In this episode, I speak with Sam Adler-Bell, freelance journalist and co-host of the Know Your Enemy podcast, “a leftist's guide to the conservative movement.” The subject of this interview is his article ‘Why White Supremacists Are Hooked on Green Living,’ published by The New Republic.
In this discussion with Sam, I ask him to elaborate on his research into the deeper connections between the roots of environmentalism and conservationism in the United States and rise of “eco-fascism” in our present time — an ideology expressed in the manifestos and stated intentions of white supremacist mass shooters in recent years, and in the rise of reactionary far right populism to refugee crises around the world. As Sam explains in his piece for The New Republic, the first thing we need to understand about this subject is that “most eco-fascists are sincere in their environmentalism,” and that the earliest forms of fascism in Europe were directly inspired by the earliest forms of environmentalism and conservationist efforts in the United States, as embodied in the projects of Teddy Rosevelt, John Muir, and Madison Grant (co-founders of the Sierra Club, 1892) with the formation of the National Parks Service in the United States. “These men shared an affinity for scientific racism. Roosevelt praised Grant’s 1916 white supremacist tome ‘The Passing of the Great Race, or The Racial Basis of European History’ as “a capital book.” Another fan, Adolf Hitler, wrote Grant a letter, calling the book his personal “bible.”” (http://bit.ly/2BgKsRG)
The point of this discussion with Sam is to understand, as leftists, how we can more fully engage with an often misunderstood but crucially important component of fascist ideology, currently manifesting as "eco-fascism" in contemporary discourse. The emergence, or reemergence, of an ecologically-conscious fascism does not come from a vacuum; it a direct response to the ecological and climate crises manifesting across the globe right now. Mass migrations and the inevitable sociopolitical responses (ultranationalism, xenophobia, the hyper-militarization of borders) is a part of this trend. We must learn to counter these trends and the dehumanizing narratives that allow space for them to grow (e.g. the Malthusian narrative of overpopulation as the main driver of these crises), and Sam and I discuss some of how that might be accomplished in this episode.
Sam Adler-Bell is a writer and policy analyst in New York City. His work has appeared in The Intercept, Commonweal, The New Republic, In These Times, Jacobin and elsewhere. He is the cohost, with Matthew Sitman, of the podcast Know Your Enemy.
- Read ‘Why White Supremacists Are Hooked on Green Living’: http://bit.ly/2BgKsRG
- Subscribe and listen to Know Your Enemy: http://bit.ly/2VMmya9
- Learn more about Sam and his work: https://samadlerbell.com
- Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SamAdlerBell
- The songs featured are “Canary Rhombus” and “Rubber Bands & Weight” by The Alchemist from the album Rapper’s Best Friend 5: An Instrumental Series.
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