#TreesNotRefugees: Ecofascism, a new neo-nazi movement on the web

Content warning: hate speech against immigrants, antisemitism, racism. 

Environmentalism is often viewed as an exclusively left-wing agenda. However, recently there has been a movement emerging on twitter that has demonstrated the rise of a very different voice for environmental activism. Brandishing tree-emojis and Nordic flags a new army of neo-nazi environmentalists have sprung onto the digital scene, upgrading their white-supremacy with concern for a pure and untouched nature. Lengthy research into their online presence shows a dizzying plethora of nazi-quotes and nature imagery revealed a growing internet community intent on eradicating the ills of modern life. In their view, tainting the “land of their forefathers”, are immigrants, that are supposedly chucking garbage about themselves, mistreating animals and disrespecting nature’s dignity. As the tweets reveal, they view immigrants as an invasive species, which will in their minds bring down the planet.

Radically prioritising the planet’s wellbeing before all else, they believe in living in tune with one’s historical roots, both geographically and mythologically. In turn, modern-day globalisation and its accompanying multiculturalism, combined with the fear of overpopulation, are demonised, as this  quote from a Finnish ecologist illustrates:

(…) the chief cause for the impending collapse of the world – the cause sufficient in and by itself – is the enormous growth of the human population: the human flood. The worst enemy of life is too much life: the excess of human life” — Pentti Linkola.

Turning away from globalised, liberal, industrial society in lieu of a simpler, “purer,” good-old-days life has eco-fascists resorting to their own media and internet community (common for alt-right movements). Likewise, the iconography and rhetoric of ecofascism glorify violence, for example portraying steampunk-style SS soldiers waving swastika flags, as well as hashtags such as #EFDS, an acronym of Ecofascist Deathsquad.

What sets them apart though, and gives their strain of far-right ideology an especially nasty twist, is how they justify their beliefs with misinterpreted ecology, something most of us agree is worth preserving and fighting for. Those who were once open-minded and forward thinking are now sharing this pedestal with people, who formerly were too far on the right to see over the political landscape.

Constructed on the basis of their environmentalism is a firm architecture of belief ranging from veganism, rejection of single-use plastics, anti-multiculturalism, anti-semitism (taken to mean the global financial and political elite), racial purity and national socialism and nearly always a passionate interest in the mythology and aesthetics of proto-germanic and Norse cultures. Runes are scattered across their imagery, while medieval etchings are equipped with swastikas and death metal fonts. The eleventh rune of the old Norse alphabet is especially prevalent. Signifying “life” in Norse mythology, it was singled out to be appropriated by the SS’s as the symbol for Lebensraum (the program that sought to secure land and resources for the Aryan race by exterminating all other races in their way, the policy that ultimately justified the holocaust).

Nazi fascination for runes, proto-germanic mythology and nature hark back into the nineteenth century when romantic anti-enlightenment irrationalism combined nationalism with naturalism. Romanticism held that one could not know nature in purely scientific, rational terms, but to know nature one must be emotionally moved by its sublimity. Here the idea of the environment as something holy, something worth preserving, was born. It latched onto a deep unease with the emerging industrialisation and evoked a longing for the simpler life of one’s ancestral forefathers, namely Germanic and Scandinavian tribes. These sentiments were used by nationalists across Europe to unite people under the newly forming nation states. Thus, naturalism was instrumentalized by nationalism. This unlikely medley was in the 20th century added to national socialist ideology to sugar coat its hateful agenda.

Fascinating, as well as deeply disturbing, ecofascism represents yet another appropriation of nature for ideological legitimation. Its potential to be totalitarian in the sense that its implications reach deep into our everyday lives counterintuitively merges well with national socialism. So, although we consider environmentalism to be an issue of the left, this is by no means self-evident, as the insidious eco-fascism is a so-called example of ‘green politics’. This new ‘environmentalist’ movement that uses the vital need to save our planet as a way to spread their hateful message and ideas of genocide is unsavoury and horrifying in every way, and cannot be entertained.

Image: OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay

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