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The Green Swatiska: Confronting the Eco-Fascist Challenge
In all likelihood, efforts to halt global climate change will fail, and the ensuing
social and economic disintegration that will in turn be inevitable, leading to the literal
“end of the world.” This will be an apocalyptic change of social systems of historic
proportions only matched by the end of the previous Ice Age and the birth of civilization
itself. We children of late capitalism may be lucky enough to live in interesting times
Climate change is not an ecological issue, climate change is a social issue about
the relationship of humanity to nature. Treating nature as an infinite “standing reserve”for
the creation of ever-more capital is the relationship of humans under capitalism to nature,
and the standing reserve is running out. Capitalism has simply run against physics, and
ultimately physics always trumps ideology. No amount of brainwashing, no amount of
torture, no amount of wishful thinking, can reverse the finitude of our planet. One cannot
have infinite expansion on a finite planet. This infinite expansion of capital is driven by
fundamentally a social relationship between not only humans and nature, but humans and
each other, which puts the growth of ever-more capital and profit as the one and only
transcendental imperative of our time. That is, until the oil runs out and our farms
become deserts.
Climate change is merely the harbinger of the end of capitalism, much as a fever
is the sign of an underlying viral sickness. The virus is capitalism, and the entire
biosphere is infected. The only way to end global climate change is to end capitalism, and
for many years revolutionaries operated under the presumption that they would be the
one’s destroying global capital. At this point, it appears that global capitalism may very
well destroy itself before any revolutionaries, be they regressive Islamicists or idealistic
anarchists, manage to storm the modern-day Bastille. By pursuing relentless expansion
even as the material world it expands upon is withers away beneath its feet, capitalism is
committing itself to suicide. The safe and conservative bet is that capitalism will, despite
various superficial changes in order to keep the general population from losing hope,
will do nothing to substantially address climate change, and so will doom itself to death
when the inevitable crisis hits. The only real question is what social system will come
after capitalism: Anarchy or Fascism? Let us remember that while other worlds are
possible, and some are far worse than this one.
Just as social systems disintegrate when the environment they evolved under
changes rapidly, new social systems will arise that are more suited for the new
environmental conditions. Humans – and it is likely that at least some of us will survive
– are social animals, and so generate a social system of some sort to survive. Yet, almost
all so-called radical analysis of climate change has been fundamentally reformist. How to
we stop it? Can we save the ecosystem through education and petitioning, or even direct
action? Let us take cold comfort and assume that we radicals are in no position to
overthow capitalism and so save the ecosystem of the Earth. Let us hope against hope
some fraction of the ecosystem survives capitalism's collapse. Then, the real question is:
Can a new social system better suited to a post-climate change, post-capitalist world be
What little can pass for genuine thinking about social systems and climate change
suffers from two illusions, both of which are comforting to their respective audiences in
the shot term, yet ultimately fatal to the prospects of genuine survival in the era of global
climate change. The first of these is the illusion of that capitalism itself can overcome
climate change via some technological fix that will only cause relatively minor changes
to our way of life, and everyone from Lovelock to Al Gore is desperately grasping at
strings in order to make this illusion seem plausible. Any elementary science can dispose
of this illusion. The second illusion is far more deadly, for it haunts not the technodreams of capitalists, but infects the brains of anarchists: the primitivist illusion that with
industrial collapse, somehow capitalism will magically disappear and humanity will all
return to a state of primordial bliss. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Primitivist Illusion: No more nuts and berries
Primitivists promote a critique of civilization, and rightfully point out that many
of the most vile and egregious faults of capitalism have far deeper roots, going back to
indeed the foundations of the various first cities and agriculture itself. These critiques
may very well be right. Their general prediction that industrial society is unsustainable
and likely to lead collapse is prescient. Far from being the ranting of a few radicals, now
massive amounts of scientific evidence is in agreement. What was once was radical is
now common currency among many far outside of anarchist circles. The collapse of
civilization is no longer a distant dream and a radical idea to throw out over dinner
parties, but an increasingly realistic future.
The failure of primitivism is their own inability to deal with the very real prospect
of a collapse with anything more than a juvenile fantasy that somehow at least parts of
humanity will return to some state of primitive form of life. The very term “primitive”
was invented by the colonialists and slave-traders. This belies the extreme “orientalism”
of primitivism, for it for it assumes that somehow, released of the shackles of capitalism,
humans will naturally pick up primitive living skills, perhaps from photo-copied zines.
To their credit, a small minority of primitivists are actually engaging with attempting to
re-learn these skills through various courses, and an even smaller faction are attempting
to live their day-to-day lives in a primitive manner. A way of life can not be gained in an
afternoon of reading about how to light a fire with flint, or a day spent skinning and
gutting a roadkill deer, a week spent at a training course, or even years spent at a
primitive living commune. The crucial cross-generational transfer of knowledge key to
these cultures has been ended by capitalism. While admirable in many regards as an
attempt to learn skills to enrich any way of life, any attempt to recreate a “primitive” way
of life today then becomes a cartoon of the actual way of life, revealing the roots of
primitivism to be nothing more than a glorification of the noble savage, far more to deal
with colonialist guilt and escapism, than a serious political strategy.
Primitive ways of life had millennial to develop and adapt to their unique
ecosystems. They are whole cultures, and while some of their skills will not doubt be
needed in some sort of new syncretic post-climate change social system, to attempt to
recreate these wholesale is doomed to failure, as they are whole cultures, not simply grabbags of skills and some idiosyncratic dress. A fundamental error in analysis haunts
primitivism: there is no “primitive” way of life, but many human cultures and ways of
life uniquely adapted to their own ecological niches in the past who have all been
branded as “primitive” simply by their commonality of not being a willing part of the
trajectory towards capitalism. In fact, up until its full-scale destruction of the Earth's
ecosystem, capitalism was a well-adapted culture to a particular time and place. Also,
submerging the very real differences of these ways of life into the single bucket of the
“primitive” primitive without understanding the deep roots of their cultures, both the
advantages and disadvantages of a “particular” culture – in particular, the fact that many
primitive cultures did have hierarchies and superstition as their backbone, and any new
post-climate change culture would want to ditch these characteristics of some “primitive”
Humanity can not simply return to a “primitive” state of life, and what is needed
is a strategy for dealing the reality of capitalist collapse. The main strategy put forward
for dealing with the end of industrial collapse by primitivists is for an elite group of
primitivists will come together to live somewhere in the wilderness, and practice their
primitive living skills. When the day of collapse comes, industrial civilization will end
and some sort of massive “die-off” will ensure. Luckily, by virtue of their remote
location, they will not be impacted by the immediate fall-out from the capitalist collapse.
Second, due to their primitive living skills, they will be able to forage and hunt enough to
survive as their neighbors perish.
There are two main mistakes in this primitivist apocalpyse fantasy. The first is to
assume that the eco-system of the planet will be intact enough so that some sort of
foraging enough to survive will even be possible. Besides the obvious problematic
parallel between virtuous anarcho-primitivists living in a state of harmony awaiting
industrial collapse and the Christian mythology of a group of true believers waiting for
the Second Coming of Christ, there are strictly material reasons why i, in reality there are
no nuts and berries left, since most of the world’s ecosystem is currently in such as state
of dysfunction due to the assault of industrial civilization. Having even small amounts of
human being surviving off of “wild” foods is impossible given the scarcity of these
foods. If ecosystems are in such a state of disaster currently, as the positive feedback
loops of global climate change kick in over the next few years, it is even more unlikely
that they can be resurrected to a pristine state capable of supporting human life. Likely,
the final assault on capital will be of such ferocity that these ecosystems will be near
death when capitalism finally enters a mode of collapse. Lastly, assuming we can
garden, the effects of climate change will render much of what was once fertile land
desert, and temperatures will be even more extreme. This makes the prospects of even the
luckiest of survivalists a turnip from their local garden.
The primitivist illusion is only at its most extreme in self-declared “primitivists”
such as Zerzan and Jensen, but it would be a mistake to say that the primitivist illusion
stops with anarcho-primitivists, for it infects everyone from Earth First! Bioregionalists
committed to non-violent civil disobedience to anarcho-liberals that hope to organize the
“working class” in the new context of climate crisis. In fact, this illusion is most of the
present-day anarchist movement that at least bothers to think about climate change.
Almost all anarchists think that, while the transition from our present society to a postcapitalist society could be unpleasant – and at least the most primitivists have the honesty
to admit it will likely be disastrous for large portions of the population – almost no
anarchists realistically take into account that capitalism, in its dying throes, is likely to
destroy of most of the eco-system we rely to live upon, and that most people will be left
without enough viable social relations to survive due to their destruction by capitalism.
Do we really think that permaculture can feed the all the people in the world? Do we
really think, if money becomes worthless and the capitalist infrastructure people rely
upon to survive stops working, people will instantly become anarchists? If capitalism
disappears, will somehow worker syndicates or neighborhood assemblies will arise like
flowers after a spring rain despite the lack of a tradition of co-operation in many
countries, and will somehow people began turning their yards into gardens despite the
fact that the knowledge needed to make a sustainable garden has been wiped out in most
places? If so, then little to no thought – or only naïve thought! - has been given to the
transition from capitalism to anarchy. It is precisely these transitionary moments that are
likely to be the historic tests of anarchy.
Life As Capitalism Ends
The greatest myth of anarchists is that the collapse will be a singular event. In the
greatest of ironies for those that supposedly reject religion, the myth of the day of
collapse is nothing more than the myth of the return of the Messiah reclad in ecological
clothing, with a new heaven and earth somehow being the magically regenerated postcapialist planet . However it is highly unlikely that the collapse of capitalism will happen
in a blink of an eye. The collapse of capitalism will be a downward spiral of crisis after
crisis spread out over years and possibly decades. This is a spiral we are already on, as
many are already recognizing. Events like Hurricane Katrina, peak oil, the war on Iraq,
and others are simply symptomatic crises of the end of capitalism as it declines in
proportion to its destruction of the world that provides the living natural resources that
are required for the production of dead capital.
The truth about capitalism is that, by giving people more than turnips, it has
genuinely fulfilled at least some of the material desires of humanity. While in many
sectors of the world, in particular those who were only recently indoctrinated into
capitalism, will likely rejoice at its collapse and may be able to reconstitute previous
forms of life, the longer the collapse takes the less likely this is going to happen. What is
more likely is that those who are already part of the capitalist way of life, all the way
from sweatshop workers to corporate executives, will see the social system they have
worked their whole life for dissolve beneath their very feet. At first only a few sensitive
people, those directly effected by the crisis and those with the time and leisure to pay
attention to current events and the ever-more dismal news from science, will take note of
the collapse and begin seriously questioning collapse. The vast majority of humanity in
America and Western Europe, prone to wishful thinking, will simply ignore the signs of
crisis and hope that this latest crisis too will pass.
People will want, at any cost, to maintain their way of life. That is why the quick
surrender of “civil liberties” and anything but a pretense of democracy in the United
States after September 11th are simply viewed by most as small and necessary sacrifices
to maintain their way of life. Most people will blame anyone but themselves, and their
way of life, for the crisis in capitalism. They will begin to harken back to a mythical
Golden Age of the 1990s and 1980s. An external enemy is always much easier, ideally a
“foreign” one that can be easily identified by characteristics like skin color or language.
And as the crisis worsened, people will slowly realize that their way of life will never
return, and that the question will now be for mere survival. In this regard, people make
the rather logical choice of siding with the power that can provide for their basic needs
and has the most brute force to defend them. It is a strict matter of logic then that the
collapse of capitalism will be the perfect siren song not for anarchy, but for fascism.
Fascism: The Other Revolutionary Anti-Capitalist Movement
Fascism in the age of global ecological collapse will be green. Far from being an
historical anomaly – some tired antiquarian club as most current fascist groupsucles in
the United States are – fascism will be viewed as an ecological movement for redemption
from the destruction of the earth by global capitalism. Fascism will be the hip, a new
thing, and its proponents will proclaim that it is the only possible escape from a dead
planet. The fascism of the future is eco-fascism, although it is unlikely that its proponents
will be foolish enough to use that precise term, which even to this day due to the smoke
of Buchenwald has the stench of pejorative.
The true end-game will not be between anarchy and capitalism, but between
anarchy and eco-fascism. Capitalism may still be with us today, but its own internal
dynamics are fundamentally dooming it to a premature death within the foreseeable
future. This will likely happen whether anarchists do anything or not, although the
actions of anarchists can serve the dual purpose of both creating new ways of life to help
the world survive after capitalism and defending the remnants of the ecosystems of the
Earth in the hope that they may regenerate after the end of capitalism. However, all this
work may come to naught unless anarchists have both an analysis of eco-fascism and a
strategy capable of defeating it. Otherwise, we will find ourselves in the same situation as
the radical communists of the 1930s Germany and anarchists of Italy, so determined to
destroy an already weakened social system of capitalism that we do not notice the rise of
fascism until they have literally murdered us in our sleep.
First, it needs to be clear that we are not maligning the good name of some of our
fellow anarchists, especially anarcho-primitivists, with the epithet of “eco-fascism.” From
the perspective of theory, anarcho-primitivists, even if they secretly look forward to the
Malthusian “die-off,” are still at their heart anarchists, and so believe and attempt to
practice an individual freedom and bottom-up self-organization that trumps the nascent
hierarchical collectivity of fascism. This is not to deny that eco-fascism and certain
virulent strains of green anarchism share similarities such as a belief in the inherent
essence of “wild nature.” More similar to eco-fascism are movements towards
biocentrism, however, by virtue of their self-loathing, most biocentrists rather remarkably
avoid fascism, since they view humans as malignant trespassers upon nature. The view
that mass extinction of humanity is beneficial for nature stands opposed to the
hierarchical reorganization of humanity under eco-fascism.
From a pragmatic stance, both anarcho-primitivists and biocentrists in Europe and
the United States are of such small numbers and poor organization – able at best to
maintain a magazine or two! – that that they are unlikely to be the dominant political
power in a post-capitalist age. The absurdity of their proposals for a future society, which
range from living off of non-existent nuts and berries to voluntary suicide of the species,
will be rightfully viewed by most of the population as not viable option for survival of the
species. Given the lack of practical political strength of anarchism in general and the
comic nature of most of its ecological variants, other strange ideologies and regressive
fetishes will return from the political unconscious of humanity to fill the great void left
by the slow but inevitable demise of capitalism. The rise of political Islam is only the
beginning. As a political form with historic and mythic ties to a particular time and place,
in the era of capitalist collapse, political Islam's offer of holy law and order across the
land will doubtless prosper even more so in the Middle East. Other countries may have
different responses to the collapse of capitalism, and if anything can be guaranteed it is
that the response will be far from uniform. Areas with large amounts of natural resources,
such as Africa, combined with machinery that the capitalist machine somehow keeps
running, may manage to have some local version of capitalism resurrect itself even in the
midst of political collapse. Territories with strong land-based cultures may revert to some
agrarian feudalism, and other areas could revert to gang and tribal-based rules of brute
force. What form of political organization is most likely to succeed in Europe and North
America, places without much left in the form of natural resources or land-based culture?
The answer is obvious: the great social form that nearly unseated capitalism earlier:
What is the nature of fascism, that which distinguishes it from mere
totalitarianism and even capitalism? Fascism that it is a mass-based anti-capitalist
revolutionary movement based on conservative esssentialism. Fascism is inherently
collective, with an insatiable greed for mass. Fascism breeds off of authentic desires in
people, desires to connect with each other, to establish some sort of genuine community
in the face of the atomization imposed by capitalism. Thus, the powerful seduction of
fascism, as it builds off much of the same critique of capitalism that anarchists have, who
have no monopoly on the politics of desire. If anything, fasicsm feeds off the very same
desire people have to be part of a greater whole, something greater than themselves.
While anarchism believes this collectivity can be created through voluntary association
and so without coercion, fascism establishes this collectivity through domination.
Domination is a force of desire as well, a force that strikes at intensely erotic energies in
the same way that liberation does. It is in from this paradox that fascism shows how it
becomes a mass-movement: for under the right conditions people do desire their own
domination. In the game of sexual domination. your hands are tied, body paralyzed so
resistance and is impossible, and one can be humiliated, spat upon, shit upon, beat,
choked, penetrated. Yet is there not something erotic about losing one's individuality,
losing one's sense of reason, and surrendering to this the more powerful dominator,
surrendering yourself completely in the act of domination? A sigh of relief? A moment of
pleasure provoked by the pain? While harmless, and even healthy if done with the utmost
of care as a game, if not a game it can become the most humiliating and terrifying of
experiences. In attempt to recover from the trauma, without support the victim then
internalize their own weakness, their own position of the slave as opposed to the master.
Now, take this individual dynamic of domination, and collectivize this dynamic,
so an entire population can surrender themselves to a fascist collectivity. This allows both
a strange moment of pride, for one literally, through the act of all being dominated, joins
into a greater collective far more powerful than a single individual. And from this comes
the Nuremberg defense, for one's own individuality and autonomy becomes part of this
fascist collectivity. A mass eroticism, a fetish for pain and destruction, then becomes
unleashed as fascism. Based on this collective domination, the fascist collectivity
externalizes a political form based on domination, absolute hierarchy. In this form of
politics, every person has someone to dominate them, all the way up to the top of the
pyramid, where the absolute dictator – Hitler, Mussolini - is enshrined with his ability to
dominate all in the fascist collectivity, so that the collectivity becomes the body of a
single despot. Unlike capitalism, which is based around decentralized flows normalized
through the capitalist social relationship - embodied by money - and anarchism, which
seeks decentralization without the expansive growth and ridiculous presumptions of
capitalism, fascism incarnates itself politically as the absolute control of centralized
planning in every aspect of life.
The disturbing thing is that right conditions for both this frenzied harnessing of
collectivity based on domination and the blaming of some “enemy within” are given by
similar conditions that spawn revolutionary movements like anarchism, such as massive
crisis within capitalism. Fascism has an easier time of it than anarchism, for it offers
simple solutions that are easily visualized: blame the Jews, blame the blacks, blame
people from other countries, and easy solutions of killing, maiming, purging – rather than
the long and difficult road of recreating new social relationships. Anarchists have no
monopoly on revolutionary anti-capitalism. Fascism is a revolutionary movement as well,
hoping to overturn the present system of capitalism and create a new Heaven and new
Earth upon this world through unleashing great political, social, and economic
transformations. However, unlike revolutionary movements like anarchism and
communism, fascism does not recognize that capitalism is inherently a social
relationship, and that the only way to overcome capitalism is to create a new social
relationship based on autonomy and solidarity across all divisions. Under fascism, people
never have to acknowledge their own role in the daily reproduction of capitalism through
their own relationships. Instead, the ephemeral social relationship of capitalism is made
concrete by fascism, by embodying this relationship in some group of individuals. This
group of individuals may often have something to do with the mechanisms of capitalism,
such as the captains of international finance and other shadowy power-brokers within
capitalism. It is risky for fascists to actually attack individuals tied closely with
international capital, as often in their early stages of power seizure fascists are carefully
insinuating themselves with capitalists. A much more safe fascist alternative is to blame
capitalism on some ethnic group, such as the Jews. All the rage and anger pent up against
the failures of capitalism then get redirected not towards the relationship of domination
inherent in both capitalism and fascism, but towards this ethnic group. Instead of the
revolution of everyday life that creats new anti-capitalist social relationships, fascists
offer the ethnic purge to remove the so-called “devils” behind capitalism. Instead of the
cleansing of the self, the cleansing of the other. All the energy that could under the right
conditions be moved towards revolutionary anti-capitalism of an anarchist variety are
subliminated and projected towards some outside group. While the Jews are the
paradgimmatic example, any ethnic group will do as the “enemy within.” Proto-fascists
movements with the United States and Europe focus currently on Middle Eastern
immigrants. In the United States, where the number of Middle Eastern immigrants are
low, the traditional proto-fascist group to blame – under the rubric of “crime” - African
Americans, are now being side-lined by blaming “illegal immigrants” such as Latin
Americans, who are convenient scape-goats. The massive expansion of the internal
security apparatus and the creation of a permanent war-time economy based on conflict
with the “outside” - both typical of any fascist regime - are consequences of this
projection of the capitalist social relationship onto individual humans. In the era of
climate change blaming immigrants will be ridiculously easy, and the security apparatus
needed to smash all dissidents already set-up by the War on Terror.
Unlike revolutionary movements like anarchism that hope to create genuinely
new social relationships, fascists hope to return to some transcendental conservative
essence – one embodied by nature. This essence then justifies the fascist collectivity by
giving it some transcendental, ahistorical importance, so that its survival becomes of
utmost importance, an end justifying any means. This is the root of eco-fascism, the
transcendental conservative ideal of blood and soil, the People connected to the Land.
Just as fascism rises by exploiting a very real crisis in capitalism, eco-fascism addresses a
very real feeling of separation from the environment caused by capitalism. Fascism
works its foul magic by invoking this myths of the original connection between a people
and the land, where the land and the people are viewed not as open and dynamic, but
closed and static. The German land for the German people, or only American resources
for American people! The hidden subtext is always that Germans, Americans, Japanese,
and whatever constructed “race” can be defined ecologically and evolutionary as separate
and superior to other races. Fascism naturalizes its own relationship of domination by
proclaiming it to be the natural order, for as Hitler put it in Mein Kampf, “When people
attempt to rebel against the iron logic of nature, they come into conflict with the very
same principles to which they owe their existence as human beings. Their actions against
nature must lead to their own downfall.” Capitalism is rightfully viewed as destructive of
nature, but somehow fascism is viewed as in compliance with nature since reflects the
law of domination supposedly inherent in Darwinism, although work by anarchists like
Peter Kropotkin and recent work by those like Edmund Wilson on group altruism have
clearly disproven the scientific validity of social Darwinism. Chillingly, this essentialism
of some pure pre-capitalism land and people runs deep within ecology, for Ernst Haeckel,
one of the most seminal founders of ecology, gave birth to the same ideas later parroted
by Hitler by proclaiming “civilization and the life of nations are governed by the same
laws as prevail throughout nature and organic life.” In his heady racial Darwinism,
Haeckel even went as far as to join the Thule Society, one of the secret societies devoted
to racial purity. By opposing this pure and “timeless” ideal of a agrarian world without
the cities and anomie of capital, it was first the fascists, far more so than any other anticapitalist movement, effectively merged ecology and politics. Instead the idiotic
maneurever that notes that just because Hitler was a vegetarian all vegetarians are
fascists, we should note that widespread organic farming did come to be first under
National Socialism in Germany. This is not to say that all organic farming is facist, but
merely to note that fascism will use ecology in their rhetoric and even implement an
ecological agenda. Fascism has always been eco-fascism.
As one Nazi professor of botany put it, fascism is nothing more than “politically
applied biology.” The land must be cleansed and renewed, and so must the people that
are just a reflection of the land. From this twisted logic naturally comes the prospect of
treating outsiders, be they Jews or Mexicans, as pollution that must be purged. The word
“murder” becomes divine ecological duty. Ironically, in order to realize their
transcendental vision of a pure homeland, the fascists – unlike conservatives – phrased
this homeland as something to be realized, a place in the future, from which all the power
of the technology developed under capitalism should be harnessed. This explains the
rapid technophilia of fascism, how the smokestacks and Fordism of the concentration
camps can be harnessed in pursuit of green ideal. This is a powerful combination, for it
draws both on ecological dreams, but unlike the purist primitivists, eco-fascists are more
than happy to employ a mass-based movement and technology to realize their state of
primordial bliss. In the era of global climate change, this combination will be no less
tempting. Although it will become clear through crisis that capitalism is no longer
attainable, eco-fascists will demand a return to a steady-state economy and a healthier
ecology, demands that will resonate with many people. Their green rhetoric has the
potential to be powerful indeed, and can be even be clothed in multi-cultural clothing,
such as some of the more intelligent modern day “liberal” fascists who believe simply
that every race should have its own pure homeland. As eco-fascists will be able to
correctly analyze the death of capitalism and put forward an alternative that connects
personal survival to some mythical racial and national survival, and promising a restored
ecosystem due to technology and brute force. This will be the most difficult of possible
movements for anarchists to face.
The Endgame of Ecofascism
There are two general routes to an eco-fascist take over. The first is by coup, as
immortalized by Mussolini’s “March on Rome” and Hitler’s failed “Beerhall Putsch.” In
this scenario, the fascists arise as a small and self-conscious political groupsucle, mostly
involved initially in publishing propaganda and rather futile attempts to gain popular
support. As crisis hits capitalism particularly hard, people become attracted to the fascists
since they at least are positioning themselves as some sort of opposition to capitalism,
one with some physical force and vaguely plausible ideas, through re-nationalization and
centrally planned economies, to the dying capitalist order. Once capitalism shows itself to
be in a state of dysfunction, this exceptional state leads the fascists down the road to
exponential growth. As capitalism teeters ever closer to self-implosion, the leaders of the
army realize that the true measure of power stops being money, often being made
virtually worthless by hyperinflation, and returns to guns and steel. With this brutally
accurate knowledge, a sizable portion of the army sides with the fascists against the
capitalist government, and the government, already crippled by its inability to deal with
the crisis, hands over power to the fascists. This playbook can be repeated anywhere and
any time capitalism is in crisis, including the United States and Western Europe.
The possibilities of this scenario in regard to eco-fascism definitely are possible.
As ecological crisis hits, it will first make itself apparent as a series of economic crises
and social upheavals. People will begin looking for any option, and fascist ideas that
blame immigrants and international finance (of which the latter is actually true!) will
become popular. The unique emphasis on ecology in fascism will make it very palpable
in the context of an ecological crisis. Fringe eco-fascist groups will suddenly become
rather mainstream, and make in-roads in established parties and the army. Finally, as
some crisis reaches epic proportions, the eco-fascists under some charismatic leader will
join forces and then attempt some spectacular seizure of power. However, even the
“March on Rome” is fundamentally a myth. Coups historically have not been the route to
facisct power. Instead, the coup is spectacle at best that negotiates factions of the
government already leaning towards fascism.
This scenario of a eco-fascist coup is unlikely on a number of counts. First, it is
unclear where the Reichstag to burn today is. Power in capitalism is increasingly
decentralized, and a centralized take-over is becoming less and less likely. What financial
market? What government building? In periods of extreme crisis the government may
become very fractured, so eco-fascist coups could only take on one small subsector of the
government at a time. Second, the total lack of organization and ecological analysis by
current fascists groups is astounding, and even us anarchists in comparison seem
numerous and organized. Most fascist groups, not terrifyingly well-known for the
intelligence, have failed to distance themselves from the disreputed industrial fascism of
the Nazis, and have barely been able to muster coherent political propaganda outside a
few web-sites and occasional moves into the cultural sphere of music. Most importantly,
with the exception of groups like the British National Party current linking of Peak Oil
and anti-immigration stances, very few existing fascist groups have made the strategic
move to eco-fascism. Perhaps the only exception in the United States is the Minutemen,
who despite considerable popular support, seem unable to move beyond their basic antiimmigration stance to transform into a full-fledged fascist group. One possible scenario is
that some eco-anarchist groups surrender their commitment to autonomy or some
biocentric groups integrate mass mobilization into their strategy, and so make the
transition into eco-fascism. This can be prevented by having a strong analysis and
internal criticism of eco-fascist tendencies from within the anarchist movement itself.
Much more plausible and dangerous in the transition of the government itself to
eco-fascism. The addiction to power itself by the ruling class may usurp their devotion to
capitalism. An existing conservative political party already contains much of the “blood
and soil” rhetoric common to fascism, along with a commitment, however skewed, to
populism. It would take only a little maneuvering for an internal self-conscious group to
do a take-over of the conservative party’s infrastructure, and taking advantage of the
economic and social crisis and the widespread concern over ecology, ride a massive
popular movement of support, a popular movement that the eco-fascists twists and
poisons away from being a libertarian and anarchist movement by continually blaming
the ecological crisis on immigrants and international finance taking undue advantage of
the inherently limited resources of the country. The eco-fascists inside the government
need only to align themselves with the parts of the government that it will view as crucial
in times of crisis, such as the military and departments dealing with border control and
internal security. With these components of the government under firm control, the
government can slowly transition into eco-fascism by initiating ever stricter policies of
social control, including internal surveillance of dissidents, and ever harsher border
restrictions. In this way, capitalism and preliminary eco-fascism will co-exist for quite a
while. As the ecological and attendant economic crises threaten ever more and more the
stabilization of society, the capitalists will be phased more and more out of positions of
power in the government. In particular, one could easily see how large-scale energy crisis
has already weakened transnational capital, and as this energy crisis increases and so
leads to difficulty in maintaining internationalized markets, this will cause a renationalization of capital, so that the eco-fascists would just seek to accelerate this
process beyond the limits of capitalism and straight into the waiting arms of fascism.
As the economic crisis intensifies, the eco-fascists will attempt to stave off the
collapse by concerted nationalized programs, much in the spirit of the famous “Tennessee
Valley Authority” and the lesser-known programs of Mussolini such as the “Battle of the
Grain” and “The Battle for the Land” where vast swathes of agricultural production were
re-nationalized. In an era of ecological collapse and likely economic hyperinflation, at
least temporarily nationalized and centralized planning and production like this will
actually help the survival of many ordinary people by guaranteeing them sustenance, and
so bring massive popular support to the more eco-fascist parts of the government. Using
the limited amount of natural resources as a pretext, eco-fascists can both shut down the
borders to defend the limited amount of natural resources and then try to gain more
through aggressive wars for the few remaining natural resources. In an effort to preserve
social stability and to keep sustenance for people, the eco-fascists can establish establish
work-camps for illegal immigrants and other subversives and eliminate all political
opponents, including anarchists, using the already-existing machinery of the government
rather than the thuggery associated with skinheads and brownshirts. Eventually, as
capitalism collapses, the eco-fascists will completely take over the infrastructure of the
government. Unlike the coup, in this scenario the transition from capitalism into ecofascism can be seemless, happening not with the broken glass of windows but happening
slowly and surely, one act of repression at a time, barely noticed until it is too late.
The seeds of this scenario are present already in our time. The Republican Party
in the United States is a perfect example of a potentially eco-fascist movement, a mixture
of traditional conservatism based around mostly poor, white working-class voters with
some traditional – if at this point, almost kitschy - connection to the land and the
capitalist class with the strongest devotion to free-market economics, albeit a free-market
often sponsored by government-ran destruction of existing infrastructure and the opening
of markets. This strange combination gives the rich capitalists a base of popular support,
something that they have traditionally had difficulty maintaining except through awkward
alliances with the far right and total control of the media, as the poor and working-class
in many other countries in general have the habit of realizing their own interests are
against capital. However, two factors are working against the capitalists today. First, as
economic crisis sets in, more and more people become hostile to capitalists, and a vague
“anti-corporate” sentiment has already begun pervading vast swathes of conservative
America, as exemplified by Lou Dobb’s “War on the Middle Class.” The anxiety caused
by economic recession makes fertile ground for the traditional fascist manipulation of
blaming immigrants rather than realizing their own interest in joining with their own
class interest overseas. However, the manipulation of
This leads to a state of schizophrenia in the Republican Party as their own popular
base begins to move towards @@
Contrary to the rhetoric of Friedman and his ilk, as the capitalists run into more
and more trouble securing a dwindling supply of natural resources such as oil, they will
become more and more beholden to the sheer material force of the government to secure
natural resources and create the destruction needed to fuel ever more production. This
scenario is realized perfectly by the neo-conservatives, a small self-conscious minority,
This is the true threat of eco-fascism. We will rejoice as more and more of the
population comes over to “anti-capitalism” and applaud the efforts of some of our
comrades to “get more organized.” Young people will begin feeling a sense of personal
guilt and responsibility for climate change, blaming themselves and sinking into
depression. A charismatic leader or two may emerge with an ecologically-minded, anticorporate populist rhetoric, drawing crowds of tens of thousands. Obsessed with the
destruction of capitalism, we will rejoice as stock markets crash, destroying the middleclass and plunging the former privileged of the world into poverty. However, caught
unaware, anarchists may not notice that these are all harbingers towards eco-fascism that
come creeping in the night. That is deadly nature of fascism – that with our eyes focused
primarily on the destruction of capitalism, we will not notice the rise of eco-fascism until
it is too late, and night of broken glass has descended upon the Western world yet again.
Miscreants and drop-outs become dictators, neighbors fall upon neighbors, and friends
transform into enemies in the blink of an eye. Distracted by the spectacle of the collapse
of capital, anarchists will not notice the true threat of eco-fascism until the knife is
plunged into our backs.
End-games with Capitalism:
1) stopping the traditional fascists ARA style
2) massive disruption of capital may actually cause eco-fascism. The only way to cripple
eco-fascist takeover by the government is international solidarity.
End-game likely scenarios.
An Ecology Without Fascism
What is the difference between a green anarchy and eco-fascism? Must anarchists
whole-scale abandon all ecology, as it is tainted with fascist roots? Of course not. The
defining moment of one of the largest transitions humanity and its environment have ever
taken will be fundamentally ecological. To pretend otherwise would risk losing
everything to the eco-fascists, since then the appeal of anarchy will be irrelevant and the
eco-fascists will then monopolize the very word “ecology” as the false solutions of green
capitalism become ever more transparent failures. Instead, anarchists need to stop letting
the most absurd of theories, primitivism, monopolize the ecological response of
anarchism. Despite the evidence of global climate change, the lack of a strategy or any
even vaguely realistic thinking about eco-fascism and collapse by primitivists reveals it to
be more escapism than revolutionary practice, and its inherent misanthropy guarantees its
failure as a popular movement to defeat eco-fascism. Primtivists also have the same
essentialism towards some semi-divine nature as fascists. This is not to single-out
primitivism too much, for overly academic and relatively old-fashioned theories such as
social ecology also need to re-adjusted and thought through again in the light of climate
change. Yet today, anarchists despite having recognized the threat of climate change
long before it became populized through climate change, have managed to drop the ball
in raising ecological concerns to press a radical programme of autonomy,
decentralization, and mutual aid. However, since we are viewed as not much of a threat
by capitalism – even in its green stages – for the most part, except for the most militant of
factions, anarchists have had little but lack of attention as the result of our historic failure.
The eco-fascists will not let us be too lucky. The only answer is to formulate an anarchist
ecology, an ecological anarchy, an ecology without fascism.
The definintion of an anarchist conception of ecology will be the abandonment of
any idea of the essence of nature, an ecology without nature. Nature and essence have
been historically closely tied: “What is the nature of a thing?” is virtually synonymous
with “What is the essence of a thing?” This linking must be broken apart in order for an
open ecology to develop. In this open ecology, systems are never viewed as static, with
some sort of transhistorical essence that defines them. There can be no essence of
Germany, no nature of America, no fundamental defining characteristic of an ecosystem.
Everything that appears to be an essence must melt into air with time, the product of
myriad historical and evolutionary processes. Instead, ecology must be viewed as fluid
and dynamic, never a pristine state of nature, but an ever-changing flow of life. In this
ecology, there are no essences. Times change, and with that so does life, ever adaptable,
fluid, dynamic. While individuals and species may die, life itself attempts to preserve by
the creation of mutually beneficial collectivites. The cells form a collective, which forms
an organ, which forms a collectivity with a body. An individual viewed over time is no
longer an individual but a species, and a species over time is just one branch of the
greater family of life. Ecology as an experiment, rather than as perfection. The only way
for life to survive, for the Second Law of Thermodynamics to be defeated, is for life to
always be open, open to new combinations, relationships, collectivities.
Contra Marx, there are no pre-ordained conclusions to history. Contra Hitler,
there are no natural laws. Everything changes with time. The collapse of capitalism does
not necessarily imply any transition, however smooth or rough, to anarchy. The future is
ultimately unpredictable, and it is only in our actions today can the possible world of
tomorrow be deduced.