Democracy, Social Justice or Ecology?

Posted by Mato Ska at Green Party Watch, a discussion of which focus should be primary for the Greens. Here is a portion of the essay; the rest is on the linked site.

At the Green Party National Convention there was a panel discussion on the foundation strategy and politics of the Green Party. Panelists focused on democracy, ecology and social justice as the major underlying issues that the Green Party has actively worked around. I don’t want to try and characterize the discussion but would present my own case here for a greener Green Party. There is a distinction here for me that distinguishes my own position from that of environmentalism that comes from my political background. Unlike many others who are focused on ecological issues, I did not come to the Green Party from environmentalist work or an advocacy group. The first time I worked with a Green campaign was in Las Cruces, NM in support of Roberto Mondragon’s campaign for Governor.

21 thoughts on “Democracy, Social Justice or Ecology?

  1. paulie cannoli Post author

    Well, I don’t think those necessarily conflict. Actually, I am of the opinion that social justice is best achieved through freedom.

    But this isn’t about what you or I want. I’m reporting on the Green Party here, which is part of the mission of this website. Obviously, we aren’t always going to agree with them. But this isn’t an all-libertarian blog either; plenty of those out there already.

  2. Gregg Jocoy

    G.E. I can’t imagine you meant what you wrote. The government is certainly not the exclusive purveyor of force. You can’t ascribe a man beating his mate to the government. You can’t blame government for organized crime controlling the lives of their victims. You can’t say that company towns, where all decisions are made in the “Big House”, are government force in action. These are all examples of non-government instigated force.

    I don’t believe government is the best solution to most problems, but to ascribe only negative values to government is unbalanced.

    I don’t care if the pollution choking my kids lungs comes from a Duke Power coal burner of a TVA coal burner. Just as government has not got a monopoly on force, the private sector has no monopoly on screwing the consumer or environment. Simple reactions to complex issues is not the best approach IMHO.

  3. G.E.

    I can blame the government for historically defending the non-right of a man to treat a woman like property. This is an artificial, interventionist privilege historically protected by the state. In a free society, a man who beats his wife would be made to compensate for the damages he caused.

    I can absolutely blame the government for organized crime. It is wholly a creation of government intervention. See Prohibition. See the Drug War.

    The “company towns” were also creation of government-granted privilege. What allowed those corporations to grow so large? Government suppression of organized labor and government regulations to stifle competition.

    If a corporation trespasses on your property rights, i.e. the air you breathe on your property, then that corporation has initiated force against you and your family. In a free society, you’d have recourse. But under a statist system, the government gives the corporation the privilege to pollute via regulations.

  4. paulie cannoli Post author

    The government is certainly not the exclusive purveyor of force. You can’t ascribe a man beating his mate to the government.

    Not directly, but the social acceptance of the idea that it is legitimate to have the government initiate force reflects itself and ripples throughout society. Government schools and housing socialize systematic violence; so does the prohibitionist drug war and the military-industrial complex. From war movies to “Cops” reality TV, government violence and its glorification are reflected socially.

    The soviet system was a good example. I have a relative who did hard time for “economic crimes” – being a businessman. Before this, he was a professional soccer player and a truck driver. Afterwards, he was a limo driver for Communist Party bosses.

    He lives in Florida now. He says “Americans are like children, they trust something just because you say it.” This attitude is common in ex-USSR, where people were so used to irrational and impossible laws that they learned that all laws are to be ignored, and where they were conditioned that business in itself is criminal, so came to accept as natural criminality in the conduct of business.

    But this is hardly unique to ex-USSR nations. I saw up close the effect that socialization in government schools and housing, and the social effects of drug prohibition, sex trade criminalization, etc., had growing up in a “war zone” neighborhood in NYC.

    There’s also the matter of how justice is handled. For any of you who have experiences with government at various levels, from the DMV to the post office to school to unemployment – compare it with your experiences with private companies, especially small business. I think it is logical to assume that the inefficiency with which government addresses any and all problems also applies to how it handles justice.

    Of course, targeting police and other law enforcement resources at drugs, prostitution, etc., can’t possibly be helping.


    You can’t blame government for organized crime controlling the lives of their victims.

    Much of the income of organized crime stems from government initiation of force, making things such as drugs and prostitution illegal.

    Another big chunk comes from offering protection, which government does a very poor job of. To a large extent, government is to blame for a lot of crime, whether directly or indirectly.

    A culture which allows a “legal” monopoly on the initiation of force creates a ripple effect of violence and fraud throughout society.


    You can’t say that company towns, where all decisions are made in the “Big House”, are government force in action.

    Unless you consider where such companies get their charter, their immunity from full legal liability for their actions, their protection, and in many cases their client as well.


    These are all examples of non-government instigated force.

    Certainly they are on the surface. But government contributes to these problems a great deal.

    It also prevents more effective solutions to them from arising – “what is seen, and what is not seen” (Bastiat).


    I don’t believe government is the best solution to most problems, but to ascribe only negative values to government is unbalanced.

    I don’t care if the pollution choking my kids lungs comes from a Duke Power coal burner of a TVA coal burner.

    Duke Power may be nominally private – but many of its shares are owned by government, directly or indirectly. Its executives and shareholders are relieved from responsibility for its actions by acts of government. Government subsidies, taxes and regulations prevent the free market from developing clean alternatives, or keeps them from being economically competitive.


    Just as government has not got a monopoly on force, the private sector has no monopoly on screwing the consumer or environment. Simple reactions to complex issues is not the best approach IMHO.

    I agree – but I don’t think that the conclusion that government’s effect is wholly negative is as simplistic as it sounds on the surface. For Greens, I highly recommend

    http://ruwart.com/Healing/

  5. paulie cannoli Post author

    The latter is a revised and expanded later edition, and is available for sale.

    The original draft is available for free download.

  6. Mike Theodore

    I got a few chapters down, but I had to put it off for now. I have to get something done by the end of the month. Then I have two weeks to get it done, as it’s my mom’s copy.

  7. Deran

    I, on the other hand, would suggest From “Red to Green” and “Socialism and Survival” by Rudolf Bahro.

  8. Gregg Jocoy

    G.E. // Jul 26, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Social injustice is the result of the government’s monopoly of force.

    While I may have taken us off course a bit, I fear that you folks are missing my point. G.E. did not assert that government has created the conditions under which force can be exercised by those given government fiat to do so. He said that government has a monopoly on force. That assertion can only be called accurate through the sort of mental gymnastics you are employing.

    Organized crime is not just crime syndicates who deal in drugs, prostitution and gambling etc. It includes those who kill for pay, kidnap for ransom, and those who run private armies and collect “taxes” from the peasants. I am sure you can find ways to twist and turn, but the absolutist position that all force comes from government is divorced from the reality I live every day.

  9. paulie cannoli Post author

    Sorry, libertarian shorthand.

    Government has a legal monopoly on force, which is the source of a great deal of social injustice, the indirect inspiration for much of the rest, and a prime reason that better solutions to the remainder have not been enacted.

  10. Gregg Jocoy

    Thanks paulie. I think I would change that only a tiny bit by saying “Government has a legal monopoly on force ~add~which it sometimes delegates or assigns to nominally non-governmental entities, such as corporations, criminal enterprises, and wealthy or powerful individuals~/add~which is the source of a great deal of social injustice, the indirect inspiration for much of the rest, and a prime reason that better solutions to the remainder have not been enacted.

    But that is really nit picking.

  11. G.E.

    Yes, government has the legal monopoly on force.

    If we accept that no individual or group should be permitted to initiate force against any other individual or group, then we see the government as the entity that excepts itself from this rule and also excepts its favored entities, as well.

    A corporation can have no power that a government does not give to it.

    In a free society, aggressors are held accountable for their use of force.

    Why I stopped being a Green: I realized that the Green program is contradictory in that it allegedly advocates non-violence, but at the same time champions the initiation of force and coercion; with death or confinement behind the ultimate underlying threat behind all failure to comply with compulsory government programs.

  12. G.E.

    Big Bad Corporations are creatures of the state.

    The vast majority of unscrupulous rich people derive their wealth from government privilege.

    In a free market, businesses that did not serve their customers would go out of business. And rich people could only get rich one way — by serving humanity.

  13. darolew

    “For Greens, I highly recommend

    http://ruwart.com/Healing/

    “…a major dimension of this book is its linkage between out spiritual perspective and our economic well-being…”

    …typo. At any rate, doesn’t sound like my kind of book. I could care less about “spiritual perspective”.

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