December 11, 2017

Enemies of society?

Right-wing politicians and commentators wrap themselves in the rubric of ‘conservatism’ while attacking the Ecological Movement as ‘subversive’ and ‘enemies of society’. The reverse is the case: the so-called ‘conservatives’ are engaged on a hideous mission of social and environmental destruction, while ‘ecologists’ are trying to preserve both social heritage and natural environment.

Published in The Ecologist Vol. 14 No. 5/6, June/July 1984.


Paul Johnson refers to environmentalists as “the enemies of society”. In general they are regarded as subversive elements living on the margins of society. It is even said by many upright citizens that the Green Party of Germany and by extension all other Green parties including the British Ecology Party (now the Green Party), are paid by Moscow to subvert western society.

On the other hand Mr Reagan and Mrs Thatcher and their respective administrations see themselves and are generally seen by others, as patriots and conservatives. They claim to stand for tradition, for religion, for the family and for traditional moral values.

But do they really? The main feature of their very similar policies is industrialisation at any cost. Industrialisation means systematically transforming traditional society into modern society, replacing traditional villages with huge cities and housing estates, artisanal workshops with vast factories, village schools with the factory-like compounds. It means in fact promoting change away from traditional society towards a brave new world of skyscrapers, factories, computers, battery farms, etc.

How can such a policy be regarded as conservative? How can a policy that by its very nature must lead to the systematic destruction of our cultural heritage, the annihilation of our forests, our hedgerows, the erosion of our soil, the extermination of our wildlife, the contamination of our rivers and of our groundwater, the transformation of a proud and self reliant people into a vast anonymous mass of increasingly alienated and unemployed people who are even more dependent for their very sustenance on the functioning of a massive centralised bureaucracy, be regarded, even by the remotest stretch of the imagination, as conservative?

Huey Johnson, ex-secretary for Environment and Resources in the California State Legislature, told a meeting of environmentalists, which I attended in San Francisco last April, that Mr Reagan has no right to be photographed, as he always is, with the Stars and Stripes in the background to make it appear that he is the true representative of conservatism and patriotism. The opposite is the case. His administration has done more to annihilate America’s natural heritage than any other before it.

On the contrary, it is the members of the Ecological Movement who should be regarded as the real conservatives and the real patriots. In the UK this is the only movement that seeks to preserve what this country is all about: its traditions, its architectural and artistic heritage and above all its natural environment.

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