“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” C.S Lewis.
Following her election as party leader, Natalie Bennett told a press conference that the policies of the Green Party were “the only viable way forward for British people, for the world.” It is extremely presumptuous of people to claim to act for “the people” when they seem to despise the ideology of a large part of “the people.”
Much Green Party policy and philosophy seems to be essentially grounded in a sort of eco-supremicist bad faith. We consume too much. (Who does, exactly? ) And no matter how much the Greens try to distance themselves from the stigma attached to Malthusianism there is no escaping the fact that arguments about consumption and population are inextricably linked.
Tristam Hunt recently described the Green Party as “stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off politics.” Apt for what is ultimately a politics of perpetual bad faith and lip-curling disapproval of others. The language used to describe other parties by grassroot supporters betrays this and lends to the Green Party worrying characteristics of cult thinking.
The ecology movement will never gain any real influence or have any significant impact on society if it advances a message of despair rather than hope, of a regressive and impossible return to primordial human cultures and sensibilities, rather than a commitment to human progress and to a uniquely human empathy for life as a whole. I agree with the following:
“I can easily understand why despair exists among mystical ecologists – indeed, in the environmental movement generally – over the impact of a grow-or-die capitalistic economy on the biosphere and on the human psyche. While a patronising, quasi-religious often misanthropic ecology that denigrates the uniqueness of human beings and the wondrous role they can play in natural evolution may be an understandable response to that economy, it is a flat denial of humanities’ most human potentiality: the ability to change the world for the better and enrich it for all life forms.
We must recover the utopian impulses, the hopefulness, the appreciation of what is good, what is worth rescuing in human civilization, as well as what must be rejected, if the ecology movement is to play a transformative and creative role in human affairs. For without changing society, we will not change the disastrous ecological direction in which capitalism is moving.” – Murray Bookchin, 1991
In an article titled: In response to the Socialist Party of GB’s slur on the Green Party & Ecosocialism, Martin O’Beirne writes:“We also need a mass movement against climate change and to promote new ways of existing, prefigurative, perhaps moneyless, primitivist, eco-technic or some combination. Something that points the way to that which can exist beyond capitalism.” He went on to say: “Capitalism and consumerism, manufacturing consent, keep the multitude docile chasing trinkets and so on.”
In other words, most of us are stupid, and need “fixing”. Not moral, progressive, socialist proposals, but rather, moralising, regressive ones.
The Green Party have gathered up many dislillusioned ex-Liberal Democrat voters, the ones who haven’t learned from last time that like the Liberal Democrats, any party that tries to appear to be all things to all people is not being honest with you.
Badly disappointed idealists most readily succumb to the depths of disillusioned, resentful cynicism. The Greens are very busy trying to hoover up the votes of all of those disillusioned souls on the Left, and regardless of the potentially devastating consequences that may have on the election outcome.
The pressing issue for me is that people are suffering, some have died because of Tory policies, our society is being fundamentally damaged, and to the point where it will soon be impossible to repair it in our lifetimes. The damage will be lasting, probably for more than one generation. I care about that. I care about the suffering, growing inequality, the re-appearance of absolute poverty, not seen in the UK since the 1930s, and the damage to our society and country.
I’m a socialist because of those long-standing concerns, which transcend the parochial and actually, they transcend party politics. What matters to me is ensuring that we vote intelligently for the best possible outcome we can, especially for those who are suffering greatly because of the current government. I am fundamentally cooperative and community-minded. I care about what happens to others.
Cameron has made no secret of the fact he is playing up the Greens’ potential for influencing and eating into Labour voters. It was very apparent when he refused to appear in TV debates unless Bennett is also invited to take part. The Conservatives’ sudden pro-Green tactics, focusing on the party’s exclusion from the debates, and some Tory MPs suggesting left-wing voters in their constituencies vote Green instead of Labour, are pretty transparent.
All this from the prime minister who dismissed environment policy as “green crap” not long ago. It isn’t just the Tories displaying utter cynicism, here. The Greens are too. They have attempted to account for their unlikely alliance with the Tories by claiming that the Green Party sees itself as having a role to put pressure on Labour to become more “progressive” However, the Greens themselves are not progressive at all. As their roots indicate, as much as their policies:
How about putting pressure on left-wing voters to divide them, with the likeliest outcome of allowing another Tory government? It’s rather pointless trying to claim the Greens are “pushing Labour left” when the outcome of that is likely to bleed votes from Labour, ultimately.
And that attempt at explanation of the fact that the Greens attack and undermine Labour, rather than the Tories conveniently circumvents the fact that the Green Party tell intentional lies about Labour’s policies. A genuine attempt to influence Labour policy would entail negotiation and co-operation, not constant, hostile undermining tactics, coupled with an alliance with the Tories.
The Greens are not cooperative or community-minded. They are dividing our opposition to the Tories and risking returning Cameron to Office in May. They prefer to undermine the Labour Party, because they are purely electioneering, rather that directing challenges at the Tory-led Coalition. That is not “socialist”.
How “socialist” is it to join ranks with the party inflicting all of that damage and harm on people of this country to attack and undermine the only viable alternative to the tories? That’s not genuine politics, that’s grandstanding. It’s not “socialist” at all.
Jon Ashworth, Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, said: “David Cameron’s new-found affection for the Green Party is nothing short of political opportunism. If you ever needed proof that a vote for the Greens is a vote for David Cameron, this is it.
The Tories and the Greens seem to be working hand-in-hand. The Tories need the Greens because they are scared to run on their own record. The Greens need the Tories because Labour is the only party with a progressive policy agenda.”
You can’t claim to be a “progressive ” political party and at the same time advocate zero growth and parochialisation – to cut us off from global trade. The Green Party says: “In our Green vision for Europe we seek to replace the unsustainable economics of free trade and unrestricted growth with the ecological alternative of local self reliance and resource conservation, within a context of wider diversity.” That’s a clear step back from internationalism and forwards towards parochialisation. It’s not progressive at all to shut out the rest of the world. And socialists have always been internationalists. The Green Party, on the other hand, find natural allies with nationalist parties such as the Scottish National Party (SNP).
The economy matters to every country in the world and no growth or low growth economies invariably mean high unemployment, increased inequality and increased absolute poverty. There are a variety of ways by which governments may mitigate social inequality. It’s known that Countries with a left-leaning legislature have lower levels of inequality. Many factors constrain economic inequality – they are often divided into two classes: government sponsored, and market driven. The relative merits and effectiveness of each approach is of course debated.
Government initiatives to reduce economic inequality include: public education: increasing the supply of skilled labor and reducing income inequality due to education differentials.
Progressive taxation: the rich are taxed proportionally more than the poor, reducing the amount of income inequality in society if the change in taxation does not cause changes in income. These form the basis of Miliband’s approach, with his proposals for redistribution via a very progressive tax system. This is why tax-dodging billionaires such as Stephano Pessina are complaining about Labour’s genuinely coherent, costed, evidenced, progressive equality-focussed redistributive tax policies, and not Green Party policies.
Market forces outside of government intervention may also reduce economic inequality, including the propensity to spend. The Green Party, however, does not support any of these options. Their anti-growth, anti-consumption starting point excludes all of these measures. Their key policy proposal – Universal Basic Income – was shown to be so flawed that the Greens announced it is to be withdrawn from their manifesto.
Bennett has tried to brush aside criticisms that her party’s policies would lead to economic catastrophe, emphasising the Green’s stance against materialism. “People don’t just want to work to earn more and more money,” she said. “They want to do other things that often now aren’t recognised and valued.”
However, an isolationist zero growth economy would be a disastrous experiment, just like the austerity measures have been – with the same outcomes. The Green Party does not present a single coherent policy that may be deemed a viable alternative to austerity, yet it claims: “A real change: from austerity and welfare cuts to investment in decent jobs.”
Not only would the Green Party’s anti-progressive zero growth economy create high unemployment, it most certainly create deep recession and the policies are cumulatively pro-austerity, in that they advocate inhibiting public spending on consumer goods.
The Green Party fail to show us any understanding of imbalances of power, they provide no class analysis, they aren’t connected with marginalised groups, they don’t reflect their needs and they clearly have no understanding of the mechanics and virtues of redistribution. There isn’t a single policy currently in their manifesto that demonstrates a coherent offer of support to very poorest. That isn’t “socialist” at all.
The Greens grew out of the environmental movement, with David Icke at the helm as a spokesperson, well, until they got embarrassed by him and sacked him. As Suzanne Moore commented, the incoherence is even apparent at how they fail to define the State. They offer the biggest of big-state polices with huge intervention in some areas, without specifying the role of the state except as a series of committees. It’s a curious mix of immense levels of authoritarian state control over our private lives, a strongly moralising approach, alongside a moral relativism towards things like sex industry, terrorism and crime. Page 3 is frowned upon, but how can prostitution be regarded as any less economical exploitative of women? That’s certainly not coherent policy-making.
The Green’s “anti-austerity measures” seem to translate as “taking on corporations and vested interests.” But Miliband has already explicitly stated (and shown) that he will do that. (He already has – Leveson, the banks, the big power companies, water companies, to name a few)
The Green Party’s key policy idea – that of a Citizen’s Income for everyone whether they work or not – sounds so great on the surface. Just like a lot of their rhetoric and policies, it lacks depth and doesn’t connect up – it lacks integrity and falls to pieces when properly examined. Many of the poorest households would lose out. Most wealthy households will gain. How does that address inequality – something the Greens claim to be concerned about?
The “citizen’s income” of just £71 a week, at an annual cost of £280billion would replace existing welfare payments such as personal tax allowances and means tested benefits such as income allowance and jobseekers benefit.
It was a popular policy during the 1990s, with notable libertarian economists on the Right, such as Milton Friedman (the founding father of monetarism) favoring the model as a type of negative income tax. Friedman attacked the very notion of Social Security, stating that it had created welfare dependency. Friedman’s political philosophy extolled the virtues of a free-market economic system with minimal state intervention. Friedman proposed the replacement of the existing U.S. welfare system with a negative income tax, a progressive tax system in which the poor receive a basic living income from the government.
The Liberal Democrats have included similar policies in their manifesto in 1996.
The Citizen’s Income Trust (CIT), which has given advice to the Green party (and has also been repeatedly cited by the Greens a credible source), has modelled the Green Party scheme and discovered it would mean 35.15% of households would be losers, with many of the biggest losers among the poorest households.
The Trust’s research shows that for the two lowest disposable income deciles, more than one-fifth would suffer income losses of more than 10%.
If anything, this policy will EXTEND inequality. That’s not very “socialist”.
Many critics of the Green party point to their many failures in Brighton and Hove, where they couldn’t even get the rubbish collection right. However, the most damning criticism – their fundamental inability to run services for the most vulnerable – is the one that ought to concern us the most. That’s not very “socialist.”
Using minorities as nothing more than political props and tools. That’s not very “socialist”.
During a recent interview, with the Times, Bennett defended commitments to decriminalise membership of terrorist organisations, possession of drugs, and prostitution, as well as promising to abolish the monarchy and remove the Queen from Buckingham Palace.
Bennett said: “I can’t see that the Queen is ever going to be really poor, but I’m sure we can find a council house for her.”
The remark appeared to be a glib, clumsy attempt to grab some media attention, given the Queen’s private wealth. As far as an appeal to juvenile anti-establishmentarians go, it was probably a successful glib, clumsy remark. The Green Party’s stated policy on the monarchy is that it should cease to be an office of government and that the property held by the royal family should be divided between that required for the private life of current members of the family, with the remainder to become public property. Not sure I could use any staff, spare tiaras or corgis, personally, but thanks for the thought.
The Tories have trashed the economy, damaged the very structure of our society and destroyed people’s lives. We’ve seen the return of absolute poverty, malnutrition and illness, such absolute poverty-related illness has not been seen since Victorian times. People have died as a consequence of Tory policy.
What do the Greens do? Bitch about LabourMany thanks to Robert Livingstone for his excellent memes