has any place in an ecological lexicon. Either the term ecology applies to natural phenomena by definition, or it is a chic metaphor for the disempowered consciousness that fosters mysticism or outright supernaturalism.”
[Murray Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy. (Montréal: Black Rose, Second edition 1991) p. xxi]

The ecology movement has over the last decades been a battleground for both progressive and reactionary ideas. The notions one encounters in the ecology movements range from genuinely progressive and humanist ones to extremely misanthropic, even ecofascistic ones. In the essay “Will ecology become 'the dismal science'?” American social ecologist Murray Bookchin identified nearly ten years ago some of the anti-humanistic tendencies within the ecology movement in the United States: deep ecology, biocentrism, Gaian consciousness, and eco-theology. Basic to these outlooks is a suspicion of reason and an emphasis on the importance of intuitive and irrational approaches to ecological issues. Bookchin concluded the essay with this note: “It is not only the great mass of people that must make hard choices about humanity's future in a period of growing ecological dislocation; it is the ecology movement itself that must make hard choices about its sense of direction in a time of growing mystification.” (1) Since Bookchin’s essay was published in 1991, these anti-humanistic tendencies have unfortunately become even more prominent. A case in point is one of the leading American deep ecologists, Bill Devall. Together with George Sessions, Bill Devall introduced the ideas of Arne Næss, the founder of deep ecology, to the American public. Devall uttered on August 2, 1998, at the conference Gold and Green, a racist remark against Mexican immigrants: according to him, they “did what gangs of Mexicans always do – rape, pillage, burn, murder.” He also made the point that the owner of Maxxam Corporation (a firm threatening a redwood forest in California) was “a criminal Jewish capitalist.” Devall’s associate George Sessions, also present at this conference, lamented about the left wing perspective of a lot of people in the ecology movement and claimed that social justice issues only would distract attention from the real cause of the ecological crisis: overpopulation. In order to counteract the ecological imbalance Sessions suggested that an authoritarian regime should be implemented, like the one that ruled Japan from 1615 to 1836. (2) Is this just a marginal incident? Because of the premisses on which deep ecology is predicated I very much doubt this.

The Political Implications of Deep Ecology

Deep ecology is a vague and formless concept and one can find all kinds of mixtures of reactionary and seemingly progressive ideas in it. Deep ecologists claim very different thinkers as pioneers of deep ecology, one can for example find Heidegger alongside Spinoza. No effort is made to explain how these very different thinkers can be rubricated in the same category. Commenting on this lack of coherence Arne Næss wrote: “Why Gleichschaltung? Why monolithic ideologies? We have had enough of those in both European and world history.” (3) To put a demand for coherence on a par with a Nazi operation is telling enough and reveals his limited understanding of fascism. Næss continues in the same article: “It would, in my view, be a cultural disaster for humankind if one philosophy or one religion were to become established on earth. It would be a disaster if future Green societies were so similar that they blocked the development of deep cultural differences.” (4) Does this also apply to human rights and democracy? In another interview he stated: “Diversity in every aspect of our existence should be a norm, whether it is biodiversity, cultural diversity or economic diversity. Diversity of ideas is also very important. If we thought that there is one correct idea, one absolute truth, one right way to sustainability, then we might end up creating a kind of eco-fascism. It is only through multiplicity, plurality, diversity and inclusivity that we can find self-realization. There is no one final definition of self-realization. Everyone will find their own meaning in this word. Through deep questioning we come to deep ecology and through deep ecology we come to self-realization, but all this means nothing. It remains a kind of theory. It is through practice that we find realization. As each one of us has our own body, we have our own ‘realization’.” (5) Maybe because of this limited understanding of eco-fascism Næss does not mind being published by extreme right wing publications in France and Italy. Indeed his ideas bear a close resemblance to the 'ethno-pluralism' advocated by Alain de Benoist and others in the Nouvelle Droite. American author Kirkpatrick Sale, who is very close to deep ecology, is very clear about the fact that democracy and human rights need not be respected, but that we instead should respect the denial of democracy and human rights! Kirkpatrick Sale wrote: “[Bioregional diversity] does not mean that every community in a bioregion, every subregion within an ecoregion, every ecoregion on a continent, would construct itself along the same lines, evolve the same political forms. Most particularly it does not mean that every bioregion would be likely to heed the values of democracy, equality, liberty, freedom, justice and the like, the sort that the liberal American tradition proclaims. Truly autonomous bioregions would inevitably go in separate and not necessarily complementary ways, creating their own political systems according to their own environmental settings and their own ecological needs … Different cultures could be expected to have quite different views about what political forms could best accomplish their bioregional goals, and (especially as we imagine this system on a global scale) those forms could be at quite some variance from the Western Enlightenment-inspired ideal. And however much one might find the thought unpleasant, that divergence must be expected and – if diversity is desirable – respected.” (6)

Not only does deep ecology oppose the universal concepts of democracy and human rights through its misguided understanding of diversity, the ideas of Næss verge also on the mystical and he himself seems to be aware of this since he quotes New Age-author Charlene Spretnak approvingly when she calls for 'emotional involvement and caring' instead of rational thinking. (7) It is therefore not very surprising that New Age-authors Fritjof Capra and Charlene Spretnak have embraced the label deep ecology. Fritjof Capra is like Spretnak very outspoken in his anti-rationalism: “Ultimately, deep ecological awareness is spiritual or religious awareness.” (8) Charlene Spretnak declares humanism to be the principal enemy of an ecological politics. In 1984 she said in an address to the annual gathering of the E.F. Schumacher Society: “Green politics rejects the anthropocentric orientation of humanism, a philosophy which posits that humans have the ability to confront and solve the many problems we face by applying human reason and by rearranging the natural world and the interactions of men and women so that human life will prosper.” (9) Spretnak and Capra wrote a book about the German Greens where they, in spite of the 'pluralism' of deep ecology, made very clear that they are hostile to left wing tendencies in the Green movement. (10) Unfortunately no such demarcation exists for right wing tendencies in the ecology movement. The Right seems to be very grateful to enter this lack of demarcation and it would indeed be very hard to demarcate deep ecology from the Right because it shows structural similarities with Right ideology. Although Capra and Spretnak seem to be aware of the German past, they have trouble seeing the continuity with the present. They describe Herbert Gruhl as a 'conservative' politician, whereas the term eco-fascist would be more appropriate. Gruhl was one of the founders of Die Grünen but left the party in 1982 (which Capra and Spretnak seem to regret and blame the 'marxists' for) to found the Ökologisch Demokratische Partei (Ecological Democratic Party). When this party decided in 1989 to distance itself from the extreme Right political party Die Republikaner against the will of Gruhl, he withdrew and founded the Unabhängige Ökologen Deutschlands. He was one of the first to use ecological discourse for xenophobic purposes. (11) Capra and Spretnak also do not seem to understand why many Germans are so suspicious about ideas that bear a close resemblance to the Blut und Boden (Blood and soil) theories of the Nazis. Instead of analyzing this resemblance and continuity, they choose to ignore it and as a consequence they were uncritical of Rudolf Bahro's views that only a few years later culminated into a kind of spiritual fascism. (12)

Deep ecology is a very eclectic bag of ideas and there are yet other features that are very disturbing because of the reactionary implications. Fundamental for deep ecology is the completely unfounded assertion that the ecological crisis is caused by 'overpopulation'. There is not a single line in the vast literature on deep ecology that explains why this would be the case. It is simply a matter of faith for adherents of deep ecology and because of this, critique of this aspect has not resulted in a change of ideas in this matter. (13) Some of the supporters of deep ecology have publicly stated that AIDS and famines are nature's revenge on humankind and that we should not do anything about it. A case in point is Dave Foreman, an activist of the environmental direct action group Earth First!, who said in an interview to Bill Devall: “When I tell people how the worst we could do in Ethiopia is to give aid – the best thing would be to just let nature seek its own balance, to let the people there just starve – they think that is monstrous. But the alternative is that you go in and save these half-dead children who never will live a whole life. Their development will be stunted. And what is going to happen in ten years' time is that twice as many people will suffer and die. Likewise, letting the USA be an overflow valve for problems in Latin America is not solving a thing. It is just putting more pressure on resources we have in the USA. It is just causing more destruction of our wilderness, more poisoning of water and air, and it is not helping the problems in Latin America.” (14) Not a single protest against this raving was uttered by Devall, one of the leading exponents of deep ecology in the United States. We understand from his statements at the Gold and Green conference quoted above why Bill Devall did not bother to contradict Foreman. Deep ecology lacks a theory of the social causes of the environmental crisis and the only solution they can think of is a reduction of population. How to achieve this is not made clear, but some supporters do not exclude draconic, indeed eco-fascistic measures.

The anti-humanist notion of 'biocentrism', the notion that all living beings have equal 'intrinsic worth', is another disturbing feature in deep ecology. This 'biocentrism' has its counterpart in 'anthropocentrism', the view that human happiness and welfare should precede all other priorities. In the book The Arrogance of Humanism (1981) David Ehrenfeldt wrote in this 'biocentric' vain about the right of the smallpox-virus to exist. Since then tons of paper have been produced with articles about 'intrinsic worth', 'biocentric democracy', and 'biocentrism' and its implications. Indeed deep ecology has become a booming academic industry. The way seems to be opened for the discussion of how much human suffering and death is acceptable in the name of an 'ecological ethics'. Again, there is not the faintest idea about the social roots of the environmental problems. All people, regardless of their position in society, are held equally responsible for the destruction of the environment in this view. Humanity's 'original sin' was 'anthropocentrism' (theological words apply very neatly in this way of thinking). Deep ecologists have a very static view on nature or 'wilderness'. As important as they profess to value 'wilderness', they never explain very much the meaning of this concept. For them 'nature' is just a scenic view, untouched by human intervention even though in reality there is no 'wilderness' left on this earth. Nevertheless some deep ecologists want to exclude people from some areas, at least people not living 'traditional' (pre-1500 A.D., according to Foreman) lifestyles. (15) Hand in hand with their reverence for 'wild' nature goes a depreciation of science and technology. These are held responsible for the desacralization of nature and consequently the destruction of the environment. Bill Devall, in his usual subtle way, states it like this: “Students in natural resources sciences and management – are much like the guards in Nazi death camps.” (16) In another passage he makes the same comparison: “I see an analogy between rescuers of Jews and homosexuals in Nazi-occupied Europe and strategic monkeywrenching (a tactic used by the environmental direct action group Earth First!, PZ) in the late twentieth century.” (17) Like Næss, Devall has no hesitations about using inappropriate analogies that trivialize the Holocaust.

The Extreme Right and Ecology

Even more disturbing than the reactionary implications of basic tenets of deep ecology is the use of ecological concepts by groups and individuals of the extreme Right. Many people in the ecology movement consider themselves to be 'beyond Left and Right', but this position unfortunately makes them very vulnerable to overtures from the extreme Right, which (especially in Europe) is trying to modernize its rhetoric (the slogan was, tellingly enough, invented by the German right wing ecologist Herbert Gruhl for Die Grünen). By adopting ecological themes and concepts and incorporating them into its propaganda, the extreme Right today is seeking to gain mainstream public acceptance. For example, in France the Nouvelle Droite (New Right) has shown a lot of interest in deep ecology. Nouvelle Droite is the name for a tendency in the extreme right wing milieu that tries to modernize its ideology. A central organization in this field is the Groupement de Recherche et d'Études pour la Civilisation Européenne, founded in 1968. Its leading ideologue is Alain de Benoist, who is constantly changing his ideas, but nonetheless always opposed the egalitarian ideas that originated in the Enlightenment. (18) It is far beyond the scope of this article to explain in any detail the history of GRECE. (19) Suffice it for now to say that De Benoist and his supporters became interested in ecology around 1993. In an article about the European New Right (ENR) Mark Wegierski wrote: “Although some ENR members at one time advocated technocracy, they have now embraced ecology as one of the most hopeful tendencies on the planet today. The 1993 GRECE colloquium was dedicated to ecology.” (20) From the milieu around GRECE a new ecological organization was founded in the early nineties. This organization called Nouvelle Écologie (New Ecology) organizes conferences and lectures and publishes the magazine Le recours aux forêts. Nouvelle Écologie regards itself as the French branch of the international deep ecology movement and tries to influence the ecology movement toward a right wing direction.

Even as the extreme Right has picked up and incorporated ecological themes, some prominent ecologists have themselves evolved toward reactionary positions and do not mind to work together very closely with the extreme Right. The British ecologist Edward Goldsmith is a case in point. Goldsmith has been a well-known figure in the international environmentalist movement for several decades. In 1970 he founded the journal The Ecologist, which has long been a leading voice for the movement. He was one of the authors of the 1972 bestseller A Blueprint for Survival. Already in this book some conservative views were exhibited: “If there is no hierarchy there will be constant bickering and fighting. There will also be no mechanism for ensuring the perpetuation of those qualities required if the society is to survive.” (21) The overall obsession in Blueprint is 'stability' and 'order'. According to the authors of Blueprint the causes of the environmental crisis are to be found in economic and demographic growth. Like the authors of the Limits to Growth report of the conservative Club of Rome, whom they regard as like-minded individuals, their view on the environmental crisis is extremely limited. In 1991 he received the Right Livelihood Award, the 'alternative Nobel prize'. He is presently very much involved with international campaigns against the WTO, MAI, nuclear energy, and genetically modified organisms. For years, Goldsmith had also been known for his socially paleo-conservative views, especially on the role of women and the family. In an interview he said: “In my view women perform a very important role, both with regard to social coherence as well as of the viewpoint of the protection of the environment. They do not have the typical male chauvinism and competiteveness. I am in favor of the kind of feminism Vandana Shiva stands for, whom I know very well by the way, but which is completely at odds with the American kind of feminism that in the end results only in a reversal of male chauvinism into female chauvisnism. You know, one has to accept the differences between men and women, just like those of ethnic groups and cultures. For me, as well as for Shiva, cultural, ethnic, and also biological diversity, destroyed by the global economy, are very important.” (22) In The Way: An Ecological World-View (1992, revised and enlarged edition 1998) Goldsmith tries to formulate his worldview. Like Fritjof Capra he bases his views on an unlikely mix of mechanistic systems theory and eastern mysticism. Many of Goldsmiths ideas focus on religion and its alleged role in shaping the social order. Western society went wrong, he asserts, when it embraced technology, science, and progress instead of the traditional 'Way' (or Tao). The monotheistic religions are also to blame for the desacralization of nature. Goldsmith thinks society should be reorganized so that it accords with the precepts of 'Gaia' which means arranged in the same plan and governed by the same laws as the Cosmos and the natural world. Religion is the means through which the laws of nature should be instrumentalized in society. Goldsmith puts it himself this way: “The argument put forward in this book is that we can only conceivably do better if, among other things, we set out to re-interpret our problems in the light of a very different world-view – the worldview of ecology – inspired as it must be by the chthonic world-view entertained by our remote ancestors who knew, as modern man no longer knows, how to live on this planet.” (23) He sees potential in the religious fundamentalist movements in the Moslem world and India. He states: “[t]here are signs … that such movements are likely to preach a return to the vernacular way of life …[A] considerable proportion of the revitalist movements that have so far sprung up in the Third World have been 'nativistic' – which is to say that they correctly attributed the ills against they were reacting to the way of life imposed upon them by their colonial masters, and preached a return to the Way of their ancestors ... We cannot afford to wait and see whether such movements will develop into revivalist cults that are powerful enough to transform our society. Instead, we should work towards their development by helping to create the conditions in which they are likely to emerge. Let us remember that the world-view of ecology is very much that of the vernacular community-based society.” (24) Interestingly, he refers a few times very favorably to deep ecology in his book The Way: An Ecological World-View, which he hopes will develop into a movement to perform the task put forward in the book. Goldsmith thanks deep ecology founder Arne Næss, “who, after reading a summary of this book in The Ecologist, urged me to complete it and get it published.” (25) The view that people should obey the laws of nature (or Gaia) can be found in deep ecology, but also in New Age and the Nouvelle Droite.

The views of Goldsmith are also a potential justification for racism. Nicholas Hildyard, a former associate of Goldsmith, wrote a critique of his views and showed convincingly that he is in favor of separation of different so called 'ethnic groups'. (26) In an article for The Ecologist Goldsmith wrote: “The Catholics and the Protestants in Northern Ireland constitute two distinct ethnic groups, of different origin, with different manners and traditions and different motivations and capacities. They could occupy the same geographic area and form a single society if they were capable of living in cultural symbiosis with each other, which they have done up to now. The Catholics, however, are no longer willing to fill the lower echelons of the economic hierarchy, as the cultural pattern which previously enabled them to do so has largely broken down. The only remaining solution is to separate them territorially. Ataturk separated Greeks and Turks very successfully, although there was a terrible outcry at the time and it undoubtedly caused considerable inconvenience to the people who were forced to migrate. But should we not be willing to accept measures of inconvenience in order to establish a stable society?” (27) Few people would agree with his rather peculiar view that Irish Catholics and Protestants are two distinct ethnic groups. In his book The Way he adds more in general: “Social evolution has led to the development of complex social groupings and to a wide diversity of different ethnic groups, each perfectly adapted to the specialized environment in which it lives.” (28) This view accords perfectly with Nouvelle Droite views on ethnicity, which is also in favor of territorial separation of different 'ethnic' groups. In the 1990s he therefore has become very attractive to the Nouvelle Droite.

The popularity of Goldsmith's writings among the Nouvelle Droite has made him welcome at Nouvelle Droite conferences. On 27 November 1994 he was one of the featured speakers for the 25th annual conference of GRECE, the major Nouvelle Droite organization in France. Its theme was (very tellingly) “Left-Right: the end of a system.” He also gave an interview to their magazine Elements in October 1996. Goldsmith was also a welcome guest at the conference of the Flemish connection of Nouvelle Droite in Belgium. On 11 November 1997 he was a speaker on the third colloquium of the Delta Stichting, the Belgian connection of GRECE, about How can we survive decadence? His speech was called Against progress: the U-turn we need. Another speaker at this conference was Alain de Benoist, with whom Goldsmith obviously does not mind sharing a platform. Goldsmith has also contributed his writings to Nouvelle Droite publications, such as the Flemish Tekos. This magazine is published by the Delta Foundation, which has a lot of contacts with the extreme Right Vlaams Blok (Flemish Bloc). Guy de Martelaere, collaborator of Tekos, found translating Goldsmith’s writings to be an uplifting experience: “The Tekos-colloquium in Antwerp on 11 November was a big success. The conservative-ecological theses of Edward Goldsmith have attracted a lot of interest and acceptance from Nouvelle Droite audiences, which partly have yet to discover green thought. Alain de Benoist, internationally the leading ideologue of the Nouvelle Droite, and Luc Pauwels, chief editor of the Belgian periodical Tekos, are moving into an ecological direction, inspired among other things by contact with Goldsmith and his ideas. I myself got the task to translate one of Goldsmith's most recent and philosophically profound articles for Tekos.” (29)

In recent years, Goldsmith has also been an active supporter of Nouvelle Écologie in France. Laurent Ozon, a disciple of Alain de Benoist, is the director of this organization. Laurent Ozon wrote in an article about housing: “For ecologists it is today essential to safeguard for every people its creative local expression, its possibility even to live or to exist as a constructive part of a culture that participates in the diversity of life. Because the uprooting caused by the individualization of style and the globalization of construction standards is an important weapon in the war waged by the forces of money, hate, and standardization against the natural communities and their ecosystems.” (30) The writings of Goldsmith are an important source of inspiration for Ozon. Besides being the director of Nouvelle Écologie, Ozon has very active against the war of NATO in Kosovo as the leading figure in the Collectif Non à la Guerre, which tried to build an alliance between Left and Right in opposition to the the intervention of NATO in Kosovo. Nouvelle Écologie also has the support of Antoine Waechter, the leading exponent of the 'neither Left nor Right' faction within the green movement in France, the socalled 'ninis'. On May 29, 1989, Waechter declared on French public television: “To open the borders for foreigners is a dangerous utopia. Bearing in mind the demographic explosion in the Third World, there would be millions of people wandering to an already overpopulated Europe. The damage on the cultural and environmental level would be devastating.” (31) How would the Nouvelle Droite not be interested in such an ecologist? In September 1993 Krisis, the journal edited by Alain de Benoist, asked for and got an interview from him. In this interview Waechter said: “[I]f there is a place today for an autonomous ecological movement, it is precisely because political ecology is accompanied by a philosophy of action completely different than that supported by the Right-Left cleavage, that structured the French political landscape for two centuries and shows today clear signs of exhaustion.” (32) Waechter broke away from Les Verts in 1994 because he thought they were too much leaning toward the Left and he founded the political party Mouvement Écologiste Indépendant (Independent Ecology Movement). The new party received the full support of Nouvelle Écologie and its whereabouts got plenty of coverage in Le recours aux forêts (the title of this magazine is a reference to an article by the German extreme right wing author Ernst Jünger that was translated to French and published in Krisis in 1993). Waechter has made several electoral alliances with the autonomists in Alsace. The autonomist party in Alsace (like in Brittany) has a long history in right wing politics. In an interview in Alsace Presse in December 1998 Waechter explained his differences with Les Verts, and its candidate Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Waechter said: “Our list is truly ecological, whereas that of Daniel Cohn-Bendit is a list of the Left with an ecological coloration. Our aim is to make sure that the list of Les Verts does not accumulate the votes of distracted voters, that is the votes of the Leftists and the votes of those with an ecological sensibility that could be seduced by the centrist discours of Cohn-Bendit.” (33) In a letter to the daily Libération Waechter protested against the accusation of working together closely with extreme Rightists on a conference in Paris in January 1999: “What are they reproaching me for? To have participated in a forum and presenting a lecture about Robert Hainard. Is there a single idea in my lecture that resembles closely or distantly the theses of the extreme Right? No, for sure. Is there a single word from the moderator, Laurent Ozon, that would justify such a connection? Not any more so. Burt Laurent Ozon has had the courage to ask some iconoclast questions and to gather some intellectuals of different persuasions to answer them. This is disturbing because this enterprise is situated outside of the convenient cleavage. Just like an ecological list is disturbing because it destroys the myth according to which the ecologists are represented at the European elections by Les Verts. Why can not the Left and the Right deal with the emergence of political ideas that are different from socialism and liberalism?” (34)

Edward Goldsmith was, like Antoine Waechter, one of the featured speakers in this conference in Paris which had as its theme: Ecology against progress? It was organized by Nouvelle Écologie and Goldsmith presented his usual paleo-conservative views on Family, Community, Democracy. Of course Alain de Benoist and several other people of the Nouvelle Droite were also present. A report of this conference was published in Le recours aux forêts, the magazine of Nouvelle Écologie, which earlier devoted a special issue to the views of Edward Goldsmith. In the interview in this special issue of Le recours aux forêts on his views, Goldsmith said: “In both France and England, as well as in Germany, the Greens have the tendency to align themselves with the Left, because the Left is thought of as being less linked to the big multinational corporations, and therefor more inclined to protect the interests of the people. But, in my view, this will change, because of the simple reason that there practically no difference anymore between the Left and the Right, neither in France nor in Germany and the United States … It goes without saying that it is a question of time before a party will be created to represent all these groups that are marginalized by the global economy and also of those who want to preserve what is left of our society, of its culture, and its natural environment. The next political cleavage will be the one between the parties in favor of the global economy and those in favor of the local and communitarian economy. Of course I hope the ecologists will play an important role in the formation of this party, that could be a federation of parties.” (35)

In advance of the European elections of May 1999, Goldsmith tried to put his ideas into practice and he wanted to form an electoral alliance with Waechter's MEI. But in February 1999 the right wing affiliations of both Edward Goldsmith and Antoine Waechter were exposed, whereupon the alliance was broken up. (36) Fortunately Waechter’s MEI did not get many votes in the subsequent election. In September 1999 Goldsmith wrote a letter to the magazine Silence in which he defended his attendance at the conference of GRECE in 1994 by stating that he also spoke at a conference organized by the trotskyist party in Switzerland. He says he never checks the organizations who invite him to speak at their conferences. He states that he does not know about the current political views of GRECE (although he admits that it was founded from a extreme Rightist background) and he defends Alain de Benoist by saying that the Frenchman is critical of the views on immigration of the Front National. Indeed, De Benoist is critical of Front National, but that does not mean he is not part of the extreme right wing. It seems to escape Goldsmith that not every criticism of the Front National is necessarily progressive. De Benoist is in disagreement with the strategy used by Front National, not its principles. Goldsmith also denied that he was involved with financing the MEI campaign for the European elections but Antoine Waechter said otherwise in a press statement issued by the MEI dated 7 December 1998. Very revealing Goldsmith writes at the end of this letter: “It may be worthwhile to mention that all my African, Hindu and Polynesian friends (except those who were too much exposed to Western influences) agree on the principles of this worldview.” (37) Makes one wonder where these friends stand in the political spectrum. Goldsmith seems to believe in some kind of cultural apartheid and that different cultures should not influence one another.

Alain de Benoist said of Goldsmith in an interview: “I am … in sympathy with the views expressed by … Edward Goldsmith, in such works as The great U-turn (1988), The Way: an Ecological Worldview (1991) and again, very recently, in a collection of pieces entitled The Case against the Global Economy and for a Turn toward the Local (Sierra Club Books, San Francisco 1996).” (38) Goldsmith's book was translated into French as Le défi du XXIe siècle - Une vision écologique du monde. His book is very well received by the connections of the Nouvelle Droite in Germany and Italy as well. The Way was translated to German and Heinz-Siegfried Strelow, one of the leading exponents of the Unabhängigen Ökologen Deutschlands (Independent Ecologists of Germany) wrote that it should become obligatory reading for conservative ecologists (which is nothing but an euphemism for ecofascists). (39) In Italy The Way was published as Il Tao dell'Ecologia and Goldsmith also contributed an article to the right wing magazine Diorama Letterario under the same title. (40) This magazine is the Italian connection of GRECE and headed by Marco Tarchi, a political scientist working at the university of Florence. Goldsmith went to Florence on 17 February 1999 to speak about Community, Local Economies, and Globalization. He did not mind sharing a platform with Marco Tarchi on this occasion. Tarchi is a well-known supporter of GRECE, a former member of the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano and nowadays very close to the separatist Lega Nord. He professes an interest in the deep ecology of Arne Næss. (41) In a review of Robyn Eckersley's Environmentalism and Political Theory: Toward an Eco-centric Aproach for the British far Right magazine The Scorpion the known neo-nazi Michael Walker wrote: “[I]t is precisely deep ecology and bio-regionalism that are most likely to inspire a conservative or anti-liberal, even anti-humanist, dare we say even racialist, green perspective. There is no lack of dire warnings from the Left about the dangers for the uninitiated of bio-regionalism, which by its very name invites the novice to consider the biological implications of the conservation of differences. Deep ecology is so radical in its anti-capitalism that anti-capitalism is more important than anti-fascism and saving the world more important than either, more important than anything else in fact.” (42) Fortunately so far there have been no signs of the far Right making serious overtures to the ecology movement in Britain, but judging from this assessment of Michael Walker, the ecology movement should be very vigilant.

The Challenge for the Ecology Movement

There is a very real danger that the right wing will significantly influence the ideology and practice of the ecology movement. The Nouvelle Droite will gladly take the opportunity to use the similarities in thinking of the anti-humanist and anti-rationalist currents in the ecology movement. In this they have the full support of Edward Goldsmith. The ecology movement once was a very promising movement, but unfortunately the promise of a new kind of politics was never fulfilled. Instead it drifted into mysticism and religion on the one hand and to an uncritical acceptance of the status quo on the other hand (cfr. Les Verts in France, Die Grünen in Germany, Agalev and Ecolo in Belgium, I Verdi in Italy). The current rise of mysticism, religion, and obscurantism in Europe and North America will be regarded by the right wing as a gigantic opportunity to spread their message. In spite of the statement by the neo-nazi Michael Walker about the anti-capitalist nature of deep ecology, capitalism has nothing to fear from mystical ecology. The social causes of environmental degradation are 'deeply' mystified by the acolytes of deep ecology, bioregionalism and ecofeminism. It is more likely that these tendencies will result in authoritarian measures against the poor and weak in society. As an antidote to this kind of thinking American social ecologists Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier wrote: “What prevents ecological politics from yielding reaction or fascism is an ecology movement that maintains a broad social emphasis, one that places the ecological crisis in a social context.” (43) Rather than in a context of race, ethnicity, bioregion, mysticism, and the like, ecological politics should be embedded in the struggle against hierarchical domination and class exploitation, the fundamental social causes of environmental problems.

Ecology, if unmediated by social theory and philosophy, can easily result in terrible disasters. Context is all-important, as Murray Bookchin points out correctly: “To think ecologically is to enter the domain of nature philosophy. This can be a very perilous step. Serious political ambiguities persist in nature philosophy itself: namely its potential to nourish reaction as well as revolution. Contemporary society is still seared by images of nature that have fostered highly reactionary political views. Vaporous slogans about 'community' and humanity's 'oneness with nature' easily interplay with the legacy of 'naturalistic' nationalism that reached its genocidal apogee in Nazism, with its myths of race and 'blood and soil'. It requires only a minor ideological shift from the ideas of the nineteenth-century Romantic movement and William Blake's mystical anarchism to arrive at Richard Wagner's mystical nationalism.” (44) With the goal of creating a rational, humanist, and truly democratic society, social ecology stands out as the complete opposite of the current anti-humanist, irrationalist, and authoritarian trends in the ecology movement and in society at large. We have to make hard choices and think critically and rationally about these choices. We face a grim future if the battle against the reactionary trends is not won.


1. Murray Bookchin, “Will Ecology become 'the Dismal Science'?” in The Progressive (1991). Reprinted in Which Way for the Ecology Movement? (Edinburgh & San Francisco: AK Press, 1994).

2. Quoted in David Kubrin, “Toxic Ideologies” in Reclaiming Quarterly, Summer 1999.

3. Arne Næss, “Deep Ecology and Ultimate Premises” in The Ecologist, Vol. 18, Nos. 4/5 (1988). Reprinted in Society and Nature, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1992), p. 108.

4. idem, p. 113.

5. Interview with Arne Næss and Helena Norberg-Hodge in Resurgence, January 1997.

6. Kirkpatrick Sale, Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision (Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1991), p. 108.

7. Arne Næss, “Deep Ecology and Ultimate Premises” in The Ecologist, Vol. 18, Nos. 4/5 (1988). Reprinted in Society and Nature, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1992), p. 112.

8. Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life: A New Synthesis of Mind and Matter (London: Flamingo, 1997), p. 7. In The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture (1982) Capra also stated his support for deep ecology.

9. Charlene Spretnak, The Spiritual Dimension of Green Politics (Santa Fe: Bear & Co., 1986), p. 27.

10. Fritjof Capra and Charlene Spretnak, Green Politics: The Global Promise (London: Hutchinson, 1984).

11. For Herbert Gruhl, see Janet Biehl, “'Ecology' and the Modernization of Fascism in the German Ultra-right” in Janet Biehl & Peter Staudenmaier, Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience (Edinburgh & San Francisco: AK Press, 1995). I also highly recommend the writings of Jutta Ditfurth, Feuer in die Herzen: Gegen die Entwertung des Menschen (Hamburg: Konkret Literatur Verlag, 1997) and Entspannt in die Barbarei. (Öko-)Faschismus und Biozentrismus (Hamburg: Konkret Literatur Verlag, 1996). Although there was a public break between the ÖDP and Gruhl, this did not have much influence on the formers ideology. In fact they continued to spread his books and pamphlets and kept informal relations with their erstwhile leader.

12. For Rudolf Bahro, see Janet Biehl, ”'Ecology' and the Modernization of Fascism in the German Ultra-right”. See also the exchange between James Hart and Ullrich Melle who defend Rudolf Bahro and Janet Biehl in Democracy & Nature #11/12 (Vol. 4, no. 2/3, 1998).

13. See Murray Bookchin, Re-enchanting Humanity: A Defense of the Human Spirit against Anti-Humanism, Misanthropy, Mysticism and Primitivism (London: Cassell, 1995).

14. Dave Foreman interviewed by Bill Devall, “A Spanner in the Woods” in Simply Living Vol. 12 (c. 1986). Quoted in Murray Bookchin, The Philosophy of Social Ecology (Montréal: Black Rose, second revised edition, 1995), p. 117. In 1989 there was a public debate in New York between Dave Foreman and Murray Bookchin about their differences. Foreman distanced himself from his statements in the interview he gave to Bill Devall in this debate, but soon thereafter he started using the same eco-brutalist language again. This is hardly surprising because it is inherent in 'biocentric' thinking. After leaving Earth First!, Foreman joined the board of directors of the conservationist organization Sierra Club and tried, fortunately unsuccessfully so far, to have it adopt an anti-immigration policy. The debate was published in Steve Chase (ed.), Defending the Earth: A Dialogue between Murray Bookchin and Dave Foreman (Boston: South End Press, 1991).

15. Dave Foreman, “A Modest Proposal for a Wilderness Preserve System” in Whole Earth Review #53 (Winter 1986). Quoted by Bill Devall, Simple in Means, Rich in Ends: Practicing Deep Ecology (Layton: Gibbs Smith, 1988), pp. 164-165.

16. Bill Devall, Simple in Means, Rich in Ends, p. 49.

17. ibid., p. 149.

18. For his intellectual development see the detailed analysis of Pierre-André Taguieff in Sur la Nouvelle Droite (Paris: Descartes & Cie, 1994). Unfortunately Taguieff takes the proclamations of De Benoist about his politics being neither Left nor Right far too serious.

19. In Krisis #15 De Benoist published “La nature et sa valeur intrinsique” (September 1993). Under the pseudonym Robert de Herte he wrote in Elements #79 “Les deux écologies”, “Herbert Gruhl et les 'verts' allemands” and “Écologie et réligion” (January 1994).

20. Mark Wegierski, “The European New Right” in Telos #98/99 (Winter 1993/Fall 1994). Telos, once a leading neo-marxist theoretical journal in the United States, has unfortunately been transformed into a platform for European Nouvelle Droite authors.

21. The Ecologist, A Blueprint for Survival (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972), p. 102. For a critique of its conservatism see David Pepper, The Roots of Modern Environmentalism (London & New York: Routledge, 1984).

22. Edward Goldsmith interviewed by Paul Gimeno in Oikos #3. Oikos is a publication of the Belgian (Flemish) green party Agalev. My translation from the Dutch. For a critique of the reactionary ecofeminism of Vandana Shiva, see the excellent essay by Maria Wölflingseder, “Kosmischer Größenwahnsinn. Biologistische und rassistische Tendenzen im New Age und im spirituellen Ökofeminismus” in Gerhard Kern & Lee Taynor (eds.), Die esoterische Verführung: Angriffe auf Vernunft und Freiheit (Aschaffenburg: Alibri Verlag, 1995), pp. 187-210. See also from the same author “Fetisch Weiblichkeit: Über die diffizilen Zusammenhänge zwischen spirituellen Ökofeminismus und rechter Ideologie” in: Renate Bitzan (ed.), Rechte Frauen: Skingirls, Walküren und feine Damen (Berlin: Elefanten Press, 1997), pp. 56-71. For a critique of American ecofeminism see Janet Biehl, Rethinking Ecofeminist Politics (Boston: South End Press, 1991).

23. Edward Goldsmith, The Way: An Ecological World-View (Athens GA: University of Georgia Press, 1998). Revised and enlarged edition, p. 424.

24. Edward Goldsmith, idem p. 437-438.

25. Edward Goldsmith, idem p. xvii.

26. Nicholas Hildyard, `Blood' and 'Culture': Ethnic Conflict and the Authoritarian Right (London: Cornerhouse briefing #11, January 1999).

27. Edward Goldsmith, “Basic Principles of Cultural Ecology” in The Ecologist, Vol. 1, no. 12, 1971, p. 4. Quoted by Nicholas Hildyard, op. cit., pp. 12-13.

28. Edward Goldsmith, The Way, p. 420.

29. Guy de Martelaere, “Nieuws en korte beschouwingen” in Gwenved #23 (January 1998). Guy de Martelaere also publishes in the British right wing periodicals Perspectives: European identities, autonomies and initiatives, edited by the Transeuropa Collective, and Alternative Green, a magazine edited by Richard Hunt. My translation from the Dutch. In 1997 Tekos (no. 85) published a translation of the first editorial Goldsmith wrote in 1970 for The Ecologist. It also published a translation of “Scientific superstitions” (from The Ecologist, vol. 27, no. 5, Sept/Oct. 1997). Guy de Martelaere translated parts of The Way to Dutch for the publishing house of Tekos. Goldsmith also gave an interview to the right wing Belgian periodical De Vrijbuiter (Spring 1998) in which he praised the traditional family and traditional community.

30. Laurent Ozon, “L'habitat, un enjeu pour les écologistes” in Le recours aux forêts #4. My translation from the French. Ozon's articles are translated and published in Italian in Diorama Letteraria, and in Dutch in the extreme right wing paper of Voorpost, SOS-Nieuwsbrief.

31. Quoted by Philippe Pelletier, L'imposture écologiste (Paris: Reclus, 1993), pp. 101-102. My translation from the French. See also Thierry Maricourt, Les nouvelles passarelles de l'extrême droite (Paris: Syllepse, 1997).

32. “Ni droite, ni gauche. Entretien avec Antoine Waechter” in Krisis #15 (September 1993), pp. 16-23. My translation from the French. In the same issue was published “Eight Theses on Deep Ecology” by Arne Næss.

33. Interview with Antoine Waechter in Alsace Presse, 8 December 1998. My translation from the French.

34. Antoine Waechter, Libération, 15 February 1999. My translation from the French.

35. Interview with Edward Goldsmith in Le recours aux forêts #3. My translation from the French.

36. Christiane Chombeau, “Le dérive extrémiste d'Antoine Waechter” in Le Monde, 18 February 1999. Nicole Gauthier, “Waechter accusé par les siens de dérive brune” Libération, 12 February 1999.

37. Letter of Edward Goldsmith in Silence #248 (September 1999). Emphasis added. My translation from the French. Arne Næss seem to share this purist, ‘nativist’ view: “The quite young Dalai Lama was exalted by cameras and films that were ‘smuggled’ to him … When such a central personality, raised from the cradle in a strong culture, tumbles headlong for something so specifically Western technology as a camera, what chances does the culture have to survive? The enthusiasm of the Dalai Lama maybe reveals the demonic force of modern industrial technology.” Arne Næss, Økologi, samfunn og livsstil (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 5th edition 1976) pp. 111-112. Translation from the Norwegian by Eirik Eiglad.

38. Alain de Benoist interviewed in the British right wing magazine Right Now! A Magazine of Politics, Ideas, and Culture, 1997.

39. Heinz-Siegfried Strelow in Junge Freiheit #47 (1996), quoted by Jean Cremet, “Neue Rechte: jetzt generationen- übergreifend” in AK 403, 5 June 1997. The UÖD split away from the Ökologisch-Demokratische Partei (Ecological Democratic Party). The MEI is affiliated with the latter. Reports of Hannes Krill in the Süddeutsche Zeitung of 26 and 29 January 2000 indicate that the split between Die Grünen and the ÖDP could be restored in the near future. Die Grünen have got rid of their left wing that temporarily blocked the influence of the ecofascists.

40. Edward Goldsmith, “Il tao dell'ecologia” in Diorama Letteraria #214 (May 1998).

41. Marco Tarchi, “Cari liberali, adesso è vostro il pensiero unico” in Liberal #26 (May 1997). Tarchi also contributed to the American journal Telos, see “In Search of Right and Left” in Telos #103 (Spring 1995). Like De Benoist Tarchi is critical of Alleanza Nazionale (the former Movimento Sociale Italiano), but that does not mean he is not right wing, he is merely from a rival tendency on the Right.

42. Michael Walker, “A Darker Shade of Green” in The Scorpion #19. This British magazine is very close to GRECE. Michael Walker is also a collaborator of Elemente, the magazine of the German branch of the Nouvelle Droite.

43. Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier, “Introduction” in Ecofascism, pp. 2-3.

44. Murray Bookchin, The Philosophy of Social Ecology, pp. 101-102. Emphasis added.