Environmentalism can be a gateway to convert some to the far-right

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.


In the midst of it, a white supremacist writer referenced the essay in an article for VDare, writing that “Hardin’s prescriptions for averting the Malthusian catastrophe—they included eugenics, an end to welfare and foreign aid, and allowing famines to take their course—were too strong for most people.” Another article invoking Hardin on stopping the “refugee invasion” by a Canadian nativist writer was reprinted on the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer which now features a demographic countdown clock on its sidebar. The Finnish ecofascist Pentti Linkola once put a finer point on Hardin’s metaphor, writing: “What to do, when a ship carrying a hundred passengers suddenly capsizes and there is 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.”

Where Hardin’s legacy is most embraced today, if not explicitly referenced, is at the border. In a 1997 letter to the ACLU denouncing the civil rights organization for defending the Fourteenth Amendment’s citizenship clause, Hardin wrote about being “daily confronted with hordes of highly pregnant Mexicans coming across the border at the last minute and having their babies in American hospitals—at American expense,” anticipating the rise to prominence of the nativist “anchor baby” talking point by nearly a decade, and the El Paso massacre by two.

Late last year, an English writer for the white nationalist website Counter-Currents wrote a book review titled “Environmentalism and White Nationalism: A Shared Destiny,” arguing that

environmentalists and “White Nationalists” . . . are cogent and persuasive in perceiving a major problem in the world, but inadequate and unconvincing in offering ways to meet the challenges they describe, because each is blind in one eye. Environmentalists react allergically . . . to anything which smacks of racial differentiation (“racism”), whilst those who are racially conscious strike what is usually no more than an insincere pose—one without substance or seriousness—on the subject of the environment. . . . Environmental degradation and population explosion constitute the two sides of one and the same challenge and disaster. It is time to connect the dots.

Watching Tucker Carlson on any given night, or the president for that matter, and it’s obvious just how deeply white nationalist ideas have penetrated the mainstream. That’s why it’s essential that the left and environmentalists can’t get too comfortable with their current dominance on the issue of fighting the climate crisis. Writers like Betsy Hartmann have written perceptively about how alarmist concern over potential climate migrants could ultimately play into the hands of both ethnonationalist movements and the national security state. American white nationalists have already begun to spread “plant more trees; save the seas; deport refugees” propaganda.

And Senator Bernie Sanders’s recent stumble at CNN’s Climate Town Hall on a question about population and abortion rights—posed by an audience member who called the topic “poisonous for politicians, but . . . crucial to face”—underscores that it’s more than just “Science Is Real” liberals who are susceptible to deceptive, Hardin-esque “common sense” on the topic of population. Carbon intensive industries, and not poor populations, are the primary culprit of the climate crisis. Irrespective of climate change, all women should have access to contraceptives and safe abortion services.