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The Alarming Rise of the Green Right

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

By Hank Schwabacher

Early last year, a 21-year-old white gunman opened fire in an El Paso, Texas shopping center. The shooting is now known as the deadliest anti-Latino attack in recent U.S. history. Shortly before the shooting, the suspect posted his manifesto on the far-right online message board 8chan. In his manifesto, The Inconvenient Truth (a title parodying the book by the same name written by American climate activist and politician Al Gore), he outlined the reasoning behind his attack: to reduce the environmental effects of nonwhite people.

The El Paso shooter was not the first violent far-right extremist to espouse these beliefs. The concept dates back to the roots of fascism itself, Nazi Germany. The concept of “blood and soil” was one of the mainstays of early Nazi propaganda. The slogan describes the ideal of a racially defined nation, “blood”, and their homeland, “soil.” The Nazis posed the “traditional” rural life of Germans in contradiction to the urban peasantry of other races, thus romanticizing the removal of said races. Because of this, modern ecofascists often cite the Nazi Party as the origin of their ideology.

After the fall of Nazi Germany, the ideology remained relatively dormant for decades, until the late 20th century. With the rapid expansion of technology in the ’80s, right-wing opposition to technological advancement spread. Most famously in a series of bombings from 1978 to 1995, the Unabomber was the most prominent figure in the movement. Mailing and planting bombs at the place of work of logging companies, college professors and technological businesses, the Unabomber sought to inspire backlash not only towards industrial society and its effects on the earth but also towards “leftists,” mostly comprised of what he called “‘politically correct types’, feminists, gay and disability activists… and the like.” This sentiment has been carried on by modern far-right extremists.

A rising number of terrorist attacks worldwide are beginning to be accredited to self-described ecofascists, from the El Paso attack to the Christchurch shootings. Both terrorists credited the “The Great Replacement,” a white-nationalist conspiracy theory, as a motive for their actions. The theory labels the “lesser races” as a sort of invasive species, attacking the animals, plants, and environment of the caucasian land. The theory is widely based on the pseudoscience of eugenics, combining sham race science with a twisted sort of environmentalism. The solution it offers is the extermination of nonwhites in the country.

Ecofascism is one of the largest threats to the climate change movement today. Invasion of progressive spaces by conservative extremists is no new concept; the leftist concept of socialism was often co-opted by fascist governments in the early 20th century. Both Hitler and Mussolini were both self-proclaimed socialists despite specifically repressing leftist groups.

The practices of ecofascists are antithetical to the environmentalist movement. The purpose of saving the earth is to preserve it for the generations to come, and removing future generations from existence overwhelmingly negates any progress made. Underneath their faux-conservationist facade, ecofascists are presenting a racist, homicidal view of the environmentalist movement that can be neither accepted nor engaged.

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