Eco-fascists have donned green garb in pursuit of their own sinister cause. And it’s workingby Daniel Trilling / August 28, 2020 / Leave a comment
The Brexit Party’s election campaign launch last year marked a little-noticed shift on the UK’s populist right. The party’s “Contract with the People”—the sparse, corporate-style document of vague pledges that it published in place of a full manifesto—nodded towards climate change, with a promise to plant “millions of trees” to capture CO2 and “promote a global initiative at the UN.”
This was an apparently startling turnaround in the politics of its leader, Nigel Farage. Until then, the veteran Brexiteer had placed himself in the company of climate denialists. Farage has appeared numerous times on the shows of the popular far-right conspiracy website and broadcast network InfoWars. Once—the Guardian reported—he told its host Alex Jones that climate change was part of a “scam” engineered by “globalists” to introduce a form of worldwide government. Throughout his many years leading Ukip, Farage had either ignored or expressed varying degrees of scepticism about climate change. Ukip’s 2015 election manifesto, the last that Farage stood on as leader, vowed to repeal the 2008 Climate Change Act; a 2018 report by Ukip MEP John Stuart Agnew claimed that “human activity played no part whatsoever” in climate change. A Ukip councillor famously claimed in 2014 that flooding across Britain had been caused by God’s anger at gay marriage.
Was Farage’s apparent swerve just a cynical bit of positioning? The Brexit Party, recall, was his attempt to craft a single-issue vehicle to ramp up the pressure on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, and in pragmatic pursuit of that short-term goal he needed to attract a range of opinion. His new outfit tried hard to present itself as cutting across the political spectrum, making much of the fact that a few of its candidates had once been active on the left.
Perhaps the explanation is as simple as that. But could it be that Farage was being carried on a tide beyond his control? For there are other—more profound—shifts underway on the far right, as climate change becomes more difficult to ignore. A series of movements ranging from folksy populism to violent extremism are adapting their thinking, drawing from a wellspring of nationalist ideas about the connections between land and people to catch up with changing environmental realities.
This matters more than ever because far-right politicians now…