The eco-fascistometer

Last year Michela Murgia published a refreshingly polemical short book Istruzioni per diventare fascisti(already translated in English How to be a fascist and in German Faschist werden. Eine Anleitung) asking us to confront the fascist tendencies in us and in our society. It contains a fascistometerwith 65 revealing questions on how fascist ideas have sneaked, mostly undetected, into our culture.

Recently the term ecofascist has emerged in the blogosphere to signify a paradoxically uncompassionate response to the awareness of the looming climate catastrophe. Brian Kahn recently posted the blog titled How Climate Change Is Becoming a Deadly Part of White Nationalism with quotes from the document believed to be authored by Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old suspect police took into custody after the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, past July:

Included among its racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric are ideas central to the mainstream environmental movement. “[O]ur lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country. The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly overharvesting resources,” it reads.

Where Crusius’ views violently diverge is the solution to these real issues. The manifesto suggests Americans overconsumption will never stop, so the only option is “get rid of enough people” to make the American lifestyle “more sustainable.” Horrific, disgusting, and absurd, this so-called ecofascist ideology uses legitimate environmental concerns to justify racist policies and, sometimes, mass murder.

While this despicable extreme form of ecofascism can be easily detected as such, I follow here Michela Murgia in highlighting subtler but equally dangerous ideas that lean towards ecofascism. The questions below are the result of several discussion with friends, relatives and colleagues – and a reflection on my own past behavior and ideas!

Are you ready? Then read the following statements and then calculate your own ecofascist score by counting the number of times you agree more than disagree with the following statements:

  1. Greta Thunberg is an ecofascist
  2. We should reduce immigration because it would be too much for the planet to have more people consuming as much as we do
  3. Floods and droughts in developing countries are premonitions of the climate catastrophe to come
  4. We humans are the apex of the creation and farm animals are only resources for us to use at will
  5. I really deserve this holiday in a far destination only reachable by plane because I have worked so much and need to recover
  6. We need to make the use of public transportation as easy as using the car otherwise we cannot pretend people to switch
  7. Until meat substitutes and alternative proteins do not taste the same as real meat we cannot pretend people to switch
  8. If I would offset all my flights I could fly as much as I want
  9. I travel by plane so I have more time to spend with my family
  10. Let’s tax all carbon pollution regardless of the income and social position of the polluter
  11. We need to make renewables less costly, not carbon pollution more costly
  12. Only an authoritarian government can implement the necessary climate policies
  13. If we turn the economy green before other countries do, then our nation will gain a competitive advantage in the global competition
  14. The only solutions to global warming are technological innovations that human ingenuity will surely discover
  15. We do not need to change our diets, but only to reduce food waste
  16. If I turned flexitarian and drove an electric car, I would do a lot to combat carbon pollution
  17. Individual actions like flying less or eating less meat are useless to confront climate change until politicians change the system
  18. This whole blog is ecofascist as it sneakily implies that what I eat and how I travel must be changed

If you scored 0 you probably are an Extinction Rebellion activist: you are ready to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience to push governments to act, change your diet, travel less and by train, fly only when it is really necessary by objective standards and reduce your overall consumption levels. If you scored 18 you remind me of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro. With a score of 18 you aren’t prepared to change anything in your life to confront the climate crisis and you may be actively contributing to it through your behaviors and voting choices. If you scored between 0 and 18 you may either ignore some scientific facts or be in some form of denial. You are probably in implicatory denial, meaning that you accept climate change and that it is caused by our economic-technological system, but you may more or less consciously deny the political and lifestyle implications of this knowledge.

What are such implications? Accepting just for convenience that others (poorer people more exposed to climate change and future generations) suffer first and/or more. ‘First’, because all will suffer at the end. ‘More’, because many people are already suffering the consequences of global warming (some are dying) and future generations will confront more extreme if not lethal conditions.

Fundamentally, it is not easy NOT to be an ecofascist. Fully accepting the implications of climate science often means embarking in an identity-threatening journey where our way of life, family rituals, habits and professional identities are under question. We may realize that much of what we cared for is illusory or detrimental to our survival as a species. But being an ecofascist is also not easy, as it exposes us to ethical quandaries that, when revealed by others or by ourselves abandoning denial, may even be more threatening to our self-identity as good and honest persons.

At least, this is what I experienced in the long process when the fog of denial started to evaporate – and probably still is.

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