In The Independent out this morning, Chris Trotter writes:
What is it about the Greens that drives the entire political establishment to demonise them?
The most obvious response is that the Greens are the only electorally viable political party in New Zealand that doesn’t subscribe, in one form or another, to the free-market paradigm.
All the other parties, including the once socialist Labour Party, look to the market place for social and economic inspiration.
Even in the heart of the social welfare bureaucracy, where statist thinking is presumably strongest, the talk is about devolving power to civil society and utilising the creative instincts of “social entrepreneurs” to revitalise organised caring.
The Greens do not fetishise the market in this fashion. Market relationships, viewed from an ecological perspective, are among the most superficial of anthropological phenomena.
Once again Chris is placing us clearly within the ‘left’ camp, which is fine as a generalisation within a black and white description of the political spectrum, but open to being slightly picked apart when seen in rainbow colours.
The Green Party does believe, in general, that the state is the appropriate mechanism for taking measures that have to be *imposed* because it is, through the democratic process, the political entity that has the greatest legitimacy.
No corporation can claim such legitimacy because it is at least theoretically beholden to its shareholders, not the the wider civil society. (In practice the ‘bottom line’ is more and more an abstract deity that is served by the priesthood of the management class and even the shareholding parishioners are ignored.)
The point at which the Greens and old school socialists differ is in WHAT should be imposed by the legitimate state.
Yes, Greens do generally believe that managing resource use, both in terms of avoiding wastage and ensuring everybody benefits, is where state mediation is necessary.
But beyond that is still a much exercised discussion. The main debate is around how to achieve goals when it requires the modification of personal behaviour. There are big differences of opinion within the Green Party and the wider movement around where the line lies between personal sovreignty and social and environmental responsibility.
I would assert that Green thinking broadly prefers that state power should be used to ‘make the right choice the easy choice’, that is people usually take the easiest path and since the paths available are set by the exercise of power in society, policy should make the sustainable choice the easiest to take.
In other words Government policy should set the parameters within which the market operates, a scenario which the right may describe as ‘state control’ but which any self-respecting old school socialist would describe as ‘state capitalism’.
Likewise our political opponents can claim we are watermelons – green on the outside but red on the inside – but then seeing the world in black and white is a form of colour blindness and the colour blind find red and green the hardest colours to distinguish :).
So while Chris is right that “the Greens are the only electorally viable political party in New Zealand that doesn’t subscribe, in one form or another, to the free-market paradigm”, I would argue that the Greens are not opposed to the market per se, just that we see the ‘free market’ as an oxymoron.
And therefore Rod can honestly and accurately say that ‘good’ business has nothing to fear from Green policy.