What is eco fascism? Meaning behind the racist idelogy connected to the Buffalo shooting gunman

The suspected perpetrator of a deadly shooting in the US last weekend may have been an “eco-fascist”, according to authorities, who believe he penned a 180-page manifesto on race, migration, and “overpopulation”.

Ten people were shot dead and three more were wounded in the live-streamed attack in a supermarket car park in Buffalo on Saturday. President Joe Biden will visit Buffalo in New York state on Tuesday to show solidarity with the community.

The suspect, who is 18, is suspected of choosing the supermarket because of its location near to the area’s sizeable black community.

The Buffalo Mayor, Byron Brown, said the suspect arrived intending to take “as many black lives as possible”.

“I would prefer to call myself a populist,” the suspect, who authorities have named as Payton Gendron, allegedly wrote in an article published online. “But you can call me an ethno-nationalist eco-fascist national socialist if you want, I wouldn’t disagree with you.”

What is an eco-fascist?

Eco-fascism is a term used to describe people who tie green politics or environmental concerns into fascist or far-right ideology.

A key marker of eco-fascism is a belief in the “great replacement theory”, which posits that white people are under threat from “overpopulation” by people of other ethnic origins.

Eco-fascists will often argue that overpopulation represents the primary threat to the environment and say the only solution is to halt immigration, or even eradicate non-white populations.

The argument has its roots in Nazi ideology, which viewed white people as supreme and strove to create a purified “fatherland”.

The author Naomi Klein has described eco-fascism as “environmentalism through genocide”, while others have accused it of pushing a “murderous, racist ideology in the name of protecting the planet”.

When did eco-fascism emerge?

Some have suggested that the roots of eco-fascism can be traced back to the Nazis and their belief in a “pure” homeland defined by a uniform ethnicity and idyllic rural and farm life. Early eco-fascist thinkers include Savitri Devi, a fascist and Nazi sympathiser who was a long-term vegetarian and promoted ecologist views in her works.

Devi was a French-born Greek fascist, Nazi sympathiser, and spy who served the Axis powers by committing acts of espionage against the Allied forces in India. She was later a leading member of the Neo-Nazi underground during the 60s.

As concerns about environmental degradation and climate change have grown, far-right activists have increasingly started to include environmental issues in their arguments.

What did the Buffalo shooter allegedly write?

In the manifesto the suspect labels himself as an eco-fascist: “I would prefer to call myself a populist. But you can call me an ethno-nationalist eco-fascist national socialist if you want, I wouldn’t disagree with you.”

He also makes a number of white supremacist arguments, including referencing a desire to “kill as many blacks as possible”.

“For too long we have allowed the left to co-opt the environmentalist movement to serve their own needs,” the manifesto reads. “The left has controlled all discussion regarding environmental preservation whilst simultaneously presiding over the continued destruction of the natural environment itself through mass immigration and uncontrolled urbanisation.”

Eco-fascist terrorists

Since 2010 there have been several terrorist attacks where the perpetrators have cited eco-fascist beliefs as a motive.

In 2019 the white nationalist who murdered 51 people in the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, wrote in his own manifesto: “The invaders are the ones overpopulating the world. Kill the invaders, kill the overpopulation and by doing so save the environment.”

A few months later a far-right gunman killed 23 people in Texas after posting on the online message board “8chan” referring to migrant “invasion” that was polluting the environment. “If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable,” he wrote.

The Buffalo shooter’s manifesto was heavily inspired by the Christchurch and El Paso shooters, experts say.

What do environmentalists say?

Environmental charities fiercely oppose any suggestion that eco-fascism is a reflection of the green movement.

“The key thing to understand here is that ecofascism is more an expression of white supremacy than it is an expression of environmentalism,” Michelle Chan from Friends of the Earth told The Washington Post in 2019.

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