Fascists Are Capitalizing on Environmental Concerns to Justify Violence
With climate crisis looming, white supremacists are using the environment as grounds for a racist nationalism ideology
On June 8, an anonymous manifesto was posted to 8chan, the online message board that’s become known as a haven for extremism. The post, though long gone (but preserved thanks to Google’s cache feature), expresses a deep fear of population growth:
“Today, as a result of this industrial society, mass-consumption […] there just being too many people overall, the environment and the creatures and plants within it are threatened with extermination and destruction,” the post reads. “The Industrial Revolution laid the seeds for globalization, streamlined mass-immigration, pollution, unsustainability and the soulless consumer culture of today. It’s time to halt the destruction and turn back the clock.”
The diatribe is emblematic of a growing community — one taking root in the dark corners of the internet. This community has a name: eco-fascism.
Eco-fascism (not to be confused with the pejorative term used by few to attack those obsessed with ecology) dates back to Madison Grant, a writer known for his work in eugenics and for his friendship with President Theodore Roosevelt. Grant pushed himself out of the margins of environmentalism’s history when his pseudoscientific book The Passing of the Great Race: Or, The Racial Basis of European History came out in 1916, warning about the decline of the “Nordic” people. Since then, his work has massively influenced several generations of white supremacists. Grant’s philosophy has undergone a revival recently, thanks in large part to the rise of far-right nationalism across the world. These new acolytes are on a mission to recruit people to join their neo-Nazi ideology.
The El Paso shooter who killed 22 people this month identified as eco-fascist. So did the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter, who murdered 51 people in March.
Eco-fascists are nature-focused, primarily white individuals who hold anti-Semitic and racist views and often consider themselves ecological militant supremacists. Their sole purpose is to spread the message, which they fervently believe, that racial purity and the extermination of minorities from “inferior” races are the only way to save the planet and our “doomed civilization” from its current state of imminent devastation. They claim to prioritize the planet’s well-being above everything else. The clear drive behind the eco-fascist movement is a desire to reorganize society under authoritarian, genocidal regimes whose single purpose is to exterminate human excesses.
White nationalist groups and far-right parties will do anything to avoid admitting the plain fact that the ecological problems and climate change are the result of following the core incentives of the capitalist system.
Although there are other ways to identify an eco-fascist, one common trait is their tendency to reuse quotes associated with the Third Reich, but to intermingle in references to the environment — for example, the ill-famed phrase “Blut und Boden” or “Blood and Soil” — coined by “ecological” thinker, Richard Walter Darré. This type of language, according to the New Statesman, “captures the eco-fascist desire to have nations that are only full of people they claim are indigenous to that region (blood) and the demand for a geographically-bounded home that is preserved through environmentalist principles (soil).”
Eco-fascist ideologies frequently draw on a so-called terror wave aesthetic, promote a specific terrorist insurgency, and fantasize about armed conflict in the wake of environmental and social collapse — all with the aim of the creation of an ethnostate.
White nationalist groups and far-right parties will do anything to avoid admitting the plain fact that the ecological problems and climate change are the result of following the core incentives of the capitalist system. As DiEM25 policy director David Adler told Vice, “for centuries, the primary drivers of environmental destruction have been Western countries and their endless appetite for extraction — in most cases, from the less developed countries that they have invaded, colonized, and otherwise exploited. Immigration is the product, not the producer, of such environmental destruction.”
The current climate crisis is exacerbated by the fact that the finite resources of our planet are distributed extremely unjustly and unevenly, leading to vast numbers of ordinary people living in oppressive, desperate poverty, while a tiny minority of the population remains in control of the world’s resources, living in splendor and opulence.
Maybe our civilization is, in fact, doomed, purposefully, by those who in times of terror, not only continue disseminating a dangerous rhetoric of division, hatred, and bigotry, but also by those who remain silent. As of today, it is still unclear how many people are involved in this fascist milieu called eco-fascism, yet, as we suffer the horrific loss of innocent souls at the hands of these white terrorists, self-declared followers of this fascist ideology, how many more will potentially become inspired by these radical ideas? How many more will fall into the trap of white supremacy? Do we still have time to reverse the damage caused by these atrocious groups, or is it too late?