Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Biehl: Ecofascism

De Maistre, Burke, Hamann, Herder, Fichte; Walter Darre, Mircea Eliade, Rudolf Gorsleben, Franz Hartmann, Karl Haushofer, Martin Heidegger, CJ Jung, Georg Lanz von Liebnfels, Guido von List, Rudolf von Sebottendorff, Wolfram Sievers, Hermann Wirth; Barthes, Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard: These are names mostly unknown, some others known but unread; and they are the masters of our intellectual time, the movers and shakers of our thoughts on the nature of things in our time, the makers of our public opinions. They are some of the public intellectuals from whom we derive the concepts we have of identity, multi-culturalism, and ecology. Who'd have guessed? Most if not all are Nazis, and some are simply fascists. What does it say about us? How is it that we follow the very ideas of an ideology we hate violently and waged war to annihilate, and yet we hold dear many of the ideas they formulated? How can this be possible? How is it possible that 18th century reactionaries and 20th century Nazis have morphed into those who now foist upon the world the culture of philobarbarism and multi-cultural moral relativism? We'll look below at some of the recent origins of what's come about and why. Why, for example, the picture above turns us all into dewy-eyed sentimentalists cooing over the inclusive post-modernist beauty of our times even as we sink into a mire of suicidal cultural dhimmitude and generalized social self-hatred.

Ecofascism: Lessons from the German experience

'Ecology' and the Modernization of Fascism in the German Ultra-right

Janet Biehl

It is an incontestable fact that the ecology crisis today is real. In a vast number of ways and places, the biosphere of this planet is undergoing a great deal of damage. Parts of the environment have already been rendered uninhabitable through toxic wastes and nuclear power plant disasters, while systemic pollution, ozone holes, global warming, and other disasters are increasingly tearing the fabric on which all life depends. That such damage is wrought overwhelmingly by corporations in a competitive international market economy has never been clearer, while the need to replace the existing society with one such as social ecology advances has never been more urgent.

At a time when worsening economic conditions and strong political disaffection occur along with ecological dislocations, however, nationalist and even fascist ideas are gaining an increasingly high profile in Europe, particularly, but not only, in the Federal Republic of Germany. With social tensions exacerbated, neofascist groups of various kinds are winning electoral representation, even as their loosely linked cohorts commit acts of violence against foreigners. Such groups, both skinhead and 'intellectual,' are part of a 'New' Right that explicitly draws its ideas from classical fascism. They are updating the old nationalist, mystical, and misanthropic themes of the 'Old' Right, writes Jutta Ditfurth, in a "modernization of fascism." Among other things, they are using a right-wing interpretation of ecology "as an ideological 'hinge' for organizing the extreme-right and neofascist scene." 2

Today's fascists have a distinct ideological legacy from their fascist forebears upon which to draw. Indeed, 'ecology' and a mystical reverence for the natural world are hardly new to German nationalism. At the end of the nineteenth century, a cultural revolt against positivism swept much of Europe, as George L. Mosse writes, and in Germany it became infused with both nature-mysticism and racial nationalism. This revolt became intimately bound up with a belief in nature's cosmic life force, a dark force whose mysteries could be understood, not through science, but through the occult. An ideology based upon such premises was fused with the glories of an Aryan past, and in turn, that past received a thoroughly romantic and mystical interpretation. 3

Culminating in the 1920s, an assortment of occult and pseudo-scientific ideas coalesced around the idea of a German Volk into a romantic nationalism, romantic racism, and a mystical nature-worshipping faith. Indeed, as Mosse observes, the German word Volk is a much more comprehensive term than "people," for to German thinkers ever since the birth of German romanticism in the late eighteenth century "Volk" signified the union of a group of people with a transcendental "essence." This "essence" might be called "nature" or "cosmos" or "mythos," but in each instance it was fused to man's innermost nature, and represented the source of his creativity, his depth of feeling, his individuality, and his unity with other members of the Volk. 4

The völkisch movement of the 1920s regarded modern materialism, urbanism, rationalism, and science as artificial and evil, alien to this 'essence.'5 In a time of bitter social dislocation, it saw Weimar democracy as the product of Western democratic and liberal ideals and, further, as a puppet regime controlled by people who did not represent German 'essence.' Many alleged that a Jewish world conspiracy lay behind the discontents of modernism, including materialistic consumerism, soulless industrialism, a homogenized commercial culture, and excessive modern technology, all of which were said to be systematically destroying traditional German values. Only true patriots could save Germans from ruin, thought the extreme right -- themselves.

This movement sought to assert a truly Germanic alternative -- one as racialist as it was nationalist in nature. The popular writings of Paul Lagarde and Julius Langbehn favored an aristocratic social order in which Germans would rule the world. It invoked a nature-romanticism in which a closeness to the natural landscape was to give people a heightened sense of aliveness and 'authenticity.' It advanced a new cosmic faith, embodied in 'Aryan' blood, that was to be grasped through intuition rather than science in a plethora of occult and esoteric spiritualistic faiths that abounded in Germany in the 1920s. Mystical belief-systems like Theosophy, Anthroposophy, and Ariosophy (a mystical Aryanism) abounded and were rife with Germanic nationalist components, such that they could be used to mystify an 'ecological' nationalism. However inadvertently, the romantic nationalists of the völkisch movement became an important source for National Socialist ideology, which ironically drew on its antimodern sentiments even as it built a technologically modern and virulently nationalistic and genocidal totalitarian state. Demagogically appealing to a very real sense of alienation, the Nazis stage-managed indoctrination extravaganzas that promised 'authenticity' in a mystical, romantic nationalism that was 'closer to nature,' even as they engaged in mass murder. Stressing the need to return to simpler, healthier, and more 'natural' lifeways, they advanced the idea and practice of a 'Nordic peasantry' tied organically to the soil -- even as they constructed a society that was industrially more modernized and rationalized than any German society had seen to that time.

The so-called 'New' Right today appeals to themes reminiscent of the völkisch movement in pre-Nazi Germany. It, too, presents itself as offering an 'ecological' alternative to modern society. In the view of the 'New' Right today, the destruction of the environment and the repression of nationalities have a common root in 'Semitic' monotheism and universalism. In its later form, Christianity, and in its subsequent secularized forms, liberalism and Marxism, this dualistic, homogenizing universalism is alleged to have brought on both the ecological crisis and the suppression of national identity. Just as Judeo-Christian universalism was destructive of authentic cultures when Christian missionaries went out into the world, so too is modernity eliminating ethnic and national cultures. Moreover, through the unbridled technology to which it gave rise, this modern universalism is said to have perpetrated not only the destruction of nature but an annihilation of the spirit; the destruction of nature, it is said, is life-threatening in the spiritual sense as well as the physical, since when people deny pristine nature, their access to their 'authentic' self is blocked.

The dualistic yet universalistic 'Semitic' legacy is borne today most egregiously, in 'New' Right ideology, by the United States, in whose 'mongrel' culture -- egalitarian democracy -- all cultures and races are mixed together, forming a crass, soulless society. American cultural imperialism is genocidal of other cultures around the world, and its technological imperialism is destroying the global environment. The fascist quest for 'national identity' and ecological salvation seeks to counter 'Western civilization' -- that is, the United States, as opposed to 'European civilization' -- by advancing a notion of 'ethnopluralism' that seeks for all cultures to have sovereignty over themselves and their environment. Europe should become, instead of a modernized monoculture, a 'Europe of fatherlands,' with autonomy for all its peoples. Just as Turks should live in Turkey and Senegalese in Senegal, Germans should have Germany for themselves, 'New' Right ideologues argue.

Ecology can easily be perverted to justify this 'ethnopluralism' -- that is, nationalism. Conceptions of one's region as one's 'homeland,' or Heimat, can be perverted into a nationalistic regionalism when a region's traditions and language are mystically tied to an 'ancestral' landscape. (The word Heimat connotes as well a turn toward the past, an anti-urban mood, a familiar community, and proximity to nature. For several decades the concept was looked upon with disfavor because the Nazis had used it, but intellectuals rediscovered it in the 1970s, after further decades of capitalist industrialization.) For a people seeking to assert themselves against an outside intruder, an 'ecologized' Heimat in which they are biologically embedded can become a useful tool not only against imperialism but against immigration, foreigners, and 'overpopulation.' Elaborate justifications for opposing Third World immigration are disguised as diversity, drawing on 'ecological' arguments against 'overpopulation.' Today it is not only fascists who invoke Heimat; in September 1989, for example, the head of the respectable League for the Protection of the Environment and Nature (Bund für Umwelt- und Naturschutz, or BUND), environmentalist Hubert Weinzierl, remarked that:

only when humanity's main concern, the diminution of the stream of overpopulation, has been accomplished, will there be any meaning or any prospect of building an environment that is capable of improvement, of configuring the landscape of our civilization in such a way that it remains worthy of being called Heimat. 6

An ecology that is mystical, in turn, may become a justification for a nationalism that is mystical. In the New Age milieu of today, with its affinities for ecology, the ultra-right may well find the mystical component it needs to make a truly updated, modernized authoritarian nationalism. As in Germany between the two world wars, antirational cults of the New Age -- primitivistic, esoteric -- abound in both the Federal Republic and the Anglo-American world. Such antirationalism and mysticism are appealed to by the 'New' Right; as anarchist publisher Wolfgang Haug observes, "The New Right, in effect, wants above all to redefine social norms so that rational doubt is regarded as decadent and eliminated, and new 'natural' norms are established." 7

To be continued.

As the long-term reader of this blog will have seen there is a central thesis here, and the course of this blog is to examine in some detail the Romance and Counter-Enlightenment origins of Left dhimmi fascsim. We do not use the terms carelessly. Our look above into ecology is yet another contribution to this thesis, and it will continue for the next few installments to show in detail the nature of fascism in our time. Please feel free to contribute or to criticise at will. These are working notes, and any assistence in the effort is greatly appreciated.

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