The ecological philosophy of right-wing environmentalism


Navya J

The far right has moved from climate denial to obstruction of climate action by seemingly accepting the existence of the climate crisis, this provides the far right with a powerful new set of justifications the far right can use to the “other” migrants and leftists while appearing as progressive actors.

This alludes to the political term of the lawyer – an ironic nod to a line that was used in the 1970s and 80s to describe green parties in Western Europe, “Watermelon Politics” – green on the outside, red inside trying to justify racism, reactionary and totalitarian policies.

Relevant crises are increasingly characterized by the political intersections of the climate crisis, which awaits a dangerous and destabilized world, and the crisis of democracy, both a product of the dominant political project of the authoritarian right.

The far right has played its role in blocking action against climate change in recent years. We have learned enough about the rhetoric of the corporate denial machine, meanwhile, obstructing a zero carbon future has become the goal of the public and researchers, surreptitiously funded by conservative think tanks, released. popularly through the structuring of big technologies, even the dirty money of the petrochemical industry further pushed for concrete laws.

On the other hand, we must understand that to deal in depth with the climate and ecological emergency, we must democratize the economy, redistribute wealth and ensure a decent standard of living for all. It surely follows that any real attempt to tackle climate change will have to withdraw from neoliberal capitalism – or even modern fascism.

In 2016, it emerged that four years earlier Donald Trump had declared his belief that the “concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese”. There has been a considerable level of historical approach to right-wing environmentalism, which we ignore at our peril.

The Nazi Party used environmentalism as a propaganda tool to recruit more members and improve its public reputation, but quickly abandoned any ambitions for environmental legislation early in the war.

Since the days of Nazi Germany, this false environmentalism has been continuously recycled by far-right and extremist groups as a justification for unjustifiable beliefs.

“Right-wing activists are now cultivating their ecological philosophies, according to Sam Knights of jacobinmag.com.

“The fascists have in the past been able to synthesize far-right ideology with a sort of basic, unadorned environmentalism. Therefore, a right-wing movement could emerge in the coming years that not only recognizes the gravity of the crisis, but also uses the reality of climate change to justify an increasingly authoritarian and reactionary response.

For example, more than ten years ago, in December 2009, the British far-right National Party produced a backgrounder titled “Debunking Global Warming” regarding COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark, well advanced in COP26 of this year.

The article attempted to refute scientific evidence that human activity is causing climate change by stating, for example, that there was once agriculture in Greenland (a classic of obstructionist argument) and highlighting a washed-out observation by Joseph Goebbels that if “something happens often enough, even the most skeptical will believe it.

Likewise, in the run-up to COP15, the radical-right Danish People’s Party gave voice to those who disagreed with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change during of an “alternative climate conference,” according to a report on Open Democacy.net.

In 2009, the president of the G77 declared “that we are asked to sign a suicide note, with the money on the table not even enough to pay our coffins, because the rich countries have pushed the target of 2 degrees Celsius. “. In 2021, developing countries say that “the inaction of rich countries is the willful and deliberate murder of millions of people and that 1.5 C is barely staying alive and 2 C is certain death.”

Politics Flummery of a Malthusian trap

Right-wing political concerns about immigration and the additional strain on resources are rooted in the more apolitical fear of overpopulation. Malthus’ predictions have been proven to be theoretically and statistically wrong on several occasions, and his views have been criticized across the world.

political spectrum as too pessimistic and inhuman. Malthusianism becomes dangerous when its questionable science is taken seriously by lawmakers. In the mid-19th century, the British government cut many welfare programs designed to provide food to the poor, basing the decision on a Malthusian argument that helping the poor only ensures that these groups have more children and thus increase poverty.

But where is are far-right parties standing up to climate change today?

What can we expect from them at COP26?

Recent research has shown that outright denial has not completely disappeared, “the Alternative for Germany (AfD) now arguably the most powerful European party taking such a stand.”

“In its manifesto for the recent general elections of 2021, the party claimed that it has not yet been proven that humans, especially industry, are significantly responsible for climate change,” write Bernhard Forchtner and Balsa Lubarda .

Yet overall, the focus on climate has apparently shifted from denial to obstruction via opposition to climate policies.

For example, recent research by Open Democracy at the Center for Radical Right Analysis on far-right parties in the European Parliament between 2004 and 2019 found that just over 10% of contributions to plenary debates and the explanations of vote deny the climate outright. cash.

Instead, the argument most often used concerned warnings about the economic implications of climate. Viktor Orbán, whose party has long accepted the human-made nature of climate change has rejected the EU in the run-up to COP26, Hungarian conservative-turned-far-right Prime Minister considers tackling climate change as a “utopian fantasy “, asserting,” and utopian fantasy is killing us – so is the problem of energy prices. ‘

Likewise, AfD’s environment spokesperson in the European Parliament, Sylvia Limmer, also opposes COP26, which she criticized for being another attempt by a “self-proclaimed climate elite” to extort money to the people and discipline them, as well as for its hypocrisy and its “green paternalism”.

Another study on right-wing populist parties in the European Parliament also highlighted the importance of arguments relating to the economic harm of carbon reduction measures. It also showed that far-right parties overwhelmingly voted against, or abstained from, on climate legislation.

Thus, even without explicit and categorical denial, the far right does not engage in the necessary climate policies.

To counter the dangerous rhetoric of these groups, we must respond with actions that prove them wrong. When right-wing politicians bemoan rising rates of poverty and unemployment, they often blame overpopulation and immigration.

People need to know that it is market failures and runaway capitalism that create inequalities, not too few resources for too many people. It is the mismanagement of natural capital that leads to environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity, not immigration.

And it is the empowerment of women and support for education and economic growth in poor countries that stabilize population numbers, not forced population control.

Charting a future after COP26

As climate change creates increased scarcity over the next few decades, it is unclear whether rich countries will choose to hoard their resources or share them with the developing world.

Fascism has often been described as capitalism in decline. The ecological emergency is surely the obvious proof. Our political and economic elites either do not understand the ramifications of their actions, which led to the climate crisis, or simply do not care enough to stop it.

Will rich countries passively allow climate change to fuel global migration on an unprecedented scale, or will they fund adaptation measures in the developing world?

Will the high resilience nations lock everyone down, or will they recognize that doing so will only reinforce these odious and extreme ideologies that never really went away? Or will we continue to wait to add insult to injury while watching the sacrifice of the world’s remaining carbon budget so that the global elite can maintain their lavish lifestyles, as they take private jets to the climate conferences to give the impression that she cares?

Or we settle with renegade Virgin founder Richard Branson, a leader of this billionaire greenwashing, making climate commitments he broke while growing his airline business. Likewise, Elon Musk claims to care about the climate to sell more automobiles, while also criticizing public transport and trying to stop bullet train projects.

Accepting climate migrants and investing more in improving resilience in developing countries will be important acts of solidarity that not only recognize the past responsibilities of rich nations, but also work to build a future better equipped to fight. against climate change.

Appropriate industrial policies and financial support for those in need (including those outside the High North) is a starting point – a starting point that takes people on board instead of leaving the field to the extreme. law.

COP26 had better be serious.


Navya J is a student, Masters in Development and Social Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.

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