The Right Wing Organic Farmers of Germany
Sally McGrane | New Yorker | January 11, 2013
** The Right Wing Organic Farmers of Germany: “I am not a Nazi,” he said. “But ask your Native Americans what they think of multiculturalism.” (Sally McGrane | New Yorker | January 11, 2013)
** The Stark Truth: Greg Johnson on Eco-Fascism: Greg Johnson’s definition of fascism; * Human-centrism versus nature-centrism, and its religious roots; * Savitri Devi and Pentti Linkola; * Vegetarianism and the quality of life of farm animals; (April 2, 2012 | Reason Radio | Robert Stark & Greg Johnson)
** German far-right extremists tap into green movement for support: Support for ecological movement and conservation used to try to recruit a new generation of supporters (Kate Connolly | The Observer | 28 April 2012 23.51 BST)
The Right Wing Organic Farmers of Germany
“I am not a Nazi,” he said. “But ask your Native Americans what they think of multiculturalism.”
Sally McGrane | New Yorker | January 11, 2013
As the afternoon sun slanted into the farmhouse at the edge of the forest in this idyllic rural corner of northeast Germany, Helmut Ernst poured two glasses of cloudy apple juice and started talking. The forty-five-year-old organic corn farmer and sometime activist is against genetically-engineered crops, industrial soy farms in South America, and imported butter’s carbon footprint. Petite, blue-eyed, and engaging, Ernst does not belong to the Green Party. Rather, he says that he is a former member of the National Democratic Party (N.P.D.), which, for most Germans, is pretty much the same as announcing that you are a virulent neo-Nazi. Ernst said that he left the N.P.D. because “too many people were nostalgic for National Socialism,” but that many elements of the ultra-right political platform (drastically reducing immigration, cutting off Israel) still appeal to him. “I am not a Nazi,” he said. “But ask your Native Americans what they think of multiculturalism.”
Every fifth German buys organically-grown foods on a regular basis. Most simply assume that their pesticide-free carrots and still-dirty locally-grown potatoes come from ideologically progressive left-leaning farms. But “Brown Environmentalists,” a book published a year ago by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, the Green Party’s political foundation, highlighted another phenomenon: right-wing extremists championing environmental causes and engaging in organic farming, particularly in the depopulated, rural former east. “What we’re seeing is a stable right-wing movement in Eastern Germany,” said Hubertus Buchstein, who is a political science professor at the University of Greifswald and one of the book’s authors. “Some of them have started organic farming—it seems to fit the right wing. Now, instead of being militant, a new strategy is to live in the country and sell organic apples. Some are vegan, very strict.”
As the Böll foundation’s book points out, environmentalism in Germany—an issue that today, while mainstream, is still strongly identified with the left—has deep right-wing roots. Late nineteenth-century “blood and soil” narratives celebrated a racist, often anti-Semitic and socially-Darwinistic picture of the German countryside. The Nazis, who adopted the “blood and soil” idea, were proponents of a quasi-mystical connection between the land and ethnic identity. “Today, neo-Nazis still like to point out that Hitler’s environmental protection laws stayed on the books until the 1970s,” writes the journalist Toralf Staud in “Brown Environmentalists.” Even the Green Party had an extreme right-wing contingent at its founding in 1980 (the left prevailed, and the party thrived). Counterintuitive as it may be, the extremists’ glossy environmental magazine Umwelt & Aktiv (“Environment & Active”), which slips xenophobic tracts on Islamic religious practices in along with articles about harmful pesticides, is not historically inaccurate with its slogan, “Environmental Protection Isn’t Green.”
In a country of “organic mamas” that is also deeply sensitive to any signs of a re-ascendency of the ideas of “the man with the mustache” (as one organic farmer referred to Hitler), the story has caught on. In the year since “Brown Environmentalists” came out, it’s been picked up by most major German papers (“Idyll in Green-Brown”; “What Color is Organic?”). The number of actual right-wing organic farmers, however, appears to be quite small. “For the most part, the organic-farming movement comes out of a progressive, leftist movement, not a conservative one,” said Alexander Gerber, the head of BÖLW, the German league of organic food producers. “The ‘blood and soil’ idea is in no way dominant. It’s just a few cases.” Just to be clear, though, this summer BÖLW issued a resolution stating that organic farming stands for “a respectful relationship with nature, animals and people,” and is in no way compatible with ideologies that are “contemptuous of humanity.”
Günther Hoffmann, a sanguine outdoorsman with stained teeth, gray hair to his shoulders, and a big Eurasian dog, is an expert on right-wing extremism; recently, he served as a consultant to a large organic label looking to draft a similar “no neo-Nazis” addendum. We met at noon in a cozy, rundown, G.D.R.-time-capsule of a tavern in the tiny town of Bugewitz, about an hour from the Polish border. “These [organic] organizations are in the process of self-examination, of asking themselves, ‘what are our values?’” said Hoffmann, whose German is inflected with French terms like degoutant, the word he applies, with feeling, to the N.P.D. In certain realms, the distinction between left and right can be murky: “At a place like Demeter”—an international organic label, whose certification standards are based on Rudolf Steiner’s teachings—“with its anthroposophic philosophy, an esoteric strain of Nazi thought can find a place, without calling attention to itself,” he said. “They had this problem, and they hadn’t noticed it.”
Still, the Böll report notwithstanding, neo-Nazi organic farmers are a marginal phenomena, stressed Hoffmann. “You have to understand, it’s a very small part of a bigger picture.” A recent study found that nearly sixteen per cent of people living in the former East Germany hold extreme right-wing attitudes; this heterogeneous group includes well-organized, aggressive young men, barflies, lawyers, women, volunteer firemen, and the sect-like back-to-the-land colonies of right-wing families, some of them second and third generation Nazis, whose women wear ankle-length skirts and whose affinity for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, with its gently rolling fields and hauntingly beautiful lakes, has earned the region a reputation in recent years as a “Tuscany for neo-Nazis.” Indeed, when Hoffmann moved here with his family shortly after the Wall fell, he wasn’t expecting to become an expert on the right-wing scene. Originally from Munich, he had simply fallen in love with the area’s moody, romantic landscape. Then a high-ranking right-wing extremist moved in down the road.
The N.P.D., which only gets about one and a half per cent of the vote in the country as a whole, has done well in the east: with between five and six per cent of the vote, they now have seats in the state legislatures in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saxony. One softer tactic they employ is acting as “helpers,” assisting with unemployment bureaucracy, organizing kids’ parties, and taking old people to the doctor (a strategy known as “the nice Nazi from next door”). Another is to champion popular environmental causes, often with xenophobic undertones: they are against “nuclear death from Poland,” genetically-altered crops made by American companies, and giant pig farms. Hoffmann’s phone rang: an official announcement had been made that some of the funding for an N.S.U. terror cell had come from this area; he would be available later that day to for media comments. He hung up, rubbed his eyes and rolled a cigarette. “Buying an apple once in a while from Mr. Ernst,” he said, “it’s not the same as putting up a swastika.”
» » » » [New Yorker]
The Stark Truth: Greg Johnson on Eco-Fascism
April 2, 2012 | Reason Radio | Robert Stark & Greg Johnson
Robert interviews Dr. Greg Johnson. Topics include:
* Greg Johnson’s definition of fascism;
* Human-centrism versus nature-centrism, and its religious roots;
* Savitri Devi and Pentti Linkola;
* Vegetarianism and the quality of life of farm animals;
* Martin Heiddeger and his views on modernity’s assumptions about nature;
* Henry Williamson and Jorian Jenks.
» » » » [Reason Radio]
German far-right extremists tap into green movement for support
Support for ecological movement and conservation used to try to recruit a new generation of supporters
Kate Connolly in Berlin | The Observer | 28 April 2012 23.51 BST
German consumers are being warned that when they buy organic produce they may be supporting the far-right movement, following the revelation that rightwing extremists in Germany have embraced the ecological movement and are using it to tap into a new generation of supporters.
Debunking the popular view that equates eco-friendliness with cuddly, left-leaning greens, rightwing extremists have even begun to publish their own conservation magazine, which is believed to have the backing of the far-right National Democratic party (NPD). Alongside gardening tips and reports on the dangers of genetically modified milk are articles riddled with rightwing ideology and racial slurs. Bavaria's domestic intelligence agency has described the magazine, Umwelt und Aktiv (Environment and Active), as a "camouflage publication" for the NPD.
"We have to get used to the fact that the term 'bio' [organic] does not automatically mean equality and human dignity," said Gudrun Heinrich of the University of Rostock, who has just published a study on the topic called Brown Ecologists, a reference to the Nazi Brownshirts and their modern-day admirers.
Hotbeds of far-right eco-warriors are to be found throughout Germany. In the Mecklenburg region in the north, they have been quietly settling in communities since the 1990s in an effort to reinvigorate the traditions of the Artaman League – a farming movement whose roots lie in the 19th century romantic ideal of "blood and soil" ruralism, which was adopted by the Nazis. Heinrich Himmler, the SS leader, was a member. "They propagate a way of living which involves humane raising of plants and animals, is both nationalistic and authoritarian, and in which there's no place for pluralism and democracy," said Heinrich, adding that the NPD is closely linked to the settlers, helping the party become "deeply rooted in these rural areas".
The settlers produce "German honey", bake bread from homegrown wheat, produce fruit and vegetables for sale, and knit their own woollen sweaters. Observers have noted that the far-right farmers have been able to profit from the cheap and spacious swaths of land left by a population exodus from impoverished states in the former East Germany, such as Mecklenburg.
Political scientists argue that the NPD is trying to wrest the ecological movement back from the left, particularly the German Greens, who rose to prominence in the 1980s to become Europe's most successful ecological party.
Hans-Günter Laimer, a farmer in Lower Bavaria who once ran for election for the NPD and is linked to Umwelt und Aktiv, questions why the left has been allowed to dominate the organic scene for so long. "What is the difference between my cucumbers and those of someone from the Green party?" he said.
A representative of the Centre for Democratic Culture, in Roggentin in Mecklenburg, who did not wish to be identified for security reasons, recently told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper: "They want that people don't think about politics when they hear the word NPD. They want as far as possible to build subtle bridges into the lives of other citizens … ecological topics are becoming increasingly important for rightwing extremists."
At the same time as it was butchering millions of people, the Nazi party supported animal rights and nature conservation. But it is disturbing for many Germans to think that while they support local producers and reject genetically modified food, pesticides and intensive livestock farming, there is now little – superficially at least – to distinguish a supposedly well-meaning, leftist Green from a far-right eco enthusiast.
The department of rural enlightenment in the state of Rheinland Pfalz has even produced a brochure called Nature Conservation versus Rightwing Extremism, which aims to help organic farmers resist the infiltration of fascists into their ranks and to be able to respond to any far-righters they might encounter. Its author, historian Nils Franke, said: "Because of the success of the eco topic in the wider society, the NPD has a heightened interest in wanting to fly the flag with it."
Biopark, an organic cultivation organisation that vets its members before certifying them as organic farmers, said there was little it could do to exclude the rightwing extremist members it knew were in its ranks.
"I don't appreciate the ideology of these people and I can understand if people choose not to buy from us as a result, but I can't vet them according to their political affiliations, only based on their cultivation methods," said its manager, Delia Micklich.
» » » » [Guardian, via New Order]