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Primitivism and Ecofascism

By Steve Ongerth - Institute for Social Ecology, November 2019

The white nationalist outlet Counter-Currents has long been interested in ecofascism, frequently publishing articles on the compatibility of far right and environmental worldviews. Alongside ecofascists like Savitri Devi and Pentti Linkola, they have also shown an increasing interest in deep ecology and primitivism. Although some have been surprised by the far right’s enthusiasm for the work of Ted Kaczynski and John Zerzan, social ecology has long warned of both the problematic philosophical assumptions of primitivism and ecofascism. Counter-Currents recently published an interview with anti-civilization author Derrick Jensen, founder of the controversial group Deep Green Resistance. In a recent discussion on the ISE online discussion forum,  Steve Ongerth commented on the affinities between primitivist/anti-civ and fascist thought, helpfully identifying six points of ideological overlap.

Affinities between Primitivism and Ecofascism

While I wouldn’t argue that most primitivists and/or anti-civilization people are fascists (indeed, I would wager that most are not) there are nevertheless a good many affinities between fascism and primitivism / anticiv. Consider:

  • (1) Both primitivism and fascism share a romantic view of “a lost golden age” (even if the golden ages they each imagine are different);
  • (2) Many (though not all) primitivists either have a Malthusian view of humanity, i.e. that those with limited physical abilities that rely on technology are nature’s way of saying that they’re not fit to survive, or they have a romantic notion that only under “civilization” and “technology” did such things occur. The rest will argue that in pre-civilized times those born with limited physical or mental capabilities were cared for by those without those limitations (and I assume that to be true also), but so what?!? That’s still a form of imposed limitation which, if dogmatically adhered to degrades into fascism;
  • (3) Unless primitivism is taken to its logical conclusion and all forms of “civilization” and “technology” are eschewed, then the definition of what is and what isn’t “technology” or “civilization” is arbitrary and inevitably decided by a minority, and the enforcement mechanism becomes authoritarian;
  • (4) Furthermore, both fascism and primitivism identify the main form of oppression as something other than the state / capital and generally reject class struggle and, for that matter, seizure of the means of production for the good of all (even if the good of all means collectively abolishing specific technologies, such as weapons of mass destruction, prisons, and/or tools that can only be used for torture, etc);
  • (5) DGR draws at least some inspiration from Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who is an unapologetic eco-fascist;
  • (6) Finally, there’s the TERF (trans-exclusive radical feminism) transphobia that is rampant among Jensen and his fellow DGR folks.

Honestly, I don’t get why radical ecologists ever thought Jensen was a hero to begin with.

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