Jim is a Justmeans staff writer for Energy, Climate Change, and Transportation. "From my years as a debater prior to undergraduate work in Massachusetts, I have written about science and technology, carrying this focus into graduate school, where I examined the history of Birmingham and the early twentieth century South from working class and progressive perspectives. In addition to work as ...
Greens--and Reds and Blues--and Sustainable Business
Several of my recent essays have dealt directly with political economy and electoral politics, vis-a-vis either sustainability or the potential for increased renewable energy engagement. Today's article delves, in an introductory fashion, an aspect of politics in the U.S. today, as one version or another of disaster looms at the polls ten days hence.
'Politics,' as opposed to political economy or sociopolitical engagement, is almost exclusively about gaining access to institutional power centers. Elections are the primary, though not the exclusive, means that people think about when they ponder who gets to run the government, determine the energy policies, decide where and how to build the concomitant power supply networks, and so on and so forth.
Because everyone can see the vast sums and significant eventualities at stake in these electoral arenas, the campaign process and the vote itself command a lot of attention as stories. It's like a World Series on steroids.
But most people don't much consider how the whole process works. Nor do they ponder why different approaches show up in different geographical and historical contexts. Unfortunately, even less so do they listen to the imprecations of such as this humble correspondent, in regard to the necessity to strengthen and expand our sense both of what constitutes politics and of how the exercise of political power happens.
Lest anyone think that all of these musings merely reflect the meandering mentality of this humble correspondent, such a dubious one might glance at any number of the searches that I've done, turning up hundreds of thousands of citations, from such redoubtable representatives of established organizations as the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Without stint, these authoritative investigative sallies admit that they look into these matters, about which no one has advanced a definitive theory in the nature of Darwin's theory of evolution or Marx's theory of wages, because how things work right now depends on understanding the forces at play in American politics.
On the surface, obviously, this is about 'party favors' of one kind or other: whether the Democrats continue with close to sixty Senators, whether the GOP makes significant inroads in the House of Representatives or even gains a majority again, etc. Just as obviously, this humble correspondent, who deplores the smoke and mirrors--and hence the wrongheadedness and confusion--on the surface of things, wants to probe more deeply.
After all, I have an evidence-based trove of materials that suggests that the Republocrats and Demopublicans, though they are separate coalitions of people, are almost indistinguishable in terms of political philosophy, orientation to the political economic issues of greatest import, and in almost any other definitive way of examining political difference. This observation leads me to see the seeming contemporary brouhaha in politics in a critical, skeptical way.
A lot of questions come to mind. Why are these very similar people yelling at each other? If they're really angry, why do they always end up doing approximately the same thing that the other side did? And, seditiously, why have two parties if they're practically identical twins? A still more seditious inquiry is at the heart of the present posting: "Why don't people get themselves a party that represents them in a way that wouldn't make them so angry?"
Before this text proceeds to a very preliminary look at the overall expression of a 'Greening' of politics around the world, and at Georgia's very own Green Party, about which I will be producing follow-up articles that, Lord willing, will include an interview with Cynthia McKinney, this humble correspondent insisted that some background thinking and assessment take place. In particular, an examination of the proto-explanation for the whole ball of wax seemed apt.
I refer to the vaunted model that proposes that American politics revolves around a 'Two Party System.' Although this notion is so clearly a facade for something else, a faux accounting for the entire scene, I have not followed up my awareness of the contradiction with anything akin to a comprehensive dissection. I've preferred to work at the grassroots, on the one hand, and to analyze such other political economic phenomena as the energy industry or the military industrial complex instead.
But I have noticed this intriguing contradiction and have frequently promised to look into it at some point in more than a completely cursory way. This piece is a first step in that direction. It begins with what I have always believed was an early, conscious creation of upper class Americans (James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, to be specific), simultaneously a blocking mechanism against unwanted majorities and what ended up being a facilitation of the propensity to factionalism that favored continued hegemony by the 'right sorts' of rulers.
I refer, as most followers of history will already be aware, to Federalist Papers Number Ten, James Madison's brilliant exegesis on how to deal with factions. Inasmuch as he is a 'founding father,' and hence 'hallowed be his name,' many readers may gag a bit at digesting the next tidbit. A primary purpose of this guidebook to representative government was to defang in advance the serpentine potential for offensive majorities to do things unfavorable to men of property and substance.
Madison speaks straightforwardly about this. No doubt he was writing more or less exclusively to men whom he considered stalwarts of the same conceptions of liberty--i.e., property rights--as he believed apt and true. He did not foresee a future, perhaps, when the likes of this humble correspondent might be seeking to actuate what Madison would have considered an obnoxious majority of the sort that he mentions here.
|"Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority."|
In a classic analogy, however, Madison notes that "liberty is to faction as air is to fire." So this lover of at least the liberty of men to do as they see fit with what they own will not seek to destroy faction, a hopeless cause in any event. His purpose is to "control it."
One way to do this is to insure that republican and not democratic forms prevail at all times. Another is to extend the boundaries of the actual Republic; insodoing, the potential for local combinations will decrease.
However, in an inspired moment of reflection about the nature of electoral politics, Madison also imagined developing processes that would channel the inevitably factious passions of people toward one of only two parties, either of which will perform acceptably for the purposes of the 'better sorts' of citizens whom Madison is so fond of mentioning as brethren. In suggesting these tactics, Madison is clear what he is protecting.
|"(T)he most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. ...divide(d)... into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation."|
How to protect the propertied 'minor' party was especially the motivation for Madison and Hamilton. Minority factions were not of too much concern, for obvious reasons. Majorities who might combine against the rights of property "must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression."
An extensive republic that eschews direct democracy is the main stoppage to such potential. But Madison also alludes to the aggregation of jurisdictions within the Federal system. By fiddling with those internal borders, he feels sure, ways will become clear that prohibit or impede majorities who might undermine the rule of property.
He is pretty transparent. "The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. ...A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State. In the extent and proper structure of the Union, therefore, we behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government."
Madison doesn't offer a roadmap for today's so-called 'Two-Party System.' Thus, his inception of a 'playing field' ideal for one-class rule in the guise of two political formulations does not come close to explicating the present pass in a complete, and hence completely satisfactory way. Readers can find a recent, magnificent attempt at such a presentation, however, in Lisa Jane Disch's, The Tyranny of the Two-Party System, which precisely breaks down the components of present day electoral processes that go under the name of the 'two party system.'
She shows that the nature of the present day is of a one-party system with a nominal nod to two parties having rights. She shows that this has roots in administrative and legislative requirements for parties that date from the beginning of the twentieth century. And she shows, both in a general empirical sense, and from her own experiences in the electoral arena, that, short of thorough reform, citizens can only expect further parodies of democracy, what I label the hydra headed Demopublican/Republocrat monstrosity.
In addition to poring over such labors as those of Dr. Disch, a pupil who wanted to have a proper grounding in electoral politics today would need to study the way that appointment powers attend on victory in contests for executive power. "To the victor go the spoils" of executive power, even as a meritocracy putatively holds sway within the rank and file of the civil service.
As well, the administrative rules that govern how parties operate make intervention by popular forces nearly impossible unless they have almost limitless funds. These niggling requirements include large to gigantic numbers of signatures on petitions for any new group. They also involve the presence of legalese on forms that regular people might readily distrust, making obtaining such signatures more difficult. And they disallow names that are outside of a district, making getting signatures at either the mall or the pub much more dicey, to say the least.
Furthermore, the winner-take-all constitution of the election itself means that losing is equivalent to death. In such a situation, only the most inveterate gamblers, or committed democrats, will take part when two established forces might--as has happened repeatedly--combine against the newcomer should it show the strength necessary to overcome one of the two established parties.
This underlines why a Ross Perot or a Rockefeller or a Roosevelt can make an 'independent' go for the Presidency, and it points out the obstacles faced by a Jesse Jackson, a Citizens Party, or a Green Party. Whether Madison was far-sighted enough to see the pass of the present day from his perch at the end of the eighteenth century, exactly the sort of 'structure of the republic' that would block the hungry lower classes from imposing their will has come to pass. We call it, without thinking about it or analyzing it, a 'Two-Party System,' as if we actually had a choice.
Leaving aside the 'spoiler role' dearly beloved of political scientists, and the 'ideological agenda' dearly beloved of sociologists, what the current situation adds up to is a milieu in which two gangs--whose only distinctive characteristics are the colors of their jackets, trade access to the coffers of the State every two years or so. The feed trough and the pork barrel offer a metaphorical outline for administration, while the allusion to a gangland turf war is a decent framework for contemplating the electoral process.
In places outside of the benighted central sections of North America, parliamentary systems have provided perhaps a modicum of relief from the 'dog-and-pony show' that has prevailed in this nation since at least Eisenhower's first victorious run for the Presidency. Not only do real social democrats--albeit ones that a thorough-going Marxist might snub as hopelessly bourgeois in ideological terms--occasionally run things in Europe and Asia, but a host of other shades of difference are discernible too.
The balance of this story will look at the verdant tones that have arisen in the aftermath of a couple of 'Values Parties' that made their appearance in New Zealand and Australia almost forty years ago. Onlookers can recall that Dr. Chris Busby, he of the large brain and the extensive efforts to obtain social justice, gained much of his backing and capacity from the united Green Parties of Europe.
And of course Hermann Scheer, may he rest in peace, proved absolutely how access to administrative power can be critical in demonstrating that certain alternatives, favored by vast majorities, truly work. For anyone even mildly concerned about sustainable business or 'responsible' political economies, therefore, understanding these otherwise mundane electoral issues can be of utmost import.
The point is not that JustMeans readers should vote one way, or that they should support candidates of any particular party. Rather, the upshot is that, lacking analysis that explains why politics produces similarly desultory results election cycle after election cycle, and short of a capacity to comprehend how two almost identical organizations became the only 'candidates' for administrative access, JustMeans aficionados, bless their hearts, will have neither the consciousness nor the facts that might permit different choices, the exploration of new electoral formulas, or anything with similarly satisfying potential.
A delightful Professor from South Florida, who calls himself the "Mad Sociologist,' articulates these ideas in the simple terms that might permit a useful perspective on the purposes of this essay. "It is now painfully clear that our current political economy is not only unsustainable in every regard...but also unresponsive to the expectations of a democratic society." In such a context of fraudulent polity, casting about for alternate political forms must be sensible to all but the incurably masochistic.
Speaking strictly from personal experience, the sociopolitical dynamics of Green Party operations rank among the thorniest, most bizarre, most hilarious, and most fascinating of subjects imaginable. Incontrovertibly, this topic contains useful information; likely it points toward productive approaches to difficult issues; possibly it equals in importance most other matters of political discovery in existence.
A founding member of the first Green-tinted party, the 'Values Party' of New Zealand, in her doctoral dissertation on the earth's Green movement, suggested that "Green politics (i)s possibly the most important development of late twentieth century global politics."
Dr. Christine Dann, as is the wont of those seeking to gain approval for their magnum opuses, seeks explanatory rationale for what they have observed. "(O)ne of these factors (c)ould be the post-World War Two acceleration and proliferation of global econoinic activity, which certainly led to a deepening of environmental problems, but also to a change in economic and social relations."
Ralph Nader, he of the either insane or inane Only the Super Rich Can Save Us, nonetheless has the mental equipment of a super genius; perhaps quixotically, given his predilection for rescue at the hands of the Plutocracy, he agrees with Professor Dann. Moreover, he expresses incisively a core contradiction of electoral politics in the USA today. "We really need multi-party development in this country, because we don't have a government of, by, and for the people. We have a government of the Exxons, by the General Motors," and for the Plutocrats generally.
This paradox--of democratic forms and lack of majority-favorable outcomes, has characterized advanced capitalism for at least half a century or so. One response, on the part of people who feel the frustration of supposedly having the means to make things better and yet almost never being able to effectuate tangible improvements and reforms, has been to turn to new political groups, especially, outside of the hidebound and backwards U.S., to local and new political parties.
Social movements predated the Green phenomena. Wary of atomic annihilation, roused to a frenzy of activism against the psychic and material toll of capitalism, students, workers, and the burgeoning 'middle class' of Europe had collaborated against the soul-sucking propensities of the post-WWII economic 'miracle.'
For over thirty years, Europeans have embraced a politics with the tinge of chlorophyll. Having prior engagement with anti-war, anti-imperial, and environmentally friendly organizations, these early 'Greens' gravitated to alliances with the Continent's Social Democratic parties.
"However," as one chronicler narrates, "the negative experiences of the followers of these social movement with the bureaucratic organizational structures of most left-wing established parties and interest groups as well as the perceived lack of responsiveness of political institutions to come to grips with a fundamentally different policy approach, became the major reason for the foundation and the growth of Green parties in Western Europe."
Moreover, the insightful annalist sees in the formative experiences of Green Party members the basis for what he calls two sorts of formula for founding an actual structure, each of which could show up at any level of organizing among the generally anti-bureaucratic Greens. The "pure Green reformist parties" continued in alliance with Labor and Socialist parties of the 'center,' while "alternative Green radical parties" sought out 'fringe' formations in order to effect principled stands and clear-cut ideological agendas, eschewing many of the de rigeur compromises attendant on electoral politicking.
Finally, this guide to those seeking clarity about the 'Greening' of European politics avers three components of most formal Green organizations, at any level of society.
*First, most Green parties follow an ideology that consists of strong concerns for equal rights;
*Second, all Green parties display a strong preference for participatory party organization. ... giv(ing) local party branches more autonomy... designed to give the grassroots a maximum chance of interest articulation;
*Third, and most important, Green parties have a similar electorate with characteristics that differ significantly from those of the established parties. ... mainly younger, new middle class, urban, highly educated, with new value orientations, a general left-wing orientation, and occupy(ing) white-collar and government jobs where the traditional class conflict is virtually non-existent.
These empirically rich descriptions provide anyone seeking political effects in relation to Green Party interfaces or cooperation insights into possibly central social influences and determinants of Green thinking and policy formulation.
These early experiences of difference, and undoubtedly tension, informed the maturation of European Green Parties, which, though they remain a relatively small electoral demographic, seem to have consolidated a tangible grip on a piece of the political pie. In retaining their seat at the tables of power, Greens have not only developed increasingly aggressive assaults on establishment bureaucracy and policy, but also produced and distributed increasingly sophisticated and powerfully articulated policy and platform documents that state their goals and visions.
And of course, their politicians have played key roles in Germany, in England, and in many other places, in reforming and opening up policy and political possibility. For a JustMeans reader who might imagine a more effective manifestation of politics her in the United States than has traditionally followed involvement with Democratic Party forces, such expressions of intelligence, equity, and democracy could be instructive.
"We acknowledge the wisdom of the indigenous peoples of the world (and) that human society depends on the ecological resources of the planet, and must ensure the integrity of ecosystems and preserve biodiversity and the resilience of life supporting systems;"
"We assert that the key to social justice is the equitable distribution of social and natural resources... to meet basic human needs unconditionally, and to ensure that all citizens have full opportunities for personal and social development. ... declar(ing) that ... social justice without environmental justice, and ... environmental justice without social justice(are impossible);"
"This requires(among other things)
? individual empowerment through access to all the relevant information required for any decision, and access to education to enable all to participate;
? breaking down inequalities of wealth and power that inhibit participation;
? building grassroots institutions that enable decisions to be made directly at the appropriate level by those affected, based on systems which encourage civic vitality, voluntary action and community responsibility;
? strong support for giving young people a voice through educating, encouraging and assisting youth involvement in every aspect of political life including their participation in all decision making bodies."
This charter for human survival also lays out a twelve point democracy program and a ten point equity program that articulate the boundaries which societies must cross in order actually to gain the 'good life' that they say is their primary political-economic purpose. Only on the basis of actual potency across the continent and around the world, these documentary attestations remind the reader, have the formalization and presentation of the Green alternative been possible.
They make this contention in order both to underline accomplishment and to ensure enthusiastic striving for further gains. A summary of a conference presentation by and aging Green leader presented this point powerfully.
|"He reminded people that countries such as Germany were not the only ones where green parties had achieved electoral success; unheralded Latvia, for example, had even elected a Green Prime Minister, Indulis Emsis. The long presence of the Greens in the European Parliament, he argued, is due to a very intense cooperation between the different green parties. This culminated in February 2004, when thirty-two green parties in twenty-nine countries united to establish the European Green Party. Haavisto saw this as a major milestone, not just in the history of the Greens, but for European and international politics in general. The new European party will continue to strengthen the solidarity among Greens throughout the continent and represented, Haavisto believed, 'the beginning of a global orientation' for the green political movement."|
In England, under the resilient and robust leadership of Caroline Lucas, the Greens have established a deeply rooted organization that not only intends to contend for nationwide power, but has propounded a grassroots, participatory platform that is in the nature of a National Democratic Planning Document. Its components inspire attention and enrollment, even fealty.
|"At the heart of our joined-up approach is the Green New Deal. ... Party Leader Caroline Lucas has led the way on this ground-breaking proposal to tackle the three crises of economic collapse,inequality and climate change. The Green New Deal is all about investing massively to create jobs and move towards a sustainable,zero-carbon economy. Private enterprise can't bring the jobs and the people together,so the Government has to act, just as the US Government did in the 1930s,to train and employ unemployed people to do the work required. Green MPs will fight to move the management of money from the casino capitalism underlying the current collapse to productive,useful investment."|
On a good day, I can fantasize that Barack-the-Magnificent might mouth such words as these, or that the Demopublicans might put them in its platform. But the English Greens, and the Parties allied with it around the planet, back up this talk with a stalwart stride toward actualization: 'no nukes,' participatory democracy's expansion in every sector, demilitarization of the economy, and the dismantling of empire and corporate predominance.
Many thinkers note that the fine-tuned and razor-honed articulations of the Greens are hammering home the objectives of social democracy and the many parties attached to a socialist vision on the Continent. Though to a degree, such a conflation is lamentable, another view is that the socialists, all too often lacking a fiery leader like Hermann Scheer whose principles remained unshakeable to the day he died, tied themselves to the corporate structures of capital and thereby disarticulated any honorable commitment to popular power and social equality.
|"The over-riding objective is no longer the execution of a clearly defined programme of economic, social, or political reform but the exercise of the power of patronage which the state apparatus confers on those who administer it. Social democracy no longer articulates, much less carries through, transitional strategies aimed at the transformation of society. It lacks the will, the analysis, and the means needed to challenge the current direction of advanced capitalism. It has outlived its historical mission."|
Unfortunately, here at the 'home of the brave,' citizens have never, ever, not even once, let alone twice, come close to having a 'contender' for State power that came close to even approximating the potent transformative visions that are everywhere now extant in Europe. Whatever the memories of other commentators, this humble correspondent is not about to forget that social democrats of all stripes--from the most crimson of Commies to the most syndicalized of anarchists--did play critical parts in the drama that now puts Europe on the verge of the political capacity actually to make a transition that all societies will face, come what may.
On this side of the Atlantic, we still have many baby-steps to manage before we can even ponder the giant strides that our cousins across the seas and over the Northern and Southern borders are already managing. One key component of that viable program for reform and humanity, for change and survival, ought to be an idea that we brand into our brains.
A part of having a functioning democracy, even at the electoral level, must include the guarantee "that all citizens have the right to be a member of the political party of their choice within a multi-party system." James Madison was a genius, but his elitist, ruling class ideation will never serve the likes of working class citizens in America today; serving them, by the way, is the basis of any program of 'sustainable business.'
A GEORGIA GREEN PARTY OVERVIEW
A common approach by powerful establishment forces in reaction to organizations like the Green Party of Georgia has been one form or other of disparaging dismissal. An insightful and prolific academician has ripped to shreds such typical dismissiveness.
"Silencing scientific discourse...by equating it with political and religious extremism or apostasy is dishonest. If we are to have a real, critical discussion about global warming and the consequences then we must get past the claims of the conservative punditocracy."
This same 'good neighbor' notes of Cynthia McKinney's 2008 Presidential race that it "focuses on economic injustice and increased opportunity for the poor. A McKinney White House would invest in poor communities to equalize access to education, housing, and justice. The government would guarantee gainful employment to all who want it. "No family should remain mired below the poverty level when the head of household works in a full time job." She would institute a living wage. The government would establish and encourage jobs programs to rebuild failing infrastructure" and more.
Of course, having grown up in the land-of-manipulated-faction, from the 'founding fathers' until the present moment, American Greens at times resemble kings and queens of infighting. The infiltration of divide-and-conquer misleadership having proceeded to the deepest levels of community and group in this country--from the Palmer Raids through COINTELPRO to 'Patriot Act' vicissitudes--such skirmishes to achieve clarity and insight must take place: at least the Greens, when they bicker, bite about something that is real.
The local party's "Ten Key Values" mirror the International Green Program. "Grassroots Democracy" is number one, followed by "Social Justice and Equal Opportunity" and "Ecological Wisdom."
The Peach State's verdant political principles also include these four planks of particular interest to those who call for 'sustainable business' and 'business better.'
5. DECENTRALIZATION--Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. Therefore, we support a restructuring... to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. ... at the ... local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens;
6. COMMUNITY-BASED ECONOMICS AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE--(A) vibrant and sustainable economic system, one that can create jobs and provide a decent standard of living for all people while maintaining a healthy ecological balance. ... paying a "living wage" which reflects the real value of a person's work (led by) (l)ocal communities ... . independently owned and operated companies which are socially responsible, as well as co-operatives and public enterprises that distribute resources and control to more people through democratic participation;
9. PERSONAL AND GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY--We (seek) to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. ...to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet;
10. FUTURE FOCUS AND SUSTAINABILITY--(M)otivated by long-term goals, (w)e seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely ... 'unmaking' all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion... . counterbalanc(ing) ... short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations."
Those who adhere to notions of 'corporate responsibility' are looking at the indisposable elements of any viable CSR manifestation.
Georgia's Greens practice the transparency and local connectivity that they preach. One must admit that Georgia's Democratic Party also makes a lot available via its virtual portal. The GOP, on the other hand, greets the visitor with flashing invitations to donate and then permits entry to a flashy website that, except elliptically and by reference, does not provide any firm programmatic platform or 'values' statement.
In relation to what is possible to compare, any fair-minded examination of Green and Democratic principles and approaches will find vast contrasts, distinguishing characteristics that would only deepen in comparison with the Republican methodologies. I'm supremely uninterested in churning out voters; I am indelibly fierce in my commitment to local democracy and dialogue that includes working class, grassroots voices. For readers who have similar 'values,' a careful consideration of these alternatives should prove instructive.
Georgia's Greens also guide their viewers to the statutory basis for politics in the state. While a deeper look at this 'Madisonian' aspect of de-democratizing democracy will appear in the next installment of this series, a nod to the modesty and utility of Georgia's Green Party process is apt.
"We have years of development ahead of us as we prepare the way to contest every partisan race in Georgia (fulfilling the legal) requirements...laid out in the Georgia Election Code (OCGA 21-2-110 et seq)." This focus on seeding and facilitation suggests the reality of this political effort.
My personal experience of Georgia's Greens relates both to having covered nuclear power and renewable energy for decades, the former of which the Green's reject and the latter of which they embrace, and having had the delightful opportunity to follow the career and report on some of the principled advocacy that Cynthia McKinney has propounded. McKinney, of course, after her own party and the GOP colluded to evict her from the House of Representatives, ran atop the Green national ticket in 2008.
One recent Green document honored Ms. McKinney's family for "lives well lived." "The 2010... Georgia Green Party Convention adopted a proclamation honoring... Billy and Leola McKinney for their many contributions to the justice Movement, to our community, to independent politics, and to the Green Party."
These gifts of service included "play(ing) an 'instrumental' role (after military deployment) as one of a handful of African Americans to integrate the formerly all-white Atlanta City Police Department... long demonstrat(ing) political independence, and... being the only Congressional candidate in Georgia's history to achieve ... access to the ballot under Georgia's Jim Crow... regime."
This path-breaking leadership continues to characterize the McKinney family, just as it also describes the Green Party's willingness to 'speak truth to power.' Among the instances of such advocacy this year is the party's depiction of Barack-the-Magnificent's enthusiasm for nukes as "his worst idea yet." These wolverines of local power also link to the active continental network of the Canadian Greens, which has been grappling with a more insidious but still potent attempt to ram nuclear down the throats of Canadians. Opposition there is pronounced enough that, unlike in the U.S., where up-front policy announcements make clear the radioactive glow planned for the energy agenda, Canadians face rule-based, back door invocation of atomic power by the energy bureaucracy.
Later reports on this Southern 'Greening process' will detail the constructive and networking efforts of Georgia's Green Party. For now, interested observers might recognize many instances of a change in coloration of Peach-state politics. Bruce Dixon, for example, a veteran political analyst and commentator, recently announced that Black Agenda Report was "throwing in its lot" with the Greens.
|"Our white Democrats are Dixiecrats. Think John Barrow from Savannah. Think Roy Barnes, a past governor and current candidate for that same office who nearly doubled the number of prison beds in only four years, and whose biggest brag last time he ran (and lost to a mope who promised to and did bring the Confederate flag back to the state capital) was his championing a two strikes law in the state senate under his Dixiecrat predecessor Zell Miller."|
Dixon adds, laconically, "Our elected black Democrats aren't much better, most of them."
At the next iteration of this fractious percolation of politics, with so many direct and indirect impacts on issues of sustainable business and renewable energy, readers will see the linkages between this spade work in Georgia, fertilizing the grassroots for truly transformative political growth, and regional and national Green developments. Communities that want environmental justice, or that aspire to sustainability, need a political partner worthy of the name. And the evidence is clear to those willing to face facts: Demopublicans and Republocrats, as 'parties,' are unworthy of the moniker, 'partner to the people.'
Tom Clements, an inveterate warrior for environmental justice, for democratic engagement, and for evidence-based policy that involves the engaged community, is running as a Green Party U.S. Senate candidate in South Carolina, just across the Savannah River, quarantining the Plutonium Plutocracy in concrete form.
The odds against his victory are, to put it mildly, substantial. Yet this now-white-haired veteran of many political struggles, and coolly rational policy thinker about energy and technology, is blazing a trail,
The future will be green, unless it is instead all the shades of fiery darkness. Two years, or four years, or ten years from now, the South will rise again, but the strains that the world will here will be not the upbeat singalong jingles of 'Dixie,' but the swelling harmonies of inevitability in the old spiritual, "We shall overcome."
Generally speaking, the efforts of an organization like the Georgia Greens, even where, as Dr. Chris Busby's success and influence would attest, such a party has manifested both numbers and success, have met derision or disbelief. Manchester's English Guardian, displays the still-typical 'centrist' position that Greens are inherently incompetent and anti-science.
In Georgia, this arrogance on the part of corporate interlocutors and the pundits is in a sense the least of the Party's problems. Here, several other difficulties occur. The divisions among working people, in relation to class and color make constructive networking difficult, to say the least.
Perhaps more critical still is the very construction of electoral politics, in which the orchard foreseen by James Madison has yielded arcane fruits of disenfranchisement throughout the land. A Republic of Parties? Debating the Two Party System, is a recent volume that dares to envision the sort of multi-party factional outpouring that would be harder for corporate monoliths to purchase or control.
Arguably, Georgia's Greens need a strategic embodiment of this perspective, for otherwise, since the South is ever the worst at finagling disempowering rules into statutory form, the Party is likely to languish in the thickets of the rigged game that presently passes for electoral democracy in Georgia. At the least, a careful reading of The Tyranny of the Two-Party System seems apropos. More likely, a widespread democratic dialog about the issues raised there is essential.
In such a conversation, "we've always done it that way" would not form a basis for defending a way of dressing up ruling class oversight as democracy. In such a conversation, community initiative would receive precedence over top-down patronizing assurances that 'we live in the best of all possible worlds,' where the cultural epitome of 'be all that you can be' is the right to pay electric bills that don't reflect the death and decimation of the 'Nuclear Fool Cycle,' at least not yet.
Needless to say, such a conversation would benefit from the sorts of community investiture that this humble correspondent has long promoted. And, no matter how far-fetched the suggestion might seem, those citizens in the Peach State enamored of a politics in which electoral success and values are not mutually exclusive could use a breath of sweet Green Mountain air from Vermont. Making that happen is easier said than done, but it needs doing, so I'm saying it.
When Georgia's Greens can bring about such a program as this, or achieve similar resiliency through their own ineffable processes of empowerment, the present political pass is ripe for profound reforms. The Google search, "democrats + republicans + same + alike" called forth 1,030,000 citations, over three quarters of which on the first ten pages concerned how citizens now despise both parties.
Even a substantial slice of the Tea Party set might boost Georgia's Green Party platform and consider affiliation. The two thirds of eligible voters here more or less completely alienated from a rotten system would, likely overwhelmingly, raise the Greens high as rebels with a cause who can make a transformative difference in human life generally, as well as right here in the varied landscapes of the Southland.
A recent volume from Europe, Green Parties in Transition: the End to Grassroots Democracy?, cautions against a bureaucratization of Green power, a hard-to-resist proclivity in all cases of political success. In Georgia, that's getting 'far ahead of the curve,' as it were, but this humble correspondent prefers an optimistic scenario about the future, which must be green, to mute acceptance of destitution. Thus, the warning that the greatest danger comes from success seems appropriate.
In the days following the 2008 National vote, Cynthia McKinney acknowledged the Green Party's paltry proportion of the tally: ".1% of the vote." But she let her megawatt smile shine nonetheless. "We love to do things we've never done before in order to have things we've never had before."
A contemporary scholarly investigation of pathways to potentiation of multiparty democracy dedicated his study to "the millions of Americans who vote for third party alternatives, the thousands who spend their lives building minor parties, and the larger group of Americans that, despite enfranchisement, feels left out of the decision-making process of American government."
"In the U.S.," this thinker adds, "there is a great diversity of interests and opinions but the two-party system serves to mask those differences." Despite the reactionary and defensive posture of the present scheme's proponents, in this expert's view, we should be listening to the words of future-studies guru Alvin Toffler. "'The time has come for us to imagine completely novel alternatives, to discuss, dissent, debate, and design from the ground up the democratic architecture of tomorrow.'"
Conspiracies are useful only as a salve on a seeping sore from political losses, or as a legal tool, generally for those in power to gather up and marginalize a gaggle of pesky opponents. I avoid conspiracy theories like the plague, and even Michael Ruppert's quip, "I deal in conspiracy facts" is foreign to most of what I produce.
Thus, at the same time that the current structure and dynamic of Demopublican/Republocrat electoral machinations has all the earmarks of a conspiratorial enterprise, a 'racket,' as Smedley Butler would phrase it, this humble correspondent wants to use the ugly reality of apparent grassroots powerlessness in America as the basis of a challenge to my class allies and 'fellow-travelers' among the sustainable business ranks
Michael Andoscia, a Florida thinker, delineate the task at hand. "It's time to put our heads together, our voices together, and if necessary, our clenched fists together to re-invent the global economy. It's time to think beyond the prescribed dichotomies and find a third option that really does lead to a better, more stable, market for the working man who will certainly carry it."
For their parts, Madison and Hamilton, In Federalist Papers Number 51, saw two hundred twenty years into Georgia's future. They anticipated the State-and-Nation "double security" against frisky majorities that might assault the bastions of the privileged owners of everything.
They add, again making explicit the class basis of their concerns and the modalities for allaying them. Their purpose was to "guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. Different interests necessarily exist in different classes of citizens. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure. There are but two methods of providing against this evil: the one ...hardly practicable...but the other, by comprehending in the society so many
separate descriptions of citizens as will render an unjust combination of a majority of the whole very improbable, if not impracticable."
Perhaps a subtler iteration of the joys of 'divide and conquer' has never appeared. In any event, welcome to Georgia, where the law and regulation of elections and voting practically guarantees the 'impracticability' of which some of the 'Founding Fathers' incessantly dreamed and cleverly schemed.
Yet we are still human. We can listen to the Mad Sociologist and purse our lips while nodding agreement at sage advice indeed.
|"Voting is just one aspect of political action. An election should be an integral part of building and maintaining a social movement, of enhancing the social discourse and furthering the debate on human freedom. We won't ever get the things we want, like universal health care (or renewable energy), if our votes and our actions do not reflect this desire. Voting must be part of something larger. ...building a movement, (so that) our emphasis on being on the winning team must take a back seat to our principles. We must vote our principles, but also discuss our principles, debate our principles, expand our principles, accommodate input from others, and network with people who think similarly and bring them into our movement. ... Only third party candidates are committed to principle."|
He also says, using language redolent of the mall and credit card transactions, "Party loyalty makes no more sense than brand loyalty. There's nobody out there who will continue to purchase a product that does not work. The same rule should apply for politicians. If the product is faulty, don't buy it."
In closing, I would look Eastward again. Models from our social democratic cousins, not so easily divided and hence not so easily conquered, proffer wise counsel and friendly succor to their relatives here who favor sustainability, who are tired of losing every renewable energy battle at the policy level, who want the democracy and community power that is the only safe guarantor of 'business better.'
"Business as usual, brought to you by the main political parties, has given us a series of linked economic, environmental and social crises. Why would you trust these same parties to sort the crises out? The state of (all the world) in 2010 cries out for fresh thinking and new progressive voices. ...All it requires is political courage - and popular democratic backing for that courage." Truly, 'the people, united, cannot be defeated.'