The Holocaust and today's climate emergency are not obvious bed fellows. But the post-Holocaust mantra “never again” has also been voiced by some climate activists who see similarities in the failure of Western governments in the 1930s to act to stop Hitler and an equivalent failure now to effectively halt state and corporate drives to biospheric catastrophe. This article examines whether the way Western society has understood the Holocaust in recent decades has relevance to the urge for climate action. It finds the mainstream, state-centred Holocaust paradigm wanting as a framework for empathy and solidarity with those in the Global South who will continue to suffer most as the environmental crisis magnifies. But with the likelihood of an explosion of environmental refugees across the world in coming decades and the increasing exclusion of those deemed outside the universe of obligation, it posits that Holocaust resonances are especially relevant in the here and now. In particular, it urges that the state of siege and exception likely to become prevalent as societies increasingly turn nationally populist and violent in the face of climate breakdown, demands a transformation of the Holocaust paradigm into one of active, grass-roots voice, speaking truth to power.
I would like to thank Roger Hallam, Donald Bloxham, Taner Akçam, Mike Joseph, Daniele Conversi, and Betty Levene for reading and commenting on the draft version of this piece. Thanks too to Elissavet Stagoni for assisting with its formatting.
"The Holocaust Paradigm as Paradoxical Imperative in the Century of Anthropogenic Omnicide,"
Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal:
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usf.edu/gsp/vol16/iss1/8
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License