We’re excited to announce a brand-new course entitled “Confronting Ecofascism: Environmental Politics and the Radical Right,” taught by a group of experts on the history and thought of ecofascism. Course will run from June 7 – June 28. Register here!
Instructors: Peter Staudenmaier, Hilary Moore, Blair Taylor, Michael Premo, and Richard Hames
Although today ecology is largely understood as a movement of the political left, the history of environmental thought and action demonstrates it to be much more complex and politically ambivalent. The ecofascist manifestos left by the Christchurch and El Paso shooters have given a new visibility to right wing ecology in general and ecofascism in particular, but they build on a much longer history of reactionary politics in ecological guise. There is an urgent need to understand and combat these deadly ideologies, and to consider how they complicate our movements to build a free and ecological society.
The course will look at the history of right-wing ecology up until the present, spanning green tendencies within Nazism in Germany, far-right parties that blame immigrants for climate change, to ecofascists who use population ecology to advocate white ethnostates. We’ll also look at how ecological ideas have been utilized by less explicitly right-wing environmental actors to reinforce anti-egalitarian views, from the racist and colonial foundations of conservation ecology to key voices in radical environmental movements like Earth First! decrying non-white immigration. We will examine what ecological topics and themes are harnessed to racist, sexist, and eugenicist ends, and dig into the theoretical and philosophical assumptions about nature lurking behind them. Lastly, we will discuss how activists today can avoid falling into these traps, respond to the growth of right-wing ecological discourse, and offer a more compelling liberatory vision of ecology.
The course aims to give participants tools for assessing the political moment and the conditions we live in, understand the historical development of ecofascism and the context of its current expressions, and to leave feeling more prepared to recognize and challenge ecofascist tendencies.
June 7th: Confronting Ecofascism: Environmental Politics and the Radical Right – Peter Staudenmaier
Environmental activists working toward an emancipatory and ecological future face a wide array of challenges in today’s fractured world. One of the most difficult problems is the growing trend of right-wing environmentalism, where far right groups appropriate ecological politics for their own ends, from anti-immigrant agitation to full-blown forms of ecofascism. This intensive four week seminar will examine the historical and contemporary roots of ecofascist ideas and movements from a variety of perspectives, offering critical tools for understanding and confronting the convergence between ecology and the radical right.
June 14: How the Racist Right Exploits the Climate Crisis — And What We Can Do About It – Hilary Moore & Michael Premo
How do far right formations leverage the climate crisis toward domination politics? How do we prevent the co-optation of our own messaging in climate justice campaigns? What counter-moves are available to us as more far right groups engage in the politics of the climate crisis? This introductory session will unpack the ways Left and progressive formations mistakenly cede political space to far right efforts, as well as examine current case studies of resistance, and offer strategic questions on effective coalition-building in this time of rising global authoritarianism.
June 21: Social Ecological Responses to Ecofascism and Far-Right Environmentalism in the United States – Blair Taylor
This section will examine the ecological politics of the U.S. right, focusing on the so-called “Alt-Right.” We will explore how a variety of anti-egalitarian views – antisemitism, racism, gender traditionalism, homophobia – have been harnessed to and justified by an ecological framework. Analyzing how the alt-right borrows from left and ecological discourses as fascist predecessors have, we’ll focus on how older themes like organic agriculture and animal rights are updated while incorporating new concepts like biocentrism, multiculturalism, ecological anticapitalism, biodiversity, and Indigenism. Ecology has become an increasingly important political theme for those segments of the contemporary far right who reject traditional pro-business conservative positions for various esoteric, revolutionary, and anti-modernist ideologies. What tools does social ecology offer in terms of analysis and offering a more compelling ecological vision?
Taylor, Blair. “Alt-Right Ecology: Right-Wing Environmentalism and Ecofascism in the United States,” in The Far Right and the Environment: Politics, Discourse and Communication. Bernhard Forchtner, ed. Routledge, 2019.
Taylor, Blair. “Social Ecology, Racism, Colonialism, and Identity: Assessing the Work of Murray Bookchin.” Harbinger, v. 2;2, 2023.
June 28: Richard Hames (Session description TBD)