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DW| Environment | All topics from climate change to conservation | DW
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DW| Environment | All topics from climate change to conservation | DW

Flowers in front of a police blockade

People who identify themselves as eco-fascists are alleged to have committed at least three far-right murders in recent years.

The accused Killer of 10 Black men in a Buffalo, New York supermarket, on Saturday, entwined antisemitic conspiracy theories with a form of natural conservation. The 18-year-old racist rant ran 180 pages and argued that mass migration was linked to the destruction of the natural environment, which is why he wanted to justify murder.

The alleged perpetrator seems to have many of the same characteristics as the victim. These are the views of the young men who, in 2019, committed racist massacresIn El PasoTexas, and Christchurch, New Zealand.Indeed, the alleged Buffalo killer seems to have actually been Copied large sectionsHis screed from the Christchurch killer.

The Christchurch attacker, who shot 51 people dead at two mosques in Christchurch, described himself as an eco-fascist ethno-nationalist and called for ethnic autonomy as well as the preservation of nature and the natural order. The Australian man, in his diatribe, linked climate change with overpopulation by non Europeans, which is one the central ideas of ecofascism.

Flowers in front of a police blockade

The Buffalo shooter appears a copyist of passages from Christchurch’s screed.

What is an ecofascist?

Cassidy Thomas explained to DW, “The simplest definition would be (someone who has) a fascist politic/a fascist worldview that invokes environmental concern or ecological rhetoric to justify their hateful and extremist elements of their ideology.”

Thomas is a doctoral student at Syracuse University upstate New York. He studies the intersection between right-wing extremism and environmental politics.

Thomas states that regular fascists can be defined as populist ultranationalists who incite a narrative of civilizational decline, collapse and rebirth according to cultural and nationalist lines. The civilizational threat is seen by eco-fascists who see climate change and ecological disturbances within this equation.

Eco-fascists are tied up in racist theories and believe that the degradation of the natural environment leads to the degradation of their culture and their people, added Thomas. 

Many believe that non-white overpopulation is threatening white people and the environment. They often call for an end to immigration or the elimination of non-white people.

Thomas stated, “What they see is the dissolution or the very liberal and pluralistic democracy states of mixed-race and liberal races, and the replacement of this political formation by smaller, ethnically defined, ecological states.”

Their simplistic theories do not address the complex realities of life. Climate change and ecological destruction, and ignore the fact that the Global North is responsible for most of the emissions that have caused global heating, for instance.

Why is eco-fascism so appealing?

Far-right ideologies, such as ecofascism, are increasingly popular among young people who have grown-up with climate change and have seen that governments have failed properly to address it.

Thomas stated that climate change has become more severe over the past 30 year and is becoming more difficult to ignore or question, even from the most conservative or far-right elements of the political scene. “Unfortunately, you’re starting to see individuals with an incredibly nihilistic outlook and an incredibly bleak future for the world,” Thomas said.

Thomas added that eco-fascist narratives offer believers a “sense to purpose” and a “call for action.” 

 “And that’s why these eco-fascist narratives that are cultivated in these online subcultures are so dangerous.”

Such theories are often propagated in fringe sites such as 4chan, 8chan, and the now-defunct Iron March forum, as well as more mainstream platforms such as Twitter. 

Researchers noticed an increase in eco-fascist interest within fringe online communities after each of the previous killing sprees.  

What is eco-fascism? 

Right-wing populists have Climate change has been embraced historically denial, but are increasingly seeing potential in capitalizing on climate change concerns.

Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen, France’s nationalist leader, has used environmentalism to support her campaign.

One notorious example was when the attorney general for Arizona, having misrepresented climate science in the past, sued the Biden administration over loosening immigration laws. He claimed that Latin American migrants would pollute the environment, use up resources, and cause emissions if they were not kept out of Mexico’s border.

Europe Marine Le Pen has invoked climate changesand environmental protection in her campaigns for nationalists, while the youth wing is part of Germany’s far-right Climate-skeptic AfD partyAppelled on the party embrace climate changeAs a powerful recruitment tool. 

Canadian climate activist and author Naomi Klein spoke at the HuffPost“There is a rage that is going somewhere out there, and we have demagogues that are skilled at directing that anger at the most vulnerable among you while protecting the most powerful or most culpable.”

Nazi origins of ecofascism

Although made up of various strands of far-right theories, much eco-fascist ideology has its roots in early Nazi movements and the fascist party in Italy.

“In Germany, they would use these environmental talking points to partially justify some of their key initiatives like Lebensraum,” Thomas said. Lebensraum was a Nazi settler-colonialist idea of creating “living spaces” for Germans.

An apple tree

Nationalist communities have been attracted to the ‘heritage” appeal of organic produce.

“They saw the presence these non-German peoples simultaneously as a threat to the integrity and the environment of Germany.”

That ideology led to the 1935 Reichsnaturschutzgesetz, Germany’s first conservation laws, as well as a push for organic farming. 

Some elements of the far right scene in Germany and Europe still support environmental causes and organic farming. In Germany, environmental groups risk being Infiltrated and controlled by far-right extremists

Thomas said there are similarities in the drivers toward eco-fascism today. People saw in Nazi Germany and fascist Italy that capitalism and industrialism led to rapid urbanization and environmental destruction, as well as displacement of rural people.

In the United States, far-right figures, including Richard Spencer, have used environmental concerns to justify their beliefs. In the lead up to the 2017 Charlottesville rally of Unite the RightHe included a large section on the protection of nature in his online screed.

He previously stated that “population control” and “reduction” are the “obvious solutions to the ravages caused by climate change.

Environmentalists reject far right ideology

Crowds of people on a street

Overconsumption is a major contributor to emissions

The mainstream environmentalist movement, which tends to embrace social justice, has repeatedly rejected ecofascists. It claims that the ideology greenwashes hate, and is more concerned with white supremacy than protecting the environment.

They also say that the major perpetrator of ecological destruction are wealthy, Western nations, and not the people the eco-fascists seek to destroy. A United Nations analysis found that wealth increases are more important than population growth. A greater driver of resource-use

According to the IPCC, there are effect of population growth is dwarfed by the rise in emissions per person. Despite having slower population growth, people in the richest countries emit 50 percent more carbon dioxide than those in the least developed.

Instead, environmentalists advocate for a reduction in population growth and the use of resources and emissions. They also recommend reorganizing economies to adopt sustainable practices.

Edited by Jennifer Collins

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