Tedpilled: The green future of white terror
The massacres in El Paso and Christchurch are troubling previews of what far-right environmentalism might look like
Another week. Another mass shooting targeting minorities. Another white nationalist manifesto posted to 8chan. The El Paso killer’s boilerplate screed against an immigrant “invasion” just underscored the horrifying sameness of it all.
The media’s response was no less routine. Some commentators advised against spreading the manifesto. Others made an attempt to summarize and analyze it.
On the whole, the document was unremarkable in the most literal sense, containing the same generic hateful sentiment that has sadly become ubiquitous—not only in the dark corners of the internet but also at Trump rallies and on prime-time TV.
There was, however, one thing that set the manifesto apart from statements like the one Dylann Roof posted before he shot up a black church in South Carolina. Patrick Crusius ended his with a long paragraph detailing various ways that the American “lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country.”
There are faint echoes of “Industrial Society and Its Future,” the manifesto of Ted Kaczynski, more popularly known as The Unabomber. It’s a poor imitation, but the influences can be seen.
‘Read Uncle Ted’s Manifesto’
A professor with an Ivy League education, Kaczynski had a much more nuanced understanding of the issue— not to mention an entirely different plan for what to do about it. From a shack in the woods with no electricity or running water, the Unabomber railed against the harmful effects of technological progress while advocating a primitivist society.
The main motive of his bombings was to get his lengthy exposition published in the mainstream media. To that end, he targeted academics—many of whom he knew personally—as well as executives, government officials and lobbyists. Citing sustainability as a rationale, Crusius just killed as many brown people as he could to discourage future immigration.
Crusius had the same rough diagnosis, but he didn’t think Kaczynski’s return to nature was feasible.
I just want to say that I love the people of this country, but god damn most of y’all are just too stubborn to change your lifestyle. So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.
The El Paso shooter’s manifesto wasn’t the first to touch on ecological themes—and probably won’t be the last. This spring, Brendon Tarrant, the gunman who massacred 51 Muslims in New Zealand, wrote in a document called “The Great Replacement” that “there is no Conservatism without Nature, there is no nationalism with environmentalism, the natural environment of our lands shaped us just as we shaped it.”
All the signs point to a greater synergy between environmentalism and traditional far-right ideas in the future as global warming progresses further along its current path toward catastrophe.
The Unabomber has become something of a cult hero in alt-right spaces, such as 4chan’s /pol/ image board. There are nearly 6,000 posts mentioning him—an average of at least one per day in the past year. Users of the board talk about being “Tedpilled.” They exhort others to read “Uncle Ted’s manifesto,” which has taken its place in the alt-right canon alongside the Turner Diaries, Camp of the Saints, Culture of Critique and Mein Kampf.
‘Trees Before Refugees’
At the same time, more and more rightwing extremists are beginning to call themselves “ecofascist.” As a self-identified movement, ecofascism is a relatively recent phenomenon, but there’s a long history of far-right figures integrating ecology into their political thought that stretches back all the way to the Nazi naturalist Walther Darre, the originator of “Blood and Soil” ideology as well as the conservationist Madison Grant.
The world “ecofascist” itself was coined as a derogatory term by followers of the libertarian socialist Murray Bookchin to describe adherents of deep ecology, a philosophy that views humanity as a planet-wide parasite.
Unlike deep ecologists, ecofascists don’t believe all humans are killing the planet. Adopting the standard modus operandi of fascism, they shift the blame to a scapegoat—the developing world—and find in the climate crisis yet another pretext for genocide.
Seeing the climate crisis as an issue of overpopulation rather than overproduction, ecofascists draw inspiration from the writings of Finnish deep ecologist Pentti Linkola. Linkola advocates eugenic “breeding licenses” as well as violent and authoritarian measures to reduce human impact on the environment.
He once remarked that World War III would be a “happy occasion for the planet,” adding that if “there were a button I could press, I would sacrifice myself without hesitating, if it meant millions of people would die.”
Far-right edgelords find his articulation of “lifeboat ethics” particularly quotable:
What to do, when a ship carrying a hundred passengers suddenly capsizes and only one lifeboat? When the lifeboat is full, those who hate life will try to load it with more people and sink the lot. Those who love and respect life will take the ship’s axe and sever the extra hands that cling to the sides of the boat
Until very recently, ecofascism was somewhat rare outside of Europe. In the United States, environmentalism has traditionally been seen as the exclusive domain of the left. A few years back, the bulk of American /pol/ users took the position that climate change is a hoax—a Jewish psy-op to encourage white anti-natalism—but today the issue is more hotly contested.
Multinational online spaces allow for the American far-right to exchange ideas with their counterparts in Europe, where environmentalism transcends the left-right spectrum. Greenline Front, a decentralized ecofascist network that operates throughout Europe and in the Ukraine has begun making inroads stateside, opening chapters in Florida and the Midwest. Some of their members attended Unite the Right in Charlottesville, according to chat logs released by Unicorn Riot.
But perhaps more troubling is the northwestern collective called the “Pine Tree Gang,” a group of ecofascist Unabomber enthusiasts based in the Cascadia region. Later reconstituted as the Eco-Fascist Order (EFO), the group’s aesthetic mimics that of Atomwaffen, another decentralized cell-based organization responsible for five murders in the past few years.
Ecofascism meshes well with this subculture, sometimes called “Siegeposting,” which refers to the title of a compilation of essays by neo-Nazi militant James Mason. Siegeposters shun movement-building in favor of individual terror. They not only fetishize violence but also the occult, including Neo-Pagan mysticism and Satanism.
Siegeposters are particularly drawn to the other great figure in the ecofascist pantheon: Savitri Devi, a French-born Nazi sympathizer who moved to India and converted to Hinduism. After the war, she wrote treatises on animal rights, vegetarianism, esoteric Hitlerism and deep ecology.
She believed that Hitler was an avatar of Vishnu and that his death was a sacrifice that would bring about the end of the Kali Yuga, or “Age of Strife,” ushering in a Golden Era. Her writings provide a mystical halo that imbues ecofascism with a quasi-religious significance.
Race war preppers
Inside the private chats of The Base, a Neo-Nazi survivalist network gearing up for racial armageddon
Late last year, EFO linked up with a nationwide white separatist network known as The Base, which included a strong ecofascist presence. Drawing from multiple tendencies in the far-right, the network aspires to carry out an armed “liberation” struggle akin to the one executed by the Irish Republican Army. In private chats, they praised the shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue as a way to accelerate societal collapse.
As terrifying as these random “lone wolf” attacks are—imagine if they were organized. That’s what the Base hopes to make a reality.
Their leader, who goes by the name “Norman Spear,” pointed to the Unabomber as an ideal model for revolutionary violence.
The fortress on the hill
Though conservative denialism is genuinely frustrating and obstructs progress on the issue, there might be a worse scenario. What would happen if the broad right were to actually recognize the fact of climate change and the gravity of its consequences?
In the event that the right finally came to grips with the reality of this existential threat, it’s doubtful that they would consent to the pragmatic steps needed to address it. Likely it would be used as a pretext to justify even more unimaginable cruelty against immigrants.
If left unchecked, climate change is projected to displace 140 million in the Global South by 2050—and it’s almost a blessing that the majority of conservatives don’t believe this will actually happen. They would panic.
To the American right, responding to climate change would mean turning the country into a fortress.
Instead of transitioning off fossil fuels, they would think it all the more urgent to build the wall. Rather than funding the expansion of mass transit, they would raise the DHS budget so that every ICE and Border Patrol is kitted out like Rambo.
There’s a defect that hobbles conservative thinking—a tendency to avoid complexity and embrace simple answers. The concept of climate change is somewhat abstract, and its effects aren’t immediately observable. The solutions, too, are even more difficult to grasp.
American conservatism, much like fascism, needs its abstract problems to be transmuted into concrete enemies that can be fought, locked up, deported or killed. In El Paso, we saw what it looks like when this logic is followed all the way to its natural end.