Sunday 31 July 2022

The Greens’ Unhappy Relationship With Power.

Rule-Breaker? It is easy to see why poor James Shaw found himself brutally deposed as the Greens’ co-leader. By seeking the responsibilities of leadership – and exercising them – he violated the first rule of Green Party governance. Then, by accepting the limitations of the Green Party’s electoral mandate (7.8 percent of the Party Vote) and practicing the art of the possible with Labour and National, he violated the second.

THE GREENS have a problem with power. The whole concept of leadership makes them uneasy. Who should have power? How should it be wielded? These are questions radical environmentalists have struggled with since the Values Party was formed 50 years ago. If nothing else, the peculiarly self-destructive actions of the Greens over the course of the past week have exposed how urgently the party needs to address and resolve the problems of political power.

Perhaps the first question that the Greens need to answer is: How much power do they want? This may sound like a silly question, but exactly how powerful the Greens see themselves becoming has never been all that clear. Unlike most parties, the Greens do not ask the electorate explicitly for a decisive parliamentary majority.

Now, you may say this reflects a commendable humility on the part of the Greens. By accepting that securing a parliamentary majority is beyond them, and that the best they can hope for is to partner a much larger party in a broad progressive coalition, they are, surely, acknowledging political reality? True, but they are also accepting that the amount of power they will ever be able to wield in their own right is limited.

Except, in the face of global warming and all the other environmental threats to the planet, isn’t the Greens’ acceptance of relative powerlessness a little self-defeating? Examining their manifesto, it is clear that unprecedented state power will be needed to achieve the goals the Greens have set themselves. Power that only a determined Green Prime Minister, Cabinet and Caucus, commanding a huge parliamentary majority, could hope to wield.

All of which confirms the Greens’ deeply contradictory relationship with power. Green Party members seem unusually diffident about exercising power in their own right, but are resentful of the power exercised by other party members over them. At the same time, the Greens aren’t the least bit fazed, collectively, by the idea of the entire population being required to submit to their party’s radical environmental remedies.

Blend these contradictions into a single Green political style and what do you get? A party deeply mistrustful of effective leadership. A party which gives more weight to the objections of minorities than it does to the affirmations of majorities. A party which compensates for its crippling internal contradictions by demanding unquestioning public compliance with Green Party policy. A party, moreover, which makes these demands fully aware that, on a good day, it represents barely a tenth of the electorate – and yet considers that enough.

With all this in mind, it is easy to see why poor James Shaw found himself brutally deposed as the Greens’ co-leader. By seeking the responsibilities of leadership – and exercising them – he violated the first rule of Green Party governance. Then, by accepting the limitations of the Green Party’s electoral mandate (7.8 percent of the Party Vote) and practicing the art of the possible with Labour and National, he violated the second.

Shaw’s first violation bespoke an unhealthy amount of un-Green ambition. His second dispelled the membership’s cherished illusion that maximum policy gains can be extracted, without compromise, on the basis of 10 out of 120 seats in the House of Representatives. His thumping victory notwithstanding (71 percent of the AGM’s voting delegates supported Shaw) the man obviously had to go!

It’s tempting to interpret Shaw’s landslide “victory” as evidence that the core of the Green Party membership retains a healthy measure of common-sense. Unfortunately, that same membership recently ratified a revised Green Party constitution that militates aggressively against common-sense. Only a party deeply ambivalent towards effective leadership, and deaf to the appeals of political realism, could endorse a process allowing 29 percent of voting delegates to declare an unopposed candidate with 71 percent support – not elected.

More to the point, the Greens’ constitution also attests to an ambivalent relationship with democracy itself. It takes a particularly virulent strain of individualism to construct a political ideology in which majorities are, at best, suspect, and, at worst, instruments of tyranny. Certainly, it places the Greens well outside the great movements for human liberation that have illuminated the past 250 years.

To save the world, you must be willing to lead it. If you would have us trust you to do that, then, for the planet’s sake, trust yourselves!

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 29 July 2022.


greywarbler said...

The bible pronouncement applies to the greens and the way their minds work.
"In my Father's house are many mansions:" Every green has their own ideas but they will coalesce, and set into a jelly-like shape which can be quite long-lasting, and they form splinter groups of similar attitudes and ideas. This is what might happen then.

They look for one who can express those ideas, and follow him or her, sort of like ants. The leader they recognise is turning out ideas that sound good. They may not be practical, they may differ from the accepted good ideas of other non-greens but they believe in consensus and going through all the systems set up to appear fair and thoughtful. They have a list of principles they believe in conforming to, but they remain a little amorphous, but they must have them to guide them, they all agree on that.

But they do not agree to go through their principles and give examples of how they would work in a particular situation. That is too limiting and unnecessary. So everything is possible but no-one will use these excellent tools really well,
and any soul-searching must not be too demanding about questioning methods, self-criticism is weakening and may expose too many wrong moves.

When it comes to application of the ideas and principles not working they shy away from examining why, it can't be fixed after a thorough examination that may go outside the list of behaviours agreed. When it comes to interacting with authority and government the group will say one thing and then may find it difficult to follow through on that, and decide they should do something else.

greywarbler said...

This is long Chris sorry - I think it is worthwhile discussion but how to present it? I really shouldn't be writing this out, haven't time, but life is fast moving, going on while I'm planning other things! So I do it while I can hold the joined-up thoughts in my head and it gets longer as I put useful links in to take the subject further. Perhaps it can go on the end after other comments?

While we are asking questions re the greens, we can keep in mind that what is revealed about their behaviour also applies to us except in differing amounts. The subconscious and unconscious have a major effect on what we do, we need to understand ourselves. So this should be the urgent and fascinating study of this period of our development and our known world disintegrating.

In other words, unconscious mechanisms, through the preparation of neural activity, set us up for any action we decide to take. But this all happens before we consciously experience intending to do something. Our unconscious appears to rule all actions we ever take.30/05/2021
How unconscious forces control our actions - BBC Future › future › article › 20210527-how-...

If we, who have had universal education, don't take it into our own hands to understand how we think, what role morals and habits play and how to discuss matters of contention in our complex society, then we are lost. Because capitalism has grown into a monster which ends up fighting wars and killing off intellectuals along with everyone else that slows its progress. And it will use our education to turn our minds and thoughts to their self-serving outcomes.

I draw attention to the way that predator business consumes other businesses using concepts as fuel, money and promises of future wealth to buy or take over, and can gut a previously stable and worthwhile business or keep it going in a cheaper form for more profit. Brierley is an example of one of these drivers;
a Dorian Gray example. Do you see the similarity of how NZ is being run to Brierley's and others' business methods??

How Your Subconscious Mind Is Running Your Life ... - Forbes › womensmedia › 2020/08/03
3/08/2020 — Once formed, these beliefs are stored, rarely questioned and all but forgotten—yet they provide the compass we live by as adults. Every time ...

How to Use the Power of the Subconscious Mind to Succeed › Blog › Motivation
10/04/2018 — The subconscious mind isn't creative, it doesn't understand jokes, and it can remember everything you have ever done, said or witnessed.

These powerful forces have information and skilled acolytes who can work on your subconscious and turn you which way and unless we know enough to guard our individual being, or souls that make us what we are, then we are toast. Lightly browned or burnt sir? The Greens are an example of people who can no longer channel their own thoughts clearly to bring results that they say they want. We have to watch that we don't revert to children lost in the wood and vulnerable to the witch and the wolf. Simple but true.

Big Decision Ahead? Let Your Subconscious Choose › ... › Mental Well-Being
19/02/2013 — In fact, a great deal of human behavior stems from our subconscious mind. Research into the subconscious has found that it helps to

The Barron said...

Green parties globally have had to accept that their greatest influence for environmental and social change is in cooperation and coalition with a leading progressive party and other smaller parties. In doing so, they have to accept that they are negotiating they are trying to get influence above the proportion of the vote they got. Obviously this is no card that can be overplayed, so the members cannot demand significantly above the proportionate electoral influence, but understand that anything above that is a gain even in a progressive led government.

That is what makes this play within the NZ Green Party seem so politically immature. The dissenting members have no vision of either contributing to governing or opposition. If your aim is to be perpetually out of government, you are selling those that vote for you to eternal Waldorf and Slater status. The dissenting party members may feeling that their heckling is somehow pure, but if they are advocating for the environment and the socially disadvantaged, they are simply leaving those sectors to others. For the former, the Green's misanthropists are self indulgent. For the latter, few greens are directly affected by the struggles of the socially disadvantaged, so ego allows for a false empathy without social change.

It is well past the time that the Green Party matured and ensured the membership aims to influence progressive change. Self indulgent idealists who do not care about actual achievement for the environment and the disempowered should not be able to use their minority status to exploit a 'consensus' constitution to prevent the enhancing of the policies that the voters supported.

David George said...

Given the damage Green policies are creating we can be thankful, and hopeful, that they remain a fringe, sectarian minority. We can all laugh at their embrace of all things wet and woke but the implementation of their policies around energy and food production are having severe negative (and easily predictable) consequences for the people.
Shut down your oil and gas industry? Would the war in Europe even be happening if Putin didn't have Europe by the balls over energy. He's now giving them a good twist by shutting down the gas pipeline for "maintenance". German industry shutting down, the people freezing and food prices through the roof. Genius!

"Global policy and politics, particularly in the high-income world, have been obsessed with dreams of a green economy. Imposing ever-more rigid methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as the way to “save the planet” is almost unchallenged in the media, academia, and corporate boardrooms of the developed world. The results on the ground have been less convincing, as the price of everything—from energy and food to construction costs—rises to unsustainable levels and international trade slows as global recession looms. Billions now face immiseration, malnutrition, or starvation. Economist Isabel Schnabel calls this process “greenflation”—companies’ efforts to reduce emissions have driven up prices, particularly since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

This has caused tremendous price pressure on rare earths, copper, and other materials critical to the production of batteries. The green lobby and its media supporters, meanwhile, like to claim that renewable energy is now economically competitive. But in places where strict green energy policies have been introduced, people end up with skyrocketing energy costs. In California, residents pay up to 80 percent above the US national average for electricity. Reliance on wind power has made even Texas’s grid vulnerable. Rather than learn from these experiences, other states, notably New York, have decided to adopt similar policies.

The biggest losers from greenflation are predominately the largely powerless working class and the denizens of developing countries. But even energy rich and historically prosperous countries like Australia face severe price hikes and shortages, as do Canada and the US. Economies have been severely impacted, particularly the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. In the developing world, where environmentalists have been working to block fossil fuel plants for years, over 3.5 billion lack reliable access to electricity. Greenflation has incited a new wave of political instability, as seen most recently in the meltdown of Sri Lanka"