‘We are nothing without nature’- The emotional resonance of far-right ecologist online content in public Telegram channels
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Recently, ecofascism, a radical environmentalist ideology often associated with (Neo-)Nazis, has regained popular interest following several right-wing extremist terrorist attacks (Christchurch (2019) and El Paso (2019)) after which the attackers cited the ideology as a motivation. In both cases, online platforms played a role as sources of radical ideas, and in general, there is an established link between extremist online forums and offline violence. Given the renewed relevance of ecofascism as a motivator for violence, this thesis aims to understand how ecofascist groups of the far-right achieve emotional resonance with their audience by using a centuries-old ideology. The aim is to contribute towards an understanding of the underlying mechanisms of ecofascist thought that explain its appeal and ability to motivate violence. To address this question, this thesis will conduct a qualitative case study analysis on far-right environmentalist Telegram channels using a snowballing sampling method. In order to identify relevant content, this thesis will operationalize the far-right ecologism (FRE) framework. The FRE framework will also be used to code the sample according to an interpretative theme. Additionally, frame analysis, and the sensitizing concepts of emotional resonance and contextual shifts are used to address how an interplay of framings, appeals to emotions, and a global context characterized by environmental crises may contribute towards the resonance of ecofascist content. The thesis concludes that an important component of the emotional resonance of far-right ecologist content is the way posts not only associate nature with white supremacist ideology, but also how they connect these themes to a global, changing context characterized by environmental crises. This interplay of ideas aims to create a larger, emotional impact on their audience. The relevance of this insight is that the strategic use of themes of environmental crises by the far-right might serve as a new entry point to extremist ideologies and aid the recruitment of new members, especially those already concerned over environmental degradation.