In the summer of 2018, Scandinavia, the land of green forests and Santa Claus, was dying of heat. The temperature, even in the northernmost regions, was such that violent fires, particularly devastating in Sweden, appeared. In view of the disaster, widely reported by the media, one could hope for a general awareness of the population on the concrete effects of global warming. However, that same summer, Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the Swedish Democrats – a party that, as its name does not indicate, is on the far right of the political spectrum and supports even more anti-immigration measures – joked about the drama by bragging about it. “ an incredible, sunny and fiery summer “ and its a lot of “ swimming in warm seas and lakes “.
As absurd as it is, this position is not surprising. In fact, for those who know a little about the ecological politics of the European far right, it is even normal. Because, as the Zetkin Collective – a group of researchers, activists and students who observe the political ecology of this ideology – shows in Fossil fascism, their first book, these parts have made climate change their business. From Spain to Finland and Hungary to the UK, all nationalist parties repeat over and over again that global warming is, at best, far less serious than the green left claims, at worst, a lie. Invented from scratch to distract people from “ real problem “ : the alleged Muslim invasion of Europe.
Defense of the fossil fuel industry and imagination of a “ eco-racism “
In these shades of brown, the book distinguishes two trends in ecological (non) politics. The first – the oldest and most widespread – consists in denying any human impact on climate change and in constant support for the coal and oil industries, which the collective calls “ fossil capital “. From this point of view, the far right acts as a“ vanguard “ to a fossil capital that doesn’t want to close business. As the virulent positions taken by theAFD in favor of lignite, as well as “ coal nationalism “ of PiS in Poland.
The second trend manifested itself in the early 2010s. Noting the progress of ecology in public opinion, some groups have decided to take advantage of the situation by reconciling the defense of borders and the protection of nature. The best example comes from RN French and more particularly his rising figure, Jordan Bardella. In 2019, during the campaign for the European elections, he said: “ The best ally of ecology is the border. “ The RN thus develops a curious “ eco-racism “ or “ ethno-differential “, that the Zetkin Collective gives the following definition: “ Each race must live in its own habitat to avoid any mixing and therefore a loss of difference in the face of the homogenizing forces of world capitalism. “
- The Garzweiler lignite mine in Germany. The far right party AFD strongly supports this devastating industry.
After having compiled an exhaustive panorama of the European far right, Fossil fascism retraces the genealogy of this current of thought in an attempt to understand the links that unite race to fossil fuels. The power of these derives from an ultranationalist myth: fossil fuels would fuel themselves “ palingenesis or palindefensive goals “ fascist parties, that is, of regeneration or protection of the nation. Hence the fetishization of fossil reserves “ indigenous people “, buried in national soil, true “ physical body of the nation “. And from here, on the contrary, the repeated invectives towards renewable energies, in particular wind power, considered as “ fugitive flows “ who “ never take root “ and whose exploitation, by collective definition, presupposes a minimum of “ cosmopolitanism “.
But this myth itself has a history. The Zetkin Collective also anticipates his date of birth: the middle of XIXis century, a time when, thanks to coal and oil, Europeans conquered the world. To legitimize their yoke, the colonizers therefore invented a “ techno-racism “ classify human societies according to their degree of exploitation of nature. It was during this time that Europeans began to see themselves as white – and also as white – the fossil fuels that enabled them to establish their planetary dominance. Like coal and oil, this one “ association between bleaching and fossil fuels “ ended up penetrating and irrigating the western unconscious ; and today, unconsciously, she “ it rises to the surface like magma in these times of climatic collapse “.
This magma gave birth, in the years following the First World War, to historical fascism. Returning to the texts of the Italian futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and the German writer Ernst Junger, the collective evokes the“ love of fire “ and the modern machines that burned these pioneers of fascism and fueled Mussolini and Hitler’s thirst for conquest.
A fascization that comes from the ruling classes
Of course, times and fascist movements have changed since the interwar years. However, we can draw disturbing parallels between that time and our own and detect the disturbing signs of a “ fascization “ at work, not so much in society in general as in the ruling classes of rich countries. Like the authors of Fossil fascism, the ecological policy of the far right does not come out of nowhere. It arises from what they call, borrowing the concept of “ ideological state apparatus “ to the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, “ the ideological state apparatus of climate denial “. Under this expression hides a series of lobbies and propaganda actions launched in the early 1990s by the coal and oil industries to counter the nascent environmental movement and certify that “ fossil fuels are good for people “.
Since then, many industries have claimed to respect the rules of ecological transition and have multiplied their number greenwashing ; but some, appreciating the zeal for climate-denial shown by far-right parties, do not hesitate to support the latter’s rise to power. And the authors point out that across the Atlantic, Trump and Bolsonaro owe their electoral victory to the respective support of the U.S. coal and oil industries and Brazilian agribusiness, just as, in their time, Hitler and Mussolini managed to seduce the automotive and chemical industry. giants.
Reading the book, we understand that now anti-fascism and climate defense tend to form one and the same struggle, and that there will be no ecological transition or revolution without going over the body of the far right. Why “ the more serious the ecological crisis, the greater the attraction [de cette dernière] it will be great “.
- Fossil Fascism – The far right, energy, climate, coordinated by Andreas Malm, translated from English by Lise Benoist, La Fabrique editions, October 2020, 368 p., 18 euros.
Source: Maxime Lerolle for Reporter
. chapô: Members of the Boogaloo movement in front of the Capitol in Phoenix (Arizona), during a demonstration to contest the electoral defeat of Donald Trump, January 17, 2021. © Olivier Touron /AFP
. Garzweiler mine © Pierre-Olivier Chaput