Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Fascist Mind, Ecology 5

Why does the Left support drug addicts, primitives, Islamic fascists, and spotted owls rather than the industrial working class? In previous essays we've seen the Left devolve into cynicism over the failures of the the 1968 campaigns in Europe to impose socialism., and the final implosion of Communism in the East, the death knell for classical Left ideology. What's left for the Left? The dregs.

What does the Left retain? Anti-Americanism, hatred of Modernity, a longing for a total destruction of their enemy, capitalism and progress as it is. What's left? Irrationality. A longing for power they can only find by leading the worst of the worst. And those have taken over the whole show, leaving the lost leaders to fester and pick at their scabs. Now, neither Left nor Right, they abandon all values for simple nihilism, for nature worship, for primitive and basic howling at the Moon.

Having lost the battle for the leadership of the future of Humanity, the Left has fallen into the footsteps of the past, into the past of fascism. When there's no one left to listen, talk to the animals. When Reason fails, bargain with the devil.

Below we're finishing off this particular essay on fascist ecology. There is much more to discuss on this topic, and we'll look later at other writers and other points of view. All of them agree on the basics of the fascist nature of ecology, and it is our hope that these essays will show the depths of that fascism in our current daily lives so we might uproot them and redirect our social agenda toward the progressive and rational Modernity that is our revolutionary heritage.

Implementing the Ecofascist Program

It is frequently pointed out that the agrarian and romantic moments in Nazi ideology and policy were in constant tension with, if not in flat contradiction to, the technocratic-industrialist thrust of the Third Reich's rapid modernization. What is not often remarked is that even these modernizing tendencies had a significant ecological component. The two men principally responsible for sustaining this environmentalist commitment in the midst of intensive industrialization were Reichsminister Fritz Todt and his aide, the high-level planner and engineer Alwin Seifert.

Todt was "one of the most influential National Socialists,"45 directly responsible for questions of technological and industrial policy. At his death in 1942 he headed three different cabinet-level ministries in addition to the enormous quasi-official Organisation Todt, and had "gathered the major technical tasks of the Reich into his own hands."46 According to his successor, Albert Speer, Todt "loved nature" and "repeatedly had serious run-ins with Bormann, protesting against his despoiling the landscape around Obersalzberg."47 Another source calls him simply "an ecologist." 48 This reputation is based chiefly on Todt's efforts to make Autobahn construction—one of the largest building enterprises undertaken in this century—as environmentally sensitive as possible.

The pre-eminent historian of German engineering describes this commitment thus: "Todt demanded of the completed work of technology a harmony with nature and with the landscape, thereby fulfilling modern ecological principles of engineering as well as the 'organological' principles of his own era along with their roots in völkisch ideology."49 The ecological aspects of this approach to construction went well beyond an emphasis on harmonious adaptation to the natural surroundings for aesthetic reasons; Todt also established strict criteria for respecting wetlands, forests and ecologically sensitive areas. But just as with Arndt, Riehl and Darré, these environmentalist concerns were inseparably bound to a völkisch-nationalist outlook. Todt himself expressed this connection succinctly: "The fulfillment of mere transportation purposes is not the final aim of German highway construction. The German highway must be an expression of its surrounding landscape and an expression of the German essence."50

Todt's chief advisor and collaborator on environmental issues was his lieutenant Alwin Seifert, whom Todt reportedly once called a "fanatical ecologist."51 Seifert bore the official title of Reich Advocate for the Landscape, but his nickname within the party was "Mr. Mother Earth." The appellation was deserved; Seifert dreamed of a "total conversion from technology to nature,"52 and would often wax lyrical about the wonders of German nature and the tragedy of "humankind's" carelessness. As early as 1934 he wrote to Hess demanding attention to water issues and invoking "work methods that are more attuned to nature."53 In discharging his official duties Seifert stressed the importance of wilderness and energetically opposed monoculture, wetlands drainage and chemicalized agriculture. He criticized Darré as too moderate, and "called for an agricultural revolution towards 'a more peasant-like, natural, simple' method of farming, 'independent of capital'."54

With the Third Reich's technological policy entrusted to figures such as these, even the Nazis' massive industrial build-up took on a distinctively green hue. The prominence of nature in the party's philosophical background helped ensure that more radical initiatives often received a sympathetic hearing in the highest offices of the Nazi state. In the mid-thirties Todt and Seifert vigorously pushed for an all-encompassing Reich Law for the Protection of Mother Earth "in order to stem the steady loss of this irreplaceable basis of all life."55 Seifert reports that all of the ministries were prepared to co-operate save one; only the minister of the economy opposed the bill because of its impact on mining.

But even near-misses such as these would have been unthinkable without the support of Reich Chancellor Rudolf Hess, who provided the "green wing" of the NSDAP a secure anchor at the very top of the party hierarchy. It would be difficult to overestimate Hess's power and centrality in the complex governmental machinery of the National Socialist regime. He joined the party in 1920 as member #16, and for two decades was Hitler's devoted personal deputy. He has been described as "Hitler's closest confidant,"56 and the Führer himself referred to Hess as his "closest advisor."57 Hess was not only the highest party leader and second in line (after Göring) to succeed Hitler; in addition, all legislation and every decree had to pass through his office before becoming law.

An inveterate nature lover as well as a devout Steinerite, Hess insisted on a strictly biodynamic diet—not even Hitler's rigorous vegetarian standards were good enough for him—and accepted only homeopathic medicines. It was Hess who introduced Darré to Hitler, thus securing the "green wing" its first power base. He was an even more tenacious proponent of organic farming than Darré, and pushed the latter to take more demonstrative steps in support of the lebensgesetzliche Landbauweise.58 His office was also directly responsible for land use planning across the Reich, employing a number of specialists who shared Seifert's ecological approach.59

With Hess's enthusiastic backing, the "green wing" was able to achieve its most notable successes. As early as March 1933, a wide array of environmentalist legislation was approved and implemented at national, regional and local levels. These measures, which included reforestation programs, bills protecting animal and plant species, and preservationist decrees blocking industrial development, undoubtedly "ranked among the most progressive in the world at that time."60 Planning ordinances were designed for the protection of wildlife habitat and at the same time demanded respect for the sacred German forest. The Nazi state also created the first nature preserves in Europe.

Along with Darré's efforts toward re-agrarianization and support for organic agriculture, as well as Todt and Seifert's attempts to institutionalize an environmentally sensitive land use planning and industrial policy, the major accomplishment of the Nazi ecologists was the Reichsnaturschutzgesetz of 1935. This completely unprecedented "nature protection law" not only established guidelines for safeguarding flora, fauna, and "natural monuments" across the Reich; it also restricted commercial access to remaining tracts of wilderness. In addition, the comprehensive ordinance "required all national, state and local officials to consult with Naturschutz authorities in a timely manner before undertaking any measures that would produce fundamental alterations in the countryside."61

Although the legislation's effectiveness was questionable, traditional German environmentalists were overjoyed at its passage. Walter Schoenichen declared it the "definitive fulfillment of the völkisch-romantic longings,"62 and Hans Klose, Schoenichen's successor as head of the Reich Agency for Nature Protection, described Nazi environmental policy as the "high point of nature protection" in Germany. Perhaps the greatest success of these measures was in facilitating the "intellectual realignment of German Naturschutz" and the integration of mainstream environmentalism into the Nazi enterprise.63

While the achievements of the "green wing" were daunting, they should not be exaggerated. Ecological initiatives were, of course, hardly universally popular within the party. Goebbels, Bormann, and Heydrich, for example, were implacably opposed to them, and considered Darré, Hess and their fellows undependable dreamers, eccentrics, or simply security risks. This latter suspicion seemed to be confirmed by Hess's famed flight to Britain in 1941; after that point, the environmentalist tendency was for the most part suppressed. Todt was killed in a plane crash in February 1942, and shortly thereafter Darré was stripped of all his posts. For the final three years of the Nazi conflagration the "green wing" played no active role. Their work, however, had long since left an indelible stain.


Fascist Ecology in Context

To make this dismaying and discomforting analysis more palatable, it is tempting to draw precisely the wrong conclusion --namely, that even the most reprehensible political undertakings sometimes produce laudable results. But the real lesson here is just the opposite: Even the most laudable of causes can be perverted and instrumentalized in the service of criminal savagery. The "green wing" of the NSDAP was not a group of innocents, confused and manipulated idealists, or reformers from within; they were conscious promoters and executors of a vile program explicitly dedicated to inhuman racist violence, massive political repression and worldwide military domination. Their 'ecological' involvements, far from offsetting these fundamental commitments, deepened and radicalized them. In the end, their configuration of environmental politics was directly and substantially responsible for organized mass murder.

No aspect of the Nazi project can be properly understood without examining its implication in the holocaust. Here, too, ecological arguments played a crucially malevolent role. Not only did the "green wing" refurbish the sanguine antisemitism of traditional reactionary ecology; it catalyzed a whole new outburst of lurid racist fantasies of organic inviolability and political revenge. The confluence of anti-humanist dogma with a fetishization of natural 'purity' provided not merely a rationale but an incentive for the Third Reich's most heinous crimes. Its insidious appeal unleashed murderous energies previously untapped. Finally, the displacement of any social analysis of environmental destruction in favor of mystical ecology served as an integral component in the preparation of the final solution: To explain the destruction of the countryside and environmental damage, without questioning the German people's bond to nature, could only be done by not analysing environmental damage in a societal context and by refusing to understand them as an expression of conflicting social interests. Had this been done, it would have led to criticism of National Socialism itself since that was not immune to such forces. One solution was to associate such environmental problems with the destructive influence of other races. National Socialism could then be seen to strive for the elimination of other races in order to allow the German people's innate understanding and feeling of nature to assert itself, hence securing a harmonic life close to nature for the future.64

This is the true legacy of ecofascism in power: "genocide developed into a necessity under the cloak of environment protection."65

The experience of the "green wing" of German fascism is a sobering reminder of the political volatility of ecology. It certainly does not indicate any inherent or inevitable connection between ecological issues and right-wing politics; alongside the reactionary tradition surveyed here, there has always been an equally vital heritage of left-libertarian ecology, in Germany as elsewhere.66 But certain patterns can be discerned: "While concerns about problems posed by humankind's increasing mastery over nature have increasingly been shared by ever larger groups of people embracing a plethora of ideologies, the most consistent 'pro-natural order' response found political embodiment on the radical right."67 This is the common thread which unites merely conservative or even supposedly apolitical manifestations of environmentalism with the straightforwardly fascist variety.

The historical record does, to be sure, belie the vacuous claim that "those who want to reform society according to nature are neither left nor right but ecologically minded."68 Environmental themes can be mobilized from the left or from the right, indeed they require an explicit social context if they are to have any political valence whatsoever. "Ecology" alone does not prescribe a politics; it must be interpreted, mediated through some theory of society in order to acquire political meaning. Failure to heed this mediated interrelationship between the social and the ecological is the hallmark of reactionary ecology.

As noted above, this failure most commonly takes the form of a call to "reform society according to nature," that is, to formulate some version of 'natural order' or 'natural law' and submit human needs and actions to it. As a consequence, the underlying social processes and societal structures which constitute and shape people's relations with their environment are left unexamined. Such willful ignorance, in turn, obscures the ways in which all conceptions of nature are themselves socially produced, and leaves power structures unquestioned while simultaneously providing them with apparently 'naturally ordained' status. Thus the substitution of ecomysticism for clear-sighted social-ecological inquiry has catastrophic political repercussions, as the complexity of the society-nature dialectic is collapsed into a purified Oneness. An ideologically charged 'natural order' does not leave room for compromise; its claims are absolute.

For all of these reasons, the slogan advanced by many contemporary Greens, "We are neither right nor left but up front," is historically naive and politically fatal. The necessary project of creating an emancipatory ecological politics demands an acute awareness and understanding of the legacy of classical ecofascism and its conceptual continuities with present-day environmental discourse. An 'ecological' orientation alone, outside of a critical social framework, is dangerously unstable. The record of fascist ecology shows that under the right conditions such an orientation can quickly lead to barbarism.


There is no ecology without political interpretation: there is only nature objectively and in-itself. When nature is elevate to a political entity, when Nature is a being, then we are in serious trouble.

The point of these installments on ecology has been to show the history of modern Right fascism and its conflation with today's Left dhimmi fascism. Ecologism is just one view of the new face of fascism. It's our hope that you, dear reader, will have seen the connections and that you will look further for the synthesis of fascisms in our Western world. We will continue this effort to show that the Left is a fascism. We hope the reader will conclude that many of our most common assumptions are rooted deeply in fascism, and that having seen the roots of it that one will reject the fruits thereof.

In this time of bifurcation of Humanity we need a new path to follow, the old ones having shown themselves to be dead ends. It is our hope that in the course of the life of this blog that we will arrive at a new path, a new metaphoric reality surpassing numbers. But that will come later. For now, please feel free to comment as you will.


John Sobieski said...

Taking ecofascism another step, there is a website for some group that has its principal goal is for humans must depopulate the earth so a 'purity of nature' can be achieved. No link as I just found it in passing. They could start with themselves. Why wait for everyone to join them.

It is more common than I knew that 'ideas' like environmental conservatism, which inherently sounds like a good idea) can be stealthily transformed into unbalanced extremist fascist ideologies.

John Sobieski said...

Sorry about the typos. Hit the publish rather than preview.

That maggotbrain is disgusting. Really gross. But a fair repesentation of some of the moonbats.