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A counter-memory game
We came together in this workshop to discuss the meaning and forms of eco-fascism, and what it might take to oppose and overcome it. We found that eco-fascism has many dimensions: From right-wing nationalist ecology, to the lifeboat ethic and overpopulation narratives that even parts of the left sometimes promote, to rabid fascists who call ecological movements “eco-fascist,” to eugenicist narratives about covid, and the willingness of some to try to decide who has the right to live and who has the right to die; to the history and present of forced sterilization by colonialist and racist regimes deciding who has the right to reproduce – and so on, to the exploitation of migrants left to suffer or die in the workplace or at sea.
Eco-fascism has many facets. And the “eco” in it always refers to both ecology and economy, as capitalism is intertwined with colonialism in defining what life – and whose home – is valued.
In our workshop, we talked about the importance of memory in understanding how many worlds and lives have been destroyed in the past, and by whom. To remember that when we panic about the destruction of ecosystems, we’re preceded by a long line of peoples and communities that have been plundered, cleansed, destroyed, poisoned – sometimes by our ancestors. For so many people in the majority world, catastrophe is ancestral. Beyond the guilt this can cause, we need ways to see connections and build solidarities that never forget where we are, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going. And for all this we need memory and counter-memory. That is why we ended up making a memory game, with pairs of cards that reflect different aspects of eco-fascism and different ways of exposing and opposing it. Often we don’t see eco-fascism at first because it claims to protect life: until it becomes clear that eco-fascism is always about valuing one life over another. We have enough memory and presence to resist.
Join us in flipping through these cards, an unfinished and open repository – where different memories connect, not just in pairs, but in chains and webs. See what cards you can connect as you flip through, and how there’s always more than two aspects to the story. This is an invitation to play and talk with others!
Eco-fascism is a political ideology and mobilization practice that emphasizes the preservation and protection of nature as an end in itself. It is based on the fetishization of nature as a fragile entity in need of strong protection. Its key feature is militarism in various forms and a cult of violence to achieve its conservationist goals. Eco-fascism necessarily entails the construction of an authoritarian political and social space in which hierarchies are constructed and strictly enforced through actual and symbolic violence. A key element of eco-fascism is population control, either through biopolitical control of births or through genocide to reduce the impact of humans on nature. Genocidal impulses are directed at non-white races, and as such eco-fascism is inseparable from white supremacy.
A typical target of eco-fascists is migrants, refugees, and indigenous populations, in the belief that these groups of people contribute greatly to environmental degradation and overpopulation. Ethnonationalism is embedded in the eco-fascist worldview, legitimizing racial and ethnic dominance, but it is also rooted in the long history of Eurocentrism and European colonial genocide. Periodically, eco-fascism inspires acts of terrorism and mass murder, which are in fact symptoms of the logic of extermination that underlies the movement. Eco-fascism is a romantic, revolutionary, anti-modern ideology that is highly skeptical of technology and modern urban life, and seems to advocate a return to simpler forms of life and coexistence, while at the same time rejecting the traditional ways of life of indigenous populations as a source of danger to nature.
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- Electrification and Infrastructural Solidarity: Why Climate Struggle Requires the Reinvention of Internationalism
- Just Transition Politics in Ontario and the Potential for an Anti-Colonial, Anti-Capitalist Labor Movement
- Struggles for Work Beyond the Wage: Keep Kindling Rebellious Spirits and Other Imaginaries of Work
The ‘Dismantling Eco-Fascism’ workshop consisted of: Katrin Kämpf, Jennifer Kamau, Claudia Núñez, Marta Peirano, Florin Poenaru, Kübra Tokuç, Niloufar Vadiati, Manuela Zechner, Dzina Zhuk.
This project was conceived at the Berliner Gazette’s annual conference 2023 entitled ALLIED GROUNDS.
All text and images: Creative Commons License 4.0 (CC-BY 4.0). All images were taken at the ALLIED GROUNDS conference.