During the first three decades of the 1900s there was an intense ecological movement in Germany. It was a movement of youth that promoted a return to the land and opposed industrialization’s damage to the earth. They were called Wandervögel or in English “wandering free spirits”. They practiced and idealized a lot of the same things as modern day environmentalists. But what ultimately became of this movement would horrify most of today’s environmental activists.
Most of these nature-loving youngsters became Nazis. Yes, Nazis. The Nazi Party successfully recruited them by exploiting their message of benign ‘Earth purity’ into that of a murderous ‘human purification’. Thus the ‘Green Wing’ of the Nazi Party was born and became one of the driving influences to the holocaust.
What does this mean for today’s ecological movement? Does this mean that ecology and fascism go hand-in-hand? Definitely not, but it does means that we are vulnerable.
How do we make sure that people seeking social and ecological change are never exploited again?
One way is to recognize that healthy, earth-sustaining activities are a privilege and ensure that whatever cause we as individuals choose to support, whether it be animal rights, organic farming or nature preservation, we always keep the well-being of our fellow humans central to our work.
Signs that your environmental interests are being hijacked by a fascist:
1. You’re encouraged by your local PETA supporter to be more concerned for the welfare of farm animals than that of the poor people who care for them.
2. Someone you know repeatedly implies that immigrants are bad for the environment.
3. Your neighbor annoyingly monitors everything you put in the recycling bin, but evades conversations on corporate waste.
4. You find yourself sympathizing with Hollywood celebrities (especially young, blond ones) who confront poor villagers over their life-sustaining hunting practices and then fly back to L.A. in gas guzzling private jets.
What to do:
1. Step away from the haters!
2. Remember that immigrants plant, pick and slaughter most of the food in this country. The better they are treated, the better they will treat your food.
3. Celebrities may be pretty, but they usually aren’t so bright. Don’t trust them to give you sound advice on urgent environmental issues.
4. Whole Foods may talk a good game, but it’s still a corporation and only accessible by the super-rich. If you support local growers that make themselves available to everyday people, then you increase the chance that everyday people will have access to organic food.