The rise of ecofascism affects us all

Ben Choucroun

When one thinks of the effects of climate change, forest fires, heat waves and erratic weather may come to mind. Unfortunately, our climate catastrophe has deep political consequences as well, as the impending climate refugee crisis will provide ammunition for intolerant far-right political parties. It is in the best interest of students to ardently oppose these fascist movements in every way possible, as these movements threaten the wellbeing of many students at Redwood.

 Fascism is a right-wing ideology based on nationalism, military supremacy, the protection of business interests, patriarchy and racism. Examples of fascist states include Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany and Pinochet’s Chile. Though these dictatorships collapsed decades ago, fascism remains alive today as fascist parties like the Brothers of Italy and Swedish Democrats wield significant power in their respective countries. Currently, fascism is benefiting from climate change and the ensuing refugee crisis. 

Understanding the severity of the climate emergency, and its resulting refugee crisis, helps illustrate how climate change is fueling fascism. Global temperatures are rising quickly due to industrial pollution, fossil fuel emissions and sheer neglect. An increase of just 1.5-2 degrees celsius (our current trajectory being an increase of around 2.7 degrees celsius) will devastate Africa, Asia and Oceania. This will cause droughts, famines and conflicts with the potential to kill hundreds of millions and create over one billion refugees, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). Current climate conditions are so critical that the United Nations (UN) latest climate report suggests the worst case scenario is total societal collapse.

Even if this worrying possibility does not become a reality, we must still acknowledge that climate change will cause unprecedented misery in the global south. The impacts we have seen already are distressing. For example, one-third of the entire country of Pakistan is currently underwater due to floods that have killed thousands and displaced millions. As these disasters become commonplace, our world will see mass migration toward Western Europe and the United States.

 Historically, when similar refugee crises have arisen, far-right authoritarians have capitalized. In 2015, when several million Syrian migrants fleeing the civil war arrived at Europe’s doorstep, fascist parties such as Marie LePen’s National Front rose to prominence. Now, as climate change creates hundreds of millions of refugees, Europe is facing a migrant crisis far larger than 2015. Fascists are using xenophobic rhetoric about the erasure of western culture sparked by the climate refugee crisis to gain power and influence. One such example is Viktor Orban, the dictator of Hungary, who, since assuming power in 2012, has used Islamaphobic rhetoric about Hungary’s 16th-century wars with the Ottoman Empire to solidify his power and radicalize Hungary’s populace.

Illustration by Calla McBride

Hints of the impending catastrophe are already emerging from around the world. Seven million face grim famine in Somalia. Waves lap at the doorstep of homes in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands. In June this year, Spanish and Moroccan forces gunned down dozens of unarmed climate migrants in Melilla. European fascists call for a “Fortress Europe” that violently “protects itself” from the masses of refugees wanting safety. Giorgia Meloni, a fascist who has praised Mussolini, was just elected the next Italian Prime Minister, disturbing news for the tens of thousands of migrants who cross the Mediterranean for Italy annually.

The injustice of this situation is appalling. Wealthy countries account for the vast majority of carbon emissions, yet the world’s poorest countries – Pakistan, Somalia and the Marshall Islands – bear the consequences. More broadly, wealthy capitalists will remain safe from the climate emergency they created, as they’ll be able to buy second homes and expensive plane tickets to escape natural disasters. Meanwhile, the working class will endure the brunt of climate change.

With this in mind, the next time we see shaky cellphone videos of homes washed away by floodwaters, of buildings reduced to rubble, of blackshirts marching on the capital, we must understand that these events are part of a larger system of neoliberal environmental neglect. Elected officials and representatives, at times paid off by the fossil fuel industry, have sacrificed the health of our planet for a stronger military and more robust police. Fascists have capitalized on this environmental indifference by using its consequences to obtain power. It should go without saying that the rise of fascism, rooted in white supremacy, patriarchy and genocide, directly threatens the wellbeing of many students at Redwood, especially historically marginalized groups.

Taking these facts into account, the first thing you can do is educate yourself. These issues are incredibly complex and having a solid understanding of climate change and fascism is your best weapon against them. Secondly, gain new perspectives by talking to people. Learning from others, especially from your community, can inform you about what local action is best, whether it’s protesting fascists in the street or protesting the fossil fuel industry outside City Hall. Lastly, join a political movement. Working with others is far more effective and rewarding than working alone. If people worldwide can unite to stand against ecofascism, we can save the world from a future of ecofascism and hate.