One week ago, more than 4,500 climate strikes rallied across 150 countries ahead of this week’s U.N. Climate Action Summit for the purpose of holding lawmakers accountable for aggressive action on climate change’s imminent threat to humanity.
Considering the United States is the only country on the planet with a political party (Republican) that makes climate science denial an official position, most might classify climate change a “liberal” issue.
Many would also agree today’s youth are the most vociferous in the charge for climate action.
Few, however, know there are some groups with less-than-honorable intentions seeking to take advantage of their sensitivity.
The gunman who murdered scores at a Christchurch, New Zealand mosque earlier this year stated in his 74-page online manifesto he used to be “a communist, then an anarchist and finally a libertarian before coming to be an eco-fascist.”
“Eco-fascist” is a term the right is latching onto in a deliberate ploy to lure younger climate activists who might be otherwise inclined to support more progressive lawmakers and policies like the Green New Deal.
In March, when the world was reeling from the Christchurch massacre, Trump administration spokesperson Kellyanne Conway jumped at the chance to link “eco-fascism” to liberals and progressives.
She was wrong in that association.
But eco-fascists’ presence–and danger–is very real, particularly via social media.
It is what Hampshire College professor emerita, Betsy Hartmann, calls “the greening of hate.”
As Jason Wilson wrote in his Guardian op-ed, “Eco-fascism is undergoing a revival in the fetid culture of the extreme right“:
“Unfortunately for Conway, Nazism and a twisted version of ecological thinking are joined in the minds of a share of rightwing extremists. In social media and the more secretive spaces of the online far right, eco-fascists are proselytising for genocidal solutions to environmental problems.”
Journalist Jake Hanrahan describes the “pine tree gang” on Twitter promoting ideas that meld a belief in impending environmental catastrophe with white nationalist ideology.
In 2018, Vice reported neo-Nazi groups like The Base that boast eco-fascist adherents who use predictions of environmental holocaust to justify violent and even genocidal “solutions,” claiming to be concerned about human overpopulation, mass migration, and environmental degradation.
The shooter charged with killing 22 people at an El Paso, Texas Walmart last month cited in his manifesto his despair over water pollution, plastic waste, and a consumer culture “creating a massive burden for future generations.”
“So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.”
His solution was to exterminate Latino immigrants.
This reeks of 18th-century social theorist Thomas Malthus, who argued population increases strain food production, and advocated population control as a remedy.
Eric Levitz proposed in New York magazine that the climate exigency risks sparking two trajectories away from the current economic growth model: those toward something like a Green New Deal, or those toward an extreme-right archetype based on draconian immigration policies and opposition to economic growth in the Global South.
“If one insists that the U.S. government must put ‘America first,’ then taking the most dire implications of climate science for granted makes Trump’s zero-sum, nationalist worldview appear more coherent, not less.”
Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier state in their book Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience:
“[Nazi ecology was] linked with traditional agrarian romanticism and hostility to urban civilization…[Ecological ideas were an] essential element of racial rejuvenation.”
We should all be united in the fight against climate change.
However, beware of nefarious organizations and individuals glomming onto it to promote lawlessness, division, hatred, and chaos.
While it’s possible we might be looking at a planet hostile to our existence if we continue dragging our proverbial feet, there is still time to unify around comprehensive environmental policies and initiatives.
There are over seven billion people on Earth.
Each has a role to play in a more sustainable future.
Each is valuable.
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