Monday, October 10, 2005

Mother Nature Sucks

Few people approve of clear-cutting forests and farming fish and killing whales or any such gratuitous destruction of the landscape and ruin of the aesthetic Human experience of nature in life. Most people would consider themselves environmentally sensitive, concerned about the state of the natural world, and prepared to sacrifice a bit to preserve or restore the ecological balance in favor of wholeness. But what is that? What is the sacred balance of nature? What nonsense are we swallowing whole and unknown? Why do we sentimentalize nature? Aside from aesthetics and self-preservation of Humanity, who cares? But we often do care about nature, and often to a point we halt progress to allow for the continuation of nature at Human expense. What is this? Where are our priorities?

The central thesis of this blog is the primacy of Humanity. We support entirely the progressive view of Human development. Further we support the position that Man is an individual first, alone and free in his privacy, equal in rights to the possession and ownership of his own being. We support the thesis that everyman is given the right to his own privacy by virtue of birth as Man. Conversely, nature is a resource. Unlike Man, nature has no identity, no rights, no value in itself. Man, being part of nature, must accommodate himself to the forces of nature-- and that is all. That is a position of Modernity. All other approaches to nature are reactionary. There are many who feel that reaction is a good thing. They are fascists. They are not necessarily bad people. Below, in this fourth installment on environmentalism, we will see some fascists who are not merely bad but who are evil to the core. They are environmentalists also.

When we hear people speak about "The Land" what do we understand of it? What is The Land? Any look at all will reveal that it's an accumulation of decayed dead organisms and ground down minerals. Mother Nature? No such beast. Sentimentalizing nature is to fall into the pit of Irrationality. It's reactionary. It is counter to Human progress. It is a Right agenda. It is counter-revolutionary.

Modernity is progress. Progress, whether one likes it or not, means industrial development, technological development, and all things "unnatural." Modernity is rational, not a matter of inner feeling. Modernity is urban, cosmopolitan, and international, even universal. Modernity is privacy and individualism. The danger of reactionary Irrationalism is the privileging of group identity, the idiocy of rural living, the sanctification of power and divinity of the natural order of the strong over the eaten. Nature must adapt to Man by Man's will.

Our concern here isn't with the lives of chickens and rabbits. Our concern here is that people who aren't aware of the ideology of ecology will naively assume that ecology is a benign response to the destruction of the good of the Earth. To assume that nature is a good thing, to personify nature, to make allowances for nature at the expense of Human progress is to slowly but inexorably decline into worse irrationalities that lead, as we will see below, into horrors unanticipated. And so it is that we have to draw a line here and ask ourselves if we feel that nature is good or if it is something objective and useful. Do we prize nature or people? From there, do we prize Man or animal, person or people, you or community? What is important?

If we assume that nature is a good thing rather than a resource, we will allow for the slowing or halting of progress for the sake of nature over Humanity. We will also prevent the furtherance of the individual for the sake of the community, prizing the culture over the man. We might prize the natural world, and our own natural places, to the point that we think our place is special, and that we are special, and that in our special place only authentic special people should live among us. We might think that the soil is mystically charged with the blood of the people, and that the people, the collective group, has some special connection to the land. That outsiders cannot live among us. That outsiders would be like an infestation of bugs. That they might look like us but that they are not connected to the soil because they have no roots in the soil. Protecting the environment is not a liberal or Left agenda. Sorry, dearest reader, it is a fascism. From this nature supremacy comes exceptionalism, racism, brutality, and genocide: The laws of nature.

But rather than continue we'll leave it to the reader to examine more of this essay to see where the story takes us. And then, (just because I like it,) we'll end this installment of this essay with a poem by Richard Brautigan.

Blood and Soil as Official Doctrine

"The unity of blood and soil must be restored," proclaimed Richard Walther Darré in 1930.37 This infamous phrase denoted a quasi-mystical connection between 'blood' (the race or Volk) and 'soil' (the land and the natural environment) specific to Germanic peoples and absent, for example, among Celts and Slavs. For the enthusiasts of Blut und Boden, the Jews especially were a rootless, wandering people, incapable of any true relationship with the land. German blood, in other words, engendered an exclusive claim to the sacred German soil. While the term "blood and soil" had been circulating in völkisch circles since at least the Wilhelmine era, it was Darré who first popularized it as a slogan and then enshrined it as a guiding principle of Nazi thought. Harking back to Arndt and Riehl, he envisioned a thoroughgoing ruralization of Germany and Europe, predicated on a revitalized yeoman peasantry, in order to ensure racial health and ecological sustainability.

Darré was one of the party's chief "race theorists" and was also instrumental in galvanizing peasant support for the Nazis during the critical period of the early 1930s. From 1933 until 1942 he held the posts of Reich Peasant Leader and Minister of Agriculture. This was no minor fiefdom; the agriculture ministry had the fourth largest budget of all the myriad Nazi ministries even well into the war.38 From this position Darré was able to lend vital support to various ecologically oriented initiatives. He played an essential part in unifying the nebulous proto-environmentalist tendencies in National Socialism: It was Darré who gave the ill-defined anti-civilization, anti-liberal, anti-modern and latent anti-urban sentiments of the Nazi elite a foundation in the agrarian mystique. And it seems as if Darré had an immense influence on the ideology of National Socialism, as if he was able to articulate significantly more clearly than before the values system of an agrarian society contained in Nazi ideology and—above all—to legitimate this agrarian model and give Nazi policy a goal that was clearly oriented toward a far-reaching re-agrarianization.39

This goal was not only quite consonant with imperialist expansion in the name of Lebensraum, it was in fact one of its primary justifications, even motivations. In language replete with the biologistic metaphors of organicism, Darré declared: "The concept of Blood and Soil gives us the moral right to take back as much land in the East as is necessary to establish a harmony between the body of our Volk and the geopolitical space."40

Aside from providing green camouflage for the colonization of Eastern Europe, Darré worked to install environmentally sensitive principles as the very basis of the Third Reich's agricultural policy. Even in its most productivist phases, these precepts remained emblematic of Nazi doctrine. When the "Battle for Production" (a scheme to boost the productivity of the agricultural sector) was proclaimed at the second Reich Farmers Congress in 1934, the very first point in the program read "Keep the soil healthy!" But Darré's most important innovation was the introduction on a large scale of organic farming methods, significantly labeled "lebensgesetzliche Landbauweise," or farming according to the laws of life. The term points up yet again the natural order ideology which underlies so much reactionary ecological thought. The impetus for these unprecedented measures came from Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy and its techniques of biodynamic cultivation.41

The campaign to institutionalize organic farming encompassed tens of thousands of smallholdings and estates across Germany. It met with considerable resistance from other members of the Nazi hierarchy, above all Backe and Göring. But Darré, with the help of Hess and others, was able to sustain the policy until his forced resignation in 1942 (an event which had little to do with his environmentalist leanings). And these efforts in no sense represented merely Darré's personal predilections; as the standard history of German agricultural policy points out, Hitler and Himmler "were in complete sympathy with these ideas."42 Still, it was largely Darré's influence in the Nazi apparatus which yielded, in practice, a level of government support for ecologically sound farming methods and land use planning unmatched by any state before or since.

For these reasons Darré has sometimes been regarded as a forerunner of the contemporary Green movement. His biographer, in fact, once referred to him as the "father of the Greens."43 Her book Blood and Soil, undoubtedly the best single source on Darré in either German or English, consistently downplays the virulently fascist elements in his thinking, portraying him instead as a misguided agrarian radical. This grave error in judgement indicates the powerfully disorienting pull of an 'ecological' aura. Darré's published writings alone, dating back to the early twenties, are enough to indict him as a rabidly racist and jingoist ideologue particularly prone to a vulgar and hateful antisemitism (he spoke of Jews, revealingly, as "weeds"). His decade-long tenure as a loyal servant and, moreover, architect of the Nazi state demonstrates his dedication to Hitler's deranged cause. One account even claims that it was Darré who convinced Hitler and Himmler of the necessity of exterminating the Jews and Slavs.44 The ecological aspects of his thought cannot, in sum, be separated from their thoroughly Nazi framework. Far from embodying the 'redeeming' facets of National Socialism, Darré represents the baleful specter of ecofascism in power.

Richard Brautigan

I like to think (and

the sooner the better!)

of a cybernetic meadow

where mammals and computers

live together in mutually

programming harmony

like pure water

touching clear sky.

I like to think

(right now, please!)

of a cybernetic forest

filled with pines and electronics

where deer stroll peacefully

past computers

as if they were flowers

with spinning blossoms.

I like to think

(it has to be!)

of a cybernetic ecology

where we are free of our labors

and joined back to nature,

returned to our mammal

brothers and sisters,

and all watched over

by machines of loving grace.


We'll continue with the rest otf the essay in our next post. Again, if you have any comments you are welcome to post them below. We don't interfere in the dialogue you might have, so please keep it civil.

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