Friday, May 02, 2008

Sao Paolo Day 2: Light and shade

A truly extraordinary spirit of common friendship and enthusiasm manifests itself in the breaks in the Global Greens conference. Not only do old friends greeted each other with hugs and kisses, as is to be expected, but complete strangers fall into conversation with each other as if they were old friends. Reserve and inhibition did not exist in the Second Congress of the Global Greens because we all know the key, deep reason that the other is here, we know each others’ deepest desire (for political change that will bring about the end of the insane war against Gaia being carried out by politicians and industrialists) and each others’ worst anxieties (that we might not succeed in averting the coming crash of the planetary ecosystem). With these psychological commonalities as a given, it only remains to find out how the person standing next to you is faring in the struggle.

This is not to say that all was sweetness and light. I heard (from the Mongolian chairman) that the Taiwanese delegation had a bit of a set-to with the China Green Party representative; and in another part, there was a tense meeting between two parties who shared the same territory, one suspecting the other of being a government schill.

We got lost on the way to a meeting of the European delegates. Not my fault.

The meeting itself was interesting; it was on the future of the Global Greens. It was big: 50 plus delegates from Europe. The Australians have put down a motion calling for the setting up of a paid secretariat in place of the overstretched group of unpaid volunteers.

The European leadership had done its homework. The Global Greens need communication, visible identity, and concrete goals. They thought that a secretariat was premature, and that we should ask the existing coordination group to make proposals, and come back in 18 months. One leader, wants Australia to withdraw their resolution or suffer a European veto; another did not want anyone from the global greens to make political statements on his behalf (that sounds exactly like what I would expect to hear from the Green Party of England and Wales).

I said that democracy requires communication, and that communication with the GG coordination had been less than satisfactory in the time I had been trying to get a decision from them on the Index. A paid secretariat would improve these communications, and the GG could make statements on global (e.g. UN matters) within the spirit of the GG charter. Other grassroots members wanted to move forward more quickly too, but in the end, it seemed ill-judged and impetuous to do anything but to proceed with caution.
I was not overly bothered. My own feeling is to go for it, but I would have been obliged to vote against it, since this was the way the GPEW voted last time they considered it (5 years ago).

[Just heard there are 80 green parties here. That’s 5 more than when I last heard].

At tea the Mongolian Chairman began chatting to a Belarus delegate in Russian – a legacy of the Soviet Union. I was mortified to discover that I was ignorant that an independent Mongolian state exists – in between parts of Mongolia subsumed into China and Russia.

The Heinrich Boll Foundation had a seminar on greening the city (more on this later), another on the question of the difference in politics between the responsibilities of government and the convictions of opposition.

I must say that I did not learn much. “Were we defined by being opposed to growth? Maybe, maybe not. Depends what you mean by growth”. Well, this is the kind of thing I can read any day on the e-lists; I do not have to sit in an aircraft for 12 hours to hear this.

For the record, it is impossible to expand forever into a finite space, and to take forever from a finite resource. Green economics aims to minimise the throughput of materials, the intake and the output of the economy. Elementary. This is not a difficult question to be addressed with furrowed brows.

[Dong Li has just briefly addressed the plenary. I insert this for the benefit of Bei Li]

Then Reinhardt questions our anti-militarism. He quotes the Nazi problem, and then mentions the new UN doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), which means that if a regime is doing genocide, the nations may have to use military force. As a party of Human Rights, we cannot possibly say we can never use arms.

Well. This raises a few questions, which I would certainly have put, but there was no time set aside for questions…hmmm

All I would Say as an unbiased commentator is that the first example given, of the Nazis, should have suggested a clue for the second case, the R2P question. By the time war becomes necessary, it I too late to consider how to avoid it. You have to set the scene to avid war years before war would otherwise have become inevitable. We would not have had Hitler were it not for the preconditions set at Versailles. Likewise, we will not be so likely to have to invade some future dictator if we can put an Index of Human Rights in place.

As I have mentioned before on this blog (try searching it for “Index”).

One of the panellists spoke of the “Iron wall of oligarchy, the takeover by a small elite, that betrayed the Labour movement. Is this inevitable? Will it happen to us? No, she said.

Hmmm, says I.

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