The Dark Threat of Ecofascism
Image credit: Pentti Linkola Fansite
I confess I've always been bemused when angry skeptics denounce climate activists as "Hitler Youth", or label fellow TreeHugger Lloyd as either an eco-fascist or an eco-commie. While environmentalism, like any movement, does attract its fair share of extremists, the vast majority of greens I have met are pragmatic, democratically-minded souls with a firm belief in fairness, justice and the potential for humans to overcome some pretty astounding obstacles. Nevertheless, there are some out there advocating darker, less politically-correct solutions to climate change, over-population and resource depletion. I may have just come across one of the darkest. I've already taken issue with the Dark Mountain Project's rejection of environmentalism, arguing that however bleak things may look, misanthropy, pessimism and disasterbation will only become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The only possible way we can dig our way out of the mess we are in is by offering a positive, vibrant and engaging vision of the future for everyone—a vision that encourages as many people as possible to come along for the ride.
Unfortunately, there are others who disagree, and some of these people make the Dark Mountain Project look positively happy-go-lucky. In an article over at The Guardian claiming to offer up an alternative to the "new wave of ecofascism" (the "alternative" itself is somewhat thin on concrete ideas, consisting mainly of banning advertising—but that's another post...), Micah White introduces us to Pentti Linkola, a Finnish subsistence fisherman and ecological philosopher who appears to advocate an anti-technology, brutally authoritarian future where breeding is "licensed" only to desirable families exhibiting appropriate genes; where fossil fuels and the use of most technology is banned; and where "those most responsible" for economic growth are sent off to eco-gulags for re-education. It's pretty scary stuff.
A quick peruse of the Pentti Linkola fansite brings up some even more worrying quotations:
"What to do, when a ship carrying a hundred passengers suddenly capsizes and there is only one lifeboat? When the lifeboat is full, those who hate life will try to load it with more people and sink the lot. Those who love and respect life will take the ship's axe and sever the extra hands that cling to the sides."
Much like with holocaust denier and climate skeptic Nick Griffin, Linkola is so far off the political scale that it is hard to know where to start in terms of a critique. Leaving aside the (to me at least) morally repugnant concepts of eugenics, dictatorship and fascism for now, Linkola's vision falls short on another front too—how the heck do we get from where we are now to where he suggests we should be?
As I've argued before, environmentalists need strategy—and that strategy has to offer a realistic, enticing vision for a majority of the world's population. Somehow I suspect fantasizing about subsistence communities of the genetically pure is not going to cut it in this day and age.
I'll admit that on the darkest days, the idea of designing our way out of climate change through technology, lifestyle change and sensible, fair and equitable policy decisions is in a daunting prospect. Nevertheless, when you compare it to the future being advocated by the ecofascists of this world, it starts to seem like a walk in the park.
Next time someone calls me or one of my colleagues an ecofascist, I'll be able to point them to what one of those really looks like.
More on Politics, Sustainability and Climate Change
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