Ecofascism: What is It?

Ecofascism: What is It?       by  David Orten    


This bulletin is an examination of the term and concept of “ecofascism.”  It is a strange term/concept to really have any conceptual validity.  While there have been in the past forms of government which were widely  considered to be fascist — Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and  Franco’s Spain, or Pinochet’s Chile, there has never yet been a country  that has had an “eco-fascist” government or, to my knowledge, a  political organization which has declared itself publicly as organized  on an ecofascist basis.

Fascism comes in many forms. Contemporary fascist-type movements (often  an alliance of conservative and fascist forces), like the National Front  (France), the Republicans (Germany), the Freedom Movement (Austria),  the Flemish Block (Belgium), etc., may have ecological concerns, but  these are not at the center of the various philosophies and are but one  of a number of issues used to mobilize support — for example  crime-fighting, globalization and economic competition, alleged loss of  cultural identity because of large scale immigration, etc. For any  organization which seeks some kind of popular support, even a fascist  organization, it would be hard to ignore the environment. But these  would be considered “shallow” not defining or “deep” concerns for deep  ecology supporters. None of these or similar organizations call  themselves ecofascists. (One time German Green Party member, ecologist  Herbert Gruhl, who went on to form other political organizations, and to  write the popular 1975 book A Planet Is Plundered: The Balance of Terror of Our Politics,  did develop what seems to be an intermeshing of ecological and fascist  ideas.) While for fascists, the term “fascist” will have positive  connotations (of course not for the rest of us), “ecofascist” as used  around the environmental and green movements, has no recognizable past  or present political embodiment, and has only negative connotations. So  the use of the term “ecofascism” in Canada or the United States is meant  to convey an insult!

Many supporters of the deep ecology movement have been uncomfortable and  on the defensive concerning the question of ecofascism, because of  criticism levelled against them, such as for example from some  supporters of social ecology, who present themselves as more  knowledgeable on social matters. (The term “social ecology” implies  this.) This bulletin is meant to change this situation. I will try to  show why I have arrived at the conclusion, after investigation, that  “ecofascism” has come to be used mainly as an attack term, with social  ecology roots, against the deep ecology movement and its supporters  plus, more generally, the environmental movement. Thus, “ecofascist” and  “ecofascism”, are used not to enlighten but to smear.

Deep ecology has as a major and important focus the insight that the  ecological crisis demands a basic change of values, the shift from  human-centered anthropocentrism to ecocentrism and respect for the  natural world. But critics from within the deep ecology movement (see  for example the 1985 publication by the late Australian deep ecologist  Richard Sylvan, A Critique of Deep Ecology and his subsequent writings like the 1994 book The Greening of Ethics,  and the work by myself in various Green Web publications concerned with  helping to outline the left biocentric theoretical tendency and the  inherent radicalism within deep ecology), have pointed out that to  create a mass movement informed by deep ecology, there must be an  alternative cultural, social, and economic vision to that of industrial  capitalist society, and a political theory for the mobilization of human  society and to show the way forward. These are urgent and exciting  tasks facing the deep ecology movement, and extend beyond what is often  the focus for promoting change as mainly occurring through individual  consciousness raising, important as this is, the concern of much  mainstream deep ecology.

The purpose of this essay is to try and enlighten; to examine how the  ecofascist term/ concept has been used, and whether “ecofascism” has any  conceptual validity within the radical environmental movement. I will  argue that to be valid, this term has to be put in very specific  contexts — such as anti-Nature activities as carried out by the “Wise  Use” movement, logging and the killing of seals, and possibly in what  may be called “intrusive research” into wildlife populations by  restoration ecologists. Deep ecology supporters also need to be on guard  against negative political tendencies, such as ecofascism, within this  world view.

I will also argue that the social ecology-derived use of “ecofascist”  against deep ecology should be criticized and discarded as sectarian,  human-centered, self-serving dogmatism, and moreover, even from an  anarchist perspective, totally in opposition to the open-minded spirit  say of anarchist Emma Goldman. (See her autobiography Living My Life and in it, the account of the magazine she founded, Mother Earth.)

Fascism Defined

“Fascism” as a political term, without the “eco” prefix, carries some or  all of the following connotations for me. I am using Nazi Germany as  the model or ideal type:

Overriding belief in “the Nation” or “the Fatherland or Motherland” and  populist propaganda at all levels of the society, glorifying individual  self-sacrifice for this nationalist ideal, which is embodied in “the  Leader”.

Capitalist economic organization and ownership, and a growth economy,  but with heavy state/political involvement and guidance. A social  security network for those defined as citizens.

A narrow and exclusive de facto definition of the “citizen” of the  fascist state. This might exclude for example, “others” such as gypsies,  jews, foreigners, etc. according to fascist criteria. Physical attacks  are often made against those defined as “others”.

No independent political or pluralistic political process; and no independent trade union movement, press or judiciary.

Extreme violence towards dissenters, virulent anti-communism (communists  are always seen as the arch enemy of fascism), and hostility towards  those defined as on the “left”.

Outward territorial expansionism towards other countries.

Overwhelming dominance of the military and the state security apparatus.

What seems to have happened with “ecofascism”, is that a term whose origins and use reflect a particular form of human social, political and economic organization, now, with a prefix “eco”,  becomes used against environmentalists who generally are sympathetic to a  particular non-human centered and Nature-based radical environmental  philosophy — deep ecology. Yet supporters of deep ecology, if they think  about the concept of ecofascism, see the ongoing violent onslaught  against Nature and its non-human life forms (plant life, insects, birds,  mammals, etc.) plus indigenous cultures, which is justified as economic  “progress”, as ecofascist destruction!

Perhaps many deeper environmentalists could foresee a day in the not too  distant future when, unless peoples organize themselves to counter  this, countries like the United States and its high consumptive  lifestyle allies like Canada and other over‘developed’ countries, would  try to impose a fascist world dictatorship in the name of “protecting  their environment” — and fossil fuel-based lifestyles. (The Gulf War for  oil and the World Trade Organization indicate these hegemonic  tendencies.) Such governments could perhaps then be considered  ecofascist.

Social Ecology and Ecofascism

Since the mid 80’s, some writers linked with the human-centered theory  of social ecology, for example Murray Bookchin, have attempted to  associate deep ecology with “ecofascism” and Hitler’s “national  socialist” movement. See his 1987 essay "Social Ecology Versus ‘Deep Ecology’”  based on his divisive, anti-communist and sectarian speech to the  National Gathering of the US Greens in Amherst Massachusetts (e.g. the  folk singer Woody Guthrie was dismissed by Bookchin as “a Communist  Party centralist”). There are several references by Bookchin in this  essay, promoting the association of deep ecology with Hitler and  ecofascism. More generally for Bookchin in this article, deep ecology is  “an ideological toxic dump.”

Bookchin’s essay presented the view that deep ecology is a reactionary  movement. With its bitter and self-serving tone, it helped to poison  needed intellectual exchanges between deep ecology and social ecology  supporters. This essay also outlined, in fundamental opposition to deep  ecology, that in Bookchin’s social ecology there is a special role for  humans. Human thought is “nature rendered self-conscious.” The necessary  human purpose is to consciously change nature and, arrogantly, “to  consciously increase biotic diversity.” According to Bookchin, social  arrangements are crucial in whether or not the human purpose (as seen by  social ecology) can be carried out. These social arrangements include a  non- hierarchical society, mutual aid, local autonomy, communalism,  etc. — all seen as part of the anarchist tradition. For social ecology,  there do not seem to be natural laws to which humans and their  civilizations must conform or perish. The basic social ecology  perspective is human interventionist. Nature can be moulded to human  interests.

Another ‘argument’ is to refer to some extreme or reactionary statement  by somebody of prominence who supports deep ecology. For example,  Bookchin calls Dave Foreman an “ecobrutalist”, and uses this to smear by  association all deep ecology supporters — and to further negate the  worth of the particular individual, denying the validity of their  overall life’s work. Foreman was one of the key figures in founding Earth First! He went on to do and promote crucial restoration ecology work in the magazine Wild Earth,  which he helped found, and on the Wildlands Project. Overall he has,  and continues to make, a substantial contribution. He has never made any  secret of his right-of-center original political views and often  showered these rightist views in uninformed comments in print, on what  he saw as “leftists” in the movement. The environmental movement  recruits from across class, although there is a class component to  environmental struggles.

Bookchin’s comments about Foreman (of course social ecology is without  blemish and has no need for self criticism!), are equivalent to picking  up some backward and reactionary action or statement of someone like  Gandhi, and using this to dismiss his enormous contribution and moral  authority. Gandhi for example recruited Indians for the British side in  the Zulu rebellion and the Boer War in South Africa; and in the Second  World War in 1940, Gandhi wrote an astonishing appeal “To every Briton” counselling them to give up and accept whatever fate Hitler had for  them, but not to give up their souls or their minds! But Gandhi’s  influence remains substantial within the deep ecology movement, and  particularly for someone like Arne Næss, the original and a continuing  philosophical inspiration. Næss is dismissed by Bookchin as “grand  Pontiff” in his essay.

Other spokespersons for social ecology, like Janet Biehl and Peter  Staudenmaier, have later carried on this peculiar work. (See the 1995  published essays: “Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience” by Staudenmaier and Biehl; “Fascist Ecology: The ‘Green Wing’ of the Nazi Party and its Historical Antecedents” by Staudenmaier; and “‘Ecology’ and the Modernization of Fascism in the German Ultra-right” by Biehl.) For Staudenmaier and Biehl, in their joint essay: “Reactionary and outright fascist ecologists emphasize the supremacy of the ‘Earth’ over people.” Most deep ecology supporters would not have any problem identifying  with what is condemned here. But this of course is the point for these  authors.

Staudenmaier’s essay is quite thoughtful and revealing about some  ecological trends in the rise of national socialism, but its ultimate  purpose is to discredit deep ecology, the love of Nature and really the  ecological movement, so it is ruined by its Bookchin-inspired agenda.  For Staudenmaier, “From its very beginnings, then, ecology was bound up in an intensely reactionary political framework.” Basically this essay is written from outside the ecological movement.  Its purpose is to discredit and assert the superiority of social ecology  and humanism.

At its crudest, it is argued by such writers that, because some supporters of German fascism, liked being in the outdoors and extolled  nature and the “Land” through songs, poetry, literature and philosophy  and the Nazi movement drew from this, or because some prominent Nazis  like Hitler and Himmler were allegedly “strict vegetarians and animal  lovers”, or supported organic farming, this “proves” something about the  direction deep ecology supporters are heading in. Strangely, the  similar type argument is not made that because “socialist” is part of  “national socialist”, this means all socialists have some inclination  towards fascism! The writers by this argument also negate that the main  focus of fascism and the Nazis was the industrial/military juggernaut,  for which all in the society were mobilized.

Some ideas associated with deep ecology like the love of Nature; the  concern with a needed spiritual transformation dedicated to the sharing  of identities with other people, animals, and Nature as a whole; and  with non-coercive population reduction (seen as necessary not only for  the sake of humans but, more importantly, so other species can remain on  the Earth and flourish with sufficient habitats), seem to be anathema  to social ecology and are supposed to incline deep ecology supporters  towards ecofascism in some way. Deep ecology supporters, contrary to  some social ecology slanders, see population reduction, or perhaps  controls on immigration, from a maintenance of biodiversity perspective,  and this has nothing to do with fascists who seek controls on  immigration or want to deport “foreigners” in the name of maintaining  some so-called ethnic/cultural or racial purity or national identity.

A view is presented that only social ecology can  overcome the dangers these social ecology writers describe. Yet even  this is wrong, although one can and should learn from this, I believe,  important theoretical tendency. Deep ecology has the potential for a new economic, social, and political vision based on an ecocentric world  view. Whereas all these particular social ecologists seem to be offering  as the way forward, is a human-centered and non-ecological, anarchist  social theory, pulled together from the past. Yet the basic social  ecology premise is flawed, that human-to-human relations within society  determine society’s relationship to the natural world. This does not  necessarily follow. Left biocentrism for example, argues that an  egalitarian, non-sexist, non-discriminating society, while a highly  desirable goal, can still be exploitive towards the Earth. This is why  for deep ecology supporters, the slogan “Earth first” is necessary and  not reactionary. Left biocentric deep ecology supporters believe that we  must be concerned with social justice and class issues and the  redistribution of wealth, nationally and internationally for the human  species, but within a context of ecology. (See point 4 of the Left Biocentrism Primer.)

Deep ecology and social ecology are totally different philosophies of  life whose fundamental premises clash! As John Livingston, the Canadian  ecophilosopher put it, in his 1994 book Rogue Primate: An exploration of human domestication:

“It has become popular among adherents to ‘social ecology’ (a term  meaningless in itself, but apparently a brand of anarchism) to label  those who would dare to weigh the interests of Nature in the context of  human populations as ‘ecofascists.’”

Rudolf Bahro

The late deep-green German ecophilosopher and activist Rudolf Bahro  (1935–1997) has been accused by some social ecology supporters — for  example Janet Biehl, Peter Staudenmaier and others, without real  foundation, of being an ecofascist and Nazi sympathizer and a  contributor to “spiritual fascism”. Yet Bahro was a daring original  thinker, who came into conflict with all orthodoxies in thought —  particularly left and green orthodoxies. The language he used and  metaphors as shown in his writings, display his considerable knowledge  of European culture. But one would have to say that he took poetic  license with his imagery — for example, the call for a “Green Adolf”. He  saw this as perhaps necessary, to display the complexity of his ideas  and to shake mass society from its slumbers! But this helped to fuel  attacks on him. Bahro was interested in concretely building a mass  social movement and, politically incorrect as it may be, sought to see  if there was anything to learn from the rise of Nazism: “How a millenary movement can be led, or can lead itself, and with what organs: that is the question.” (Bahro, Avoiding Social & Ecological Disaster, p.278)

This concern does not make him a fascist, particularly when one  considers overall what he did with his life, his demonstrated deep  sentiment for the Earth, and his various theoretical contributions.  Bahro was also open-minded enough to invite Murray Bookchin and others  with diverse views (for example the eco-feminist Maria Mies), to speak  in his class at Humboldt University in East Berlin!

The social ecologist Janet Biehl, in her paper “‘Ecology’ and the Modernization of Fascism in the German Ultra-right”,  has a four-page discussion on Rudolf Bahro. I come to the opposite  conclusions about Bahro than she does. I see someone very daring, who  raised spiritually-based questions on how to get out of the ecological  crisis in a German context. Bahro was not a constipated leftist frozen  in his thinking. Bahro saw that the left rejects spiritual insights.  Biehl comes to the conclusion that Bahro, with his willingness to  re-examine the national socialist movement, was giving “people  permission to envision themselves as Nazis.”

Bahro, himself a person from the left, came to understand the role of  left opportunists in undermining and diluting any deeper ecological  understanding in Green organizations, in the name of paying excessive  attention to social issues. They often called themselves  “eco-socialists”, but never understood the defining role of ecology and  what this means for a new radical politics. For many leftists, ecology  was just an “add-on”, so there was no transformation of world view and  consciousness was not changed. This is what happened in the German Green  Party and Bahro combatted it. It therefore becomes important for those  who see themselves as defending this left opportunism, to try to  undermine Rudolf Bahro, the most fundamental philosopher of the  fundamentalists. By 1985 Bahro had resigned from the Green Party saying  that the members did not want out of the industrial system. Whatever  Bahro’s later wayward path, the ecofascist charge needs to be placed in  such a context.

Bahro did become muddled and esoteric in his thinking after 1984–5. This  is shown, for example, by the esoteric/Christian passages to be found  in Bahro’s last book published in English, Avoiding Social & Ecological Disaster: The Politics of World Transformation,  and also by his involvement with the bankrupt Indian Bhagwan Shree  Rajneesh. Yet Bahro saw the necessity for a spiritual and  eco-psychological transformation within society, something which social  ecology does not support, to avoid social and ecological disaster.  Bahro, like Gandhi, believed it necessary to look inward, to find the  spiritual strength to break with industrial society. This needed path is  not invalidated by spiritual excess or losing one’s way on the path.

As additional support for opposing the slander that Bahro was an  ecofascist, I would advance the viewpoint of Saral Sarkar. He was born  in India, but has lived in Germany since 1982. Sarkar was a radical  political associate of Bahro (they were both considered  “fundamentalists” within the German Greens) and fought alongside of him  for the same causes. (Saral is also a friend who visited me in  November/December of 1999 in Nova Scotia, Canada.) Although Sarkar  writes with a subdued biocentric perspective, I would not consider him  yet an advocate of deep ecology. But he does know Bahro’s work and the  German context. Sarkar left the Green Party one year after Bahro.  Sarkar, and his German wife Maria Mies, do not consider Bahro an  ecofascist, although they both distanced themselves from Bahro’s later  work. Sarkar has written extensively on the German Greens. (See the  two-volume Green-Alternative Politics in West Germany, published by the United Nations University Press, and his most recent book Eco-socialism or eco-capitalism? A critical analysis of humanity’s fundamental choices, by Zed Books.)

Bahro was a supporter and, through his ideas, important contributor to  the left biocentric theoretical tendency within the deep ecology  movement. (See my “Tribute” to Bahro on his death, published in Canadian Dimension,  March-April 1998, Vol. 32, No. 2 and elsewhere.) In a December 1995  letter, Bahro had declared that he was in agreement “with the essential  points” of the philosophy of left biocentrism.

Legitimate Use of Ecofascism?

A. “Wise Use”

I mainly associate the term “ecofascism” in my own mind, with the  so-called “Wise Use” movement in North America. (The goal is “use”,  “wise” is a PR cover.) Essentially, “Wise Use” in this context means  that all of Nature is available for human use. Nature  should not be “locked up” in parks or wildlife reserves, and human  access to “resources” always must have priority. One has in such “Wise  Use” situations, what might be considered “traditional” fascist-type  activities, used against those who are defending the ecology or against  the animals themselves. This, in my understanding, makes for a  legitimate use of the term ecofascist, notwithstanding what I have  written above.

At a meeting in Nova Scotia in 1984 (an alleged Education Seminar  organized by the Atlantic Vegetation Management Association), three  ideologues of the “Wise Use” movement spoke — Ron Arnold, Dave Dietz and  Maurice Tugwell. The message was “It takes a movement to fight a movement.” In other words, neither industry nor government according to Arnold,  can successfully challenge a broadly based environmental movement. Hence  the necessity for a “Wise Use” movement to do this work.

The fascist components of the “Wise Use” movement are:

some popular misguided support of working people who depend on logging,  mining, fishing, and related exploitive industries who see their  consumptive lifestyles threatened;

backing by industrial capitalist economic interests linked to the same  industries, who provide money and political/media influence;

the willingness to be influenced by hate propaganda, to  demonize/scapegoat, and to use violence and intimidation against  environmentalists and their supporters;

the tacit support of law enforcement agencies to “Wise Use” activities; and

an unwillingness to publicly debate in a non coercive atmosphere the  deeper environmental criticism of the industrial paradigm, where old  growth forests, oceans and marine life, and Nature generally, only exist  for industrial and human consumption.

In Canada, I see mainly two kinds of “Wise Use” activities. One concerns  the actions of logging industry workers against environmentalists, for  example in British Columbia, often concerning blocked access to logging  old growth forests. Whereas the other ecofascist “Wise Use” activity is  directed against seals mainly, and only secondarily against those who  come forward to defend seals. So one “Wise Use” example is  human-focussed and one is wildlife-focused. For a recent example of what  could be called ecofascist activity, see the accounts of the physical  attacks in September of 1999, by International Forest Products workers  and others in the Elaho Valley in British Columbia, against  environmentalists blockading a logging road, as reported in the Winter  1999 issue of the British Columbia Environmental Report and more fully in the December-January 2000 issue of the Earth First! Journal. These were ecofascist activities directed at environmentalists.

Another “Wise Use” ecofascist-type activity concerns the killing of  seals, particularly on the east coast of Canada. There seems to be a  hatred directed towards seals (and those who defend them), which extends  from sealers and most fishers, to the corporate components of the  fishing industry and the federal and provincial governments,  particularly the Newfoundland and Labrador government (see for example,  the extremely rabid “I hate seals” talk of provincial fisheries minister  John Efford). The seals become scapegoats for the collapse of the  ground fishery, especially cod. A vicious government-subsidized warfare,  using all the resources of the state, becomes waged on seals. The  largest annual wildlife slaughter in the world today concerns the ice  seals (harp and hooded seals), which come every winter to the east coast  of Canada to have their young and to mate. Quotas of 275,000 harps and  10,000 hoods, are allocated. Every honest knowledgeable person is aware  that these quotas, given suitable ice killing conditions, are vastly  exceeded. There is also a “hunt” with bounties, directed at grey seals,  which live permanently in the Atlantic marine region.

In addition to the above, there are additional seal execution plans in  the works. The so-called Fisheries Resource Conservation Council, in its  April 1999 Report to the federal minister of fisheries giving as  justification the protection of spawning and juvenile cod, seeks to:

reduce seal herds by up to 50 percent of their current population levels;

establish an experimental seal harvest for grey seals of up to 20,000 grey seals on Sable Island; and

define a limited number of so-called “seal exclusion” zones where all  seals would be killed. These zones seem to include the Northumberland  Strait, the marine waters off New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and  other areas.

I regard the pronouncements of the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council on seals as ecofascist mystification: “We need to kill seals for conservation”.  I also regard as ecofascists those who actively work to remove seals  from the marine eco-system because “there are far too many of them.”.  (It seems that for such people there are never too many humans or  fishers.)

With industrial capitalist societies having permanent growth economies,  increasing populations, increasing consumerism as an intrinsic part of  the economy, non-sustainable ecological footprints etc., and no  willingness to change any of this, the struggle over what little wild  Nature remains and whether it is going to be left alone or put to “use”,  is becoming increasingly brutalized. Those who refuse to rise above  suicidal short term interest, whether workers or capitalists, see  themselves as having a stake in the continuation of industrial  capitalism and are prepared to fiercely defend this at the expense of  the ecology. Yet despite this “on the ground” reality which many  environmental activists are facing, there seems to be an ongoing attempt  to link the deep ecology movement and its supporters with ecofascism —  that is, to malign some of the very people who are experiencing  ecofascist attacks!

B. Intrusive Research

Another example of where the term “ecofascist” can be applied, will be  much more controversial within the deep ecology movement, since it is  directed at some in our own ranks — that is, some of those who work in  the field of conservation biology! The ecofascist activity here is  directed at wildlife, not humans. But I have come to believe it to be  true, and that it is necessary to speak out about it. It concerns in a  general way, Point 4 of the Deep Ecology Platform (by Arne Næss and  George Sessions), “Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.” Specifically it concerns activities carried out by conservation  biologists which can be called “intrusive research” into wildlife  populations. This is generally done in the name of restoration ecology.  (Of course, industrialized society and its supporters inflict far worse  intrusive horrors, for example, on domestic animals destined for the  food machine.)

In a sense wildlife becomes “domesticated” by some conservation  biologists, so that it can be numbered, counted, tagged, and  manipulated. This does not appear, so far, to have been challenged from a  deep ecology perspective. Conservation biology, like any other  profession, if looked at sociologically, has its own taken-for-granted  world view justifying its existence. The world view seems to be, not  that “Nature knows best,” but that “Nature needs the interventions of  conservation biologists to rectify various ecological problems.”

The intrusive research practices engaged in by some conservation  biologists and traditional “fish and game” biologists, seem to be  remarkably similar. They both use computer-type and other technologies,  such as radio-collars, implanted computer chips, banding, etc. The main  defense of intrusive research seems to be two-fold:

the first is that habitat is crucial for wild animals (no disagreement  here), and that radio-collaring and the use of other tracking and  computerized devices have been helpful in establishing the ranges of the  wild animals being studied. (But there are other non intrusive methods,  although more labour and knowledge intensive, for the range tracking of  wildlife.)

the second justification, the one that I feel has some ecofascist echos,  is that “the larger good” requires such research and any negatives to  the “researched” animals have to be accepted from this perspective.  (This larger good is defined variously as the goals of the Wildlands  Project; the health of the wildlife populations being studied; the well  being of the ecosphere; or work towards implementing the goals of the  Deep Ecology Platform.) One thinks here of the fascist goals of “the  nation” or “the fatherland” as justification to sacrifice the individual  human or groups of humans considered expendable. For me, the defense of  intrusive research on nonhuman life forms and their expendability, in  the name of a human-decided larger good, although couched in ecological  language, is the ultimate anthropocentrism and could legitimately be  called an example of ecofascism.

I have to come to see that, as well as working for conservation, it is  necessary to work for the individual welfare of animals. This is an  important contribution and lesson from the animal rights or animal  liberation movement. Animal welfare, as well as the concern with species  or populations and the preservation of habitat, must be part of any  acceptable restoration ecology.

C. Inducing Fear

Perhaps another example of ecofascist behaviour which could occur within  our own ranks might be carrying out activities which could deliberately  kill or injure people in the name of some environmental or animal  rights/animal liberation cause. This seems to rest on using “fear” to  destabilize. Many activists of course know that the state security  forces also have successfully used such tactics to try and discredit the  radical animal rights and radical environmental movements.

More important philosophically perhaps, such activities may rest on the  deeper view that in the chain of life, the human species does not have a  privileged status above other species, and must be held accountable for  anti-life behaviours. In other words, why should violence be acceptable  towards nonhuman species, and non-violence apply only to humans? We  also know that any state, whatever its ideological basis, claims a  monopoly on the use of violence against its citizens and will use all  its institutions to defend this. Yet the term “terrorist” is only  applied against opponents of the prevailing system. Also, many activists  have experienced “terror” from the economic growth and high consumption  defenders. However, the political reality is that the charge of  “ecoterrorist”, often used as a blanket condemnation against radical  environmentalists and animal rights activists, seems to be fed by such  behaviour of attempting to induce fear.


This bulletin has shown that the concept of “ecofascism” can be used in  different ways. It has looked at how some social ecology supporters have  used this term in a basically unfounded manner to attack deep ecology  and the ecological movement, and it also looked at what can be called  ecofascist attacks against the environmental movement. So we can say  that the term “ecofascism” can be used:

Illegitimately. This is the use of the term which has been advanced by  some social ecologists who have tried to link those who defend the  Natural world, particularly deep ecology supporters, with traditional  fascist political movements — especially the Nazis. The “contribution”  of these particular social ecologists has been to thoroughly confuse  what ecofascist really means and to slander the new thinking of deep  ecology. This seems to have been done from the viewpoint of trying to  discredit what some social ecologists apparently see as an ideological  ‘rival’ within the environmental and green movements. This social  ecology sectarianism has resulted in ecofascism becoming an attack term  against those environmentalists who are out in the trenches being  attacked by real ecofascists! I have also defended the late Rudolf Bahro  against the charge of being an ecofascist or Nazi sympathizer.

Legitimately, to describe “Wise Use” type activities, that is, against  those who want to exploit Nature until the end, solely for  human/corporate purposes, and who will do whatever is seen as necessary,  including using violence and intimidation against environmentalists and  their supporters, to carry on. We should not be phased by “Wise Use”  supporters calling their ecodefender opponents ecoterrorists, or saying  that they themselves are “the true environmentalists.” This is merely a  diversion. Also I have raised in this bulletin for discussion, what seem  to me to be some real contradictions within the deep ecology camp  itself around the ecofascism issue, e.g. intrusive research.

Hopefully this article will also enable deep ecology supporters to be  less defensive about the terms ecofascist or ecofascism. These terms, if  rescued from social ecology-inspired obfuscation, do have analytical  validity. They can be used against those destroyers of the Natural world  who are prepared to use violence and intimidation, and other fascist  tactics, against their opponents.

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