Ecofascism, can be used in two different ways:
- For specific elements of radical environmentalism which are openly affiliated with neo-fascism, or which share conceptual similarities with fascist theories. It is used critically from an external source, and somewhat less commonly used from within as a self label, to refer to various white nationalist and third positionist groups who incorporate environmentalist positions into their ideology.
- The term is also used as a political epithet by political conservatives to discredit deep ecology, mainstream environmentalism, and other left and non-left ecological positions, and less frequently by political leftists to discredit environmental movements they see as non-left such as deep ecology.
Nazi and Fascist views on ecology
Admiration of nature was a strong theme of the German Nazi party
and the Wagnerian German romanticism
that predated it, and is also a key issue for some modern fascist movements. The Nazi government also investigated sustainable forestry
. The Nazis were at the forefront of conservationism
, with Nazi Germany having some of the first legally protected wilderness reserves. During their rise to power, the Nazis were supported by German environmentalists and conservationists, but environmental issues were gradually pushed aside in the build-up to the Second World War.
By contrast, non-German forms of fascism for the most part lacked any noteworthy ecological strand. One exception was the peasant-based Iron Guard of Romania, who saw capitalism, which they associated with Jewry, as being destructive to both the Romanian countryside and their Orthodox Christian culture. Elsewhere in Europe, ecological concerns were found individually rather than collectively, e.g. Julius Evola, an Italian writer and supporter of the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, who wrote books romanticizing a primitive state of nature and denouncing "modernism." Some have associated French Esoteric Hitlerist and Hindu convert Savitri Devi with ecofascism, due to her support for animal rights and vegetarianism, which she linked to a condemnation of Jewish dietary practises.
When seeking to understand the environmentalism, vegetarianism, and animal rights policies of Nazi and neo-Nazi groups, one must be aware that these ideas are in no way divorced from these groups' emphasis on Arthur de Gobineau's ideas of biology, eugenics, and social Darwinism. Their concept of racial hygiene was seen as cleansing the human genetic stock, much as ecology cleans the environment. All of these concepts have a common thread, emphasising the importance of nature, and man's duty to behave as steward.
Ecofascism as an attack term
Accusations of ecofascism can come from either the left, as in social ecologist Murray Bookchin
's use of the term, or the right, as in Rush Limbaugh
and other conservative and Wise Use Movement
commentators. In the latter case, it is a hyperbolic
use of the term that is applied to all environmentalists, including mainstream groups such as Greenpeace
and the Sierra Club
Accusations of ecofascism are not uncommon, but are usually strenuously denied. For some, cries from mainstream ecologists for regulation of human reproduction and reduction of the world population are suggestive of anti-humanist Nazi policies. However, proponents of population control policies have reacted strongly against these comparisons, regarding them as merely attempts to slander certain sections of the environmental movement (see the article on deep ecology for more details).
In the United Kingdom, the Third Way political party has been accused by left-wing watchdog groups of ecofascism, although Third Way says it has renounced all fascist ideology and describes itself as in the "radical centre". There has been a history of environmentalist views being held by the far-right in the UK, notably by Henry Williamson, Rolf Gardiner, Jorian Jenks and the "Blackshirt Farmer" Bob Saunders. Some have also accused the "radical antiquarian" John Michell of holding ecofascist views. In his 1995 book The Village That Died For England, concerned with the Dorset village of Tyneham which was requisitioned by the British Army, Patrick Wright details much of the history of British ecofascism during the Second World War.
Pentti Linkola can be most accurately described as a kind of totalitarian deep ecologist, and although he does not specifically endorse fascism per se, he has expressed admiration for the German National Socialist regime. He advocates a strong, centralised ecological dictatorship, with harsh population control measures and brutal punishment of those he considers to be environmental abusers. Needless to say, Linkola has attracted considerable controversy both in his home country and worldwide.
The influential European Nouvelle Droite movement, developed by Alain de Benoist and other individuals involved with the GRECE think-tank, have also attracted accusations of ecofascism from the Left, due to their blend of anti-globalism, environmentalism, and European ethno-nationalism. However, De Benoist himself dismisses fascism as "brown Jacobinism", and condemns racial prejudice and populist-nationalists like Jean-Marie le Pen.
Existing ecofascist groups
The actual number of organisations that could properly be described as ecofascist is extremely small. In the United States, the American Nihilist Underground Society
promotes its own particular vision of ecofascism. A related group is the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party
, whose emblem is the Nazi swastika on a green background, symbolising the party's synthesis of ecology with National Socialism. The latter has attracted a certain amount of controversy due its connection with high-school killer Jeff Weise
, and some have even suggested that it may be a parody.
- "We recognize that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction and to the death of nations. Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger. That is the fundamental point of the biological tasks of our age. Humankind alone is no longer the focus of thought, but rather life as a whole . . . This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought."
- Ernst Lehmann, Biologischer Wille. Wege und Ziele biologischer Arbeit im neuen Reich, München, 1934
- "..."ecofascism" has come to be used mainly as an attack term, with social ecology roots, against the deep ecology movement and its supporters plus, more generally, the environmental movement. Thus, "ecofascist" and "ecofascism", are used not to enlighten but to smear."
- David Orton - Ecofascism: What is It? A Left Biocentric Analysis
- "I think the growing disregard for the environment, culture and heritage is a natural consequence of capitalism. When people care more about profit than the world they live in that is what happens."
- Varg Vikernes
Organizations and ideologies