16 Aug 2010

Carl 'GPEW is close - very close - to becoming a genuine and radical party of the Left

This is from Carl in response to my recent Morning Star article

Hi Derek

I guess I am with Keith on this one. Reaction to the article I wrote has been somewhat defensive. For example:

"At its best, the Green Party is part of a tradition of English radicalism that includes Tom Paine and William Morris. It is attempting to address many of the important questions..."

Not exactly an attack, as you would characterise it. And from the unedited version:

"One of the crucial questions for the Green Party concerns the extent to which they can become a party of the 'working Left' - with reference to the kind of family 'eco'-nomics so powerfully depicted by John Steinbeck in the 1930s."

In the article I am actually trying to point out to the readers of Tribune that the GPEW is close - very close - to becoming a genuine and radical party of the Left. I think that people in the Labour Party need to think about what this might mean and what is the best way to help. But the response has been angry.

If Labour people want to be involved in a process of 'shared development' there must be a better way forwards than simply saying 'join the Greens'. In the meantime, I stand by the criticisms I made of the European Green movement.

I would make different criticisms of our leaders in the European Socialists, but no less fierce. We face massive challenges across Europe, where I live there are 2000 applicants to each crappy job. We are led by miserable kings, lacking in guts and spirit, and something has to change, but it will not arise from the Greens alone.


Pete Shield said...

I just don’t think you get Green politics at all, its not another route to full employment and the empowerment of the working class a la Labour delusions in the 60s and 70s.You can’t bend green politics into your old Labour’s not rather successful political project, but you can start to take a good deep look at aspects of the green movement and see what a thoughtful socialist can learn form it, as can the green movement from the Labour movement.

At its best Green politics is about a radical transformation of society to move from a materialist value system to a sustainable one, sustainable for the planet of course but also for the people on that planet. High wages only become important when you need to buy in the basic needs for survival and if other means of gratification have become solely commoditised. Fighting for a system where there are lower energy costs, affordable and public housing, communal and affordable public transport, local work, food security, a health system based on public health and not just treating public illness may seem disassociated from your idea of a left wing agenda, but just because it uses a different language if you take off your blinkers you will see strong parallels with, well, old left wing values.

As for Greens in the UK disassociating themselves from collective action I suggest you stop smoking whatever it is has been tucked away in that pipe of your and have a look around, I am sure the comrades in the Green Trade Union Group may have a thing or two to say about that, as would those involved in a wide range of civil society organisations and campaigns.

And flaky was just flaying about… Which political party did the man who said there musn’t be a cigarette paper’s different between the Government’s and the Conservative Party’s immigration policy belong too? and I won’t mention the war- both of them.

Flaky? Have you been following the Labour leaders contest, now from a left wing green perspective it all looks kinda flaky to me.

There is a great space for debate here, and a lot to be learnt by all. The article however reads like a knee jerk reaction, which isn’t exactly going to get the ideas flowing.

Carl R said...

Cross-posted from Tribune :-)

Pete Shield – saying to somebody ‘you just don’t get it’ comes across as seriously patronising.

If Green politics is ‘not another route to full employment and the empowerment of the working class a la Labour delusions in the 60s and 70s’ then it must be about a certain type of middle class lifestyle, perhaps. My understanding is that you’re attempting to transcend materialism. Well, fair enough.

If you trying to survive on the dole earning 65 pounds a week that is so irrelevant. Nobody cares about your consumer habits when you’re on the dole. Socialism is about a type of humanism. The roots of the Green Party are in a Movement for Survival, where, sorry, there just isn’t room on the planet for us all. The Greens are changing, trying to appeal to the trade unions. But how genuine are they? To what extent are they basically Liberal Democrats on mouldy muesli? The angrier the reactions are to the questions I am asking, the more I wonder.

Do the Greens really want to challenge modern capitalism? Are they reformists or revolutionaries? (By revolutionaries I include those such as Attlee who enacted social revolution through gradualist means). I’ve read what the Green Left and the small Green Trade Union Group have to say. But I’m still not convinced. Many Greens don’t seem to ‘get’ capitalism as a concept. Some do, many don’t.

There’s no ‘international green movement’ as such. Examples from abroad indicate a Green Party can be Left or Right. The alliance with Nationalists in Westminster is tactical, not strategic.

So Caroline Lucas is left wing. I’m glad. It’s coming at a time when capitalist pressure on working people, and on vulnerable people, is intensifying. Marx, in my opinion, was right in many ways. The question is, have the GPEW got the brains and brawn to work in helping to organise the working class to transform their social reality? And then the second question, is what should be the reaction of socialists inside the Labour Party?

These are questions worth asking, in my opinion.


You must have been angry, Pete. When you say ‘old Labour’s not rather successful political project’ which part do you take as a failure?

A national health service, comprehensive education, a welfare state of sorts, social housing, an end to the British Empire, liberalisation of sexual politics, an end to the death penalty, accessible higher education, a department of international development.

I think if Keir Hardie realised these things would happen he'd be pretty chuffed. Or were they all a figment of my imagination?

In any case, I am not claiming or defending Labour's leadership. This is not really about Labour... if socialists are going to work with the Greens, I'd rather be upfront about any criticisms or doubts.

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