[Marxism] Green Politics: A Divergence into Muted Class Collaboration

paul illich paul_illich at hotmail.com
Thu Mar 24 15:47:55 MST 2005

>The big mistake of ultralefts like Douglas is that they substitute their 
>wishes for objective conditions.

I posted comments on 'Green Politics: A Divergence into Muted Class
Collaboration' to my friend Tim in England and this is what he replied


One aspect of the potential validity of green programs, with relation to the
left; wishful thinking; and 'objective conditions' is that the greens have 
awareness of global environmental issues.

These issues are surely part of 'objective conditions', and traditionally 
elements of the ultra-left have more-or-less sought to ignore such issues, 
they are hard - if not impossible - to square with a straightforward handing
over of industrial power and it's fruits from one group - the super-rich and
those who are most readily brought-off by them - to another - the workers.

The sticky problem is that industrialist socialism is often as much in hock 
'Victorian' ideas such as science as a universal panacea; economic 
regarding continuum's that encourage the treatment of resources as infinite;
and industrial growth as the capitalists. The area they differ is kind of a
technicality - the rewards would be out shared differently.

This difference is not nothing, and those greens I know have enough of a
leftist bent to have been driven to politics and / or activism in part 
of an inate disgust with economic injustice, just as have many of my friends
on the left.

However, much of the left has much in common with the greens on the
issues surrounding productivism, as witnessed by the many postings on
(eg) global warming, on this and other left email lists. I say 'issues 
quite deliberately as it seems to me that few of us have really grasped the
nettle here and engaged with the core labour tenets regarding the role of
industry and class in a post- rich elite run society.

The greens have more going on viz consideration of this issue than many on
the left, especially in Europe.

My gripe with the greens is that so much of their support, especially 
comes from the nice middle classes who care much for clean streets and 
but fight shy of activism and anything that really might burst their bubble. 
green parties tend to kowtow to these elements, and then tend to fragment
as some members see the damage this ultimately nimby-ist tendency cause.
But so - often - does the left, or parts thereof.

Another gripe is the same tendency mentioned on the left above - 'they
substitute their wishes for objective conditions'. In the green movement
this is manifested in a utopianism of the deep ecology variety, and whilst I
see this as problematic, the left, as noted, has elements that will bury 
heads in the sand too - it's just that the sand is in a different part of 

It isn't, though, middle class backgrounds of some members per se that is 
problem, though it can be difficult sometimes, and it is not very evenhanded
to pick holes in green groups on such a basis when so much of the left is, 
frankly, also from middle class backgrounds.

As for class collaboration, as the alternative is bolshevism and gulags, 
lets encourage
it - and lets try to set the ground rules ourselves, or, better, with them, 
of letting the middle classes, their money, and their media do it for us.

Compromise is not necesarily a dirty word. Massacre is.


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