On Green Socialism and Working Class Politics

Green Socialism is inspired partly by traditional worker-oriented socialist views, but attempts to transcend class struggle by organizing popular struggle for true democracy, ecology, and freedom.

Not Merely “Environmentalism”

One of the first complaints Brain makes is that “the Green Party is organized around an ‘issue’ — the environment — rather than a class”. To understand how deeply flawed this statement is requires some background history on the Green Socialism movement. Rewind the clocks to the 1960s when numerous activist movements — the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the beginnings of an environmental movement spawned by outrage from books like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring — are all growing in popular support and political power. These movements brought real change in the form of the end of segregation and the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and more.

Misunderstanding State and Class

Brain next argues that “Socialism means workers’ control of the means of production through a workers’ state, as a step toward the disappearance of all social classes” before berating Greens and Howie Hawkins by stating “At the end of the day, the Green Party believes in an economy that is neither capitalist nor socialist but rather ‘eco-socialist’.” (Emphasis mine, for clarity.) I believe Brain is deriving his statement from the GPUS platform, however it is a very poor paraphrasing that misrepresents the actual party stance. Let’s first quote the GPUS platform Section (IV)(A)(4) here (emphasis mine):

Popular Struggle and Multi-Classism

Let’s return to an interesting point made in the last section regarding trade unions. Hawkins noted a tendency for worker-oriented movements to ironically create more class structure and further divide the working class between various industry trades and so-called “unskilled” workers. Brain makes several digs at the Green Party and Hawkins for being a “multi-class party,” including that it “operates on the principle that it is possible to reconcile the conflicting interests of the working class and the capitalist class”.

Municipalism as Electoral Revolution

Brain’s final major complaint is the perceived Green focus on electoralism. Brain states, “Real change cannot be won through elections — We win real concessions by protesting in the streets and challenging the capitalists’ control of the means of production.” The implication here of course is that Greens rely too heavily on, and advocate change primarily through, elections, but similarly to our previous arguments, this appears to again largely be a misunderstanding — this time about elections and the term “political party”.

Yes, GPUS Is Not A Perfect Messenger — But We Can Work To Improve It

All of the more philosophical arguments aside, I believe one would be hardpressed to find a Green Party member that wouldn’t agree there are serious deficiencies in the way the GPUS is organized today. For various complex historical reasons, the GPUS bylaws are a bit of a mess lacking real teeth in key areas, and the platform does have some contradictions, particularly around economics and monetary theory, that Brain rightly points out. The quick success of the German Green Party was in many ways more of a curse than a blessing because it brought a contingent of more “social democrat” neoliberal-minded “Greens” into the party in its early days, which is part of the reason the bylaws and platform are a bit Jekyll-and-Hyde. Some state parties have also not done the necessary organizing to grow, leading to a very haphazard view where some states have a stronger Green presence dedicated to socialist organizing, while other states barely register on the map other than to issue sadly liberal “critiques” of Democrats. The German Green Party is itself a classic example of what not to do, as it quickly traded in its radical anti-capitalist stances for more mild social programs in order to quickly win votes and gain representation in government; as such, it essentially became exactly the kind of party it was trying to not be when it first declared itself the “anti-party party”.

Political education, discussion, and commentary from a Green Socialist perspective.

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