The 'New Right', Neofascism And Globalization

Paul Flewers paul.flewers at
Thu Aug 5 22:08:05 MDT 1999

Re the interesting anti-fascist posting. I'm not surprised that the far
right have tried to muscle in on ecological and other such issues.

List members may be interested in a review I did a couple of years back.
Please contact me if you want to republish it.

Paul F


Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier, Ecofascism: Lessons From the German
Experience, AK Press, Edinburgh, 1995, pp73, £5.00

ONE of the customary ways of winding up vegetarians and Greens is to
tell them that Hitler was a nature-lover and was opposed to vivisection.
There has been a long-running coincidence between having a love for
nature and holding extremely reactionary, genocidal even, feelings
towards one or another ethnic group of human beings.

This booklet presents two essays by German left-wing environmentalists,
and gives an extremely interesting overview of the intimate connections
between mystical environmentalism and fascism. Peter Staudenmaier runs
through the long succession of reactionary German environmentalists from
Ernst Arndt and Wilhelm Riehl in the early nineteenth century, through
Ernst Haeckel, to Hitler and his contemporaries. Common to all of them
were a hatred of modernity, a worshipping of rurality and nature — and a
virulent hatred of anyone or anything deemed non-German. Alongside
preparing German industry for war, the Nazis implemented an ambitious
environmental programme. Staudenmaier shows that the Nazis’ ecological
programme was not in opposition to their racist and ultimately genocidal
views, it was integral to them.

However, Staudenmaier does not say why the main forces of German
ecologism have been historically reactionary. Whereas nineteenth century
nationalists in many parts of Europe adopted the progressive ideas
emanating from the French Revolution, a large number of German
nationalists adopted a romantic anti-Enlightenment, anti-modern approach
precisely because German nationalism evolved during the Napoleonic
occupation of German territory, and therefore developed as a reaction to
the features of the French Revolution which Napoleon was introducing
into the occupied lands. This accounts for the specifically reactionary
nature of much of German ecologism.

Janet Biehl investigates the manner in which the contemporary German far
right is committed to ecological politics. All of them, the
ultra-conservative Republicans, the Strasserite National
Revolutionaries, the outright Hitlerite Freedom German Workers Party,
etc, combine their xenophobia with a pro-ecological stand. Particularly
disturbing is the political odyssey of Rudolf Bahro. The courageous
Marxist oppositionist in East Germany drifted into environmentalism some
15 years ago. He is now a mystic of the most reactionary kind, dreaming
of a ‘Green Adolf’, no less, who will lead the German volk into a
naturalist idyll. He claims that Germans need a charismatic leader, and
that there were positive aspects to the Nazis which could well be
adopted today by the ecological movement.

Biehl condemns the ecofascists for opposing a ‘multicultural’ Germany,
meaning that they are opposed to the presence in Germany of those who do
not fit into their concept of being German. However, despite the
intentions of its adherents, multiculturalism is not a concept standing
in opposition to racism; indeed, its celebration of ‘difference’ in
culture implicitly accepts a concept of human non-universality —
something with which racists will happily concur. Racists are
multiculturalists as well, only they don’t want people of ‘other
cultures’ in ‘their’ countries. What is disturbing is that many
ostensibly anti-racist multiculturalists are tending to view humanity as
a series of discrete and eternal cultures. The uncritical use of the
term ‘multiculturalism’ sits very uncomfortably with the authors’
wholehearted support for the rationalism of the Enlightenment, as the
great gain of the Enlightenment was the concept of human universality.

For those of us who scratched our heads in wonder at the Greenham Common
Women when they dangled mirrors over the perimeter fence to reflect back
the evil spirits emanating from the aerodrome, and have looked in
bemusement at the more bizarre manifestations of the ecological movement
at the local Green Fair, not to mention Chris Knight at demonstrations
in his pantomime wolf costume, this booklet is a timely warning that
mysticism is not only the property of eccentrics who are cosmopolitan
and anti-racist in outlook, but is also the property of extremely
reactionary elements. Indeed, mysticism serves reaction far more
effectively than progressive causes. This subject deserves a full-length
treatment; in the meantime, AK Press should be commended for bringing
out this booklet.

Paul Flewers

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