Energising the Green debate

The new move by George W Bush to turn the US (and the clock) back to nuclear energy has placed the energy debate center stage. Under guise of self sufficiency in a world awash, apparently, with terrorists meant for killing or incarcerating this is an exercise in zenophobia.

There’s a similar debate here in Australia as the federal government has flagged the option that Australia should go nuclear for its energy needs. With almost 40% of the word’s urnanium in the dry earth within its borders the logic of a nuclear driven Australia has a rationale perhaps?

But it won’t happen. It won’t happen because the debate is a stalking horse not for the construction of nuclear power stations but for more uranium mines. Essentially the point of this ‘debate’ is to increase the allowed number of uranium mines in the country and to get the population to agree to the principle that since ‘we’ sell the ore we should also take back the waste.

Selling the option that Australia should become a nuclear dumping ground is a very hard call but it does underscore a major problem any fuel cycle argument has to contend with — even Bush’s. Australian working people have a proud tradition of opposition to uranium mining and the key debate today is whether the Labor Party will junk its ‘three mines policy’ at its next conference.

Back in 1984 when the ‘three mines policy’ was adopted by the ALP there was a groundswell away from the ALP and within a few weeks the Nuclear Disarmament Party was born. This was a major watershed in Australian politics as the NDP’s initial electoral success kicked started the process that later led to the formation of the Green Party here.

The irony is for those who think that left is genetically different from the green, is that the driving force in the NDP’s reach out was the Democratic Socialist Perspective — now a key component in the Socialist Alliance here.
So the issue of uranium is so hot here that it altered the direction of Australian politics irrevocably as it not only fostered the later formation of the Greens but it kick started a major political trend toward left (and green) regroupment in this country.

And strangely, that relates to California — as the discussion we had, flowing on from the 1984 break out included Peter Camejo as the rethinking and the discussion was being driven not only by the experience here but also the example of the FMLN of El Salvador and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. And consideration of it’s electoral ramifications were being formatted by the success of the German Green Party at the time.

That was the crucible. So while it may be de rigueur to act locally the sort of politics that was pursued has very rich international roots buoyed up by an open ended discussion about what is to be done?

That’s the sort of discussion that needs to be rebooted today.


  1. The roots of the Green Party here in the US is different from elsewhere, like New Zealand (where the GP started), Australia, Germany (where it got big.) The links between socialism and Greens were always there, something that didn’t happen in the States.

    The US has a rich history of socialism, but it’s been so deliberately buried and vilified that most don’t know it’s there, or how much socialism has contributed to labor, civil rights, antiwar, and environmental struggles and victories.

    As to your main point, yes, we need to reboot that. Think globally, then act globally and locally in solidarity with groups worldwide. Then you have decades of history and experience to draw upon rather than just scattered local organizing.

  2. There has been a keen attempt to impose a bifurcation on politics between ‘left” and ‘green’. This was fostered aggressively during the nineties. But by default it has tended to be a separation between electoralism and activism as so many Greens parties embrace the electoral options as their primary–and in some cases, only — strategy.

    I think this is regrettable. There is a role for standing in elections and winning them (if you are lucky) but the key ask is how much can you employ your electoral activities to mobilise people. It is a narrow strategy that relies on such a voter orineted outlook –and inevitably it will become a limited vessel as the tendency is to displace activism with it.

    Our problem –and also our success — is that the electoral opening that has arisen in western capitalist countries since the eighties has deflected a lot of energy away from building movements. This new electoralism is nonetheless a massive gain because it has meant that, say in the US, there is somewhere to go besides into the Democrats. That’s the major gain from the Greens experience so far…and this option of an alternative is a great plus, compared to the political monopoly the major parties enjoyed before.

    Theres’ been a major transition to a new pluralism that is not so easily snaffled by old style Tweedle Dee versus Tweedle Dum politics. You mention the NZ Greens — but they had the good sense to participate for many years in the NZ Alliance project which generated a massive groundswell and regrouped so many activists under its banner — people from left and green traditions.

    That alliance has unfortunately collapsed due to a few factors that are well worth reviewing — but the fact that that broader alliance could be built there in New Zealand suggests that such a goal is attainable.

  3. The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

    The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

    Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

    Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
    Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
    Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
    Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.

    Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

    If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

    Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

    When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

    There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

    People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

    Emotion ends.

    Man becomes machine.

    A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

    A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

    A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.





    To read the complete article please follow either of these links :




  4. One of the early splits in the US Green Party, in the early 90’s, was over whether to focus on building the Green movement or move towards electoral politics. No reason you can’t theoretically do both, but with limited resources etc., that’s not usually possible.

    Walt Sheasby, who was on the GP of LA County Council the same time as I, was a very early Green, socialist, and wrote eloquently about Green-Red synthesis and working together.

  5. Well, part of this red/green thing is a false debate as it roots go back to Rudolf Bahro
    who, although a founding father of the German Greens, Bahro went on to later join the PDS– now the Left party
    But the reality is that the divide in the German Greens wasn’t so much about the red line but Realoes versus Fundoes — essentially it bifurcated on how much you pay for electoral comfort. And I think that is still the case today –as that rather than left/green is the festering question that confronts green parties internationally.

    I fear the red/green axis is employed as scam to obscure that very real dynamic as the green parties explore their electoral options. But tahts’ the coire problem that you have to deal with if your project a strategy that is overwhelmingly electoralist.

    It was interesting that at the last conference of the New Zealand Greens, Russell Norman ( who used to be a dedicated red when I worked with him here in Australia) flagged a new direction for the party. This report was filed:
    which suggests that there is more to be had in the bosom of Jared Diamond than maybe some older ideologies..

  6. In a way, the realo/fundie split in the GP is the red/green split, with red being the hard core organizers who see little point in electoral politics.

    As the party got bigger (and this happens with any third party in the US), it attracts moderates from other parties, who soon outnumber the hard core and push the party evermore towards the middle.

  7. The Australian prime minister (John Howard) is trying to legitimise nuclear power by calling it a solution to climate change. He will use this as a cover to increase uranium mining in Australia.

    His goal is to make Australia an “energy superpower”, by increasing exports of Uranium to the US, China and whoever else will take it.

    Read more about it here.

Comments are closed.