What Could 'Carbofascism' Look Like? A Historical Perspective on Reactionary Politics in the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Antoine Acker

Published Mar 31, 2021


Political reactions to the COVID-19 crisis in the USA, Brazil and elsewhere have revealed the power of a proto-ideology which articulates environmental destruction with the sacrifice of human health to preserve a segregationist project of modernity. This essay suggests that this political trend which denies ecological connections and promotes a carbon intensive society could correspond to the notion of ┬┤carbofascism┬┤, coined by the environmental historian J.-B. Fressoz. It addresses this trend in a historical perspective to discuss its ideological filiation with past fascisms and provide a hypothesis for the causes of its emergence. Carbofascism is possibly a product of the deep historical entwinement of modern democratic regimes with anthropocentric principles and the growth of fossil fuels. The coronavirus pandemic represents a turning point in which the integrity of human and non-human life is tested against the lingering toxicity of our patterns of energy dependency, making the transformation of carbon democracy into ecodemocracy urgent.

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