Article titled ‘Green Anti-Immigration Arguments Are A Cover For Right Wing Populism’ summarises ZPG Zero Population Growth in Australia, US white nationalist links, citing Paul Ehrlich and John Tanton. A symptom of US based radical right libertarianism and eugenics, presented as liberal, environmental and science based, but in fact supported by oligarchs.
The clearest signals emerged in the US in the ’70s when simultaneously fossil fuel companies became aware of global warming due to carbon emissions (and threatened by Nixon’s EPA), ZPG was established with Ehrlich, Tanton et al., supported by Rockefeller Bros. (Standard Oil then Exxon), Ford and Carnegie Foundations (according to the Washington Post), Club of Rome promoting Limits to Growth PR construct (including carrying capacity, Herman Daly’s steady-state economy suggesting protectionism to preclude global competition etc.) hosted on Rockefeller estate, sponsored by VW and Fiat, while James Buchanan and later Koch’s et al. started promoting libertarian economics (also Friedman, Hayek, Rand and Chicago School), nativism and developing think tanks for influence in politics, academia and media (according to MacLean’s ‘Democracy in Chains’ and Mayer’s ‘Dark Money’), including ALEC, Heritage Foundation etc..
Tony Goodfellow | 22nd February, 2019
With the backdrop of dramatic decrease in migration to Australia in 2018 to a 10 year low, the population debate has reared its ugly head. In recent months Dick Smith has run an advertising blitz with the title ‘overpopulation will destroy Australia’ that compares population growth to cancer and recently took stage at Dark + Dangerous Thoughts at Mona arguing “no” for the proposition “Do We Let Them In?”. Dick Smith’s intervention comes as members of the far right continue to focus on immigration as a major issue. For example, the newly minted Katter’s Australian Party senator, Fraser Anning, praised the White Australia Policy in his inaugural speech and echoed Nazi rhetoric saying “the final solution to the immigration problem of course is a popular vote”. The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also recently spoken about reducing Australia’s immigration intake.
The two views, although, coming from different perspectives, one nominally in the name of “sustainability” and the other a throwback to colonialism steeped in racism and xenophobia, arrive at the same destination, a hermetical view of the world projecting fear onto an outsider. In Dick Smith’s view the outsider is coming to destroy the environment and it Anning’s version they threaten the “European-Christian” ethno-white state.
The environmental rhetoric of the population debate might be alluring to progressives. Who would argue against clean air and clean water? Who wouldn’t agree that the current paradigm of growth is unsustainable? The problem is that an analysis based solely in population is superficial, creating solutions that end up marrying with the worst parts of Australian politics – far-right populism. If unchecked environmentalists focused solely on population threaten to be co-opted and driving a wedge in the environmental movement – because on the surface the arguments sound appealing.
Debate about population within the environment movement has played out many times, with many of the arguments not being new. Dick Smith’s manifesto proclaims “The prime reason for the decline in living standards for many Australian workers is our population growth.”
However, whose environment is he trying to protect?
Background to the environmental population debate
In the late 1960’s and onward a debate raged in environmental groups that threatened to tear them apart. The hotly debated issue was about population, spurned on by the publication of the neo-Malthusian The Population Bomb by Paul R. Ehrlich.
The Population Bomb is an easy-to-read polemic written for a popular audience and a guide for organising. In Ehrlich’s view over-population is leading to societal and environmental collapse and the issue needs immediate policy action. It thus begun with the famous lines, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over,” and the pace continues:
“Overpopulation is now the dominant problem.
Overpopulation occurs when numbers threaten values.
…regardless of changes in technology or resource consumption and distribution, current rates of population growth guarantee an environmental crisis which will persist until the final collapse.
There are some professional optimists around who like to greet every sign of dropping birth rates with wild pronouncements about the end of the population explosion.
Many of these countries, some of which are the poorest, most undernourished, and most overpopulated in the world, are prime candidates for a death-rate solution to the Population explosion
Our position requires that we take immediate action at home and promote effective action worldwide. We must have population control at home, hopefully through changes in our value system, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail.”
He argues that population is a geometrical ratio:
“If growth continued at that rate for about 900 years, there would be some 60,000,000,000,000,000 people on the face of the earth…Unfortunately, even 900 years is much too far in the future for those of us concerned with the population explosion. As you will· see, the next nine years will probably tell the story.”
He graphically compares population growth to cancer, just like Dick Smith:
“We can no longer afford merely to treat the symptoms of the cancer of population growth; the cancer itself must be cut out.”
In “Chapter 1 The Problem” Ehrlich writes that “I have understood the population explosion intellectually for a long time. I came to understand it emotionally one stinking hot night in Delhi a few years ago.”
It would be hard not to be terror-stricken after reading The Population Bomb and it inspired many to action – perhaps prematurely. One argument, coming from a milieu of a white middle-class that some scholars have called an “apartheid ecology”, could be characterised as the “Green anti-immigrant” position. This position argued that there needed to be a national population policy in the United States that centred on radically reducing immigration.
This debate had echoes of the 18th century where many often turned to population control to solve social ills. This movement was famously satirised by Jonathan Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’ or its longer title ‘A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick’. It also had echoes of Thomas Malthus who posited in An Essay on the Principle of Population that population would exceed food supply:
“The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race
Taking the population of the world at any number, a thousand millions, for instance, the human species would increase in the ratio of — 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, etc. and subsistence as — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc. In two centuries and a quarter, the population would be to the means of subsistence as 512 to 10: in three centuries as 4096 to 13, and in two thousand years the difference would be almost incalculable, though the produce in that time would have increased to an immense extent.”
An Essay on the Principle of Population expressed a view where empathy to certain groups, such as the poor, would spell disaster. His ideas led those in power to look at famine as good for society and that support for those not well off as creating “the poor which they maintain” . Marx famously argued against Malthus:
“The hatred of the English working class for Malthus—the ‘mountebank-parson,’ as Cobbett rudely called him…—was thus fully justified and the people’s instinct was correct here, in that they felt that he was no man of science, but a bought advocate of their opponents, a shameless sycophant of the ruling classes.”
This account was pretty accurate considering Malthus has been used to wage war on the poor. “Over the last 200 years” according to eco-socialist John Bellamy Foster “Malthusianism has thus always served the interests of those who represented the most barbaric tendencies within bourgeois society.”
Malthus’ view would end up marrying with Eugenics to form an ideological base for the Nazis. From early on Hitler fetishised the idea that population was the problem:
“The annual increase of population in Germany amounts to almost 900,000 souls. The difficulties of providing for this army of new citizens must grow from year to year and must finally lead to a catastrophe, unless ways and means are found which will forestall the danger of misery and hunger.”
Tragically his solution to his manufactured population problem was to violently enlarge the borders of the state, encourage higher fertility of anyone who was in Arthur de Gobineau’s ahistorical category of the true Germans or Aryan race while offsetting this by genocide of certain populations he deemed too foreign, not nationalistic enough or inferior.
Brief History of the rise of concern for population to be anti-immigration.
After The Population Bomb was released the new wave of the population debate played out in the one the largest and oldest conservation groups, the Sierra Club, leading to a decades old internecine struggle. The publication solidified for many that overpopulation was the most important issue for environmentalists. The polemic had a forward by David Brower, the executive director of the Sierra Club. He tied the Sierra Club’s mission to the call to action of the The Population Bomb, writing:
“The roots of the new brutality, it will become clear from The Population Bomb, are in the lack of population control. There is, we must hope and predict, a chance to exert control in time. We would like to predict that organizations which, like the Sierra Club, have been much too calm about the ultimate threat to mankind, will awaken themselves and others, and awaken them with an urgency that will be necessary to fulfillment of the prediction that mankind will survive. We must use our political power to push other countries into programs which combine agricultural development and population control.”
One scholar writes that the Ehrlich’s polemic “convinced many people that population expansion would eventually transcend the earth’s carrying capacity, leading to ecological disaster”. In doing so population became the pre-eminent concern for many environmentalists. It wasn’t long before environmental groups split on the issue. Population policy brought up many difficult questions that advocates could not address. On the question of scale, for example, should population be addressed globally or nationally? How do you address it nationally when the fertility rate is so low? Some proponents of addressing overpopulation decided the most politically acceptable way was to address it nationally, primarily through drastically reducing immigration. This focus on immigration somewhat overlook the arbitrary nature of both the new population goal and narrowly focusing on national population instead of consumption. There was no evidence that immigration size was related to ecological damage but the fear of population getting out of control was an overriding logic, and immigration provided a useful political tool……. continues……
I’m an environmental journalist, but I never write about overpopulation. – Here’s why: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/9/26/16356524/the-population-question
Greenwash: Nativists, Environmentalism and the Hypocrisy of Hate: https://www.splcenter.org/20100630/greenwash-nativists-environmentalism-and-hypocrisy-hate
Life in a ‘degrowth’ economy, and why you might actually enjoy it: https://theconversation.com/life-in-a-degrowth-economy-and-why-you-might-actually-enjoy-it-32224
Here’s what a population policy for Australia could look like: https://theconversation.com/heres-what-a-population-policy-for-australia-could-look-like-101458
Other related sources:
Betts K, Ideology and Immigration, Volume 1, Number 4 (Summer 1991), The Social Contract Press, https://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0104/article_56.shtml
Betts K, Population Policy Issues, Volume 8, Number 2 (Winter 1997-1998), The Social Contract Press, https://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0802/article_698.shtml
Betts K, A Conversation With Jean Raspail*, (Reprint) Volume 15, Number 4 (Summer 2005), The Social Contract Press, https://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc1504/article_1340.shtml (* Steve Bannon’s favourite)
Birrell R, Australian Nation-State, Volume 7, Number 2 (Winter 1996-1997), The Social Contract Press, https://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0702/article_615.shtml
Bricker D & Ibbitson J, 2019, Empty Planet, Signal Books, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37585564-empty-planet
Haney-Lopez I, 2014, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, Oxford University Press USA, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17847530-dog-whistle-politics
Jaco S, Anti-Immigration campaign has begun Washington Post May 8 1977 https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1977/05/08/anti-immigration-campaign-begun/
MacLean N, 2017, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, Viking, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30011020-democracy-in-chains
Mayer J, 2016, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Doubleday, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27833494-dark-money
Pearce F, 2010, The Coming Population Crash: And Our Planet’s Surprising Future, Beacon Press, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7788578-the-coming-population-crash
van Onselen L, MacroBusiness (Australia) many articles about immigration, NOM net overseas migration, international education and population growth using research of Birrell and Betts https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/author/leith/
For more articles and blogs about Australian politics, demography, population growth and white nationalism click through.