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July 03rd 2011 print

Merv Bendle

Eco-fascism & the Greens

As Bob Brown has now made clear, the Greens look forward to becoming the dominant political power in Australia, with all the potential for social, political and economic transformations that this implies. He also looks forward to the reign of one world government.

The parallels between the Greens and the Nazis are once again in the news, with the leading climate change skeptic, Christopher Monckton, unjustly coming under attack for his comments about the authoritarian manner in which climate change advocates seek always to prevent rational and informed debate about their outrageous claims and proposals for the de-industrialization of society.

Ironically, this tactic of de-legitimizing critics was fundamental to the success of fascism.

Questions about the parallels between the radical environmentalist movement and the Nazis and fascists have generally been ignored, or even interdicted (as we have seen with the move against Monckton). This is because the Greens portray themselves as ‘progressive’ in their ideology and policies, and much of the media is sympathetic to these values and reluctant to question the self-portrayal of the Greens as being primarily concerned with nature and the environment and not state power and radical social transformation.

In fact, the ideological affinity between the Green movement and fascism (and especially Nazism), is well established, and has been explored in depth in such books as How Green Were the Nazis? Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich (2005), by Franz-Josef Brüggemeier, Mark Cioc, and Thomas Zeller. As they conclude, “the green policies of the Nazis … demonstrate with brutal clarity that conservationism and environmentalism are not and have never been value-free or inherently benign enterprises” (p.14).

Examples abound. At the philosophical level the prominent Nazi, Ernst Lehmann, defined National Socialism in terms of the same apocalypticism, nature-mysticism, devaluation and subjugation of humanity, and ersatz paganism (or ‘Gaia worship’, as it is now called) that can now be found in any Greens manifesto:

Separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction … 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. (Biologischer Wille. Wege und Ziele biologischer Arbeit im neuen Reich, 1934)

(Like the Greens, Lehmann was also an enthusiast for non-viable technologies, dying as the senior officer aboard the Hindenberg when it crashed and burned in 1937.)

The desire to achieve a complete mobilization of society against a mortal enemy is another primary shared characteristic of the Nazis, the fascists and the Greens, and this mobilization is invariably conceived of in terms of war – e.g., against the West, the Jews, the now the modern industrial world. As the ex-executive director of Greenpeace, Paul Gilding (who is touring Australia, supported by the ABC), makes clear in his new climate change manifesto, The Great Disruption: How the Climate Crisis Will Transform the Global Economy (2011), global warming requires that the entire world be placed on a war footing that will vastly exceed that achieved in World War II, and its targets will be every aspect of modern industrial society, ranging from the technological to the ideological and political, leaving no aspect of life unaffected.

At the level of economic theory, the statist and anti-market commitments of the Greens are the same as those of fascism and Nazism. As Peter Hay (himself a leading Tasmanian environmentalist) explains in Main Currents in Western Environmental Thought (2002):

Ecological ideas appealed to the Nazis because they, too, believed that the laws of nature were immutable, and … with their economics of state-managed rather than market capitalism, they approved ecology’s opposition to the laissez-faire market. (p.184)

In terms of political authoritarianism, the parallels are so obvious that the more thoughtful members of the environmental movement itself have warned against the propensity of the Greens to embrace antidemocratic and fascist methods to achieve their aims. They insist that this tendency “demands an acute awareness and understanding of the legacy of classical eco-fascism and its conceptual continuities with present day environmental discourse” (Janet Biehl, Peter Staudenmaier, Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience, 1995, p.26).

This tendency is deeply embedded in the history of environmentalism, as Hay has also conceded, “scientists who determined the agenda and values of the early modern environmental movement … developed a politics that was undemocratic, authoritarian, pessimistic, repressive, illiberal, static and closed” (p.186), and this inclination has increased, especially as the environmental movement had become more hysterical and desperate to impose its will on an increasingly recalcitrant society.

In Australia, this antidemocratic and authoritarian tendency is well-developed amongst environmentalists. For example, the aspiring Green parliamentarian and prominent Sydney academic, Clive Hamilton, has made some notorious anti-democratic and demagogic observations.

He is also an alarmist of biblical proportions, predicting, in accordance with the  frantic eco-apocalypticism of Gilding and other Green prophets of doom, a future characterized by the mass-death of hundreds of millions or even billions of people, in a climate change catastrophe a hundred or even two hundred times worse than the Nazi Holocaust, dwarfing any known loss of life in human history, including the Black Death, which wiped out half the population of Europe.

Like other Greens Hamilton is extremely annoyed by the reluctance of ordinary people to accept this ridiculously overblown apocalyptic vision, and by their unwillingness to embrace the Greens’ programme of ‘unilateral economic disarmament’, as a leading American Congressman has described the effects of the carbon tax on Australia (‘Carbon tax is economic disarmament: US MP’, The Australian, 27/6/2011).

Consequently, according to Hamilton, governments led or controlled by the Greens must “look to any possible scenario to head [the apocalypse] off, including the canvassing of ‘emergency’ responses such as the suspension of democratic processes”. Obviously, this immediately recalls the anti-democratic authoritarianism of the Nazi Party, which like the Greens also saw its mission in terms of an apocalyptic vision of the future involving a cosmic battle for the future of the earth.

The parallel becomes more apparent when Hamilton’s advocacy of demagoguery is also considered. Demagoguery, of course, was an art widely practiced and perfected by the Nazis and fascists and used by them to undermine and eventually destroy democratic institutions.

Demagoguery sweeps aside all attempts to conduct a reasoned debate and appeals instead to people’s emotions, instincts, and prejudices in a deliberately exaggerated and manipulative fashion. Hamilton made his views here quite explicit, speaking about the nature of Green propaganda: “The purpose of political exaggeration is to stimulate stronger emotional responses, usually fear, and make [people] more likely to act in the way desired” by those seeking to manipulate the people.

The messianic mission of the Greens apparently means that any such manipulation is justified as far as ‘saving the world’ is concerned. As Hamilton confesses:

Environmentalists have often overstated the effects of environmental decline. The risks of nuclear power, though considerable, have been exaggerated. The dangers of urban air pollution have been inflated. The threats posed by DDT, lead pollution and pesticides, while significant, have usually been presented as much scarier than they actually are. And the likely effects of genetically modified crops have been blown out of proportion.

Such demagoguery is used to promote fear and emotional responses, presumably because the empirical evidence for the various claims associated with these issues is not considered sufficiently convincing in itself, and therefore must be misrepresented and exaggerated to have the desired effect.

Once again the parallels with the Nazis are obvious. With the Nazis, demagoguery was used to mobilize the German people behind the Nazi programme of economic nationalization, destruction of democracy, remilitarization of society, and suppression, incarceration (and involuntary euthanasia and eventual extermination) of critics, various other unwanted people, the Jews and any other scapegoat groups who resisted the Nazi programme and were therefore moral depraved.

Similarly with the Greens, demagoguery is required to mobilize the population behind the Green programme of economic nationalization, destruction of democracy, systematic de-industrialization of society, and suppression (and future incarceration or involuntary euthanasia?) of climate change skeptics, opposition politicians and other ‘wreckers’, the ‘hate-media’, and any other scapegoat groups who resist the Greens programme and are therefore moral depraved.

Eco-fascist movements like the Greens also share with the Nazis a contempt for the ordinary person and believe that they can be manipulated by what the Nazi minister for propaganda called ‘the Big Lie’ – i.e., that the fate of the world is at stake and drastic action must be taken NOW, or all will be lost. On the basis of this Big Lie, the Greens claim, like the Nazis, to have the right to implement any policies they like, irrespective of their effects on society, the economy or the lives of the people.

The Greens also share another characteristic with the Nazis. This is their eagerness to manipulate and exploit the democratic system to achieve power and implement their programme. It is frequently forgotten that the Nazis initially came to power as a minority party within the German parliament and only then began the construction of a totalitarian state dedicated to ‘saving the world’, as they saw it, sweeping aside the political establishment, which believed naively that it could keep Hitler and his zealous followers under control. They had no idea of the extreme plans Hitler intended to implement or what catastrophes would transpire under his rule.

Similarly, the Greens have now ascended to a position of great power within the federal parliament, helped there by a moribund and mortally wounded Labor government, which is desperate for Green support to hang onto power, with all the privileges this brings. Ignorant of how extremist parties like the Greens and the Nazis have operated historically Labor naively thinks it can contain the Greens and restrain their messianic ambitions.

As Bob Brown has now made clear, the Greens look forward to becoming the dominant political power in Australia, with all the potential for social, political and economic transformations that this implies. He also looks forward to the reign of one world government, placing every human being on earth under the power of a single global state system, guided, of course, by Green ideology.

Rather than shooting the messenger, as with Monckton’s timely warning, the ALP and the media should spend time thinking hard about the many sinister parallels between the Greens and earlier extremist parties that Monckton has courageously pointed out.