13 Nov 2010

Derek Wall: “Green Party should become more intelligent”

This is from a while back, just posting it up, Prisma is a great Spanish-English language newspaper

Rachel Halll

Javier Polo

The British politician and writer Derek Wall met us following his weekly lecture on radical economics at Goldsmith’s College, London. He is not your conventional British politician; he does not don a suit or carry a briefcase, but opts for a modest jumper, trousers and rucksack.

The main spokesperson of the Green Party in England and Wales reveals his ideas based on eco-socialism, a critical and reflective vision which suggests alternative forms of governing, that brings together ecology and socialism.

A member of the Green Party since 1980, he confirms his appreciation and respect for Latin America, and likewise, he criticises Europe and North America, ‘the problems are very much in Western Europe and North America but the solutions are in Latin America, they have shown real leadership’.

Unlike many, he is reluctant to think that the Obama administration will bring about real change because he reminded him “too much of Tony Blair, kind of dreadful and embarrassing”, and does not arouse much confidence although ‘there is always hope’.

The founder of the Eco-socialist International and Green Left supports the new social movements of Latin America and defiantly proclaims “Soy Chavista”.

What is the link for you between politics and ecology?

It is like enlightened self interest. There is the environmental crisis which threatens all of us and we are only going to overcome that through politics. So if you think about things like climate change, it is no good everyone changing their light bulbs if there are no buses and if the rainforest is being destroyed. The environment is intrinsically political.

What is eco-socialism?

Eco-socialism is the idea that to solve the ecological crisis you have to challenge capitalism. I think everybody can see the basic mathematics behind capitalism doesn’t work so you need an alternative but the traditional socialism has failed. So what we need is a kind of socialism which is democratic, plural and local and creative, not a kind of socialism which is top down and authoritarian. Eco-socialism fights for people and planet.

What do you think about the indigenous struggle in Peru to save the Amazon rainforest from exploration?

In the Peruvian Amazon, the Inter Ethnic Coalition of Indigenous People, of 15 different indigenous groups is one of the most important organisations on the entire planet. They are strategic thinkers and they will always win; they have actually organised politically and stopped the rainforest from being destroyed. On June 5th this year, Alan Garcia sent the police in to murder them; maybe as many as 100 people were murdered. I have no hope at all in the negotiations at Copenhagen but I have got a great hope in the indigenous people.

What do you think of Cuba’s green policy?

It is the only country in the entire world that has achieved sustainable development, they have managed to increase people’s prosperity and reduce the ecological footprint. Raul Castro is not bringing in the free market, but he’s bringing in a system where the people have got the right to use land and people have got the freedom to do what they want with land and resources. They have looked after people through permaculture, public transport, solar panels for remote schools, social workers going round, replacing people’s appliances with energy efficient appliances. If you privatise and you re-sell that leads to inequality and disaster.

We heard that you work with trade unions and indigenous…

Indigenous struggles and trade union struggles are part of the same struggle. I’ve also worked quite hard to support the Latin American Workers Association. They organise amongst non unionised Latin American workers in London and they have been involved in pay campaigns at SOAS. The Green Party has been working very strongly to support their campaigns. British Unions need to become more militant and more imaginative. I’m impressed by what I see of the Latin American Workers’ Association. They organise not only Latin American workers but they also organise in co-operation with British Trade Unions who are involved in the TUC.

Should the Green party become more militant?

It should become more intelligent. We have to be savvy; we have to be more politically strategic than other political movements because the stakes are so enormously high. Environmentalists and others in Latin America have shown real leadership. People have come up with solutions, implemented them, they are politically sophisticated and even technically very good at dealing with the problems of climate change. I don’t know whether it is racism or ignorance…. people don’t look at Latin America because Latin America is where the solutions are. I think the British Left are terrible for telling people around the world what to do, having failed all the time.

Bolivia, Nicaragua y Venezuela … Do you think that the social movements are the best way of bringing about political change?

The easy answer is yes. However, I think you have to take state power and change the state. That’s the lesson we learnt from Hugo Chavez and Morales. There has got to come a point where you have things on a party political level and you take power. This may not be realistic everywhere but you have to do that and then change the structures. I think what has been very impressive is the way that the social movements have been able to create constituent assemblies and new forms of democracy.


Anonymous said...

Do you think Eco-Socialism could take off in occupied Palestine?

Anandi Sharan said...

If you want you can follow some of us setting up (yet another) Green Party India by joining green-party-india@googlegroups.co

Anandi Sharan

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anandi.

Anonymous said...

So Raul is an eco-socialist? Interesting that you haven't blogged about Cuba since 2010.