Are the COVID-19 lockdowns sparking a rise in eco-fascism? | Culture Clash

Ecofascists use the climate crisis as a veneer for racist and anti-semitic beliefs
Ecofascists use the climate crisis as a veneer for racist and anti-semitic beliefs Copyright BORIS GRDANOSKI/AP2007
By Alexander Morgan
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

The ideology has its roots in the "blood and soil" rhetoric of Nazi Germany.


The COVID-19 pandemic has invigorated debate about the impact of human activity on the health of our planet.

With flights grounded and roads nearly empty, air pollution has tumbled. 

Cities are being reimagined to reduce emissions and better protect cyclists.

Discussion of preserving the short-term environmental perks of lockdowns is entirely legitimate. It’s taking place at the highest levels.

But the narrative on social media has taken this one step further.

An example of the posts which have spread rapidly on social

Posts suggesting that COVID-19 is the "cure" to a human "virus" shift discussion from the immediate benefits of reduced activity, to a suggestion that these justify the human cost.

However well-intentioned many of the posts have been, this shift opens the door to a far-right ideology called "ecofascism".

Eco-fascism argues that humans are overburdening the planet and that some populations are more of a problem than others.

Proponents argue that the solution is to create "racially pure" nations to restore the natural order.

Legitimate concerns about resource consumption, rising temperatures and population density are twisted to provide a veneer of legitimacy for racist and anti-semitic beliefs.

Watch this week's episode of Culture Clash: The rising threat of eco-fascism

Culture Clash: The rising threat of eco-fascism

Are we the disease? Eco-fascism, a far-right ideology, is on the rise because of Covid-19. Find out what it is and why it’s dangerous. #CultureClash #Covid19 #ecofascism #wearethevirus #Covid19isthecure Featuring: Hilary Moore - Author of Burning Earth, Changing Europe Sarah Manavis - Digital Culture and Technology Writer at New Statesman

Publiée par Euronews English sur Jeudi 7 mai 2020
Watch the latest edition of 'Culture Clash'

The ideology has roots in the "blood and soil" rhetoric of Nazi Germany, which was used to justify the eradication of Jewish people and other groups deemed to be inferior.

More recently the ideology has flourished on obscure sites such as '4chan' and '8chan', message boards popular with white supremacists.

So how did echoes of something so pernicious enter our newsfeeds and timelines?

"The way that a lot of really sinister things travel online is through irony, and through making jokes until it morphs," Sarah Manavis, digital culture writer at New Statesman, told me.

"Eventually it becomes a question of, ‘actually are we joking, or is it actually what we believe?'

Ecofacism is a perfect example of this.

"If this is going to go on for longer, people who do believe those ideologies will be able to capitalise on others mindlessly feeding into something that they've been trying to get to go mainstream for years.

"Even though its an accident now, I do think that the longer this goes on, the greater the chances that it's not going to be an accident anymore."


The window to act to save the planet from irrecoverable damage from climate change is narrow.

But the window to stamp out extreme ideas masquerading as innocent memes is even narrower.

We’re going to have to live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future, and the climate crisis is only set to worsen.

Those two factors could provide fertile ground for ecofascism, in different forms and under different names, to take root and become more dangerous.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

Now the leaves have started to fall, Europe can’t afford to forget the summer heat

This is a rallying call: It is time to help the Global South deal with loss and damage

We need cheap protein — but it doesn’t have to be meat