The Vlaamsblok - supported by Ecologist editor Edward Goldsmith

SpinWatchers Claire Robinson, Jonathan Matthews and Andy Rowell have all worked at The Ecologist, and editor Zac Goldsmith says of SpinWatch subsidiary GMWatch ‘we would be lost without it’. The Ecologist was founded by Zac’s uncle Edward Goldsmith in 1970, and grants from Zac’s father James Goldsmith’s foundation support a number of SpinWatch activities.

But the Ecologist magazine has a history of flirting with the far right. Dutch anti-racist Eric Krebbers exposed the Goldsmith brothers funding for far-right parties in Europe, the Vlaamblok and Mouvement pour la France – which James Goldsmith gave $3.5 million.

Edward Goldsmith wrote:

Natural systems are not geared to change but towards the avoidance of change. Change occurs, not because it is desirable per se, but because in certain conditions, it is judged to be necessary, as a means of preventing predictably larger and more disruptive changes. This must be true of social evolution as well as biological evolution.

a society, by means of its specific cultural pattern, is capable of maintaining itself on its path by correcting any diversions from it. [Just like in nature, where] once mutations do occur, special mechanisms, that are perfected during the course of evolution, exist for assuring their elimination.

The rise of nationalist movements in Europe gave Goldsmith hope

In Europe, people are now slowly beginning to see the light. In Belgium for instance, a new project is being studied to divide the country into four regions, one Walloon, one Flemish, one German and one composed of the ethnically mixed population of Brussels. Quoted here 

 At the Ecologist, two editors Nicholas Hildyard and Larry Lohmann took issue with Edward Goldsmith’s increasingly right wing leaning, and tried to understand where it came from. In an examination of ‘Green orientalism’ Lohmann explained:

‘environmentalists of the more dissident hue sometimes associated with The Ecologist are just as capable of recasting other people’s movements and practices to suit their own purposes. Seeking an impressive lineage for their views somewhere outside their own society, some Western greens treat (say) Taoism or Hinduism merely as flavourful ingredients in their own recipe for “sustainability” or “biocentrism”.’

It was this ‘Green Orientalism’ that led James Goldsmith, along with his friend John Aspinall, to support Zulu leader Gatsha Buthelezi’s Inkatha Freedom party as a bulwark against the African National Congress in the 1990s – to the value of around four million rand. Goldsmith arranged a meeting with Buthelezi and the International Freedom Foundation to rally support – winning over Margaret Thatcher to the Inkatha cause. In the event, Inkatha, with Goldsmith’s backing came close to drowning majority rule in blood, but was persuaded back from the brink of civil war by the ANC. (Draper, Malcolm and Maré, Gerhard  ‘Going In: the Garden of England’s Gaming Zookeeper and Zululand’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 29: 2, 2003, p 555)

Nicholas Hildyard pointed the finger at Goldsmith

For Goldsmith, the overriding goal of Green politics is to re-establish a “natural social order”, “organised on the same plan and governed by the same laws [as] the Cosmos and the natural world”.Tradition provides the blueprint for this all-encompassing plan and religion the means through which it should be instrumentalised in society, regimenting human relations — between men and women, within families and communities and between ethnic groups — so that they accord with the precepts of “Gaia”. The result, many argue, is a “Gaian sociobiology”,  which, when it comes to addressing issues of ethnicity, family and community, risks lending itself to deeply authoritarian agendas.

Edward Goldsmith

As Goldsmith made clear one side of the reassertion of the natural order that he would welcome was the ‘demo-catastrophe’ that would be an ‘eco-bonanza’. (Draper, and Maré ‘Going In: the Garden of England’s Gaming Zookeeper and Zululand’ p 563.)

In 1997, political differences with the magazine’s founder, Edward Goldsmith, over ethnicity and gender issues led Hildyard and the rest of the editorial team to leave and to set up The Corner House. That was the Ecologist that Zac Goldsmith – now Tory MP for Richmond Park – took over.

Little wonder, then, that the people at the Ecologist are willing to dally with the anti-migrant campaigners of the Optimum Population Trust. But what is SpinWatch chief David Miller’s explanation?

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  1. Michael says:

    Excellent article showing the dangers of reading off theories regarding human society from theories regarding nature and how this can collapse into irredentism or worse.

    Thanks for posting it. Very informative.

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