Swans Commentary » swans.com November 21, 2011  



The Original Population Bomb
Part II of II


by Michael Barker





Read Part I of this essay.


(Swans - November 21, 2011)   The production of alarmist propaganda -- to get both the ruling class and the "unfit" on board with their program for change -- was the Hugh Moore Fund's forte, and throughout the 1960s the fund published a series of full-page advertisements in leading newspapers devoted to drawing attention to the population predicament by linking it to current political problems. Each advert was accompanied by a list of notable supporting signatories, with a 1964 advert, published shortly after President Johnson's "Great Society" speech being signed by people as diverse as the anti-racist anthropologist Ashley Montagu and the racist Nobel Prize winner, William Shockley. (1)

Moore's population lobbying was now building to a crescendo, and in 1965 with the aid of General William H. Draper, Jr. and the chairman of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (Cass Cranfield), (2) Moore founded "an additional organization designed specifically to bring greater government involvement" in population issues. "[W]orking right at the seat of power in Washington" this organization was known as the Population Crisis Committee (which is now called Population Action International). To head up "an eminent board of directors," Moore chose former US senator Kenneth B. Keating to act as the founding chair of the committee, but when in the fall of 1965 Keating accepted the nomination of the Republican Party for the New York Court of Appeals, General Draper stepped in to act as the chair of the Population Crisis Committee until his retirement in 1969. (3)

With so much work done, it was now that Moore "embarked upon one of the most ambitious projects of his life." (4) In 1967, he proceeded to organize a lunch meeting at the Century Club in New York to see what he could do to rouse the government to set up a "Manhattan Project" for population control.

At the luncheon were Emerson Foote and Henry C. Flower, Jr., two of the nation's leading advertising authorities; Elmo Roper, public opinion analyst [and vice chairman of the Population Crisis Committee]; Harold Bostrom, a prominent industrialist; Rockefeller Prentice, philanthropist; Adolph Schmidt, foundation executive with the Mellon interests, in addition to General Draper and Moore. "The time has come," Moore said, "for top leaders in public relations and advertising to become involved with the population problem." After considerable discussion, which continued through several subsequent meetings at the Century, the group agreed to go ahead as an ad hoc committee of the Hugh Moore Fund, to be known as the Campaign to Check the Population Explosion. (p.64)

Emerson Foote, the recently-retired chairman of the advertising behemoth, McCann-Erickson, was subsequently selected as the chairman of the Campaign to Check the Population Explosion, and a "budget of $500,000 was pledged by the Fund and several other foundations and individuals." (5) A phenomenal "advertising crusade" then saturated the mainstream media until the funds were depleted in June 1969; but while President Johnson had responded positively by appointing the President's Committee on Population and Family Planning (with Wilbur Cohen and John D. Rockefeller 3rd as co-chairmen), Moore wanted more. Consequently, the board members of the High Moore Fund picked up the price tag of the advertising offensive, and on July 18, 1969, "came the most far-reaching announcement the population movement had yet heard from an American President." President Nixon announced that the population growth was "a world problem which no country can ignore" and that his administration "accept[ed] a clear responsibility to provide essential leadership" on countering this global problem. To put the icing on Moore's cake, just around that time Nixon also appointed Hugh Moore Fund board member (and simultaneous president of the Andrew W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust), Adolf W. Schmidt, to be the new US Ambassador to Canada. (6) Upon taking up this new role, Schmidt was forced to resign from his philanthropic engagements, and the Andrew W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust was subsequently merged with the Mellon family's other philanthropic foundations (the Avalon Foundation and the Old Dominion Foundation) to form the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Considering the problematic overlap that still exists between population control groups and environmental organizations, it is highly significant that the Old Dominion Foundation had played a key role in the establishment and funding of the Rockefeller-backed Conservation Foundation -- credited as being "[o]ne of the earliest foundations to make systematic contributions for environmental issues." (7) Likewise, it is important to recognize that Adolf W. Schmidt had been a member of the executive committee of Pittsburgh's (economic elite-dominated) Allegheny Conference on Community Development that had formed the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1951, of which Schmidt had become a leading environmental officer. It thus should come as no surprise that the Andrew W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust provided strategic funding for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy during its early years. (8) Moreover, once reformed as the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mellon monies continued flowing to conservation/population initiatives, and in their first year (in 1969) the foundation supported some of the following groups: the Conservation Foundation ($100,000), the African Wildlife Leadership Foundation ($50,000), the Planned Parenthood Federation of America ($100,000), the Population Council ($300,000), the Population Reference Bureau ($105,000), the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau ($25,000), and the American Friends Service Committee, which received a $175,000 grant to support the Committee's "family planning program in Latin America, [which had been] initiated with a grant from the Foundation in 1965." (9) Given the close relations between population and environmental concerns, it is fitting that in 1973 Schmidt would play a key role in co-founding an anti-immigration group known as Population-Environment Balance.

However, as Lader recounts, the newly-emergent environmental movement took some persuading before it would hitch its fortunes to the population lobbies priorities, and when Hugh Moore "read the early plans" for the nationwide Environmental Teach-In planned for the first "Earth Day" on April 22, 1970, he was dismayed that it "appeared to lack any strong population component." Determined to correct this apparent oversight, Moore did what he did best and used his access to vast financial resources to force a change.

First, a third of a million leaflets, folders, and pamphlets (including a new pictorial edition of the venerable Population Bomb) were produced for campus and community distribution. Next, three efforts stressed the intimate relation between overpopulation and a degraded environment. One was the free distribution to 300-odd college radio stations of a taped radio program featuring Paul Ehrlich and David Brower. The second was provision, for reproduction free by college newspapers, of a score of editorial cartoons highlighting the population crisis. The third was a contest, conducted on over 200 campuses, that awarded prizes for slogans relating environmental troubles to "popullution." (p.81)

Moore complemented this grassroots propaganda campaign with his tried and tested treetops approach to manipulating elite power brokers, continuing his aggressive campaign of advertising in the national press, which was accompanied by "his customary 'merchandising' by mail to selected lists." (10)

Forget Vietnam; now the number one question occupying (or rather colonizing) the public mind was the population question, with longstanding population activists taking up central positions in the rapidly developing environmental movement. A particularly prominent example of one individual who successfully made this crossover was Moore's good friend Stewart M. Ogilvy, who had initially served as the founding executive director of the Hugh Moore Fund. Having spent the 1950s and 1960s as an editor for Time Inc. (writing for Fortune magazine and Architectural Forum), Ogilvy had complemented these activities by establishing the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club, and by helping David Brower incorporate Friends of the Earth in 1969 -- a process that was eased somewhat by the generous financial contribution from the influential oil magnate, Robert O. Anderson.

Stewart M. Ogilvy died in 1985 as an honorary president of Friends of the Earth, but his wife, Avis Ogilvy Moore -- having also served as one of their charter members -- still serves on the Friends of the Earth board of directors. In closing this article, and bringing its content full circle, it is perhaps appropriate that Avis had been an early board member of the New York branch of Paul Ehrlich's organization Zero Population Growth, while Hugh Moore's biographer, Lawrence Lader, was also counted as one of the founding board members of Zero Population Growth -- a hard-line population control organization formed in 1968 "who believed that voluntarism and traditional family planning had failed." (11) As Allan Chase points out in his book The Legacy of Malthus: The Social Costs of the New Scientific Racism (Random House, 1976):

In a holy fervor of opportunism and righteousness, let alone profound relief to find the angry campus generation mesmerizing itself into abandoning the cause of peace in Indochina, President Nixon and various of his high officials joined in the orgies of well-televised oratory and Kraft durch Freude fiestas that marked Earth Day, 1970: the day the young people switched goals from the quest for peace to the crusade for Zero Population Growth and Clean Cars. From that point forward, Nixon embraced the new Malthusian "environmentalism" with public passion.

Future historians will also note that four days after Earth Day, President Nixon -- whose air and ground forces had secretly been grinding Cambodia to shambles for two years -- now ordered the overt invasion of Cambodia. Within a few days, the same president was to denounce as "bums" those unappreciative young people who, in diminishing numbers, persisted in reviving the student opposition to the war in Indochina. A day or so after the president so characterized the antiwar students, the Ohio National Guard killed four young people on the campus at Kent State University during a demonstration protesting the widening of the war to Cambodia and Laos. (pp.386-7)


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1.  Lawrence Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death (Ballantine Books, 1971), p.25, p.23.  (back)

2.  Cass Cranfield was president of Harper & Brothers (1931-45), and then acted as their board chairman (1945-55), and then as chairman of the executive committee from 1955 until 1967.

The secretary-general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation between 1964 and 1969 was Sir Colville Deverell, an individual who had just retired from the British Colonial Service in Africa -- his recent appointments had included working in Kenya (1946-52), Jamaica (1952-55), Windward Islands (1955-59), and in Mauritius (1959-62).  (back)

3.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.41, p.42. Kenneth B. Keating went to serve as the US ambassador to India (1969-72), and then as the US ambassador to Israel from 1973 until his death in 1975. "Draper personally became the prime consultant on two crucial pieces of population legislation -- Senator J. William Fullbright's bill to appropriate $150 million over three years for family planning abroad, and Senator Joseph Tydings's bill to appropriate $230 million over five years for domestic family planning." (p.46)  (back)

4.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.64.  (back)

5.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.67. As Linda Gordon points out: "Although the more academic Population Council and the Population Reference Bureau did not formally endorse these ads, many of their leaders did. Eugene Black, on the board of Planned Parenthood and once vice-president of Chase Manhattan and head of the World Bank, signed the ads, as did Frank Abrams, former chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey (owned by Rockefeller) and a director of the Population Reference Bureau. Of fifty-eight regular signers of the ads, thirty-six were previously part of the population-control establishment, fourteen others were closely associated with Planned Parenthood, and four of the remaining eight were close associates of the Rockefellers." Linda Gordon, Women's Body, Women's Rights: Birth Control in America (Penguin, 1977), p.398.  (back)

6.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.69, p.73, pp.73-4.  (back)

7.  Robert J. Brulle and J. Craig Jenkins, "Foundations and the Environmental Movement: Priorities, Strategies, and Impact," in D. Faber and D. McCarthy, (eds.), Foundations for Social Change: Critical Perspectives on Philanthropy and Popular Movements (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005), p. 151.  (back)

8.  Allen Dietrich-Ward, "From Renaissance to Region: Pittsburgh, the Laurel Highlands and the Remaking of Rural Pennsylvania," (pdf) Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, March 27, 2009, p.6, p.14. Also see Sherie R. Mershon, "Corporate Social Responsibility and Urban Revitalization: The Allegheny Conference on Community Development, 1943-1968," Ph.D. thesis, Carnegie Mellon University, 2004.

As the husband of Helen Mellon, Adolf W. Schmidt had been a member of the committee of the Atlantic Union (which as noted earlier was formerly chaired by Moore), and had become "one of the main financial backers of the Atlantic Institute when it was created in 1961." Paul van Zeeland was chairman of the Institute's board and their director-general was Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., and in June 1961 they received a $250,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to begin their work. The organization that was to become the Atlantic Institute first became active in the early 1950s under the name "Atlantic Service Bureau," a body that "belonged to the program" of the Atlantic Citizens Congress that had been created by Hugh Moore. At this early stage, however, the Atlantic project "never materialized due to lack of funds." Valerie Aubourg, "Organizing Atlanticism: The Bilderberg Group and the Atlantic Institute, 1952-1963," In: Giles Scott-Smith and Hans Krabbendam (eds.), The Cultural Cold War in Western Europe, 1945-1960 (Frank Cass, 2003), p.100, p.98.  (back)

9.  "1969 Annual Report," Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  (back)

10.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.81. By then the population issue was firmly on the public agenda, and Congress "was now approving larger (though still far too small) budgets for family planning at home and abroad -- $218.3 million budgeted for fiscal 1971 against an expenditure of only $29.2 million for 1967. And the passage of the Tydings-Scheuer-Bush legislation in November 1970, gave hope of far larger federal funding in future." (p.83) Lader adds that "it had become a measure of the [population] movement's new stature in public awareness that leaders like General Draper and Hugh Moore were coming under attack by the far left (e.g., Ramparts, April 1970) and their warnings were being dismissed as 'nonsense' by the far right (e.g., National Review, October 7, 1969) while the middle-of-the-road press was coming to embrace them as genuine prophets." (pp.83-4)  (back)

11.  Donald Critchlow, Intended Consequences: Birth Control, Abortion, and the Federal Government in Modern America (Oxford University Press, 1999), p.134, p.156. Critchlow adds that: "In 1968 Lawrence Lader, a longtime associate of Hugh Moore, suggested to Lonny Myers in Chicago that a national organization be formed to give focus to state organizations that wanted to move beyond reform to repeal of abortion laws. Both agreed to enlist population activist and University of California at Santa Barbara biology professor Garrett Hardin in forming this new national organization, the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL)." (pp.134-5) Initial funders of Zero Population Growth included the now infamous racist anti-immigration activist, John Tanton, while in later years well-known funder of right-wing causes, Cordelia Scaife May (the heiress to the Mellon fortune) "provided substantial sums through her Pittsburgh foundation." (p.157)  (back)


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Published November 21, 2011