Fascists like Brenton Tarrant weaponise environmentalism in service of white supremacism and the strategy is gaining popularity in mainstream politics.

“I am an Ethno-nationalist Eco-fascist.”

This was the response to the question “What are your views?” that Brenton Tarrant posed in his odious manifesto which he broadcasted to the world, before he went on to massacre 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, March 15.

Halfway through 74 pages of vitriolic, crusader-inspired racialism he entitled “The Great Replacement”, Tarrant affirms his Eco-fascism by pointing to “Green nationalism” as being the “only true nationalism”. He suggests that “there is no Conservatism without nature” and “there is no nationalism without environmentalism”, since “the natural environment of our lands shaped us just as we shaped it.”

Tarrant is hardly an aberration. The subterranean recesses of the online far-right have nurtured a fringe of apocalypse-craving neo-Luddites, many of whom proselytise genocidal solutions to impending environmental doom.

Like any ideology, Eco-fascism manifests in different forms. What fundamentally unites them is how, while resting on the backbone of fascism, they deploy the language of environmentalism to greenwash white supremacy. 

For Eco-fascism, the dimension of ecology is expressed in a nation’s Geist – its true essence that is intimately bound to its natural surroundings. Eco-fascists lament the marauding of nature, which they attribute to the hyper-rationalising project of modernity and industrial society that has accelerated demographic transformation.

Eco-fascism heavily draws upon the reactionary currents of Counter-Enlightenment thought: rooted in Prussian romanticism of the 18th and 19th centuries, and the subsequent Völkisch movement that flourished among Germanic nations up into the early 20th century. Steeped in anti-humanism and esotericism, Eco-fascism claims to strive for the restoration of a primordial past when man and nature coexisted in harmony.

“Man” of course, is exclusively the domain of the white European. An ostensible affection for Norse mythology and the idyllic sit comfortably beside explicit fealty to an ideology that adopted Social Darwinism and eugenics to justify racial hygiene programs that culminated in mass murder: Nazism.

By 1935, the Third Reich had implemented what was at the time the world’s most extensive environmental protection laws – while simultaneously purifying Germanic land of its non-Aryan pollutants. In this context, the blood purity of race was assumed to be directly connected to German soil, a view that developed into the infamous Blut und Boden (“blood and soil”) doctrine. This language is embraced by Eco-fascists, as it reveals a desire to have nations occupied by solely indigenous people in a geographically confined space that is preserved by environmentalist principles.

Calls to “reclaim our homeland” similarly function as white supremacist code for opposing non-white migration, and is echoed when Tarrant mentions that a nation should “venerate its ancestors” – that is, by purging itself of foreign contagion that lacks a European-Christian bloodline.

Ethno-nationalism, then, necessarily intersects with Eco-fascism. By subscribing to the notion that a civilisation’s uniqueness was forged due to the inherent symbiosis between a specific race and its environment, civilisation can only be provincial.

This predictably makes Eco-fascism hostile to liberal democracy and multiculturalism, which inevitably disturb the ‘natural order’. Tarrant attempts to cast his bigotry as eco-friendly by warning how “continued immigration into Europe is environmental warfare and ultimately destructive to nature itself.”

Drinking from a wellspring already contaminated by anti-Semitism, Eco-fascists target immigrants – and Muslims in particular – as surplus populations that have invaded and tainted Western European soil, and whose high fertility rates will spell the end of White civilisation.

The preoccupation with Muslim overpopulation is a well-worn Islamophobic trope that has been peddled beyond the ecosystem of the far-right, having gained mainstream devotees and spread from Western Europe to Myanmar.

This demographic angst underscores a central feature of Eco-fascism: a Malthusian obsession with birth rates.

A key proponent is Finnish ecologist Pentti Linkola, who faults overpopulation for ecological degradation. Influential within environmental economics, American ecologist Garrett Hardin notoriously developed a racist moral theory of ‘lifeboat ethics’: whereby every nation is metaphorically cast as a lifeboat, as immigrants threaten to break into those lifeboats, outbreed, and replace them.

From Trump’s Muslim Ban and border wall to Brexit Britannia, Hardin’s xenophobic credo has been routinely exploited – reflecting what Deleuze and Guattari wrote as “the motto of domestic policymakers might be: a macropolitics of society by and for a micropolitics of insecurity.” 

Populations have become tied to the state through a continuous production of anxiety: terrorists, Muslims, immigrants, benefit scroungers – all coming to swamp and engulf the nation’s lifeboat.

There are already instances where this strain of eco-friendly ethno-nationalism has gained political traction.

On the far-right, figures like Marine Le Pen have tactically abandoned their derisive attitude toward the environment, having realised the climate crisis provides them with a channel to further their genocidal misanthropy.

The Five Star Movement, currently in Italy’s coalition government with the far-right Lega Nord, promotes opposition to EU austerity politics by advancing degrowth economics, localism, and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

In Tarrant’s manifesto, an unwavering siren call buttresses his pathology of eliminationism: to “ensure a future for white children”. To safeguard whiteness and ensure its reproduction, Eco-fascists eventually seek to legitimise extermination with the veneer of environmentalism; whereby the culling of a population (non-white people) works to ensure the well-being of the planet (white people).

Armed with an ethnocentric conception of ecology, an insurgent, racialised violence is given moral impetus under Eco-fascism. Tarrant taps into this reactionary discourse to provide another layer of ideological justification to fulfil his bloodthirsty anti-Muslim animus, ultimately taking the logic of white supremacy to its brutal conclusion.

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