Thursday, November 10, 2005

Green Party Victories

Here's the Green Party press release detailing the victories in 19 races this election season.

More coverage of Green victories can be found here and here.


Peter said...

Does the Green Party have an idea for a new economic model? See Enviroman Says

Lou Novak said...

Here's a recent post to one of our email lists on Green economics:

I've been thinking about your comments on our lack, as an
organization, of a coherent economic theory. On the face of it, you're
right, of course. While a party member here and there may have
extensive knowledge of conventional or unconventional economics, most
members and most candidates do not.

Moreover, there are conflicting ideas about economics co-existing
within the party: natural capitalism, deep ecology, mainstream ideas
like the "Apollo Project," geonomics, varieties of Marxism, and more.
About all we agree on would be the general principle that
sustainability is a good thing.

While there is general agreement that the existing corporate economy
is not sustainable, there is no general agreement on how to transform
this society into one that is sustainable. There is not even general
agreement on what a sustainable society would look like. We can all
picture a primitive rural lifestyle that worked in the 19th Century,
when the population of the world was less than a billion people.
Inventing a sustainable society that would work for the over 6 billion
of today, one that would include computers and communication without
changing the climate, is another matter. Like wagon trains headed West
with no assurance of what would be found at the end of the journey, we
agree on a direction without a map to our goal.

Republicans and Democrats agree on their goal of making the corporate
economy function smoothly. They compete to see which of them will best
be able to make policies and decisions that contribute to its growth.
They see employment, prosperity, the health of the state and the
security of their jobs as entirely depending on continued, continuous
economic growth. They measure growth by corporate profits and stock
prices. By their standards, growth is good, period; end of story.

It really is that simple. NPR's "marketplace" program plays the happy
music any day that the Dow-Jones index is up, and the sad music any
day that it is down. Network news does the same with the expressions
of their anchors. Never mind that, as you pointed out, real wages in
America have been trending down for the last thirty years and more of
such growth. Never mind that sewage is increasing in the rivers and
lakes from which we get our drinking water, that one out of six goes
without medical insurance and most of the rest of us are
under-insured, and so on. The market is up - rejoice!

With a simple, definable goal like the DJIA, it is possible to have
sophisticated theories complete with precise charts and reams of
statistics about what has worked and what has not. It helps to have
billions of dollars to fund think tanks and academic departments and
such. Thus, there are tremendous, elaborate, mathematically
sophisticated economic theories based entirely on short-sighted

True believers in the religion of the marketplace actually assert that
it is not possible for any important commodity to be exhausted, or
even in short supply. It's a convoluted theory, vigorously defended,
that denies the reality of previous societies that collapsed, and
denies the possibility that the workings of the marketplace will cause
the collapse of this society.

We're better off without this kind of economic theory. We're better
off understanding some economic growth is like the growth of a cancer
- not healthy at all.

Greens do have an economic policy, if you go through the platform and
the resolutions of the last several years looking for it: a living
wage for everyone, universal health care, and decentralization of
wealth, power, and production. We're opposed to concentrated animal
feeding operations, to shipping water out of the drainage basin in
which it naturally occurs, and to drilling for oil and gas under the
Great Lakes.

We're solidly opposed to NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO, the World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund, and all the other institutions and
treaties of "globalization." The "corporate state" used to be a
descriptive term for the fascist state. Now, globalism is shorthand
for the corporate world economy. Fascism or globalism, corporate
control is the opposite of free and democratic.

We put the environment ahead of the economy, in sharp contrast to Dems
and Reps alike. That is, where they might seek to continue economic
activities that harm the environment, by regulating them so they are
somewhat less harmful ("permitting" sulfur dioxide emissions, for
instance), we would shut down those activities. Generating electricity
with nuclear power, or by burning coal without scrubbing the stack
would definitely be shut down. Degrade the environment sufficiently,
we would all say, and we won't have an economy or a society. Shutting
down harmful (if profitable) activities is a way to ensure we build a
sustainable economy - without so much production, perhaps, and also
without so much destruction.

Our economic positions do not add up to a recipe for state taxes and
spending that will revive Michigan's industries and employment. There
isn't any such thing, because the problems in Michigan's industries
are problems of the national and the world economy. Global warming,
peak oil, inflation driven by energy prices, destruction of ocean
fisheries and more localized environmental disasters are not going to
be overcome by the policies of Michigan's governor from any party. We
will, if we are honest about it, point out that Democratic and
Republican promises of tax cuts and fixing potholes will not lead to
job security, effective education or a return to the prosperity this
region knew some decades past.

In the first half of the 20th Century, Stalin tried to create
socialism in one country. A variety of other socialist leaders argued
that this was impossible, and history demonstrated that they were
right. Similarly, our position, whether it ever leads to our
candidates taking to office or not, has to be that it is not possible
to have a Green society (democratic, sustainable, just and peaceful)
in one state.

Our candidates need to say, "I want you to vote for me, but I have to
tell you that just electing me and expecting me to handle all these
issues for you isn't going to work. It isn't enough. Voting for me
should be just the beginning of your participation, not the end of it.
Whether I am elected or not, we will still need a strong and active
movement working on solutions in every level of government, in every
school, in every community, in every workplace. If elected, I will use
the office to continue building that movement."

Dems and Reps tend to say, "Elect me, and I will fight for your
interests." We should say, "Elect me, and I will help you organize to
fight for yourself."

Finally, a comment that may seem just a semantic quibble. I don't like
the term "post-industrial." I think it is misleading. If we have a
"post-industrial" society here, it follows that there is no need to
pay any attention to those old-fashioned issues associated with an
industrial society. They will fade away of their own accord, as the
residual industrial elements of the society continue to whither.

Ours is so more a "post-industrial" society than it is a
"post-agricultural" society, or a "post-commercial trading" one. It
has been a long time since 90% or more of the population lived on
farms. We are no longer primarily a society of farmers, but we have
not discarded agriculture and we have not progressed beyond a need for
food, so we are not post-agricultural. In Adam Smith's time, the great
innovators shaking up the society were largely merchant capitalists.
They were displaced in this role by manufacturing leaders,
particularly by the likes of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Edison and Ford in
the industries driven by the new uses for fossil fuels and mechanical
power. More recently, the spectacular innovations have come in the
form of computers and other electronics, leading to the idea of an
"information economy." In between, great thinkers almost had us
believing in an "atomic age," until the disadvantages of that approach
became more obvious.

As demonstrated by the great blackout of 2003, none of the
information/electronics gear works without some old-fashioned
industrial electric power. We don't really need a demonstration of how
societies dissolve and people die without food, though the world keeps
giving us periodic demonstrations. Global warming, peak oil,
contamination of drinking water supplies with mercury, sewage and all
manner of persistent organic pollutants - these are all problems of
industrial society.

What we have is a world society of over 6 billion, no less dependent
on the bounty of nature than a primitive tribe of a few hundred, but
capable, with all the technology at our command, of overusing and
destroying that bounty. If we insist on maintaining our unsustainable
practices until they absolutely cannot be continued, we can expect
first, our economy, and then, our society, will collapse. That's
what's at stake. Saying that we are now a "post-industrial" society is
just one way of pretending that we don't need to concentrate on
fundamental problems of energy and pollution.

Art Myatt