I’ve argued repeatedly here that if you want to understand the rise of the global far-right movement you have to put climate denial at the centre of the picture. The chief protagonist in the conspiracy in the decades-long campaign to forestall action on global warming in order to protect corporate profits is Exxon Mobil. They knew in 1978 that the activities of companies like theirs would raise global temperatures by 2-3%, so they funded and coordinated campaigns designed to spread doubt, employing tactics and experts from the tobacco industry to do so and setting up“institutes” devoted to outright climate denial.
(This is not guesswork or conspiracy theorising. It’s verified and verifiable fact. If you have any doubts whatsoever about what I’m saying please do your own research, obviously steering clear of climate denial sites funded by Exxon Mobil, which as it happens is a very large proportion of them. Use reputable news sources instead – here is a useful map of them.)
So what’s the connection with the global far-right? I’ve argued that repressed fears about the future have been finding expression as rage directed at targets identified by far-right politicians, all of whom have – not by coincidence – climate denial as a central part of their programmes. However, there are also links at institutional and individual levels. Last month I wrote:
Anyone curious about Trump’s connections to Russia and what interests lie behind them does not need to go trawling through Wikileaks documents or hope that some hitherto unseen videotape comes to light. The fact that Putin has regularly been seen in the company of the man who Trump appointed his Secretary of State is troubling in itself.
….but it turns out I didn’t know the half of it. Democracy Now drew my attention to a recent article by the author and climate scientist Joe Romm, in which he wrote:
While Trump may not be able to destroy global climate action and the landmark 2015 Paris climate deal all by himself — as he pledged to do during the campaign — he probably could do that with help from Russia and the trillion-dollar oil industry.
So much is explained by Trump’s Secretary of State choice. Media reports now say it will be Rex Tillerson, CEO of oil giant ExxonMobil, which had made a $500 billion oil deal with Putin that got blocked by sanctions.
Stalling the biggest oil deal ever did not just “put Exxon at risk,” as the Wall Street Journal reported in 2014. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow explained last week this deal was so big it was “expected to change the historical trajectory of Russia.”
(Again, if you have any doubts, please read the links. The original report is from the Wall Street Journal. Is ithe WSJ a left-wing fake news outlet pushing a left-wing agenda? No, it’s owned by Rupert Murdoch, who is, as it happens, a climate denier. The article obviously slipped under his radar.)
I wrote in November 2015 that “it is simply impossible to imagine anything companies like Exxon and Shell would not do in order to protect their future incomes.” On the evening of Trump’s inauguration I argued that the Trump administration represents a coup by the climate denial industry and its backers in Big Oil. I was right.
In 2014 Naomi Klein wrote in ‘This Changes Everthing’ that we can no longer afford the illusion that small, gradual changes will be enough to save our stable climate. The antics of companies like Exxon Mobil have ensured that the only hope we now have is in mass social movements which seek to seize the power of those corporations and their political servants. Counter-revolutions happen not just in response to successful insurrections, but also to failed ones, to the threat of a political challenge. This reactionary wave, which has so far brought us Brexit and Trump and is quite possibly about to install a Holocaust denier as President of France, is a response to our failure to build those social movements. The immortally wise words of Sven Lindqvist (written in relation to genocide) encapsulate perfectly where we stand in terms of our responsibilies to our climate:
You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions.
The conclusion I draw is: we have to make Climate Change an absolutely central theme in the struggle to defeat the global far-right movement.
4 thoughts on “What’s behind the rise of the global far-right? Climate denial.”
And…how we do that? It’s not that I don’t agree with you, but I’m as much at a loss as to what to do on this as on any of the other myriad issues..
Good question! Sorry I didn’t say this in the piece, but i meant by raising it and keeping it in the air in discussions on and offline about what to do about Le Pen, Trump, etc. I think it very often gets left out so we need to insist on it even though it’s an eternally unpopular subject. Especially when it comes to identifying what this whole project is all about, the fact that it’s not incidental but rather central to what’s going on.
Great piece! Have been researching this myself for an upcoming article and it’s refreshing to read another analysis of the same facts.
Thanks! Glad to hear it! Where are you going to post the article?