Thursday, July 29, 2010

Restating the philosophical basis of the Green Party

Over on Bright Green  I found an interesting discussion on the dangers of diluting Green Party radicalism.  All good stuff, but  I stubbed my toe on this line:

"Our socially justice approach is what makes us unique. " There are several other parties, ranging from Respect, right down to the LibDems and poor old Labour who would claim (with varying degrees of justification, or not) that this is what they also are about.

The Green Party's USP lies in the fact that our political philosophy is rooted in ecology - the study of the interrelationship between an organism (in this case, humans) and its environment.

The great historical political divide has been between individualists (Hobbesians, Conservatives, neo-liberals &c) and Socialists - Communsits, Marxists, Leninists, Maoists, Labourites &c &c &c in their infinite regression of sub-divisions). The only thing they share is their anthropocentric starting point. Political ecology takes us beyond this divide.

The fact is that humans are social animals, like wolves, not solitary animals like bears. Socialists base their philosophy on this fact, which is undoubtedly better than individualist philosophy, simply because individualism has no scientific basis (all it has is a lot of money, which gives it its dominance).  Labour demonstrated the weakness of its socialism in its corrosive attack on individual civil liberties. We on the other hand have a fairly strong libertarian and anarchist tradition in our party.

We greens base our philosophy on our interdependence on the real world, that is, on ecology. We were called the Ecology Party before we changed to the Green Party. In basing our thought on ecological reality, we transcend the individual-social divide, and can reconcile the individual-social antithesis in our bigger framework. Our affinity is more with socialists, simply because of the fact that we are social animals, and because the solution to the ecological crisis depends on co-operative action. But because we are not merely social-"ists" (i.e. not religiously wedded to the idea of the primacy of society, or the interests of one group within society above all other groups) we can also promote the importance of individual liberty within the constraints of the needs of environment and society.

Our emphasis on social justice is not just based on the fact that it is ethical, but also on the fact that only an equitable society will have the strength and cohesion necessary to make the radical transition to a sustainable economy. (Spirit Level stuff)

I keep hearing this line from new(ish) Green Party members: "We must get beyond being an environmentalist party".  We never were an environmentalist party, in the sense that the LibDems would claim to be.  We sorted this one out in the 70s, but it seems that we have to sort it out again. We are an ecological party. The difference is between something that is desirable, and something that is existential.

The argument can be summarised by saying that we seek justice and equity, not just
  • within our own nation (as most other parties would claim), and not just 
  • between our nation and other nations (as internationalists would wish), but also 
  • between our generation and future generations. 

This tripartite approach to social justice is what makes us unique.

1 comment:

weggis said...

The Green Party's USP lies in the fact that our political philosophy is rooted in ecology..

Shout it LOUD!