- Capitalism and Alternatives -

A Green response

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on May 14, 1999 at 14:35:50:

In Reply to: Greens and the War posted by bill on May 13, 1999 at 18:14:57:

: (from another board - Australian Green's Magazine

: Why Greens go wrong on Balkans war

: By Allen Myers

: The German Greens are to hold a special congress on May 13 to decide
: their stand on the war in the Balkans. The party has been deeply
: divided by the issue, and there is even talk of a split between the
: pro-NATO wing, which includes foreign minister Joschka Fischer and a
: majority of the party's MPs, and opponents of the attack on Serbia.

: Whatever the outcome of the congress, the war has already dealt a
: severe blow to Green claims to represent something new in politics.

SDF: Ask RD before claiming that Leninism has dealt a severe blow to socialist claims to represent something new in politics.

: US President Bill Clinton is clearly aware of the political
: importance of Fischer's backing for the war. For example, speaking to
: US newspaper editors on April 15, he declared: *... NATO is more
: united today than when the operation began. Whether they are
: conservatives in Spain, socialists in France, New Labour in Britain or
: Greens in Germany, the leaders of Europe and the people they represent
: are determined to maintain and intensify our attacks ...*.

SDF: Some of Germany's Greens know the score. Check out this photo.

: The French Greens, who have ministers in the *socialist* government
: of Lionel Jospin, have also backed the NATO bombing. The Greens in
: France, known for the claim that their politics were *neither left nor
: right*, are no more able than their German counterparts to live up to
: their rhetoric.

: This is a severe setback in the fight for a new society of peace,
: social justice, democracy and ecological sustainability. The question
: is why the Greens, in both countries, failed so ignominiously at the
: first real test.

: Much of the answer lies in the Greens' view of parliament. By and
: large, Green parties around the world have accepted the notion that
: parliament is where the important decisions are made -- the decisions
: about questions such as war and peace, or environmental
: sustainability.

SDF: Let me suggest an alternative proposition: The Greens in power are unable to change the pro-war juggernauts of the "socialists" through coalition government, since they aren't powerful enough. So what's happened is that the members of the Green Parties that have formed these coalitions have been the fraudulent Greens. Joschka Fischer is a conservative masquerading as a Green. Real Greens support the Ten Key Values. Values such as "nonviolence," "grassroots democracy," "social justice," and "decentralization" were supposed to deal with the Joschka Fischers of the world.

: This idea is easy to accept because it is part of the official
: ideology of capitalist society; it's drummed into us all the time. But
: it's not true.

SDF: No, actually governments have real power, it's just attenuated power, ask the followers of Salvador Allende or the Sandinistas.

: The wealthy individuals and corporations aren't about to let what
: they can or can't do to protect and increase their wealth be decided
: by a democratic vote. So the powers of parliament are carefully
: circumscribed by the constitution, by the courts and by the top public
: servants. And who can get into parliament is controlled by an
: electoral system in which lots of money and support from the big media
: are prerequisites for serious involvement.

SDF: Yes, but if Parliament has no real power, then the above arguments are frivolous ones, since if Parliament has no real power, then it hardly matters who is in Parliament, the UK (for instance) would be the same were its people to elect Red Deathy or the National Front.

: The reality of who really makes decisions can be illustrated by a
: simple example. If you conducted a survey of all Australians, you'd
: get a nearly unanimous *yes* answer to the question, *Should
: Australia's wealthiest person pay substantial taxes on his wealth?*.
: But Kerry Packer's *no* is enough to veto that near unanimity, and the
: *powers* of parliament.

: The Greens, because they accept the false idea that parliament is
: where the real decisions are made, naturally concentrate their efforts
: on trying to achieve parliamentary representation. Some Green parties
: or members may also attach importance to building grassroots
: movements, but even this is usually seen as primarily a way of
: providing support for the *decisive* struggle over legislation or
: deciding who forms government.

SDF: Then why is "grassroots democracy" one of the Ten Key Values?

: When the German Greens achieved the parliamentary numbers to form a
: coalition with the Social Democrats, it no doubt seemed to many of
: them that they were now on the threshold of achieving many of their
: goals. In reality, they had made themselves hostage to exactly the
: sort of dilemma they now confront.

: To the majority of the German Green MPs, opposing the NATO attack is
: unthinkable because that would destroy the coalition government. The
: illusory power of parliamentary government is seen as the higher good,
: to which their anti-war principles must be sacrificed.

SDF: It's time for the significant minority to split the party. I'll be sure to do so in my Green State Party.

: Something very similar happened to the Tasmanian Greens in their
: coalition or *accord* with the state ALP between 1989 and 1996. As the
: Greens followed their Labor *partner* to the right, they lost support
: among voters who had been promised a different sort of politics,
: suffering a 25% drop in their vote in 1992 and a smaller decline in
: 1996.

: Last year, Labor and the Liberals decided that enthusiasm for the
: Greens had declined to the point where it was safe to rig the
: electoral laws against them, and they did so.

: Of course, at least some of the German Greens, like Fischer, claim
: that they are not sacrificing their principles, but that support for
: the NATO bombing is a lesser evil than not taking action against the
: brutal government of Slobodan Milosevic.

SDF: Maybe it's that the Greens in power are foolish enough to think that bombing and no action are the only two options.

: *It's a contradiction, but we have to live with it. If we accept
: Milosevic as a winner, it would be the end of the Europe I believe
: in*, Fischer said last month in an interview with the Washington Post.

: Fischer's argument is really an evasion, however. It simply shifts to
: the international level the false dilemma that the Greens create for
: themselves within the national parliament. In both cases, the view is
: that those *at the top* -- capitalist governments -- are the only
: forces that can solve problems, and so Fischer chooses what he
: perceives or hopes is the lesser evil.

SDF: Fischer is not really a Green, as I've said above.

: In reality, capitalist governments are not the solution to any
: problem, no matter how *democratic* their election laws may seem. The
: idea of participating in *responsible government* is a pipe dream
: because capitalist governments are responsible only to capitalists.

: *But what can we do now?*, defenders of Green parliamentarians demand
: to know.

: The sad truth is that we can do very little immediately to aid the
: Kosovars, and backing NATO is not part of that little.

: The crimes that capitalism inflicts on the world's peoples can be
: stopped only by a mass political movement that overthrows capitalism

Such a movement will never occur until the capitalist system starts dying of its own inertia. And by then it will probably be too late. Try again.

: and its governments and creates a real democracy. A major reason for
: the inability to aid the Kosovars is that too many people of good will
: have allowed themselves to be diverted from the job of building such a
: movement. The Greens' failure on Kosova demonstrates why the socialist
: goal

SDF: Ahem, isn't it that these Greens in Germany and France got themselves in trouble by allying themselves with some so-called "socialists"? Who can you trust?

: is not something for the distant future, but a necessary guide
: for politics today.

Follow Ups:

  • More... Samuel Day Fassbinder Citizens for Mustard Greens USA May 17 1999 (1)
    • Uh-huh.... Red Deathy Socialsit Party Uk May 17 1999 (0)
  • The Bennattollah. Red Deathy Socialist Party Uk May 14 1999 (0)

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