Green Socialist Connections

Chris Burford cburford at
Sun Jan 29 02:44:36 MST 1995

Winterjohn wrote:

Date: Sat, 28 Jan 1995 15:26:00 -0500
From: Winterjohn at
To: marxism at
Subject: Re: Green Challenge

In NJ, some of us are interested in developing a study group (prbably in New
Brunswick area) on leftist (including Marxist) literature and the Green
movement. Any resources you can suggest us to? The perspective of those
interested could be categorized as "left-green" or "eco-socialist". Thanks
for any pointers.

I am not a green myself and I am hoping that there might be a
response from others to your posting one quarter as lively as the
survey of intelligent Marxist reading offered to Austin. Nevertheless
I think the future is with you for stronger materialist reasons than
now exist for the historic destiny of the working class.

I also feel, not just to make Ralph a little more grumpy about
green yuppies, that in some way greens are now doing the best that in
the past was done by Communists: a particularly determined subgroup,
claiming to represent the interests of the majority of the population,
often hard working and selfless, even self-denying as they cycle
through the traffic pollution, with a clear conviction in the general
direction of history and an urgent sense of present horrors. A real
vanguard! They are not democratic-centralist in their organisation but
they know much better than card-carrying marxists how to agitate and
communicate in the present media culture.

You see I write in from GreenNet which is one of a coalition of net
-works called apc, the association for progressive communications,
which has about 1000 subscribers in all in a world wide network.
Several igc nets in the USA participate. The culture is
thoughtfully committed but uncoercive. It is particularly
good for being able to download considered reports on many matters,
eg monitoring the world bank/IMF periodically.

gn.conferences lists all their conferences/lists.

I suggest you advertise your request on their general announcement
board gn.announcemen.

Also for the more specialist environmental announcement list:
en.announcemen. I recommend you get this. Others are posting into it
list from your side of the Atlantic.

On glancing at the contents I see that there is an environmental
conference taking place in New England in March. Most interestingly
I note that bankers will be participating. Forgive me if my scale
of distances is quite inappropriate but could any one of your group
get over there to report back?

I suspect that the red-green alliance is stronger in Europe than in
the States and if you can plug into that connection you may be able to
grow  more. I would have thought following the trail through the links I
have suggested from GreenNet, will be rewarding. The Germans are a
great source of energy which they do not automatically share with
English speakers, bilingual though they usually are. The issue of the
relationship between socialism and the green agenda, has been a major
issue for the left there. Judging by the high quality, the broad
nature, the intelligent interest in current issues of the variety of
well established marxist and socialist journals in the German language
I found when I raided the bookshop next to the headquarters of the
resilient PDS in Berlin last summer, you will be sure to find the
Germans useful allies.

The Dutch almost certainly will be useful and are even more bilingual
than the Germans.

More modestly in England, within Democratic-Left, which is
very much a ruptured link with the Communist Party of Great
Britain, with about 1000 members, although not in the ascendant but
growing the most politically coherent subgroup that owns a socialist
identity is the Green Socialist Network. They are exploring what look
like healthy and intelligent contacts with green socialists in the
wider left movement. One of the discussion points is whether to form
an explicitly left-green party, so that, even if this is not success-
ful, your interests are likely to be addressed. There is also within
Democratic Left a green network that feels that explicity talking about
socialism separates you from a large number of people who want to be
active on the environment but not necessarily identify themselves as
socialist. So whether to be green or to be green socialist is debated.
(I think the distinction vanishes when examined theoretically but code
words are politically important for different constituencies).

A letter could be sent to Green Socialist Network, 6 Cynthia Street,
London N1 9JF, England. Democratic Left also has an e-mail address as
demleft at, but they are waiting for training to start up.
You could try pushing them up the learning curve by flooding them with
messages - and blame me!

I hope these suggestions are helpful from someone who is not a
card-carrying green himself. and that you will have further contri-
butions from this marxism list which, however fragmentary in their own
right will add up to something valuable.

One request, that you feed back into the marxism list where you think
it is relevant. Although I have not sifted the archives it seems to
me that this major theme has been underventilated so far.

Chris Burford
Community Psychiatrist, specialising in schizophrenia.
Member of the Forum for Marxism, Philosophy and Science,
and the Southern Africa Economic Research Unit, SAERU.

London                                   "Only connect..."


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