Ecology and Trumpism

Until quite recently, I was of the opinion that ecological preservation was pretty much the only thing the Democratic Party had going for it, an atavistic reactionary plank in its increasingly anti-traditional and socially corrosive platform. Thus, from my misguided liberal youth onward I retained a certain loyalty to the Party of Calhoun, even after I had abandoned practically every other social or political position now associated with that organization, because I believed it was the only one in the United States to take ecology seriously.

By and large this remains true, as the Republican establishment nowadays is so in thrall to neoliberalism and delusional techno-optimism that any concern for the integrity of wild nature has fallen by the wayside. However, it has become increasingly clear that the political left views ecology (much like science in general) simply as a weapon for destroying the last vestiges of traditional society. For them, ecology is less an injunction to preserve the beauty and grandeur of the natural world and more of a means by which to indict heritage Americans for their consumption and racism. And as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, most of the causes espoused by the contemporary left – – globalism, unrestricted immigration, thoughtless humanitarianism, the desecration of the sacred and the toppling of authority, the promotion of hedonistic individualism, the denigration of truth, beauty, and justice in favor of relativism and artifice – are in fact more likely to lead to environmental degradation and the destruction of any traditional reverence for the land, rather than its preservation.

What is a traditionalist, a deep ecologist, and a Man of the Right to do? Well one option of course is to wash one’s hands of the entire American political system, which in practically any other election cycle would likely have been my suggestion. However, given that the upcoming presidential election poses a uniquely interesting contest between a neoliberal third-worldist and a man who is literally Hitler, a closer examination might be warranted.

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Secretary Clinton’s environmental policy prescriptions are fairly predictable, and like those of her predecessors are certain to take a back seat to more pressing issues of social justice, economic redistribution., and demographic displacement. What about Trump?

Many on the TRVE RIGHT (which, it goes without saying, does not include the “cuckservative” establishment pawns) have expressed an admiration for Donald Trump as something more than a mere Republican candidate, regarding him as the last defender of the historic American nation and European-American culture against the dismal tide of political correctness, replacement-rate immigration, and anarcho-tyranny. Some have even gone so far as to view him as an Americanized crypto-fascist and an avatar of Kalki, both which might have an element of truth. Whatever Trump’s merits as an individual – and the Southerner in me has a hard time getting over his crassness and lack of statesmanlike qualities – the ideology of Trumpism represents a unique force in American politics, one that could herald the birth of a TRVE RIGHT in this country, outside the delusional anti-conservative conservatism espoused by the Republican Beltway establishment.

With regard to the particular focus of this website, it is true that Trump has not said much about his policy prescriptions concerning wilderness, energy, or environmental regulations. By all accounts, Trump supports the federal conservation of public lands and big wilderness. While the left, despite some lip service to the idea of wilderness, typically decries its proponents as racist elitists and concentrates more on issues of urban pollution and “environmental justice,” here we have Trump voicing wholesomely retro view on “keeping the land great.” When asked about the transfer of federal public lands to the states, he replied:

I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land. This is magnificent land. And we have to be great stewards of this land.

While from a decentralist and bioregionalist perspective this transfer of public lands might seem a positive development, given the nature of the state and local governments in the West, such a development would invariably lead to the commercialization of wilderness and its destruction at the hands of short-sighted state politicians, ranchers, and industrialists. As Earth First! founder and honorary Man of the Right Dave Foreman complained in 1987, lambasting the ecological indifference typically displayed by the “know-nothing, provincial, resource-exploiting bumpkin proletarian of North America’s rural areas,”

While local control of the land is fine in theory and as a long-term goal (after rustics are enlightened to biocentrism), let us remember that we would not have one area of protected Wilderness or other natural areas in most of the western states if it were up to the state level politicians or rural residents of those states… Congress is a shining beacon of biocentric enlightenment when compared to any state legislature in the West, or worse yet, to a rural county commissioner (Dave Foreman, “Reinhabitation, Biocentrism and Self Defense,” EF! Journal 7, no. 7 (August 1, 1987), 22).

If any further endorsement is required, Trump’s stance was slammed by more mainline Republican opponents such as Ted Cruz, one of whose ads stated: “Eighty-five percent of Nevada is owned and regulated by the federal government, and Donald Trump wants to keep big government in charge. That’s ridiculous.”

While it is true that Trump denies anthropogenic climate change, to our mind this is not particularly relevant.  There are several disadvantages to relying upon global warming as the litmus test for establishing ecological bona fides.

For one, though the evidence is compelling, it may be the case that anthropogenic climate change is simply not real, or at least does not pose the kind of threat currently assumed. It is foolish to make something as unstable as the scientific consensus the basis for any abiding worldview or political movement. The very essence of the scientific endeavor is its value-free denial of absolute truth in which all hypotheses are falsifiable. Even if a few contemporary scientific hypotheses happen to agree with the metaphysical intuition of our dark green ecology, by the very nature of the scientific enterprise they might be completely discredited in a few years, along with any political outlook founded upon them. To claim that one current scientific hypothesis or another should serve as the foundation for any kind of social or moral outlook can only invite relativism and nihilism, and opens one up to being wholly discredited by a change in the consensus – this is what happened to those like Paul Ehrlich, whose inaccurate predictions of resource scares in the 1970s ultimately undermined his more substantive arguments concerning population growth.

More importantly, by positing something like global warming as the chief ecological threat facing the world, it is implied that if the necessary technology were invented to solve it – injecting albedo into the atmosphere, launching giant mirrors into space, and other equally hubristic forms of geoengineering – humanity would be able to go about our lives much as we always have, free of any major systemic changes. However, solving the threat of global warming through better technology or energy efficiency will not get at the root of the problem: the contravention of the natural order, excessive multiplication of humanity, the technologization of the Earth and transformation of natural beauty into slums and parking lots. In short, much like the contemporary drive for “sustainability,” the focus on global warming is a diversion from what is truly needful: respecting the natural order and mankind’s place in it, putting an end to our wasteful and hubristic manner of existence.

Additionally, focusing on greenhouse gas emissions instead of matters like biodiversity and wilderness preservation effectively serves to shift the blame for environmental degradation entirely to developed (Western) nations. It conveniently masks the numerous ecological sins committed by the oppressed peoples of the world – poaching, deforestation, excessive reproduction – and therefore serves the third wordlist narrative that holds white Europeans culpable for all of the world’s ills.

Thus, the numerous people proclaiming Trump as the next environmental Anti-Christ have committed the typical lefty trick of conflating pro-ecological attitudes with a wholescale acceptance of climate science, particulate regulation, environmental justice for communities of color, and the rest of the Green Party platform. Indeed, this points to a historical rupture between the traditional wilderness conservation movement – which was as a rule aristocratic, antimodernist, oriented towards rural and wilderness areas, strongly religious, aesthetic and spiritual in values, middle-and upper-class in sympathy, and informed by a view of history as decline and regression, and the human health and anti-pollution movement, which was generally more urban in focus and attuned to the lower classes and ethnic minorities [Stephen Fox, John Muir and His Legacy: The American Conservation Movement (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1981) 354-5]. With the co-optation of ecology by the political left these two movements essentially merged in the 1970s to become the modern environmental movement, but the tensions between them were never really resolved. As a result, most of those who call themselves environmentalists today would scarcely be recognizable by the likes of Muir and Roosevelt.

Now with Trump, of course, it is difficult to tell whether he is espousing a deeply-held principle or simply making an off-the-cuff remark to pander to his base. However, Trumpism’s significance to the cause of right-wing ecology may have less to do with his actual policy positions on public lands and energy extraction, and more to do with the broader social revolution he aims to affect. What would a Trumpist revolution achieve that would be more conducive, in the long run, for the creation of a traditionalist, and therefore more ecocentric, society?

trump-on-war

IMMIGRATION. The most important aspect of the Trumpist political platform is his promise to strictly curtail immigration into the United States. In addition to its beneficial effects for reversing the demographic trend, thus preserving the character of the historic American nation and improving social cohesion, this will also have ecological benefits. Given that the US has the highest population growth of any Western country, and that immigration is the primary driver of it, stopping the mass movement of people into our fragile bioregions can only be a positive development. In the end, the desire for rampant immigration, open borders, and “multiculturalism” is simply a front for neoliberal transnational corporations, using progressive verbiage and useful idiots in order to advance their agenda.

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE. Trump has also shown great enthusiasm for American energy independence, promising to “save the coal industry,” approve Keystone XL, roll back federal controls on energy development, and withdraw the US from the Paris global climate agreement. While any traditionalist, especially of an ecological bent, should be wary of excessive enthusiasm for technology and unfettered energy extraction, a knee-jerk Luddism would seem to be unfounded. In this case, the benefits to be gained from increased domestic energy production – less reliance on foreign oil, reduced involvement in the Middle East, less money being siphoned off to Israel, Arab monarchs, and terrorists – would likely outweigh the possible environmental damages. Essentially, the “turning inward” of America, a necessary precondition of which is energy independence, would almost certainly enable more investment in wilderness conservation and renewable sources of clean energy. Despite its obvious risks, the net ecological benefits of an America First energy policy may be greater than those on the environmental left suppose. As The Man Himself said, in his eloquent fashion,

Well, I’m very much into energy, and I’m very much into fracking and drilling, and we never want to be hostage again to OPEC and go back to where we were. And right now, we’re at a very interesting point because right now there’s so much energy. And I’ve always said it—there’s so much energy. And new technology has found that. And maybe that’s an advantage… because we don’t have to do the kind of drilling that we did. But I am for energy exploration, as long as we don’t do anything to damage the land. And right now we don’t need too much; there’s a lot of energy

CIVIC PRIDE. Perhaps Trump’s greatest triumph has been renewing the spirits of the TRVE RIGHT in America, sunk into a miasma of cultural pessimism and impotence since the 1960s. Trump promises to Make America Great Again. This obviously involves an increase in economic production and the well-being of our citizens, and an increased respect among world nations. From our perspective – and based on his comments about “keeping the land great” this seems to be shared by Trump as well – making America great again necessarily involves the protection of our wildlife and our scenic beauty, the vast and rugged wilderness that formed the character of our historic nation. A greater pride in one’s country must include a sense of ecological patriotism as well, a desire to invest greater time and resources in to the preservation of our natural heritage and less in coddling parasites or fighting needless wars.

Ultimately, whether Trump wins or loses, whether Trumpism truly has the potential to evolve into a more “orthodox” rightist ideology or will remain limited by its populism and civic nationalism, Trumpism represents an important stage in what might be called the “Great War by Proxy.” The enemy is a loose collection of many conflicting interests, united solely by their desire to destroy the traditional culture of this nation and its standard-bearers. On one end, the fight is against global capitalism, banks, postmodern and rabble-rousing academics, Hollywood: the movers and shakers, the political, corporate, academic, and media elites. On the other end, the fight is to contain the swelling tide of Üntermenschen: this involves stricter prison sentencing, ending illegal immigration, paring down the welfare state; all of this will ensure that undesirables will be either deported, jailed, or discouraged from reproducing. Together, these policies might serve to preserve the core of the historic American nation against the pincer grip, from above and below, which has been assailing it since the sixties.

In a healthy traditional society, the ideas of the elites and those of the masses would not be so wholly opposed as they are today. They would be differently formulated, of course, but in their essential content they would not be at odds. Even the Platonic “noble lie” is not truly a lie, but rather a simplification of the truth in a mythic form for popular consumption. Today, the working classes supporting Trump (as distinct from the lumpenproles) are still fundamentally traditional and healthy in their instincts – conservative, ethnocentric, xenophobic, pious – while the elites in academia, government, and finance have adopted an alien creed and used police power to enforce it. The greatest risk of Trumpism is that its essentially traditionalist program will be subverted and defanged by neoliberal oligarchs. If this is the case, Making America Great Again will become nothing more than an economic prescription, and preserving the beauty, health, and virtue of America’s sons and their native land will become increasingly irrelevant. Whether Trump is sincere or able to achieve is promises, let this stand as an encomium to the idea he represents and what he might have achieved. In the end, Trump may not be the hero Amerikaners need, but he is the one we deserve.

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