As Climate Change Bears Down, Right Wing, and Some on Left – turn to Eco Fascism

November 27, 2021

As I showed in themes recent video, accelerating climate extremes are putting a squeeze on conservative climate deniers, as their own children are seeing thru the deception.

Don’t expect everyone’s response will be rational acceptance of the facts or responsibility.

Teen Vogue:

Republicans in the United States have a long, treacherous history of climate science denial. That’s changing among younger generations of conservatives, who are more likely to see the climate crisis as a threat to our collective future. But some on the far right are adopting xenophobic, racist ideas about what’s causing climate change — ideas that are rooted in eco-fascism.

Fascism can be defined in many different ways, but typically, the oppressive ideology has characteristics rooted in white identity and violence against marginalized people, such as Black and Brown people, immigrants, and those in the LGBTQ+ community. Vice describes eco-fascism as an ideology “which blames the demise of the environment on overpopulation, immigration, and over-industrialization, problems that followers think could be partly remedied through the mass murder of refugees in Western countries.”

Teen Vogue talked to two experts — anti-racism educator and climate activist Hilary Moore and iconic progressive author Naomi Klein — to help you identify eco-fascist myths and how to call them out.

“Very often, if you have somebody on the far right become an environmentalist, [their ideology] slots itself into a hypernationalist, white supremacist worldview, so it fuels the calls to harden borders at the softer end, [and] at the harder end, it can express itself through the idea that climate change is a divine purging,” Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything, told Teen Vogue. “[Eco-fascism] argues [climate change] is God’s will, that there are too many people anyway, so there’s going to be a great purge and perhaps that’s all for the best. It’s environmentalism through genocide.”

While it’s true human consumption harms the environment, eco-fascists place the blame exclusively on the marginalized. Because consumerism produces massive amounts of garbage, eco-fascists incorrectly blame poor people (of color) for using plastic bags and other cheap, disposable products — often without pointing to the damage done by major polluting corporations, like those in the fossil fuel industry. The young man accused of killing 22 people in El Paso, Texas, last summer included eco-fascist ideas in his manifesto, revealing that his targeting of a Walmart frequented by Mexican immigrants wasn’t a coincidence. The young man accused of carrying out a horrific mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, last spring allegedly shared similar beliefs.

“If you look at where there continues to be the highest levels of population growth, it’s the poorest parts of the world with the lowest carbon footprints,” Klein added. “But when [that conversation] immediately moves the discussion to overpopulation, we’re changing the subject from unsustainable overconsumption by the rich to the procreation habits of the poor, and that’s a very political decision.”

Eco-fascism is not exclusive to the right. Eco-fascist myths have appeared in the narratives around the COVID-19 pandemic. Klein explained that the messaging behind viral videos of wild animals reentering environments — such as doctored videos of dolphins swimming in Venetian canals — can lead to a dangerous narrative insinuating “humans are the virus,” setting a tone of genocidal language.

“This is time to be really vigilant about any idea that this pandemic is weeding out people who needed to be weeded out anyway,” added Klein. “These are fascist logistics.”

It’s worth noting that Black and Latinx Americansimmigrants, and low-income communities in general have been hit the hardest by this pandemic.

In her forthcoming book, Burning Earth, Changing Europe: How the Racist Right Exploits the Climate Crisis and What We Can Do About It, Moore illustrates how the ways we talk about climate change can inadvertently support racist, right-wing arguments.

“If we aren’t skillful in how we talk about the environment and what our demands are, we can be either ineffective or support racism and racist ideologies,” she told Teen Vogue. “If we get really muddy and murky with how we talk about [the climate], then it makes it really difficult to have engaged, informed, and principled discussions.”

Moore’s book explains how environmental protection measures can be weaponized against Indigenous people, using conservation as a tool to displace (and ultimately erase) tribes from their native land. This specific anti-Indigenous violence — alongside colonizers’ pillaging of Native land and resources — fueled the genocide of Indigenous people that allowed for the creation of the modern United States. We also see this dynamic today in pipeline resistance movements, such as among the Wet’suwet’en tribe in British Columbia and the Sioux tribe in Standing Rock, North Dakota.

The swing to eco-fascism, as defined below, is not, regrettably, limited to those on the right. As Michael Moore showed in his latest film, blaming the global poor, who are the most vulnerable to climate disasters, comes from the left as well.

7 Responses to “As Climate Change Bears Down, Right Wing, and Some on Left – turn to Eco Fascism”

  1. ecoquant Says:

    The skewed emissions density of people in developed countries compared to the rest ought to put the overpopulation argument to bed, but it does not.

    If reduction in population were the goal as well as lessening climate impact, the logical if immoral approach would be to reduce populations of wealthy countries, since their per capita emissions and consumptions are so high.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Vijay Whoever who made the impassioned speech about giving a damn about people living outside of the US/Europe is not IMO advocating a useful approach to get people in rich countries to reduce emissions. (I mean, since when have we as a group cared about them?) The “Think About the Future” slogan is narrowly targeted at people who are well-off now, and the most effective approach takes advantage of their own self-interest and personal vanity, and tweaks market forces (via law and regulation) to change ambient social and economic pressures for the population.

      I know my personal carbon footprint has shrunk considerably over the past 15 years (including from reduced flying since a housebound family member died), and my water footprint has shrunk even further since the 2011 Texas drought, but I also know that many Americans with a fewer resources than I blithely consume and travel a lot more than I do, perhaps comforting themselves with occasionally buying recyclable single-use consumables or switching to modern efficient light bulbs. You have to use what works, and not go for some bogus noble concern for invisible foreigners.

      [BTW, even if you froze US/Europe emission levels (including proxy emissions via imported goods), the increasing consumerism among the next billion people will continue to increase emissions, so it isn’t just about the classic consumer countries.]

      • Ian Graham Says:

        By this reasoning that overpopulation and habitat loss (ie not enough space for you and me) is fascism, all ecologists from William Rees onward, would be fascist.
        There can be no doubt that the human biomass and our associated ‘domesticaged’ animals have severely disrupted the ecological balance of the planet.
        No, This is not fascism, Vice magazine notwithstanding.
        Though the argument could be made that the total assault on nature as a mere source or sink for our consumptive pleasure, including to reproduce without concern for the consequences, is fascism against the natural world.

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    It was only about a year or so ago that I learned that Teen Vogue has some pretty spot-on “grownup” articles about political reality in the US. Who knew?

  3. ubrew12 Says:

    ‘The problem is overpopulation’ is everywhere on the Internet. I combat it with four points: 1) the wealthiest 1% puts out twice as much carbon as the poorest 50% of the planet, 2) America, with 3% of global population, is responsible for 20% of excess CO2 above our heads, 3) Overpopulation is definitely a problem. It’s just not THIS problem, 4) Overpopulation leads to excessive immigration. And it’s important to acknowledge that many countries in the West have an immigration problem from countries ‘south of the border’. But, as that is a problem, it requires a set of solutions that have almost no overlap with the solutions to climate change (unless you want to slap windmills on Donald Trumps Wall).

    • Keith Omelvena Says:

      Over population everywhere on the net? That’s probably because many recognise too many people, consuming too much is a problem? Not even a particularly controversial notion historically. I=PAT. Actually population and climate are related and it should be obvious that the issue could be more easily resolved with less humans. Now before you start throwing accusations of “fascist” and “genocide”, the only option for preventing unnecessary suffering in the future, is honesty, not population denial. Every person on this planet needs to know their reproductive choices are havIng a major impact on the quality of the living environment we all need for survival and have readily accessible tools for pregnancy prevention.

  4. Keith Omelvena Says:

    Monbiot is guilty of his own cherry picking in his message to Michael Moore. The problem with George, is he refuses to understand there are only two possible futures for humanity. The techno utopian and the power down. The Tech future looks a lot like the past, in terms of it’s man conquering, subduing nature, type thinking. In other words, the same planet destroying mindset we have been able to pursue since the dawn of the industrial revolution. Is the tech future even possible? I would say it has zero chance of success, beyond a decadal time frame. The power down will not support humans in the manner, or numbers, they feel entitled to. Anyone who thinks there are other alternatives, are lying to themselves! Of course some parts of the world already exist in a power down situation. Those are parts of the world where numbers are the difference between desperation and sustainability.

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