Keith's NO EMPIRE Blog

A radical dissident perspective on various topics. Comments welcome at

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Way back when, when the Greens were debating forming a political party and running candidates for office, I was generally supportive of the proposed political action. It seemed like a good way to highlight the issues and to provide a responsible alternative to the Republicrats. I incorrectly assumed that the political effort would be but one part of a broad range of social change activities. With the benefit of hindsight, I see that the political activities of the Green Party have overwhelmed the social change aspects of the Green movement.

In pursuing the acquisition of political power, the Green Party, like all power seeking groups, has coopted itself into just another group competing for popularity and power. The focus has swung to what needs to be done to win elections rather than what needs to be done to transform society. A perfect example of the consequences of this type of thinking can be seen in the Green Party of Germany. What did the German Green electoral victories accomplish other than the debasing of Green ideals and the elimination of a Green alternative?

The elevation of Joschka Fischer to Foreign Minister effectively marked the end of die Grunen as a force for progressive social change. Fischer quickly morphed into a career politician who shamelessly lent a Green imprimatur to U.S./ German/ NATO military aggression, the expansion of NATO, and the use of NATO as an Imperial out-of-area strike force. He is the Green pied piper of a German-led Mittleuropa. For all practical purposes, the German Green Party as a force for progressive change has ceased to exist.

In the U.S., a similar process is underway. The Green Party seems more concerned with winning elections and achieving automatic ballot status than in changing society. Much needs to be done and the time is short. The notion that the best way to proceed is to focus almost exclusively on seizing political power through electoral victories is misguided. A lot of people who would join efforts to halt U.S. militarism are not necessarily going to vote Green. The focus on achieving political power will inevitably consign the Green Party to irrelevancy. To a large degree, this has already occurred. Are the Greens engaged in lively debate over social organizational dynamics, or is the primary focus on electoral strategies?

The Greens need to change, and change fast. Electoral politics needs to be significantly de-emphasized. The emphasis needs to be on developing a strong Green critique of the current system and developing compelling alternative visions for the future. The critique needs to address current social organizational dynamics in lieu of simply criticizing the Democrats, who are acting pretty much as one should expect under current circumstances. I say "visions" because Greens should welcome a wholesome diversity of opinion. This needs to be done at the grassroots level. We should de-emphasize elite Greens gathering in faraway conventions to tell the rest of us what our position is. Rather, we need to encourage the intellectual involvement of all of the membership. The key is an ongoing, vibrant sharing of ideas of how things ought to be. If that exists now in the Greens, I am unaware of it.

Seattle Keith 2/26/06