Saturday, February 16, 2008

Greens attacked as anarcho-communists... wooo!

Have people seen this piece attacking the left in the Green Party? (here)

"Their anti-capitalist, anarcho-communist ideas, found in their founding manifesto, the Headcorn Statement, make them the Wombles of green politics."

Sounds alright doesn't it?


Matt Sellwood said...

Well, since I AM an anti-capitalist anarcho-communist, its all good really. :)


neil h said...

Did you see the article on samizdata that Iain Dale linked to, comparing the policies of the Greens to the BNP?

weggis said...

So, Nicholas Blincoe would be a LibDem would he? Click! Oh Yes “He is a former advisor to Nick Clegg MP.” Fancy that!

Matt: As you said in your post on Green Despatches “I think that the terms 'capitalism' and 'anti-capitalism' are alienating for the general public”. So too is “anti-capitalist anarcho-communist”.

Let’s ditch the labels and deal with the issue. PLEASE. You might just find that it gives you the freedom [Liberty] to argue your case more effectively.

Neil H: Yes I did see it. It is not worth a comment. It is perfectly possible to reach the same conclusion from different perspectives. However, the implementation of any aim is also governed by the motive and values lurking behind it. [I got that little gem from Jean Lambert].

Matt Sellwood said...


I hardly think that a comment on a blog is going to alienate the general public. There is a difference between the *Green Party* saying it is anti-capitalist, and *me* saying I am anti capitalist (which I am). I'm not going to censor myself! However, if I am addressing an audience at election time, I'm also not going to go out of my way to use such jargon or spout esoteric theory.


weggis said...

I respect your view. But that I can see through the label to the content is not the point. I have made the effort. Others may not. A blog BTW is PUBLIC. It can be read by anybody, anywhere, anytime. And those who do read it will USE it, like that Nick LibDem bloke.

I understand that the human condition is to “belong”. To a group, to a sect, to a faction. We are all most comfortable in the company of “like” others. We all like labels. It defines us, it makes us who we are. BUT it also excludes “unlike” others, who may not be so “unlike” as we think. Surely the purpose and meaning of Green politics is [partly] to shake off these shackles and challenge the status quo. To free individuals from the grip of corporatist consumption we first have to free ourselves from our own “dogma” and stand in our own right with our own ideals, articulated in such a way as it includes rather than excludes those who we would otherwise see as our “enemies”.

Matt Sellwood said...


To be honest, if I worried about anything I wrote being used against me, I wouldn't write anything ever again! Lib Dems will *always* be able to find something to attack Greens for, and I'm fairly sure there are bigger targets for them to use than a blog comment. :)

I do take your point about the need for self-definition sometimes leading to close-mindedness. But the opposite can also be true...and to my mind, is more often true for Greens. A sort of non-defined 'lets be nice' lack of analysis that reduces social change to a mish-mash of poorly thought out niceties. As opposed to a staking out of identity, a willingness to set out firm principles and stand by them...

Either extreme is bad, of course. As in all things, moderation is the key. :)


weggis said...


Of course, the extremes depend upon what axis you use and where you define the Centre. To many there is more than a passing similarity between Socialism and Nationalism. Try this.

There is also a popular perception of the Greens as being too fluffy and nice. The reality for the electorate is a worry that we are not tough enough to face up to the bad boys and that they will take advantage. The policies are fine. It’s the implementation and the migration plan that is always the difficult bit. We need some movers and shakers as well as thinkers. And a tough bad boy edge would not go amiss.

Weggis :)

Jack Ray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Ray said...

not really possible to be pro-capitalist and authentically environmentalist, is it? [/provocateur]

Ed said...

"I understand that the human condition is to “belong”. To a group, to a sect, to a faction. We are all most comfortable in the company of “like” others. We all like labels. It defines us, it makes us who we are. BUT it also excludes “unlike” others, who may not be so “unlike” as we think. Surely the purpose and meaning of Green politics is [partly] to shake off these shackles and challenge the status quo. To free individuals from the grip of corporatist consumption we first have to free ourselves from our own “dogma” and stand in our own right with our own ideals, articulated in such a way as it includes rather than excludes those who we would otherwise see as our “enemies”."

That's gobbledegook.

If you challenge the established order in any serious way then you are going to make political 'enemies'. Not everyone wants the same thing. It is in the nature of politics that not everyone agrees on what should be done and that, therefore, to seek to include everyone must reduce your policy proposals to the status of watered down, meaningless platitudes.

If you want to get away from that whole image people have of the Greens being too fluffy and nice then you are going to have to ditch the whole everyone's on the same side stuff (the homeless and Richard Branson? Minimum wage workers and Digby Jones? Asylum Seekers and Melanie Phillips?).

Joe Otten said...

Blincoe is not as close to Nick Clegg as he - or the Guardian - makes out. This caused some trouble during the leadership election.

And clearly, he doesn't know what he is talking about. The left wing takeover of the Green Party was more or less complete in the mid 90s.

weggis said...

I see you are a “part-time intellectual” – it shows.

Try asking people who live on council estates why they vote Conservative, or Trade Unionists why they marched in support of Enoch Powell.

It is the divisive extremists whom I seek to isolate, including those on the left, of which you appear to be one such. The fact is that the vast majority of ordinary people do want the same basic things. When I speak to rank and file Labour or Tory voters I find there is hardly a difference between them, but breaking their loyalty to that grouping is very, very difficult.

Jim Jay said...

Play nice people...

Jack: I don't think that's right. Personally I don't you think you can be a *consistent* and pro-capitalism - but you can be a thoroughly good sort and see some role for capitalist enterprises.

I don't like this line about you can't be green without being a red and you can't be a red without being green because its demonstrably not true.

There are loads of good socialists who simply don't understand why the fight against climate change and for a sustainable economy is necessary, they're still socialists - just wrong on this question.

Also there are plenty of greens who are good on green issues but fall well short on social issues - does that really mean they aren't green. I'm for complexity and pluralism myself - but that being red and green is best :)

General comment: my line at the moment is that I wouldn't be so anti-capitalist if capitalism was not so anti-me

Ed said...

Weggis - I didn't mean to offend you and perhaps my response to you above was unnecessarily aggressive (for which, I suppose, I apologise). I stand by the substantive points I made though.

I admire the sentiment you have - that we all want the same thing. I just don't agree with it.

In relation to your point about the trade unionists marching for Enoch Powell - well surely the only principled response here is to say that they chose wrongly and that they were wrong. You surely don't mean to say that the GP should spread its net so widely as to accommodate those who think that there are too many 'coloured' people in the UK. A moment's reflection here should bring you to the conclusion that there are some beliefs that are morally/politically unacceptable, that some people hold those beliefs that we think are unacceptable and that, therefore, there are some people with whom we will find ourselves in conflict with politically.

I don't think that I am being particularly divisive or extremist in saying that I think that fascists should not be accommodated.

a very public sociologist said...

Now I know why I dislike the LibDems so much. Beneath their faux soft left veneer is the kind of crap peddled by the other two main parties. The LibDems only pretend to be different.

weggis said...

Hello Ed,

My apologies too. I just have an instinctive aversion to “intellectuals”. There is a big difference between being educated and being intelligent. In my experience education constrains thinking within the bounds of current accepted conventional wisdom.

I didn’t say “we all want the same thing”. I said the vast majority of ordinary people want the same basic things. Things like community, family, security, meaningful work etc. What is at issue is how these things are delivered.

A few years back there was a TV programme on the life of Enoch. Both Tony Benn and Michael Foot [“intellectuals”] said they could not believe TUs would march in support of Enoch. This shows just how much they understood the working people they were supposedly representing.

I was there, not on the march I don’t do marches, but I know lots of TUs who were. They were not marching because there were “too many ‘coloured’ people in the UK”. They were marching because they felt their livelihoods were under threat.

I have never been a fan of TUs. SOGAT self-destructed in the 80s and put most of my family out of work. I don’t know, but I wouldn’t mind betting that the TU who represent Nuclear workers are lobbying for Nuclear Power Stations. The Nuclear engineers in the IET are certainly doing so. Liberalism’s “individuals always act in their own self-interest” assumes they know what their self-interest is.

We agree on isolating the extremes, but that includes both Fascists and their counterparts. Political opinion tends to follow a normal distribution bell curve. Those in the 80% quartile are spread over the 3 main parties, which is why they seem [are] so alike and in my view mistakenly so. What I argue is that the underlying aspirations of that 80% are not being served or delivered by those 3 parties, and THAT is where the Greens should come into the frame.

Jim Jay said...

avps: I think I agree with you. The libdems cultivate this alternative vaneer but you don't even need to scratch the surface and you see a party oppose to any significant social change.

This piece is all good as far as I'm concerned - the more libdems try to red bait the obvious it will become they're just another bland grey party

Joe Otten said...

Jim, clever use of alternative there. But you don't need to scratch the surface to see that Lib Dems aren't syndicalo-yawnists, we're quite open about it.

Just another boring old non-misanthropic party. Guilty as charged.

But perhaps if you had a view of significant change that wasn't debunked 50 years ago, if you didn't seek to throw away everything that has gone right post-feudalism alongside what has gone wrong... oh I can't be bothered.

Jim Jay said...

That's right - as I said you don't need to scratch the surface...

But as a socialist and a green I don't think there's anything particularly misanthropic in thinking that there are millions of people across the world who are suffering right now because of climate change brought on by our economic system. I want to help them in their hour of need and try to urge society to run in a more rational fashion.

As a Green I believe in the newest, cleanest technologies used in innovative and creative ways to improve our quality of life whilst reducing our impact upon the atmosphere...

As a progressive I'm proud to be part of a party that, uniquely in the UK, takes its position on prostitution from what sex workers have told us directly. To be part of the only party arguing to advance women's control over their own body rather than simply hold abortion laws in place. That has the leading gay rights campaigner in the country as one of its members.

Your accusations simply don't stack up and frankly whilst the three mainstream parties live in the past tinkering with bus timetables our window of opportunity as a society to avert disaster is closing.