Letter from Susan George 21 September 1999 to De Fabel van de illegaal

Dear Fabel,

Thank you for sending me your various documents.  I have now read them [plus previous ones sent on by TNI] and ask you now to delete my name from your lists.  I think you are on completely the wrong track, devoting all your political time and energy to attacking a man who is now over 70, who is what he is, who has been deeply influenced by the values of traditional
societies in the South [and also in Italy]. If you wanted to survey a representative group of Africans or indigenous peoples anywhere, I think you would find their ideas and values are much closer to Teddy's than to yours.

But that isn't the main point.  Right now there are important, crucial battles to be fought, for which the greatest possible unity is needed--the fight against the WTO and all it stands for is in my view the main one. There is even a chance of winning this fight, as we won against the MAI. You choose not to join in this battle, you are free agents and this is your own business but then don't call yourselves "left" or "progressive" or concerned in any way with what happens to ordinary citizens and to the environment.  As Kant said, your hands may be pure but you haven't any hands.

Obviously you believe that to work with anyone, you have to share absolutely all their ideas.  I find your approach McCarthyite, I've read your previous tracts and it looks to me as though you are trying to set yourselves up as the Thought Police. Teddy Goldsmith, as founder and publisher of the Ecologist, has for over 30 years brought many issues to public attention before anyone else, fighting battles before they became popular.  Most recently, he has almost single-handledly financed the groups that have publicised the issue of Genetically Manipulated Organisms in Europe, which is now on its way to being won. Would you rather that GMOs were freely imported, that Monsanto and Novartis be allowed to go about their business unhindered and decide what you are going to eat and how much it will cost?

I'm an Associate Member of the International Forum on Globalisation which you also criticise severely.  I'm sorry to tell you that your description of it is wrong.  Or perhaps you also consider me as some kind of rightist or fascist.  I shall just have to live with that--like the other members of the IFG--and let my work over 30 years speak for itself.  The IFG isn't supposed to be a mass organisation, that's true, it's a kind of international think-tank for activism.  Its members were all, in their respective countries, in the forefront of the struggle against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment.  Now they are all fighting the WTO and IFG is sponsoring a huge teach-in in Seattle.  Would you have been happier if the MAI passed, so that we could all be living now under the government of Transnational Corporations?  Would you be happier if IFG didn't have the money to rent a 2400-seat hall in Seattle so students and citizens could join in the protest against WTO?  By the way, very little of the money going to IFG comes from Teddy Goldsmith.

There is one other point in your literature which is correct: Teddy Goldsmith never attaches any conditions to the money he gives.  Like all donors and all foundations, he believes some subjects are more important than others and chooses his priorities.  Would you rather he devoted his money to, say, cancer research?  There would be nothing wrong with that--but he chooses to fight, primarily though not exclusively, against the TNCs that threaten life on the planet and the livelihood of small farmers everywhere.  You should also be aware that Teddy Goldsmith does NOT control the estate of Sir James Goldsmith, his late brother, or the foundation attached to that estate. The amounts he gives away are actually rather small, but to the progressive movement very useful.

You make a good deal of Teddy Goldsmith's presence at a few GRECE meetings [by the way, GRECE has almost no intellectual influence that I can discern in France at the moment]. He says himself now that it was a mistake for him to go to those two or three meetings, but he's curious, he's open-minded, and he is also very very stubborn.  So when he's told he shouldn't do this or that, his immediate reaction is to do it, and to hell with what anyone else says.

You are making exaggerated judgements about someone you don't know, someone who has himself suffered from anti-Semitism.  From what I hear you are prepared to try to split the Dutch [and other] movement against the WTO because you believe you are the appointed guardians of ideological purity. The left has historically been only too ready to prefer such purity to actually changing anything--you are part of this sad tradition.  Well, I guess we shall just have to struggle on without you.


Susan George

10, rue Jean Michelez   91510 Lardy, France
tel. 33 [0]1 6927 4715  fax 33 [0]1 6082 6668
e-mail : susangeorge@wanadoo.fr
web page: http://www.tni.org/george

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Last updated 2000-03-08