Edward Goldsmith

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Edward Goldsmith
Edward Goldsmith.jpg
Born (1928-11-08)November 8, 1928
Paris, France
Died August 21, 2009(2009-08-21) (aged 80)
Siena, Italy
Occupation Environmentalist, Philosopher, Publisher
Children Clio Goldsmith
Website
edwardgoldsmith.org

Edward René David Goldsmith (November 8, 1928, Paris, France – August 21, 2009, Siena, Italy), widely known as Teddy Goldsmith, was an Anglo-French environmentalist, writer and philosopher.

The eldest son of Major Frank Goldsmith, and elder brother of the financier Sir James Goldsmith, Edward Goldsmith was the founding editor and publisher of The Ecologist. Known for his outspoken views opposing industrial society and economic development, he expressed a strong sympathy for the ways and values of traditional peoples.

He co-authored the influential Blueprint for Survival with Robert Prescott-Allen, becoming a founding member of the political party "People" (later renamed the Green Party), itself largely inspired by the Blueprint. Goldsmith's conservative view of environmentalism put him at odds with the socialist currents of thought that came to dominate the British Green Party.

A deep ecologist and systems theorist, Goldsmith was an early proponent of the Gaia hypothesis, having previously developed a similar cybernetic concept of a self-regulating biosphere.

A talented after-dinner speaker and raconteur, Goldsmith was an articulate spokesman and campaigner,[1] receiving a number of awards for his work protecting the natural world and highlighting the importance and plight of indigenous peoples, including an honorary Right Livelihood Award and the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur.

Early life[edit]

Edward Goldsmith (widely known as Teddy) was born in Paris in 1928 to a German-Jewish father, Frank Goldsmith, and French mother, Marcelle Mouiller.[2]

He entered Millfield School, Somerset, as a grammar student, and later graduated with honours in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Magdalen College, Oxford (1947–1950).[2] While studying at Oxford, Goldsmith rejected the reductionist and compartmentalised ideas taught at the time, and sought a more holistic worldview with which to study societies and the problems facing the world at large.[3]

After fulfilling his National Service as a British Intelligence Officer in Hamburg and Berlin, Goldsmith involved himself, unsuccessfully, in a number of business ventures, while devoting most of his spare time to the study of the subjects which were to preoccupy him for the rest of his life.[2]

Throughout the 1960s he spent time travelling the world with his close friend John Aspinall witnessing firsthand the destruction of traditional societies, concluding that the spread of economic development, and its accompanying industrialisation, far from being progressive as claimed, was actually the root cause of social and environmental destruction.[3][4][5]

Work[edit]

The Primitive People’s Fund[edit]

In London, at meetings of the Primitive People’s Fund (the committee that founded Survival International), Goldsmith teamed up with the fund’s treasurer Robert Allen, the explorer Jean Liedloff, and a writer from World Medicine, Peter Bunyard, to found The Ecologist in 1969.[3][4]

Theory of a Unified Science[edit]

After rejecting what he saw as the excessively reductionist and compartmentalised approach of mainstream academia, Goldsmith spent much of his time researching and developing his own theories for the unification of the sciences.[6] The Theory of a Unified Science was heavily influenced by cybernetics, as well as the General Systems Theory of Ludwig von Bertalanffy, the holism of the early academic ecologists, and the functionalism employed by many anthropologists.[7] His theory would later be published, in its final form, as The Way: an ecological world view. (see below)

Early on, Goldsmith had formulated a concept of the biosphere as an integrated cybernetic entity, the self-regulating parts (of which he included tribal societies) cooperating, largely unconsciously, for the mutual benefit of the whole[8]—a view which anticipated aspects of the Gaia thesis,[9] of which he was to become a leading proponent.[10]

Goldsmith was also a critic of neo-Darwinism. He claimed that it is a reductionist theory and that if we wish to understand evolution we have to "abandon the reductionistic and mechanistic paradigm of science".[11]

The Ecologist[edit]

Having established The Ecologist in 1969 with founding editors Robert Allen, Jean Liedloff, and Peter Bunyard,[4] Goldsmith was to use the journal as a platform for his theoretical concerns with regular articles appearing under the heading "Towards a Unified Science". The journal also became an important forum for the early Green movement, with articles focusing on the relevance and survival of hunter-gatherer societies, alternative technology, and organic farming, together with prescient articles about climate change,[12][13] resource depletion,[14] and nuclear accidents. These were accompanied by the usual gamut of articles examining pollution, overpopulation, deforestation, soil erosion, corporate power, large dams, and not least the World Bank's alleged role in "financing the destruction of our planet".[2][15]

A Blueprint For Survival[edit]

Signed by over thirty of the leading scientists of the day—including Sir Julian Huxley, Sir Frank Fraser Darling, Sir Peter Medawar, Sir Peter Scott, and C. H. Waddington—Goldsmith and his fellow editor Robert Allen made headlines in January 1972 with A Blueprint for Survival.

The Blueprint was a far reaching proposal for a radical transition to a largely de-centralised and de-industrialised society—an attempt to prevent what the authors referred to as “the breakdown of society and the irreversible disruption of the life-support systems on this planet”.[16] It became a key text for the early Green movement, selling over half a million copies, and translated into 16 different languages.[17] In many ways it anticipated the concerns taken-up by today's Transition Movement.

Goldsmith and Allen argued that rather than devise imaginary utopias, as did Marxist and liberal political theorists of the time, they should instead look to the example of existing tribal peoples, where the authors claimed there existed real-life working models of societies perfectly adapted to their long term survival needs, and the needs of the living world on which they depended. These tribal peoples alone, the authors argued, had demonstrated a viable means by which the most pressing problems facing humanity could be answered successfully.[3][18]

Such societies were characterised by their small, human-scale communities, low-impact technologies, successful population controls, sustainable resource management, holistic and ecologically integrated worldviews, and a high degree of social cohesion, physical health, psychological well-being and spiritual fulfilment of their members.[19][20][21]

The People Party[edit]

The Blueprint was a major inspiration for the embryonic political party called "People" (later to become the Green Party,[22]) which invited Goldsmith to stand for the Eye constituency in Suffolk as their candidate in the February 1974 general election.

The campaign focused on the threat of desertification from the intensive farming practised in the area, which Goldsmith emphasised with the help of a Bactrian camel supplied by Aspinall. Goldsmith was in turn accompanied by bearded supporters dressed in the garb of Arab sheiks—the implication being that if modern oil-intensive farming practises were allowed to continue the camel would be the only viable means of transport left in Suffolk. Goldsmith lost his deposit, but his unorthodox campaign succeeded in attracting the media's attention, and highlighted the issues.[3] He again stood for the (now renamed) Ecology Party at the European Elections in 1979, this time winning a more respectable portion of the vote.[2]

Cornwall[edit]

In 1973, buoyed by the success of the Blueprint and a sudden rise in public awareness of ecological issues—partly brought about by the Stockholm Conference and the publication of the Club of Rome’s The Limits to Growth in the same year—Goldsmith and his editorial team moved from their offices in London to relocate to rural Cornwall in the far west of England.[23] Here Goldsmith and his colleagues bought themselves farms, and for the following seventeen years attempted to form a small-scale, relatively self-sufficient community of their own, while The Ecologist continued to be produced on-site, in between their other chores.[3][24]

Later, in 1977 when the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) threatened to site a nuclear reactor on farmland in Luxulyan, Cornwall, Goldsmith was among those who organised a continuous sit-in of the land, with local people blocking the entrance and staffing round-the-clock garrisons to prevent CEGB contractors from commencing their drilling work.[2] An early example of an environmental protest camp, the High Court of England and Wales eventually awarded in favour of CEGB allowing the drilling to go ahead. The CEGB never went on to develop the site however.

The Gandhi Peace Foundation[edit]

In 1974, Goldsmith spent four months with the Gandhi Peace Foundation in New Delhi, comparing the Gandhian (Sarvodaya) movement with the Ecology movement in Europe.[2][17] This led Goldsmith to forge close links with Indian environmental activists, in particular with the Chipko movement—including Sunderlal Bahuguna and Vandana Shiva. This was to have a major influence on Goldsmith's approach to environmental activism, and led to a special issue of The Ecologist on the subject.[17][25]

The World Bank[edit]

In 1984, together with his colleague Nicholas Hildyard, Goldsmith authored a multi-volume report on the destructive effects of large-scale, hydroelectric dams. This was the beginning of a long drawn-out attack directed at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank which Goldsmith and his colleagues accused of financing the destruction of the planet.[26]

In one episode, Goldsmith wrote an open letter to the then President of the World Bank, Alden Clausen, demanding that the bank “stop financing the destruction of the tropical world, the devastation of its remaining forests, the extermination of its wildlife and the impoverishment and starvation of its human inhabitants”.[27] At the time, the connection between large-scale development projects and social and environmental destruction had not been widely recognised within the environmental movement.

Forests campaign[edit]

In 1989 Goldsmith helped to organise an international campaign calling for an immediate end to the destruction of the world's remaining forests with its detrimental effects on indigenous cultures, biodiversity and global climate. The campaign raised over 3 million signatures which were taken in wheelbarrows to the UN's headquarters in New York. Goldsmith and a party of activists subsequently occupied the main lobby, refusing to move until the Secretary General (Perez de Cuellar) agreed to see them. The group demanded that he call an extraordinary general meeting of the Security Council to tackle the global crisis of deforestation.[17] Although failing in this, the campaign managed to organise a meeting in the United States Senate with a group of senators, headed by Al Gore, whom the activists called upon to end their support of the World Bank.[2]

The Goldsmith Foundation[edit]

In 1991, with the financial support of his brother James, Goldsmith established the Goldsmith (JMG) Foundation supporting a diverse range of non-governmental organisations campaigning against environmentally destructive activities, along with organisations providing sustainable alternatives.[2]

The Way[edit]

In 1990, urged on by Arne Næss,[7] Goldsmith left the editorship of The Ecologist to Nicholas Hildyard, while taking time off to write his philosophical magnum opus The Way: an ecological worldview.[28] The Way (1992) was the culmination and synthesis of more than four decades of theoretical development,[7] embodying a "coherent worldview" by which Goldsmith would attempt to explain the self-inflicted problems facing the world, and to propose a way out of them. Much of this work was already mature in Goldsmith's mind by the time he published the first issues of The Ecologist in 1970.[29][30]

Later life[edit]

In addition to the UK Ecologist, Goldsmith later helped to found and support The Ecologist as independent enterprises in many parts of the world, including—

Brazil (in Portuguese); France (in French); Asia (India); Italy (in Italian); Greece (in Greek); The Pacific (New Zealand); Lebanon (in Arabic); Latin America (in Spanish); and Colombia (in Spanish).[2]

He continued to attend key meetings around the world,[2] and involved himself with a variety of campaign organisations—becoming President of the Climate Initiatives Fund, Richmond, UK;[2] a board member of the International Forum on Globalization, San Francisco, USA;[2] a founder member of Marunui Conservation Ltd., Mangawhai, New Zealand (1987);[2] and a founder member and vice-president of ECOROPA, a European ecological club and think-tank (1975).[2]

Philosophy[edit]

Controversies[edit]

In 1997, after an acrimonious split with his editorial team—most notably with his former friend and colleague Nicholas Hildyard[28]—Goldsmith was left to run The Ecologist on his own. Having been absent for some years, he brought in the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC) to act as the editorial team. His nephew Zac, who was then working for ISEC, eventually took over the editorship on their behalf.[28]

The split with Hildyard led to a period of often bitter criticism from some members of the political left in the environmental movement,[31][32][33] which, compounded with failing health,[34] resulted in a period of isolation from the British scene.

Goldsmith was accused of having affiliated himself with the Nouvelle Droite, an intellectual voice of the European "New Right",[citation needed] after addressing a symposium on Green issues organised in Paris by the GRECE (Research and Study Group on European Culture),[35] a school of political thought founded largely on the works of Alain de Benoist.[36] It was the attending of this and another similar event[37] that had led to rising tensions with his colleague Nicholas Hildyard.[28] The title of Goldsmith's contribution in Paris being simply "Une société écologique: la seule alternative" (An ecological society: the only alternative).[38]

Later, in a controversial article for the Guardian newspaper entitled "Black Shirts in Green Trousers", George Monbiot (a co-founder of the left-wing political party Respect[39]) accused Goldsmith of having "advocated the enforced separation of Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda and Protestants and Catholics in Ulster, on the grounds that they constitute 'distinct ethnic groups' and are thus culturally incapable of co-habitation"[32] (a point rejected by Goldsmith[40]). This, along with other attacks, eventually led Goldsmith to counter his critics with his indepth rebuttal My Answer.[33]

Goldsmith's close association with his brother Sir James Goldsmith, his lifelong friendship with the controversial casino owner and conservationist John Aspinall, along with his anti-modernist stance and support for indigenous peoples, ensured that Goldsmith had many detractors throughout his life. Yet despite this, Goldsmith received affectionate support and respect from across the full spectrum of the environmental movement, as well as from many of the people whose views and preoccupations were the focus of his theoretical and philosophical critique.[1][24]

Goldsmith’s message continued to be sponsored around the world, in particular through his work with the International Forum on Globalization (IFG), and, regardless of their previous acrimony, Hildyard and Goldsmith went on to restore their former friendship.

Awards[edit]

  • EMCI, Natura Uomo Ambiente, 8th Symposio Ecologico International, Napoli 1979
  • Right Livelihood Award,[41] 1991
  • Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, 1991 (French knighthood)
  • Premios Internacionales Vida Sana (Spanish organic association), 1991
  • Best Book of the Year Award for Ecological and Transformational Politics, awarded by the American Political Science Association, for The Case Against the Global Economy: and for a turn towards the local, co-edited with Jerry Mander, 1997
  • Council for International Affairs and Human Rights (Shiva statue)
  • Gandhi Millennium Award, 2001
  • International Forum on Globalization, Lifetime Achievement Award, Feb 24, 2007

Influences[edit]

Associates[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

Author[edit]

Co-author[edit]

Volume I (1984)
Volume II (1986)
Volume III (1992)
  • 5,000 Days to Save the Planet. (Hamlyn, 1990)
  • The Doomsday Fun Book New Edition. (John Carpenter, 2006)

Editor[edit]

  • Can Britain Survive? (Part author. Tom Stacey, 1971).
  • La Médecine à la Question (Fernand Nathar, France 1981).
  • The Earth Report (Mitchell Beazley, 1988).
  • Gaia, the Thesis, the Mechanisms and the Implications (Wadebridge Ecological Centre, 1988).
  • Gaia and Evolution (Co-editor with Peter Bunyard. 1990).
  • The Case Against the Global Economy: and for a turn towards the local (Co-editor with Jerry Mander. Sierra Book Club, 1996)
  • Le Piège se Referme (The trap snaps shut again) (France 2001).

Essays (selection)[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Schwarz, Walter (2009-08-27). "The Guardian Obituary: Edward Goldsmith". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "curriculum vitae". Edward Goldsmith. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "The Godfather of Green by Paul Kingsnorth". Edwardgoldsmith.com. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  4. ^ a b c Fantasy, the Bomb, and the Greening of Britain by Meredith Veldman. Cambridge University Press, 1994. p228-9
  5. ^ "Uncle Teddy by Fred Pearce, 1991". Edwardgoldsmith.com. 1991-01-10. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  6. ^ The Stable Society by Edward Goldsmith. The Wadebridge Press, 1978. p iv
  7. ^ a b c The Way: an ecological worldview by Edward Goldsmith, University of Georgia Press, 1998. Introduction
  8. ^ "A Blueprint for Survival, The Ecologist Vol. 2, No. 1. Appendix A". Theecologist.info. 1972-09-14. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  9. ^ "Teddy Goldsmith: a tribute by Peter Bunyard. ''The Ecologist Online'', 1st September, 2009". Theecologist.org. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  10. ^ Gaia, the Thesis, the Mechanisms and the Implications, edited by Peter Bunyard and Edward Goldsmith. Wadebridge Ecological Centre, 1988.
  11. ^ The Ecologist Vol. 20 No. 2, March–April 1990 Online
  12. ^ The Ecologist Vol. 1 No. 1
  13. ^ The Ecologist Vol. 2 No. 1
  14. ^ Can Britain Survive? Edited by Edward Goldsmith. Tom Stacey, 1971
  15. ^ The Ecologist Vol.1, Nos 1-18.
  16. ^ "A Blueprint for Survival, The Ecologist Vol. 2, No. 1. Preface". Theecologist.info. 1972-09-14. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  17. ^ a b c d "Edward Goldsmith—the Green Revolutionary. Goldhawk Films, 1990". Video.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  18. ^ Fantasy, the Bomb, and the Greening of Britain by Meredith Veldman. Cambridge University Press, 1994. p229-30
  19. ^ "A Blueprint for Survival, The Ecologist Vol. 2, No. 1". Theecologist.info. 1972-09-14. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  20. ^ The Stable Society by Edward Goldsmith. The Wadebridge Press, 1978.
  21. ^ The Way: an ecological worldview by Edward Goldsmith, University of Georgia Press, 1998.
  22. ^ "A short history of the Green Party of England and Wales by Derek Wall, 1993". Another-green-world.blogspot.com. 2006-10-09. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  23. ^ Fantasy, the Bomb, and the Greening of Britain by Meredith Veldman. Cambridge University Press, 1994. p239
  24. ^ a b "The Daily Telegraph Obituary: Edward Goldsmith". Telegraph.co.uk. 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  25. ^ The Ecologist Vol. 5 No. 8
  26. ^ "The Social and Environmental Effects of Large Dams by Edward Goldsmith and Nicholas Hildyard. Wadebridge Ecological Centre, 1984". Edwardgoldsmith.com. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  27. ^ The Times Obituary: Edward Goldsmith
  28. ^ a b c d "The Ecologist Magazine 1970-2007: a case study" Master's thesis Kristen Harding. University of Plymouth, September 2007
  29. ^ Towards a Unified Science. The Ecologist Vol.1, Vol.2, Vol. 3
  30. ^ "A Blueprint for Survival, The Ecologist Vol. 2, No. 1. Appendices A & B". Theecologist.info. 1972-09-14. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  31. ^ Hildyard, Nicholas. ""Blood" and "Culture" by Nicholas Hildyard". Thecornerhouse.org.uk. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  32. ^ a b "Black Shirts in Green Trousers by George Monbiot". Monbiot.com. 2002-04-30. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  33. ^ a b My Answer
  34. ^ The eco gardeners from Tuscany by Caroline Donald
  35. ^ "Eléments pour la Civilisation Européenne", quarterly issue 81, page 51. November 1994, Paris
  36. ^ "Actes des Colloques nationaux du GRECE (with Alain de Benoist) including: Etats-unis: danger, Paris, December 1992: Les Enjeux de l'Ecologie (The Challenges of Ecology), Paris, November 1994
  37. ^ ""Cooking up rightwing connections", ''The Guardian'', 18th July 2000". Edwardgoldsmith.com. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  38. ^ "Actes du XXVIIIème colloque national du GRECE: "Gauche-Droite: la Fin d'un Systeme", Paris. Published in December 1995
  39. ^ Tempest, Matthew (2004-02-18). "Monbiot quits Respect over threat to Greens. ''The Guardian'', February 17, 2004". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  40. ^ http://www.edwardgoldsmith.com/page197.html Edward Goldsmith: Letter to the Guardian, April 2002
  41. ^ "Right Livelihood Award: 1991 - Edward Goldsmith". Rightlivelihood.org. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]