Eco-fascism ‘proper’: the curious case of Greenline Front

Introduction

Eco-fascism, mostly associated with the ‘green wing’ in historical National Socialism and neo-Malthusian authoritarians of the 1960s/70s, is an iridescent concept that signifies the preoccupation of extreme-right actors with environmentalist concerns. As such, it is also a highly loaded term, used both academically and as a slur. The term has recently attracted particular attention due to manifestos linked to radical-right terrorist attacks in Christchurch and El Paso. Indeed, the Christchurch shooter appears to identify himself as an ‘Ethno-nationalist Eco-fascist’, calling for “Ethnic autonomy for all peoples with a focus on the preservation of nature, and the natural order”.

However, eco-fascism is in fact a fringe phenomenon which has had a lasting political impact neither on mainstream politics nor on the politics of the radical right. Given this, it seems that eco-fascism should not dominate our understanding of the wider radical right’s relationship with nature. Indeed, this relationship is multifaceted due to the array of radical-right actors who engage in it, from anti-liberal actors to outright anti-democratic ones. While the former might simply celebrate ‘the beauty’ of national landscapes and the symbolic tie between land and people as well as the land’s economic significance for ‘the people’, eco-fascists undoubtedly belong to the latter. Accordingly, they also claim that race and racial survival are intrinsically linked to this Volk’s natural environment and its despoliation. Specific arguments resulting from such a stance include, for example, warnings against overpopulation and opposition to immigration from poorer countries with (on average) lower environmental footprints. Illustratively, the Christchurch manifesto claims: “Europeans are one of the groups that are not overpopulating the world. The invaders are the ones over populating the world. Kill the invaders, kill the overpopulation and by doing so save the environment.”

It is against this background that eco-fascism still warrants attention. This means that by studying eco-fascists it is possible to understand particularities associated with radical-right articulations on the natural environment. In order to grasp this contemporary, 21st century eco-fascism, this brief article looks at one of the most notorious eco-fascist actors, the recently defunct Greenline Front (GLF).

Figure 1: The life rune and the Black Sun, two symbols regularly used by Greenline Front

 Eco-fascist ideas and practices

GLF is an international network which originated in Eastern Europe, with chapters in a variety of countries such as Argentina, Belarus, Chile, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Spain and Switzerland. Operating as a loose network, GLF is held together by a shared ideological programme as well as a common ‘branding’.

The latter is visible in their appropriation of the life rune and/or the Black Sun as their logotypes, logotypes through which GLF’s chapters have been recognizable at marches and other offline activities, as well as in their online communication. In addition, such branding points straight to the group’s ideological core which is concisely visible on their international webpage.

The webpage offers not only several posts conveying an (eco-)fascist message, but also a mission statement which serves as an exemplary formulation of the eco-fascist doctrine. According to it, GLF is a nationalist movement rejecting anthropocentrism and monotheism. By asserting the importance of Blood and Soil (‘Earth’s being not just a lifeless piece of stone, but the Mother of every creature alive, mother of humanity’), GLF accentuates the naturalistic-organicistic imaginary of beings rooted in the nation’s soil. This includes asserting the importance of intergenerational continuity and a bond with nature, a bond which should not be overstretched as a condemnation of overpopulation, as the group’s 10-points manifesto makes clear. Building on these sentiments, GLF presents itself as the ‘ecological alternative’ to profit-seeking individualism and materialism, and also incorporates animal ethics through veganism and calls for animal liberation. Furthermore, the content posted on GLF page outlets makes references to Pentti Linkola, the recently deceased Finnish eco-fascist deep ecologist; the American National Socialist author William Pierce; Hitler’s Priestess; Savitri Devi; and to notable Nazis such as Walther Darré or Alwin Seifert, who is referred to as the ‘First German Environmentalist’. As a matter of fact, the German racial policies of the 1930s are described as ‘the attempt to resurface the Weltanschauung of the ancient Germanic people’. Consequently, GLF rejects democracy (the ‘religion of death’) and embraces violence as an indispensable part of the struggle for restoring an imagined equilibrium in and with nature.

And yet, GLF has not only proclaimed the need to restore such an imagined equilibrium but also that its variants frequently report relevant activism, what Zbyněk Tarant calls ‘eco-actions’. For example, GLF’s variants have repeatedly reported on clean-ups as well as suggested to build a bird feeder and to raise oak trees – thus putting an emphasis on direct action and hands-on experience well-established in radical-right activism. These illustrative examples are taken from the German variant which , also illustrates shifting levels of (public) activism: for instance, its vk.com channel, opened in 2016 but has been left untouched since 2017. The variant has recently returned to Twitter and made available a webpage – although both are seemingly deserted again. Indeed, GLF’s eco-fascist ‘unique selling point’ and raison d’être might not be enough to stabilize such groupuscules in the medium – and long-run – as is also visible in one of their Polish interviewee’s words: “Greenline Front died of ‘natural causes’, people didn’t do anything.”

Conclusion

The short-lived case of GLF may be emblematic of eco-fascist and radical-right cells, sentenced to atomized and disjointed activism and operating remotely from most radical-right organizations. However, the case of GLF raises at least two issues worth considering about the relationship between the radical right and ecologism. First, although many radical-right actors have taken a contrarian position when it comes to anthropogenic climate change, the current relevance of environmental issues has let some of these actors to show increasing interest in the environment. While this is not necessarily congruent with eco-fascism, elements such as purity of the national land and rootedness of an essentialised collective may also be found in more subtle forms of radical-right ideology. Thus, studying ‘proper’ eco-fascism might sharpen our awareness of related, though different, articulations of nature protection across the radical-right spectrum. Second, even though GLF did not permeate into mainstream environmental networks and might not even attract significant support within the radical right, its grassroots activism keeps alive a fascist tradition of ecological thought and practice. Moreover, this ecological moment points to the importance of critically examining environmentalist framing. That is, GLF and eco-fascism at large question our understanding of environmentalism and ecologism as framing done by mainstream and left-wing environmentalists too might unconsciously reproduce potentially troubling notions of eco-organicism and an imagined equilibrium in and with nature, resulting in exclusionary politics.

Dr Bernhard Forchtner is a Senior Fellow at CARR and Associate Professor of Media and Communication, University of Leicester. See his profile here.

Mr Balsa Lubarda is a Doctoral Fellow at CARR and a Doctoral candidate in Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European University. See his profile here.

©Bernhard Forchtner and Balsa Lubarda . Views expressed on this website are individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives).