Edward Goldsmith

From Wikispooks
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Person.png Edward Goldsmith   Amazon Sourcewatch WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(author, philosopher, academic, spook)
Edward Goldsmith.jpg
BornEdward René David Goldsmith
Paris, France
Died2009-08-21 (Age 80)
Siena, Italy
Alma materMillfield School, Magdalen College (Oxford)
ChildrenClio Goldsmith
SpouseGillian Marion Pretty
Founder ofThe Ecologist
Member ofGoldsmith family
Pioneering environmentalist with a hint of misanthropy.

Edward René David Goldsmith, widely known as Teddy Goldsmith, was an Anglo-French pioneering environmentalist, writer and philosopher.

He was a member the prominent Goldsmith family. The eldest son of Major Frank Goldsmith, and elder brother of the financier James Goldsmith, who to a large extent financed his activities. 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. Edward was a British Intelligence Officer in Germany in the years after World War 2.

He co-authored the influential A Blueprint for Survival with Robert Allen, which came out in the same period as the Limits to Growth by the Club of Rome. He was a founding member of the political party "People" (later renamed the Green Party), itself largely inspired by the Blueprint. Goldsmith's extreme social conservatism put him at odds with socialist currents of thought which came to dominate within the Green Party.

A deep ecologist and systems theorist, Goldsmith was an early proponent of the Gaia hypothesis, having previously developed a similar concept of a self-regulating biosphere. Goldsmith's passion for anti-science and his love of good company and good living combined in his foundation Ecoropa (1975), an European ecological club and think tank, with Denis de Rougement, Gerard Morgan-Grenville and others.[1]

A talented after-dinner speaker and raconteur, Goldsmith was an articulate spokesman and campaigner,[1] 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 led to him having many critics.

Early life

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 he 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 he 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, he involved himself unsuccessfully in a number of business ventures and devoted most of his spare time to the study of the subjects that 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 at first hand the destruction of traditional societies. He concluded 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]

The Ecologist

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,[6][7] resource depletion,[8] and nuclear accidents. They were accompanied by articles examining pollution, overpopulation, deforestation, soil erosion, corporate power, large dams, and, not least, the World Bank's role in financing the destruction of our planet.[2][9]

Yet another consistent target was the UN's food and agricultural organisation, which Goldsmith claimed was controlled by multinational agro-industrial companies. He wrote: "Development may be designed to combat poverty, but it is in fact creating poverty. The main cause of poverty today is environmental degradation caused by economic development. Most people who live in the world's great slums are development refugees."[1]

A Blueprint For Survival

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 decentralised and deindustrialised 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".[10] It became a key text for the early Green movement, selling over half a million copies, and it was translated into 16 languages.[11]

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, who, the authors claimed, were real-life working models of societies perfectly adapted to both their long-term survival needs and the needs of the living world on which they depended. The tribal peoples alone, the authors argued, had demonstrated a viable means by which the most pressing problems facing humanity could be answered successfully.[3][12]

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.[13][14][15]

The Goldsmith Foundation

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]


  1. a b c https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/aug/27/obituary-edward-goldsmith
  2. a b c d e https://web.archive.org/web/20090822022558/http://www.edwardgoldsmith.com/page2.html
  3. a b c http://www.edwardgoldsmith.com/page288.html
  4. a b Fantasy, the Bomb, and the Greening of Britain by Meredith Veldman. Cambridge University Press, 1994. pp.28–9
  5. http://www.edwardgoldsmith.com/page279.html
  6. The Ecologist Vol. 1 No. 1
  7. The Ecologist Vol. 2 No. 1
  8. Can Britain Survive? Edited by Edward Goldsmith. Tom Stacey, 1971
  9. The Ecologist Vol.1, Nos 1–18.
  10. https://web.archive.org/web/20090907143122/http://www.theecologist.info/page34.html
  11. https://web.archive.org/web/20080331100129/http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=3351185323669993067
  12. Fantasy, the Bomb, and the Greening of Britain by Meredith Veldman. Cambridge University Press, 1994. p229-30
  13. https://web.archive.org/web/20090831193545/http://www.theecologist.info/key27.html
  14. The Stable Society by Edward Goldsmith. The Wadebridge Press, 1978.
  15. The Way: an ecological worldview by Edward Goldsmith, University of Georgia Press, 1998.