Thursday, 12 September 2013

A brief history of eco-fascism

I'd always thought of The Soil Association as decent, but dull. Monty Don getting some good, honest, organic muck under his fingernails, well-off, concerned liberals saving bees and songbirds from the relentless march of petrochemical-enabled, pesticide-drenched monocultures by way of premium-priced certified Waitrose spuds, that sort of thing.

Look into the origins of The Soil Association, though, and it all gets a bit weird. You start hearing all sorts of stuff that doesn't get a mention on Countryfile. Naked calisthenics on the banks of the Cam for example, or earth magic that connects the universe to the soil via the conducting rod of the human body, or an esoteric quasi-military, ultra-royalist group dedicated to reinstating feudalism, or Biodynamic forces from distant planets influencing 'the life of plants via the silicious and kindred substances into the plant and also into the animal life of the Earth', or the British Union of Fascists, or the SS Obergruppenführer whose plans for Britain involved enslaving, sterilising, or exterminating most of the population (except for a million or two 'young women of the Nordic type' to be used for breeding purposes).

Meet the colourful morris-dancing Fascist, Rolf Gardiner and Nazi fellow traveller Gerard Wallop, ninth earl of Portsmouth, who got together to found "Kinship in Husbandry" an organisation that, with the help of Jorian Jenks (formerly of the British Union of Fascists), became the Soil Association.

The Soil Association's own web site says that 'The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by a group of far-sighted individuals who were concerned about the health implications of increasingly intensive agricultural systems following the Second World War' which isn't necessarily untrue, but omits some interesting facts about the 'far-seeing' founders' fascination with Fascism and mystical wibble. You can see why they'd downplay the Fascist thing, although a hankering after ultra-royalist feudalism, along with the mystical wibble, might still appeal to the organisation's current patron.

I've no reason to suppose that many of today's eco warriors know, or approve, of Gardiner, Wallop and Jenks' disturbing political views, but if you want proof that fringe groups of eco-fascist mystics still exist, take a look at this page on "folk ecology" as espoused by a group calling itself "Woden's Folk." Woden's Folk, naturally, claim to be apolitical, but you don't have to be too paranoid to find their language and logo more than a little bit dodgy...

Fortunately, Woden's Folk haven't yet taken to the streets on behalf of racial purity and their mystical connection with the land, although they did indulge in a bit of direct action back in 2007, when they protested against the filming of an episode of Trinny & Susannah Undress at the site of the Long Man of Wilmington, thus upholding a proud British Fascist tradition of comic ineffectiveness.


Anonymous said...

This is the short explanation, obviously lacking any citations. The NSDAP co-opted many ideas that they did not lay the ideological groundwork for. Walther Darre solidified the support of the agrarian peasantry for the party before he was made powerless by the mid/late 30's. Rolf Gardiner and Walther Darre strongly opposed WWII. They supported a decentralized peasant autarky not genocidal invasions under the banner of lebensraum. Their 'fascist' visions were much closer to an Amish society than a Shutzstaffel.

If Gardiner is to be charged for such ideological associations then why don't we also subject notions such as egalitarianism to such loose standards of evaluation?

If we find ourselves today in a mass extinction maybe its time for such an analysis?

Andrew King said...

‘This is the short explanation, obviously lacking any citations.’

I’m sure that others could provide more detail and nuance, but a few things stand out and make me think there’s a case to answer here:

Richard Walter Darré wrote Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der nordischen Rasse (1928) and Neuadel aus Blut und Boden (1934), translated into English as "The Peasantry as Life Source of the Nordic Race" and "A New Nobility of Blood and Soil" respectively.

He rose to the rank SS-Obergruppenführer and helped Himmler set up the SS Race and Resettlement Office.

Tried for war crimes, he was found guilty of ‘atrocities and offences committed against civilian populations between 1938 and 1945’ and ‘membership of criminal organizations.’

Here’s Darré in his own words – ‘The concept of Blood and Soil gives us the moral right to take back as much land in the East as is necessary to establish a harmony between the body of our Volk and the geopolitical space.’

Rolf Gardiner held strong public views on Jews, racial purity, and the future of Europe. Rolf Gardiner was an admirer of Darré and Gardiner himself seems to have held similar views on racial purity (strongly for) and democracy and pluralism (strongly against):

‘In a series of publications from 1928 he articulated racial theories (Baltic peoples versus Mediterranean peoples) and the need for national reversals of "impoverishment" of the stock.’ (Richard Griffiths, Fellow-Travellers of the Right (1980), p. 143).

‘Writing in the Array's Quarterly Gazette, Gardiner was an apologist for German "leadership" in Central Europe, dictatorships, and "racial regeneration".’ (Griffiths, p. 75).

Jorian Jenks’ membership of the British Union of Fascists speaks for itself.

Gerard Wallop founded the British Council Against European Commitments in 1938 with William Joyce (‘Lord Haw-Haw’).

You say ‘If Gardiner is to be charged for such ideological associations then why don't we also subject notions such as egalitarianism to such loose standards of evaluation?’

Because Darré was a senior Nazi, Jenks had been a card-carrying Fascist, Wallop was an appeaser and associate of a leading Nazi proapagandist and there is an excellent fit Gardiner’s own self-proclaimed views and those of his associates – hardly a loose standard of evaluation.

You also say ‘If we find ourselves today in a mass extinction maybe its time for such an analysis?’

I’m pretty certain we are in an a period of anthropocentric mass extinction. Which is one very good reason why we need an ecological movement people can take seriously, as opposed to one tainted by association with cranks, mystical feudalists and Fascist fellow-travellers.