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Ecofascism: What is it and What are its Implications?



What is Ecofascism?


Defined by an environmental historian, Michael E. Zimmerman, ecofascism is "a totalitarian government that requires individuals to sacrifice their interests to the well-being of the 'land', understood as the splendid web of life, or the organic whole of nature, including peoples and their states". In short, eco-fascism is the link between environmentalism and fascism.


Another understanding of what ecofascism is: the view that political entities ought to enforce restrictions on individual citizens’ or members’ fundamental rights to the extent that the exercise of those rights causes harm to the environment and its non-human content which make up the biotic community.


The Origins of Ecofascism


here are some ideological origins of ecofascism, which are:

  • Nazism

Written in Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience by Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier, Nazi’s interest in ecology and their principal that they have a duty to take care of their land. The German Green Party, an environmental and anti-nuclear movements organisation, apparently was organized by one of a member from neo-nazi Socialist Reich Party.


  • The Collegium Humanum

An ecofascist organisation in Germany established in 1963 as a club when it was active in the German environmental movement. Then, it formed into a far-right political organisation in 1980’s until it was banned in 2008.



  • Savitri Devi

She vowed into Nazism in addition with her being an advocate in animal rights and vegetarianism, making her a figure of interest in ecofascism. She was a huge fan, a fanatic even, of Adolf Hitler while also supporting animal rights and was a vegetarian from a young age. She believed that humans do not stand above animals but both creatures are the same level as both are a part of the ecosystem.


  • Nouvelle Droite movement

This movement combined green politics with right-wing ideas like European ethnonationalism that relates to affirmation of a particular ethnic group.


  • The Unabomber

Ted Kacynzski has incited a terrorist bombing campaign that prompted a revolution against the modern industrial society. Although he held a radical pro-green political agenda, he maintained largely anti-left beliefs, expressing a dislike for “mainly socialists, collectivists, 'politically correct' types, feminists, gay and disability activists, animal rights activists and the like”. He also denied and rejected fascism as he found it as a “kook ideology”, and nazism as “evil”.


  • Garrett Hardin, Pentti Linkola, and “Lifeboat Ethics”

Both of them, Hardin and Linkola, are two influential figures in ecofascism in what they refer as “Lifeboat Ethics”. Hardin was an American ecologist, whereas Linkola was a Finnish ecologist that advocated replacing democracy with dictatorship that would support genocidal tactics to end climate change.


Understanding Ecofascist Ideals


Given that ecofascism exists as an ideology on an extreme side of the political spectrum, for many of us, it may seem impossible to truly understand the nature of this ideology. Indeed, ecofascism is extremely problematic, and perhaps incomprehensible to even grasp, because of its xenophobic and fascist beliefs. Despite these, this does not mean that there have been defenders of the ideology. Some “justifications’’ for ecofascism can be encapsulated by prominent ecofascist Pentti Linkola, who believed the following:


“Democracy is the most miserable of all known societal systems, the heavy building block of doom. Therein the unmanageable freedom of production and consumption and the passions of the people is not only allowed, but also elevated as the highest of values. The most incomparably grave environmental disasters prevail in democracies. Any kind of dictatorship is always superior to democracy, leading to utter destruction more tardily, because there the individual is always chained, one way or another. When individual freedom reigns, humans are both the killer and the victim.”


In other words, ecofascists like Linkola believe that democracy has failed our society because it has caused environmental disasters that would not have happened under fascism. As simple and straightforward this idea may be, Linkola fails to acknowledge that green policies and ideas also arise from democracy; without a democracy for individuals to live in, many people like Linkola himself would not be able to rise up and express the climate emergency that is happening to our planet at this current moment.


What Does Ecofascism Mean for Humanity?


At the heart of ecofascism is intolerance, because ecofascists disproportionately blame environmental problems on marginalised people. This includes people of colour, the poor, and refugees in particular. Environmental issues like waste and pollution are attributed to developing countries, overpopulation, and immigration, which is what has led many people to form bitter opinions. For example, ecofascism Garrett Hardin believed that food aids should not be given out to the poor during times of famine as it would protect the planet from “overpopulation”.


As you can see, such views are highly problematic because they do not take into account the complexity of environmental problems. The most common and major contributors of climate change, like lax government policies and unsustainable corporations are completely disregarded. Thus, while the environment is important to protect, ecofascism is problematic, can be dangerous, and therefore, has no place in the chase for environmental progress. This is because:


  • Ecofascism prioritises the wellbeing of the environment while debasing and devaluing the worth of individuals through the endorsement of fascism.

  • It also rejects democracy, one of the greatest and main pillars of freedom. This is a direct threat to political stability because democracy is crucial to our society; it allows individuals to have a voice and exercise their freedoms.

  • Ecofascism disproportionately affects the marginalised and vulnerable.


Ultimately, ecofascism is an ideology surrounded by heated contentions. On one hand, our environment is extremely important to our lives, and therefore must be protected urgently. However, should this be done at the expense of people’s lives? Well, a majority of us would argue not.


References
  1. Protopapadakis ED. Environmental Ethics and Linkola's Ecofascism: An Ethics Beyond Humanism. Frontiers of Philosophy in China [Internet]. 2014Dec [cited 2021Aug22];9(4):593–5. Available from: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44156920

  2. Newton D. The Dark Side of Environmentalism: Ecofascism and COVID-19 [Internet]. Office of Sustainability - Student Blog. University of San Francisco; 2020 [cited 2021Aug22]. Available from: https://usfblogs.usfca.edu/sustainability/2020/04/15/the-dark-side-of-environmentalism-ecofascism-and-covid-19/

  3. Patrick Hassan. Inherit the Wasteland: Ecofascism & Environmental Collapse. Final version forthcoming in Ethics & the Environment, Volume 26, Issue 2, (2021). [cited August 2021].

  4. Shukla N. What is ecofascism and why it has no place in environmental progress [Internet]. Earth.Org; 2021 [cited 2021Aug17]. Available from: https://earth.org/what-is-ecofascism/

  5. Lum G. Ecofascism is Not the Cure [Internet]. Columbia Climate School. Columbia University; 2020 [cited 2021Aug22]. Available from: https://climatesociety.ei.columbia.edu/news/ecofascism-not-cure













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