Swans Commentary » swans.com November 7, 2011  



The Original Population Bomb
Part I of II


by Michael Barker





(Swans - November 7, 2011)   The ruling class has always loved to blame the workers of the world for the systemic problems caused by their betrothal to capitalism. In their eyes, workers are wage-slaves whose fertility must be regulated (by themselves) to meet the ever changing mandates of capital. Controlling human reproduction on a global level is, however, far from easy, but over the last several hundred years one of the patron saints of population control has been the Reverend Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) -- an economist whose "most enduring influence has been to shape academic and popular thinking about the origins of poverty, and to defend the interests of capital in the face of the enormous human misery which capitalism causes." (1) It is in this light that this article will draw upon Lawrence Lader's study of Hugh Moore and his fund's revival of such Malthusian ideas in the mid twentieth century by reviewing his hagiography, Breeding Ourselves to Death (Ballatine Books, 1971).

As noted neo-Malthusian Paul Ehrlich observed in the foreword to Lader's biography, the book was specifically published "with the hope that methods and techniques employed by the Hugh Moore Fund may be of use to the growing army of devoted men and women -- and organizations -- now engaged in the struggle to control the greatest menace of our time." Ehrlich, unfortunately, was referring to population growth, not capitalism -- having borrowed the title from his own bestselling book, The Population Bomb (Ballatine Books, 1968), "with permission, from the 1954 Hugh Moore Fund pamphlet" of the same name. (2) So who, one might ask, was Hugh Moore and his associated philanthropic fund?

Hugh Moore (1887-1972) first began his ascent from hereditary power to political power when he helped launched the Dixie Cup Company in 1907, a company whose enormous profits were to secure the base of his later philanthropic successes. After a short spell studying at Harvard University, Moore (along with Harvard graduate Lawrence Luellen) had come up with the novel idea of replacing shared public glasses (or dippers) with disposable paper cups. Determined that their Dixie cups would prove "a boon to public health," Moore and Luellen embarked upon a sophisticated propaganda offensive that ensured that state laws were rapidly passed to outlaw the use of reusable cups, and the Dixie Cup Company -- which had been set up with a $200,000 investment provided by Percy Rockefeller (John D. Rockefeller's nephew) and W.T. Graham and Edgar L. Marston -- quickly moved in to reap the rewards of their scaremongering. (3)

In the coming decades Moore became an influential peace activist among internationalist elites, and in 1939 he served as the chairman of the League of Nations Association's executive committee. At the same time Moore also acted as a co-founder of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, and in 1944, in his ongoing attempts to secure world peace, Moore formed his very own Hugh Moore Fund. In organizing this fund, Moore selected the founder of World Government News, Stewart M. Ogilvy, to serve as the fund's executive director. Given his choice of director, it is appropriate that the activities of the Hugh Moore Fund overlapped considerably with his personal commitment to world federalism, and in the same year that Moore established the fund he became president of a group he helped form with Wendell Willkie known as Americans United for World Organization. The following year Moore then served as a consultant to the US delegation for the conference that led to the establishment of the United Nations, and in 1947 he became the treasurer of the Committee for the Marshall Plan; while to top off his commitment to internationalism, in 1949 he acted as the chairman of the executive committee of Clarence Streit's Atlantic Union. (4) Moore was a man in demand, acquiring much sought-after connections in very high places, and:

In the postwar period Moore worked with almost every American group seeking means to stabilize the world -- the American Association for the United Nations, the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, the Council on Foreign Relations. By Congressional appointment, he became a member of the Commission on NATO. Woodrow Wilson, creator of the League of Nations, had been Moore's youthful idol, so Moore happily accepted two five-year terms as a member of the executive committee and chairman of the finance committee of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. (p.53)

However, the neo-Malthusian ambitions in Moore's mind lay largely dormant until 1948 when he read William Vogt's powerful propaganda tract, Road to Survival (1948), which woke him up "to the fact that global overpopulation was 'the basic cause of future wars' and 'the spread of tyranny and communism.'" (5) Moore quickly decided to throw his money behind Vogt's population activism and with a little help from his new-found friend, by 1951 Vogt had been promoted to become the national director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (a post he held until 1961 when he became the secretary of the Conservation Foundation). Having apparently located the root cause of the world's problems, Moore was not one to rest on his laurels, and intent that population activists should focus more resolutely on the real threat, the international population problem, Moore's favors soon found their target in Margaret Sanger's newly formed International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Set-up in 1948, Margaret Sanger had initially accepted the generous offer from the English Eugenics Society to house the International Planned Parenthood Federation's first world headquarters. But with Moore on board, the IPPF's fortunes went from strength to strength, and in 1952 the director of the Hugh Moore Fund, Thomas O. Griessemer -- "a lawyer who had headed the world federalist movement's offices in New York and Geneva" -- helped draw up IPPF's founding constitution, before going on to become the secretary of their Western Hemisphere Region office in New York. (6) It was around the time the Hugh Moore Fund made its presence seriously felt on the population scene, when in 1954, Griessemer first published the Fund's most influential pamphlet, "The Population Bomb."

The aggressive neo-Malthusian approach taken in Griessemer's pamphlet was not, however, to the tastes of all aspiring population controllers, and the chairman of the Population Council (which had been established in 1952), John D. Rockefeller 3rd, "felt that phrases like 'population explosion' and 'population bomb' might create an atmosphere of panic." Likewise, Population Council cofounder Frederick Osborn, who had been "head of the Army's information and education program in World War II, urged that distribution of the pamphlet be halted." Nevertheless, these concerns appear to have been more of a tactical nature than anything else, and there is no doubt that Rockefeller and Osborn went on to benefit greatly from Moore's insistent activism. Indeed, in 1964, "Osborn agreed that the Bomb had helped change the climate of public opinion, enabling great foundations like Ford and Rockefeller together to concentrate over $100,000,000 on the population problem." (7)

Despite Moore's fast progress with regards to organizing on the population front, by the end of the 1950s he was becoming increasingly concerned with the finances of the world population movement. "Determined to put a solid financial based under IPPF," on March 20, 1960, Moore launched the World Population Emergency Campaign. Promotional activities had never been a problem for Moore's political advocacy, and he quickly harnessed the "professional genius" of a well-established humanitarian fundraiser, Harold L. Oram, to his latest project. (8) But before Moore could set Oram's publicity machinery in motion, he first needed hard cash and political backing, and so with a little persuasion he was able to ensure that Lammot duPont Copeland of the DuPont Company matched his own initial donation of $10,000 to the Emergency Campaign. (9)

With such a generous provision of "seed money," the campaign proved a huge success, raising $100,000 "on the spot" from "a sizable contingent of financial and industrial leaders, such as Eugene Black of the World Bank; Will Clayton, cotton magnate and former Under Secretary of State; General William H. Draper, Jr., board chairman of Combustion Engineering and former Under Secretary of the Army; Marriner S. Eccles of the Federal Reserve Board; and Rockefeller Prentice." During the course of the following year the Emergency Campaign "enlisted a national membership of ten thousand" and was merged into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America to form Planned Parenthood-World Population. (10) (In 1974, Planned Parenthood-World Population reverted back to its former name Planned Parenthood Federation of America.)

Of all the supporters of the World Population Emergency Campaign, General William H. Draper, Jr., an "old friend" of Moore, had already played a particularly important role in the population debate during the late 1950s; as in 1958 he chaired a committee appointed by President Eisenhower to report on the effectiveness of US foreign economic aid. Lader writes that prior to convening this committee, Moore had been able to "convince Draper... that economic aid was linked to population control," which led Draper to appoint Robert Cook, the head of the Population Reference Bureau (which was chaired by Moore between 1957 and 1967) to act as an official consultant to the presidential committee. (11) When the findings of that committee were published in 1959, it broke new ground becoming "the first government report to take a stand on birth control." Although, in this case, it was Draper who drew the media limelight, "he always credited Moore with this policy breakthrough, writing that Hugh Moore 'practically forced the so-called Draper committee to speak its piece on population problems.'" (12)

Moore was now channeling Malthus with a vengeance, and in 1963, after much persistence, he was finally invited to help organize a population conference at Columbia University's prestigious American Assembly. "The leading authorities on population [then] met at Arden House and concluded that 'time is running out for the formulation and implementation of a world and a national population policy.'" Soon after overseeing this event, in 1964 Moore became the president of the Human Betterment Association, an organization he had been supporting since the late 1940s. Moore then changed the organization's name to the more benign sounding Association for Voluntary Sterilization, and brought some additional muscle to their operations by recruiting Brock Chisholm -- the first director-general of the World Health Organization -- onto their board of directors. (13) Nevertheless, despite the name change and a public emphasis on voluntary not coercive sterilization, it is apparent (as Ian Dowbiggin has noted) that the Association's leaders had faith "in the power of 'propaganda' and the 'suggestibility' of the unfit" to implement their authoritarian sterilization programs.


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1.  Eric Ross, The Malthus Factor: Population, Poverty, and Politics in Capitalist Development (Zed Books, 1999), p.1.  (back)

2.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.iii, p.5. By 1969, over 1,500,000 copies of the pamphlet "had been distributed in pamphlet form to leaders throughout the country. (p.5) One should add that the Hugh Moore Fund also "aided distribution of" Paul Ehrlich's book, The Population Bomb. (p.55)  (back)

3.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.109, p.110.  (back)

4.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.48, p.49, p.50.  (back)

5.  Donald Critchlow, Intended Consequences: Birth Control, Abortion, and the Federal Government in Modern America (Oxford University Press, 1999), p.31."Although he was warned by Frank G. Boudreau of the Milbank Memorial Fund that Vogt was not an expert in population (indeed, Boudreau declared, 'there is just enough truth in the book [Vogt's] to make it dangerous'), Moore set out to meet Vogt at Planned Parenthood. Taken by Vogt's belief that a population crisis was imminent, he agreed to hire a research assistant for Vogt after learning he did not have one. A man of action, believing there was not a minute to lose in this time of crisis, Moore decided to make population his sole concern." (p.31)  (back)

6.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.10.  (back)

7.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.3, p.6. This argument is supported by Donald Critchlow who writes: "Although Rockefeller politely thanked Moore for the pamphlet, privately he told close associates that he was offended by its anticommunist rhetoric and its presentation of the population problem. Moreover, the Population Council worried that Moore's strategy might lead to a public backlash. Osborn warned that Moore's approach to the population problem might 'set the movement back ten years.' The 'Madison Avenue technique,' he declared, 'may be effective as a fund raising gambit in this country, but when applied to overseas population matters it could be dangerous.'" Critchlow, Intended Consequences, p.32.  (back)

8.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.6. Harold L. Oram's "career began in 1937 when he aided relief efforts for the Spanish loyalists [the North American Committee to Aid Spanish Democracy], who were battling the Falangist rebellion led by Francisco Franco." The Oram Group was then founded in 1939, and Mr. Oram went on to become "a major fund-raiser for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the World Wildlife Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Population Emergency Campaign, which eventually merged with Planned Parenthood. Other longtime clients included the Fund for Peace, Hampton University and the American Civil Liberties Union." See, "Harold L. Oram, 83, A Fund-Raiser, is Dead," The New York Times, August 23, 1990.

According to the Oram Group's archives held at Indiana University: "When he returned from the army in 1946, Oram's business began to expand. As word of his ability to raise money spread, the client list grew. At first, most of the firm's clients were associated with efforts to recover from the effects of World War II and to combat the spread of Communism. They included the American Association for the United Nations, the Citizens Committee for the Marshall Plan, and the Iron Curtain Refugee Campaign. Gradually the list began to include causes concerned with environmental, educational, and health issues.

"During the 1950s and early 1960s, Oram's clientele represented a number of anti-Communist Asian causes. Among his clients during those years were the American Friends of Vietnam, Aid Refugee Chinese Intellectuals, Inc., the Committee of One Million Against the Admission of Red China to the United Nations, and the Dr. Tom Dooley Foundation. Oram also handled public relations in the United States for the Republic of South Vietnam during the late 1950s."  (back)

9.  Like many aspiring population controllers, Lammot duPont Copeland (1905-1983) was a keen conservationist. His "stately Colonial Revival manor house" and family estate (now known as the Mt. Cuba Center) is now open to the public. Their website boasts that Copeland's "estate is a treasure of beauty and inspiration as well as a message of steadfast commitment to ecologically sound gardening practices, and responsible land stewardship."

While one of Copeland's children, Lammot du Pont Copeland, Jr., failed in his attempt to become an "entrepreneur" by "fil[ing] the biggest personal bankruptcy action in U.S. history," his other two children have extended the DuPont's environmental legacy. His other son, Gerret Copeland, has dedicated his life to fine wine (running the Bouchaine Vineyards) and in 1967 helped establish the Brandywine Conservancy -- an unusual environmental outfit that counts among its financial supporters the right-wing Scaife Foundations, with Richard Mellon Scaife being counted among the Conservancy's honorary trustees.

Finally, Lammot duPont Copeland's daughter, Louisa Duemling, in addition to previously serving as a board member of her family's chemical empire, the Du Pont Company, has contributed towards the free-market environmentalism of the Nature Conservancy, most recently serving as the vice-chair of their board of trustees (2000-02). Notably, Duemling currently serves on the President's Council of the American Farmland Trust, where she is joined by the likes of current Du Pont board member and former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator, William K. Reilly.  (back)

10.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.10, p.11, p.13. Lammot duPont Copeland, who served as the president of the Dupont Company from 1961 until 1971, went on to become "one of the most beneficent supporters of the population movement," and Lader notes how he provided $2,000,000 to Harvard University "to inaugurate a Center for Population Studies." (p.13) In 1965, Copeland also helped Moore and Draper co-found the Population Crisis Committee (now known as Population Action International).

Between 1967 and 1970 the chief executive of Planned Parenthood-World Population was former Congressman Paul H. Todd, Jr. (who in later years went on to become the chair of Pathfinder International between 1998 and 2001); while Alan Guttmacher served as PPWP's president between 1962 and his death in 1974. Another senior staffer at Planned Parenthood during the 1960s and 1970s was their vice president Frederick S. Jaffe, who helped found the PPFA Center for Family Planning Program Development, which later became the Alan Guttmacher Institute -- at which he acted as president from 1968 until his death in 1978.

Sarah G. Epstein, the daughter of Pathfinder International's founder, Clarence J. Gamble, is an emeritus director of PI, a former board member of both Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington (D.C.) and of the Population Institute, and is a current board member of Population Services International and the racist Federation for American Immigration Reform (where she is the board Secretary). Longstanding president of Pathfinder International (1986-2011), Dan Pellegrom, has served as an executive director of two US-based Planned Parenthood affiliates, and is a past board chair of the Brush Foundation -- a foundation which since its founding in 1929 "has proudly pursued a single focus on population, family planning and reproductive health." As of January 2012, the new head of Pathfinder International will be Purnima Mane, who is the current assistant secretary-general of the United Nations and deputy executive director of the UN Population Fund; while the current president of the Brush Foundation, Jacqueline Darroch, recently served as associate director for reproductive health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

It is noteworthy that Pathfinder International's emeritus director, Naffs Sadik, who first joined the UN Population Fund in 1971 (becoming their executive director in 1987) was the first recipient of the Hugh Moore Award (in 1976) and is connected to two groups intimately connected with Hugh Moore -- as he is a board member of Population Action International (originally known as the Population Crisis Committee), and until recently served as the vice chair of EngenderHealth (which was formerly known as the Association for Voluntary Sterilization).  (back)

11.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.15. The Population Reference Bureau was founded in 1929 by the racist demographer, Guy Irving Burch. In 1954, Burch had approached Moore to inform him that the Bureau was running low on funds, and Moore "agreed to support the Bureau, and set about first to meet and then enlarge the Bureau's minuscule budget. After Burch died, Robert and Annabelle Cook took over its direction. As board chairman, Moore enlisted as trustees a distinguished group of businessmen, including Frank Abrams of Jersey Standard; Walter Bergman, president of Lily-Tulip Cup Company; and Lawrence Wilkinson, executive vice president of Continental Can Company." (p.35, p.36) Robert Cook served as director of the Population Reference Bureau between 1951 and 1958, thereafter acting as their president until his retirement in 1968. It is also interesting to note that from 1922 until 1952 Robert Cook had been the managing editor of the American Genetic Society's Journal of Hereditary (and editor from 1952 until 1962).

"Through Abrams and other directors, who had strong links to the major foundations, the Bureau secured sizable grants from Ford, Rockefeller and The Population Council. Moore also advanced 'seed money' through which it could embark on public fund-raising campaigns... By 1966, Moore had helped raise the Bureau's annual budget to $400,000." (p.36)  (back)

12.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.18.  (back)

13.  Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, p.35, p.39. Lader notes that H. Curtis Wood, Jr. was then appointed medical director of AVS and embarked on a national speaking tour to win the public over to their cause. (p.39) Although not mentioned by Lader, Wood had previously served as the president of Birthright between 1945 and 1961 -- Birthright being an earlier incarnation of AVS. Working in combination with the rest of the population lobby, AVS could claims significant success, and: "By the end of 1966, both the Department of Defense and Department of Health, Education & Welfare announced their support of sterilization as a form of family planning. Two years later the Planned Parenthood Federation finally approved sterilization." (p.39)  (back)


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Published November 7, 2011