On The Wilder Side: What is Green?

On The Wilder Side:


On the national Green Party list, every once in awhile, we get in a cycle of self-reflection. The piece below is from a post that les evenchik made on a national Green Party list. With his permission, I edited it in hopes of crystallizing one definition of green politics. -KW

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By les evenchick
Green Party member from Louisiana

It should be our task as greens to take the initial attraction people have to being green and supporting environmental improvements, to show that real environmental improvements require considerations of social justice, non violence, and grassroots democracy. Greens also understand that all of these concerns are best explored in a sound ecological manner.

The Green Party stands for much more than simply improving the environment. That is why affiliation with the Green Party of the United States (GP-US) requires acceptance of either the 4 Pillars or 10 Key Values – sets of principles which include social and economic justice, non-violence, grassroots democracy and ecological wisdom.

Green is not a subset of some larger political ideology, especially not as defined by our party’s principles and values. Some people would say that green=radical left/socialist. But, that is not accurate. Neither does green represent simply “liberal values.” And, it should be noted that recruiting on the basis of liberal values will gives us a liberal party, not a green party.

Other people have described the greens as “progressive.” Now some progressives may legitimately be greens, just as some socialists are also greens, and even some conservatives are also greens. But real green philosophy goes beyond all those ideologies.

My view is that green politics absorbs what is correct in all, prior political ideologies and rejects what is not. So green includes the best of socialist/radical/liberal/progressive/conservative/libertarian thought.

Green is, or should be, a higher level synthesis of previous politics.

Green is a distinct enough idea and an important enough idea on its own, that as greens, we should promote ourselves prominently as greens in all elections we take part in.

-end

Would be honored if anyone wanted to repost. Please note on the piece: By les evenchick/with input from Kimberly Wilder


Noted 🙂

-Paulie.

13 thoughts on “On The Wilder Side: What is Green?

  1. Jake Witmer

    Les wrote: “And, it should be noted that recruiting on the basis of liberal values will gives us a liberal party, not a green party.”

    I actually think that the environmental focus of the greens is what makes them less attractive than a party more vaguely described as “liberal”. After all, “liberal” could mean that you care about the poor, and wish to see the law applied equally to all. Liberal could stand for “classical liberal”.

    As a libertarian, I find “liberal” less offensive than the idea that I should be enslaved to protect a generally-defined “environment”.
    Here is the Green Party Platform plank on “Ecological Wisdom”:
    3. ECOLOGICAL WISDOM
    Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society which utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must practice agriculture which replenishes the soil; move to an energy efficient economy; and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.

    The above platform plank says “we must”. Well, I don’t want someone who’s trying to run a factory to encounter politicians who tell him what “we” (that person) must do.

    Before finishing writing this, I am going to go over the GP’s “10 planks” and see if there’s anything clearly prohibiting Greens from supporting involuntary taxation (there isn’t). As a political party that strives to be moral, that is the very first issue they should address: Voluntary or involuntary government?

    The attempted destruction of my reputation by the Libertarian Party’s less honorable operatives (Sean Haugh, Scott Kohlhaas, George Squyres, etc…) has recently opened my mind to the idea of serious alternatives to the LP. Even so, the generality of the Greens’ 10 planks is strategically (and thus so some extent, morally) repellant to me.

    I think that most people in most political parties lack vision. And not just a little bit. I think that they have no concept of how good life could be if we lived in a voluntaryist society.

    Sadly, after this year, I now have to include my own party (The Libertarian Party) in this category.

    I still think Wayne Root is a good politician, and I support his efforts to win higher office. I still think there are many good Libertarians, Independents, and even a few good Greens, Democrats, Constitution Party, Boston Tea Party, and Republicans. (in no order, other than favoring consistent small-L libertarians in all those groups)

    But I am beginning to think that the Platform that defines a political party is incredibly important. Nearly all of them are too vague. The LP platform from 1994 was almost perfect (Except perhaps that it didn’t have any policy suggestions for how best to arrive at their conception of freedom).

    Everyone blames the platform for “making the LP too small of a tent”, or “purging people from the party” or “scaring people away”. But I don’t think that’s the case. I think that outreach to racists and general lack of willingness of middle-aged white guys to talk to people has done that. The Platform could say “bow-wow” and most people would never read it, and a skilled libertarian could explain it away. But the platform does mean that the most intelligent people cannot lie to themselves. It means that the leadership will not be able to strive for a compromise, instead of for freedom. After all, the Dem and Rep platforms say things to make all sides happy, and it’s mostly a lot of self-contradictory shit. People at the lower levels simply choose a side, because they think they can make the things that they want to happen, happen.

    All the more reason to have a choice that specifically limits government power. The Boston Tea Party is fairly good in this regard, but have chosen the only name even less fortunate than “Libertarian”. (Ideally, the libertarian party would have called itself the Freedom Party, and done much of the rest of its outreach the same.)

    Although George Squyres is politically ignorant (as far as the nuts and bolts of political operations, and about opposing the necessity of hiring libertarians to do outreach for the LP) he was materially correct about the value of presenting solutions within a platform.

    As far as the Green Party platform goes, it’s emphasis on decentralization is valuable, and absent from the LP platform. (The LP doesn’t really appear to favor specific checks and balances or specific protection of jury rights and due process anywhere in its platform, which was addressed by Roger Roots at their last Convention in Denver. Unfortunately, his language was a lot wordier and more detailed than the current platform allows for.)

    In short: government power is limited when it is specifically limited. Most people don’t understand most specifics though. They might understand a certain specific detail, but most people don’t have a consistent and detailed political philosophy. This includes most libertarians, although their political philosophy requires much more consistency than the “green” philosophy does.

    As such, until the New Constitution is written on the smoldering ashes of the previous one, there is not much hope for a principled limitation of government power.

    I strongly agree with Robert Heinlein’s ideas regarding any proposed new Constitutions. Consult Roger Roots and I when you (the reader) are ready to write one.

    Jake Witmer

  2. Steven R Linnabary

    Or is “Green” just a marketing ploy co-opted by power (and money) hungry marketing specialists?

    It seems that every thing sold today is “green”, from cars to soap. Not a bad thing, IF it is true.

    Fads can be a passing phenomena. To be Green tomorrow might be the next “Where’s the beef” campaign, forgotten and ridiculed.

    Not that Greens are part of any marketing ploy.

    Greens probably wish they were. But IDEAS, once co-opted by the power elite, become less as you would think of them, and more as a way to further the agendas’ of certain people.

    But at least the ideas get some debate.

    PEACE

  3. paulie cannoli Post author

    Jake,

    The above platform plank says ?we must?.

    “Must” can also just mean a moral imperative.

    Well, I don?t want someone who?s trying to run a factory to encounter politicians who tell him what ?we? (that person) must do.

    That question is more complicated than it would at first appear – as you yourself stated in the discussion of what a true free market is with John Mackey and others.

    In the same way that you have argued that nominally private storefronts “must” be open to free speech, we can apply the environmental principles to factories. Currently, government own much of the stock in factories, directly or indirectly; shield them from liability; provide them with direct transfer payments; and prevent potential competition through taxes and regulation.

    The various ways in which government enables, allows and promotes a polluting, non-sustainable economy are many. Some direct, some indirect.

    See

    http://pauliecannoli.wordpress.com/2008/12/15/green-libertarian-exchange/


    Exchange with Dave Schwab at GreenChange.

    Subject: Libertarian Greens?

    Hi Paulie,

    I just read the commentary you posted about the Libertarian Party turning into a free-market conservative vehicle. Very interesting. I?ve noticed that you post both Green and Libertarian related articles ? do you belong to both?

    p] I?m a life member of the Libertarian Party and a region rep for several counties in Alabama.

    I don?t formally belong to any Green Party organization right now, but I?ve been getting more involved with Green activities the last few months – attended the national meeting in Chicago, write articles at IPR and sometimes GPW. You should be aware however, that not all articles I post at IPR represent my own views – I post a variety of opinions from and about independents and alternative parties.

    As it so happens, I do indeed share the concerns of the author of that article, except that he has already quit the LP and I am still involved in it. But I make no secret of being involved in other parties as well. I?m also a petitioner, and I have worked with the Greens – I and people I brought in got Arkansas Greens on the ballot in 2006 and 2008, and I tried to help out the Utah Greens, but got there too late to make the difference.

    I?ve heard of left libertarians, are there also green libertarians?

    p] Yes. Roderick Long has a couple of good articles that address these two topics. They are long, but I highly recommend reading them:

    http://mises.org/story/2099

    deals with left and right issues relating to libertarianism in a way I agree with

    http://aaeblog.com/2006/11/24/greensleeves-was-all-my-joy/

    Relates to Green-Libertarian fusion – the short summary I would provide is that libertarianism is a philosophy of means: the non-initiation of coercion principle, see



    whereas Green politics is defined by ends: the ten key values, and the best application of both is using libertarian means to achieve green ends – in other words, there is no contradiction. Long goes into detail about how exactly this works.

    I also studied environmental geography in college and belonged to an environmental club in college, and worked briefly for a PIRG going door to door back in 1989 when I was 17 years old – so I have been into environmental issues for a long time.

    I?ve sometimes wondered about making the Green Party appealing to Libertarians, but I always figured that issues like climate change and free trade would preclude much cooperation.

    p] It depends on what you want to do about climate change – I don?t think the government is the best organization to solve any real problem we have. For instance, I would agree that terrorism, poverty, and drug abuse are real problems, but I don?t see all the government money spent to solve them as doing so.

    On the other hand, there is much that government could do by way of getting out of the way to help solve climate change and other environmental problems: ceasing actions such as corporate welfare, corporate personhood, nonconcensual limited liability, military-industrial complex actions on behalf of petrochemical interests, prohibition of hemp?and less obvious ones, such as the disproportionate impact taxes and regulations have on new and startup businesses that could challenge prevailing ways of doing things.

    As for free trade, I?m for it – but not globally managed trade, with book-length agreements and enforcement bureaucracies, which is deceptively called free trade, and not with the aforementioned corporate personhood, non-concensual limited liability, corporate welfare, etc., that in my view greatly distorts the would-be natural ecology of a true free trade system.

    On the other hand, if it?s true that the LP is following in the footsteps of Mr. Barr, then I can see left libertarians finding the GP to be a stronger advocate for equal rights, civil liberties, ending the drug war, reproductive choice, and other issues that people care about.

    What do you think?

    Peace,
    Dave

    p] I think there is much in the way of potential there, but it would by no means be easy. With your permission, I would like to post our exchange thus far.

    Dave writes back:

    Thanks for the reply, and the links. I look forward to reading them soon.

    Feel free to post our exchange on the sites you mentioned. It seems like the fur is still flying at LP meetings, but if the right-wingers take over, it might be worth looking into how to welcome left libertarians into the Green tent.

    I also wonder about issues like a carbon tax, progressive taxation schemes, and fuel efficiency requirements, and the general preference among Greens for community decision-making in areas that recent government actors have treated as the domain of private interests, such as logging in public forests or offshore drilling. Basically, if government intervention is the only feasible way to conserve the environment, can libertarians make peace with that?

  4. paulie cannoli Post author

    Before finishing writing this, I am going to go over the GP’s “10 planks” and see if there’s anything clearly prohibiting Greens from supporting involuntary taxation (there isn’t).

    There’s also nothing which compels them to support it either. See Roderick’s essay on this point.


    As a political party that strives to be moral, that is the very first issue they should address: Voluntary or involuntary government?

    That should be the first question for the LP. The first question for the GP would be how to create and preserve a healthy natural environment. I happen to think that the answer to both is voluntary government.

  5. paulie cannoli Post author

    recently opened my mind to the idea of serious alternatives to the LP.

    Good. We should always consider alternatives.


    Even so, the generality of the Greens’ 10 planks is strategically (and thus so some extent, morally) repellant to me.

    They have a more comprehensive platform than the ten key values. Not one I agree with. I do like the key values, and I think Roderick does a better job of explaining how they should be achieved than the current Green party platform does.

  6. paulie cannoli Post author

    I think that most people in most political parties lack vision. And not just a little bit. I think that they have no concept of how good life could be if we lived in a voluntaryist society.

    I agree.

  7. paulie cannoli Post author

    I still think there are many good Libertarians, Independents, and even a few good Greens, Democrats, Constitution Party, Boston Tea Party, and Republicans. (in no order, other than favoring consistent small-L libertarians in all those groups)

    Same here.

  8. paulie cannoli Post author

    But I am beginning to think that the Platform that defines a political party is incredibly important. Nearly all of them are too vague.

    No, I don’t think that is where we should focus. It might be nice to have a more comprehensive platform again, although in the current political climate of the LP, such would probably get filled with things I don’t like. Our effort really needs to be on outreach, most especially to the left, young people, non-caucasians, creative people, etc.

    Platforms, like constitutions, may attempt to limit government (or political parties), but actions are more important than words.

  9. paulie cannoli Post author

    All the more reason to have a choice that specifically limits government power. The Boston Tea Party is fairly good in this regard, but have chosen the only name even less fortunate than “Libertarian”. (Ideally, the libertarian party would have called itself the Freedom Party, and done much of the rest of its outreach the same.)

    I don’t know of anything that prevents you from starting a Freedom Party. Trouble is, as soon as you get anyone to join, there will be disagreements over strategy, tactics, ideological fine points, and who slept with whose dog. Check out the BTP yahoo groups to see how that plays out. The smaller the petri dish, the nastier the slime.

  10. paulie cannoli Post author

    As far as the Green Party platform goes, it’s emphasis on decentralization is valuable, and absent from the LP platform.

    I agree that decentralization is crucial. I disagree about the LP platform.

    http://www.lp.org/platform

    Selected quotes:



    Preamble

    As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.

    We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.

    Consequently, we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.


    Our goal is nothing more nor less than a world set free in our lifetime


    Statement of Principles

    We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.

    We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

    Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United States, all political parties other than our own grant to government the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of their labor without their consent.

    We, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these things, and hold that where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life — accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action — accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property — accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.

    Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.

    1.0 Personal Liberty

    Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government. Our support of an individual’s right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices.


    3.7 Self-Determination

    Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of individual liberty, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to agree to such new governance as to them shall seem most likely to protect their liberty.

    4.0 Omissions

    Our silence about any other particular government law, regulation, ordinance, directive, edict, control, regulatory agency, activity, or machination should not be construed to imply approval.


    I agree that a more explicit statement for decentralization within levels of government would be good, but I’d like to see it stated in those terms, rather than “states rights.”

  11. paulie cannoli Post author

    As such, until the New Constitution is written on the smoldering ashes of the previous one, there is not much hope for a principled limitation of government power.

    All platforms and constitutions share the same essential Achilles heel: the human element.

  12. paulie cannoli Post author

    Steven,

    Or is “Green” just a marketing ploy co-opted by power (and money) hungry marketing specialists?

    It seems that every thing sold today is “green”, from cars to soap. Not a bad thing, IF it is true.

    Greens have noticed this too. They call it “greenwashing.”


    Fads can be a passing phenomena. To be Green tomorrow might be the next “Where’s the beef” campaign, forgotten and ridiculed.

    I don’t think so. I think environmental issues will only become more prominent over time.

    IDEAS, once co-opted by the power elite, become less as you would think of them, and more as a way to further the agendas’ of certain people.

    Sometimes. But, the status quo does change over time, too.

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