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National bolster their moribund blue-greens

Written By: - Date published: 8:28 am, February 28th, 2017 - 74 comments
Categories: greens, national, political parties, same old national - Tags: , ,

I read this morning in Politik that Vernon Tava has left the Greens and appears to be leaning towards National.

It really doesn’t surprise me. After one of the debates in 2015 between the Green candidates for leader, I had a talk to each of the candidates. What I found odd was that Vernon didn’t feel like he was what I’d consider to be a green. He felt like a classic affluent conservationist of the very old school.

As Richard Harmon at Politik puts it 2 (he was at the same debate)

As for the Greens, he said he began to part ways with them because he began to doubt whether the environment was seriously at the top of their agenda.

He also began to doubt that there was any genuine will on the part of the party to work with the Government whoever they were.

That was a central theme of his campaign for the party co-leadership in 2015.

He talked about the primacy of environmental values in the party and said the party should re-focus on its core Green values.

He said the charter’s values of ecological wisdom and social responsibility were neither left nor right.

And he went on to suggest he would be happy in Government with National.

“Currently we say it is not enough that you care about the environment and that have a concern for ecological wisdom and social responsibility but you must also identify as left.

“And in doing that we alienate all the people who might share those values.

“Conservation, after all, can be inherently conservative.

“We leave these people out.”

He said the party needed support from across the spectrum because the problems facing the country were too urgent and too pressing.

Which is what I found quite odd.

You have to understand that I was always a reluctant socialist in many ways. It wasn’t my natural emotional choice. I started my voting in 1978 by quite deliberately voting for the Values party (the precursor to the Greens). That was because I was worried by my reading about the deterioration of our countryside and our planet. What I’d seen when I’d been out farming for a year didn’t exactly help either. It showed a pretty clear pattern of mining soils, crapping in rivers, and hillsides dropping into the water. It was why I did a BSc in Earth Sciences.

By the next election in 1981, I was voting Labour. There were many reasons for that.

One of the primary ones was because I’d realised while digging through dreary economics (I did a minor in management) and a pile of reading of history (hobby), that people who are too poor are lousy conservationists. Their overriding need to just keep their head above water means that they simply don’t care as much about the environment as they do about staying alive and keeping their kids alive and as unstunted as possible.

That is exactly where I see that Vernon Tava and the Greens are part company. As far as I can see the Green’s ‘socialism’ isn’t, or at least not in any traditional sense. It isn’t rooted in the workers movements and the need to get a better life for their kids than they had in theirs. What Vernon Tava sees as socialism, just shows that he really doesn’t understand it at all.

Instead the Greens are focused precisely towards the point of their objectives. A cleaner more sustainable places for people in NZ and the world.

In NZ we currently have inequality and rapidly falling incomes in the seventh of the population who are at the poverty line. Then there is the larger number of working poor who get hammered by rising costs and tip into poverty in any emergency. They simply don’t care about the environment because they aren’t affluent enough to do so.

So to get the widespread support for the kinds of widespread measures that Vernon is after, you first have to stop doing what National has done. Pushing inequality and driving more people into desperation simply isn’t effective for getting the green (or even the conservationist) agenda working. If you’re worried where in the hell next weeks rent is coming from, then ‘wasting’ their taxes on cleaning up the crap of the wealthy farmers and urbanites is going to get you a very strong backlash.

Moving from a merely conservationist agenda to a green means that you can’t just impose ideas from on high as was often done in the 18th and 19th centuries. For instance to get parks and green areas during the industrial and agricultural revolutions. To get the kinds of changes that are required to move whole populations to shift to less direct and indirect polluting  behaviours, you need to engage them all.

National are well aware of the kind of disillusionment among some former Green supporters like Tava – that’s why the Government has been prepared to risk its relationship with its own core farming support on issues like water quality or even climate change.

Of course. National has always had a smallish conservationist wing that has always been worth getting to vote for them. It is part of the insipid middle class conservationist that Maggie Barry epitomes when she plays with roses 1. Making a few concessions to such people, that happen to also be good for the future of industrial farming, doesn’t cost much and is great PR.

Moreover you don’t have to deal with the driving force behind all pollution – the hard scrabble that means that the less affluent are trying to be more affluent, and they really couldn’t give a pigs arse about crapping on the world to do it.

In my opinion, the greens who can’t deal with that are merely conservationists. As the Greens are getting more realistically attuned to the way people and politics really operate and focusing on their longer term objectives rather than cosmetics, I’m finding that I can consider voting for them. I did last election…

 


 

  1. Personally I am afraid that having to deal with a field of wild roses, blackberry and gorse made me lose all interest in their beauty. I regularly curse the people who brought these weeds to our shores.
  2. I quoted extensively from Politik for this post. I make no apologies for that. It was better writing than I have time for, and if Richard is going to do a blanket attribution like the following quite.  :- 

    Tava is not alone in that view — postings on “The Standard” website yesterday over the Greens disappointing showing in the Mt Albert by-election make frequent reference to the party being the true left wing party.

    FFS: Individuals write here and have individual voices. “The Standard” is a dumb computer program that allows them to discuss their opinions to each other. Give attribution to those making comments or posts rather than to the machine.

74 comments on “National bolster their moribund blue-greens ”

  1. mickysavage 1

    Interesting decision by Tava and hard to understand. At a time that the Greens are becoming more mainstream he leaves them because of the way they used to be …

  2. Ad 2

    I do get a better sense of where LPrent is coming from.

    But I don’t see Tava’s move as irrational.

    If you put up the long history of National and Labour governments and try to figure out which one has been overall better for the New Zealand environment, you’d have a fair evening’s worth of argument.

    The main attraction I suspect for Mr Tava is power itself. Now that National and its version of NZ capitalism has pretty much defeated the resistance of labour, National as the repository of capital’s networks now has our environmental limits in its sights. Pretty natural Mr Tava would want to put his shoulder to tilting that roll from the inside, rather than the outside.

    • lprent 2.1

      The problem is that approach is pretty ineffectual in the longer term.

      The visual imagery of Elysium gives you a pretty good vision about where that particular middle and affluent power structure winds up. A beautiful but dangerously unstable island in space above a damaged earth full of the poor.

    • Sure, if one of the sides doesn’t care for the facts. It’s pretty straightforward looking at statistics and the varying lengths of New Zealand governments that Labour governments, as a general rule, are better than National governments.

      (the “varying lengths” part is important, as one of the classic arguments is that there’s some lag to policy change, (ie. the classic right-wing “we fix the economy but you reap the benefits”) which is actually true to some degree. If that lag was making key statistics look better under Labour governments, we’d expect shorter Labour governments to perform better than longer ones to varying degrees depending on the types of policy lag we were seeing, and for Labour governments to do worse as they get re-elected more times in a row. In fact, the reverse is true, disproving the defense of policy lag in this instance)

      • Ad 2.2.1

        Which stats?

        • The typical one I’ve seen people focus on as a key economic stat is looking at debt and deficit under various governments, and I know that holds to the pattern I described pretty well. I’d be surprised if any of the key indicators we’ve tracked over the long-term don’t generally trend upwards (or pull up from an existing downwards trend) the longer National has been out of government, though.

          • Ad 2.2.1.1.1

            Environmental stats?

          • Poission 2.2.1.1.2

            The typical one I’ve seen people focus on as a key economic stat is looking at debt and deficit under various governments,

            http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/-/media/ReserveBank/Images/Key%20graphs/key-graph-current-account-balance.jpg?la=en&hash=A857EF5A955BD51E39A3949E7B53195D6146185E

            Rhetoric and reality are different.

            • Matthew Whitehead 2.2.1.1.2.1

              That specific quote you’ve grabbed there is not talking about balance of trade, (which is included in the current account balance, or as you’ve provided, the current account balance as a percentage of GDP) just to clarify, but I am happy to talk about that too, given it’s arguably a key indicator (I would argue no, but economists apparently like it) and has consistent figures back into earlier political eras, I just want it on the record that I was primarily thinking of the national debt.

              I take it you’re talking about the data at http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/statistics/key-graphs/key-graph-current-account ?

              If you overlay the various governing periods to the current account balance and factor in at least a year of lag on the graph you provided, it doesn’t actually look like it’s correlated to who’s governing at all, it’s just got that one big turnaround after Clark left office. (ie. the one-year lag should indicate that Helen’s policies near the end of her administration MAY have contributed to the start of the Current Accounts turnaround, which you will notice actually declines again as National stays in government, thus making it less likely that they are the proximate cause) National debt, in contrast, actually shows a pattern way back into much older administrations, meaning that who’s governing is actually predictive of whether debt will be going up or down. (and that pattern has continued with the Key-English government, as did increasing debt with the Bolger-Shipley government)

              And really, balance of trade of itself isn’t really an indicator of how the country as a whole is doing, it’s more related to whether the import and export sectors and balance of payments is in equilibrium, wheras arguably things like national debt and GDP are much more directly related to economic health.

              That said, let’s look deeper. I downloaded the dataset and set party affiliations against the data, but flagging the first full year of every government as “transition” so we can ignore it in case policy lag applies. I think it’s fair to judge a government after that first year. This data goes back a little further (to the `70s, unlike say, the Consumer Price Index data in the same sheet, which goes back until the Reform government, the pre-Labour era of NZ politics!)

              I then did a quick formula to work out the change in the CAB for each year, and two more to average them for the Nats and Labour outside those transition years that may be impacted by policy lag.

              There does appear to be a difference, and that is that Labour makes us much less likely to be a net exporter/lender than National does. I’m personally not sure that’s a bad thing given the other economic indicators that correlate much more directly to Labour and National, as while there’s a differential here, there’s not a clear correlation the way there is for national debt. There’s often swings within governments, and several National governments have made things worse in terms of the CAB, it’s just that Labour has done it to a greater degree.

              But yes, it seems you’ve found at least one economic indicator that National does better on overall. Ironically, the correlation isn’t particularly strong until you dig into the data from the 70s and 80s as well, so…

              The differential in averages is -1.2 vs -11.5 for Nats vs Labour counting from the 70s, and -2.9 vs -4.3 counting from the 90s, ie. from when that graph starts.

              Overall, I wouldn’t be worried about this compared to more important economic indicators which trend Labour, but I’m sure some Nat is about to come and argue why the Current Account Balance is absolutely critical and a much better indicator of good economic management than GDP or the national debt/deficit.

          • Ad 2.2.1.1.3

            “…which one has been overall better for the New Zealand environment?” was my question.

            You could start with new National Park acres of land added to the DoC estate, and the answer would be pretty close if not on the National side of the leger.

            Or you could go with number of acres of land put into dairy pasture.

            Or you could go into acres of land put into forestry.

            It’s not a given that the collective Labour governments would win out over National in any of those.

            • Matthew Whitehead 2.2.1.1.3.1

              You have a fair point there, my apologies for not realising you were drilling down into the environment. Labour is probably more open to environmentalism, but I don’t doubt their record is roughly as spotty as the Nat’s is, especially if you go back to the dawn of both parties.

  3. rhinocrates 3

    Shouldn’t they be renamed the Blue-Browns?

  4. roy cartland 4

    ” ‘ …he began to doubt whether the environment was seriously at the top of their [the Greens] agenda.’ ”

    And he’s looking to National???

    • You have to think about this as someone who’s a conservationist, but has a right-wing economic point of view. The Greens, as LPrent points out, derive their ideology/values from facts about the world that necessitate a left-wing perspective. (for instance: resources are limited, there’s not enough for everyone to take whatever they want, therefore we should share resources or at least the benefits from them fairly)

      If you’re a right-wing conservationist, however, the focus on the left-wing policy that actually contributes to helping the environment may begin to look to you like a stubborn refusal to acknowledge right-wing ideas.

      And yeah, it’s nuts thinking that conservationists can be effective in the National Party. I mean, look at Nick Smith: he actually does value the environment, and whatever you say about his effectiveness, he’s neither a slacker nor a lightweight, yet he’s presided over historic damage to our environment during his tenure at the relevant ministry. But this is what happens when the economy is “balanced” ahead of the environment.

  5. Carolyn_nth 5

    Lynn said: As far as I can see the Green’s ‘socialism’ isn’t, or at least not in any traditional sense. It isn’t rooted in the workers movements and the need to get a better life for their kids than they had in theirs.

    I think there’s elements of socialism (or the spin-off compromise with capitalism in the form of social democracy) within the NZ Green Party.

    It seems to me, socialism, and the spin-off labour movement/parties, focus firstly on the power relationship between workers and the boss/business-owner classes. From the position of aiming for socioeconomic justice for all, they can then incorporate aspects of environmentalism, gender, “race”, etc.

    The NZ Green Party, and the Values Party, takes/took as the starting point the whole of life and human communities within the environment. But within that, there are also policies focusing on employment issues, union struggles/campaigns, social security etc.

    These two approaches do meet up at some points. But I think the labour movement approach has a more sophisticated understanding of power struggles between different sections of society, derived from the Marxist Ruling Class vs Subject Class model. in contrast, the Green Left has a more complex understanding of how the various aspects and sections of the environment and society fit together as a whole – but have a weak approach to dealing with power differences and struggle within society.

    Wikipedia on the Green Left: it includes the NZ Green Party as one e.g.:

    The term Green left is used primarily to refer to a combination of environmentalism, feminism, socialism, and pacifism in countries where the term is used. It is primarily a social justice and human rights oriented ideology, with an expansion in focus to the rights of other species.

    The name Green Left is also used by a variety of organizations which espouse socialist or Marxist principles but with a greater emphasis on environmental preservation than previous iterations of socialism and communism.

    For both the NZ Green and Labour Parties, they have fluctuated between being more towards the socialist side of left, and then away from it in recent years.

    I don’t really see Blue-Green as fitting within the NZ Green Party, and as Lynn explains, those under that umbrella tend not to fully understand (or don’t want to understand) the full implications of environmental politics.

    • To be clear, the Green opinion on social democracy hasn’t really changed in my view, what they’re trying to do is emphasise the winning parts of their ideology and policy platform to maximise their vote, so they’ve been a bit less outspokenly radleft in order to court liberals from further right on the political spectrum. The policy platform is still as radical as it ever was, it’s just the Greens are being a bit less aggressive about it, and are highlighting the parts that everyone can recognise as common sense, not just their base.

      As for class struggle, it’s possible the Green understanding of it is weaker, (I don’t agree yet, but I’m open-minded to that argument) but the Green policy to address it is much more aggressive than the Labour one. I’m open to arguments that the Greens are picking the wrong policies to address inequality, but nobody can fault them for not sufficiently caring about those left behind by our economy, they are in fact the party that will most aggressively advocate for beneficiaries and those on low incomes, and were advocating for a raise for beneficiaries long before National cynically offered one in return for chucking a ton of people off the social welfare system.

      • Carolyn_nth 5.1.1

        As for class struggle, it’s possible the Green understanding of it is weaker, (I don’t agree yet, but I’m open-minded to that argument)

        The NZ Green Party website doesn’t seem to still have their values, vision etc available. My issue is with combating the power of the elites/ruling classes, which takes collective action. My memory of the GP vision is to work collaboratively on everything – I like that. But when it comes to combating the powerful elites, it requires enhancing the collective power of those with relatively little power. This means not collaborating with the ruling classes, but putting pressure on them.

        This is the general philosophy behind union industrial action.

        Looking at the NZ GP Industrial Relations policy, for evidence of process not overall aims, which are excellent:

        Workers, employers and unions all involved in decision-making about the workplace.
        Workplace democracy and collective organisation are essential to address the inherent potential for inequality of power between employers and employees.
        Workers need protection under the law and should be paid a living wage.

        Improve workplace democracy and improve workers’ union representation and participation in the future of their work.
        Implement international standards on the right to strike, worker accident compensation, pay equity and breastfeeding breaks.

        Collective Organising and Bargaining

        Support initiatives for multi-party bargaining, including multi-employer collective bargaining, and collective bargaining for contractors.
        Support the right of unionised workers to prevent freeloading by non-union workers.

        Actually, that all looks good. If issues of power imbalances are not addressed, then collective or collaborative actions will only continue, reinforce and enable power imbalances.

        In contrast, the GP Income support policy focuses mostly on legislative changes, and not one ways to address power differences between beneficiaries and those with corporate and political power. No ways of empowering people with insufficient incomes.

        That’s also a failing of current Labour approaches I think, with all the stress on industrial relations, while their are no ways of empowering those on low incomes to collectively struggling to improve their well being.

        Also, in terms of the internal operations of the GP and working with other parties, I understand it’s all about collaboration, while ignoring issues of differences in power.

        First bold is mine.

        • The core Green Party values are:

          * Ecological Wisdom
          * Social Justice
          * Grassroots Decision-making
          * Non-violence
          * (and arguably the fifth invisible one is The Treaty of Waitangi, but technically that falls under Social Justice)

          You can find them here: https://home.greens.org.nz/charter, although they may have been re-worded since last I checked. The exact names and examples given for each “pillar” changes over time or depending on who’s talking about the pillars, of course.

          (There’s also https://home.greens.org.nz/vision, and https://home.greens.org.nz/values, if they help, however these have correctly been judged pages that don’t help a ton with campaigning and are thus harder to find)

          Grassroots decision making is the value that puts the Greens on the side of unions. The party believes that wherever practical, decision-making should be devolved to the most local levels it can be, and that value extends to representation for workers in the workplace. The party is officially pro-union, a fact that I agree people are confused about, because the party comes to unionism out of its other values, rather than having it as a core one like Labour does.

          Income support is an interesting dilemma. I believe the focus on legislative changes is mainly because the Green Party view income support as a policy area where they need to put out fires first, as opposed to having the luxury of doing reforms for how they want it to actually look in the long-run. Many benefits are set at starvation levels, and there is a culture of trying to keep people off benefits they need rather than to provide people with appropriate support. Those are urgent things to fix, and we don’t have the luxury of doing a moon-shot for full economic justice for those people right at the get-go. YMMV of course. I totally agree with your sentiment though, and would love to have both Labour and the Greens talking about where they’d like to go here, rather than simply putting out all these fires National is constantly setting.

          • Carolyn_nth 5.1.1.1.1

            Thanks. yes those were the GP web pages I was looking for. Agree with your last paragraph.

            The Charter, vision and values are worthy aims, but a little vague. In looking at those I can see how the GP gets criticised for being hippyish. It’s all about collaboration, consensus, decision-making at appropriate levels. But nothing about empowering the disempowered, or processes for combating oppression, or dealing with entrenched power blocks.

            • Matthew Whitehead 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Yeah, those are all very old pages, and don’t dive deep into what they mean at all. I might check in with some other members around whether there are plans to polish them a bit.

              Social justice/responsibility does include all the things you’re talking about, it’s just not in those specific examples I linked you, so people who don’t really think that inequality is a problem don’t really support that pillar. Things like the pillars and the details of what they mean are talked about more internally within the party, because that’s where they’re most relevant.

              When talking with the electorate or even with voters who aren’t members yet, the party likes to talk about the policy documents instead, because it’s what’s been agreed on already internally, it has so much more detail, and most of the time it’s more important to talk about your plans than your beliefs. (unless some evidence comes out that the two may be in conflict) If something is given importance in the policy documents, rest assured that it has importance in the principles too, even if there isn’t a public-facing document explaining why.

              • Carolyn_nth

                Thanks. Interesting background.

                it seems to me the vagueness of the values, vision and charter, result in some people saying the GP is beyond left and right. But the policies on industrial relations, commitment to collaboration, equality, against oppression, etc, and the social justice statement, put it firmly on the left.

          • solkta 5.1.1.1.2

            The Treaty is in the preamble and gives the context in which the pillars are to be implemented. There has never been any rewording aside from adding the Treaty preamble about 15 years ago. It certainly does NOT change over time “depending on who’s talking”.

            The second pillar is “Social Responsibility” not ‘social justice’ and was named so deliberately to differentiate it from the old left wing concept of social justice which does not necessarily stand alongside the first pillar of Ecological Wisdom. The reason we need to share things fairly is because they are limited and not just to be fairer.

            The third pillar is “Appropriate Decision Making” not ‘grassroots decision making’. “Decisions will be made directly at the appropriate level by those affected” implies a greater complexity than simply deciding everything at the grass roots level.

            While many in the Greens would identify as being left wing, the Party tries to present and understand itself as more than that. This effort is frustrated when people like you read the Charter and other documents through a crusty left wing lens and just convert new concepts into old.

  6. Bill 6

    If you’re worried where in the hell next weeks rent is coming from, then ‘wasting’ their taxes on cleaning up the crap of the wealthy farmers and urbanites is going to get you a very strong backlash.

    I’d add that the profit motive encourages producers to monetise everything they can get their hands on and discard or ignore whatever can’t be monetised…and it’s that basic driver or incentive that leads to most environmental damage.

    But like you say, poorer people are too preoccupied with getting by to pay much notice to a problem they contribute very little to and have very little control over, but that will, unfortunately, at least with regards CC, hammer them first and hardest.

    So there’s a huge class war elephant in the room (and I’m thinking that some departed Green MPs seemed to understand that).

    But if your accurate in saying that –

    the Greens are focused precisely towards the point of their objectives. A cleaner more sustainable places for people in NZ and the world.

    – then they’re going to be forever stuck on a fairly low percentage of the vote because of reasons you pointed out above with regards the effects of poverty.

    Which all leads on to me thinking you’re post has has crystalised somewhat the sense I have of ‘The Greens’ as being the TED Talks party of NZ.

    • Carolyn_nth 6.1

      So there’s a huge class war elephant in the room (and I’m thinking that some departed Green MPs seemed to understand that).

      Yes, is certainly now the case, though I think some like Turei still are involved in the class struggle. And, I think some Green MPs like her also understand it’s not just a struggle between paid workers with “permanent” full time jobs, but involving all those with least social and economic power: especially including the precariat (beneficiaries, under and temporarily employed, single parents, etc) .

      The dominant factions within the current NZ Labour Party seem to have narrowed their class struggle focus to more permanently paid workers – marginalising many of the precariat.

      • weka 6.1.1

        Marama Davidson also gets the class issues I think.

      • Bill 6.1.2

        There have been and are a number of Green MPs who speak up on issues affecting the more exploited or downtrodden in society. But there’s a difference between advocating for better houses or wages and whatever because it would be ‘fair’ or ‘proper’ or because the current situation is ‘morally unacceptable’ and having a political analysis to go alongside it or underpin it that then allows people to form an understanding of why things are as they are.

        For the most part, all we get is that “National don’t care” or “National have no ideas” or we (Labour or Greens) would see to it that this that or the other was pursued in the interests of fairness or decency or whatever.

        And none of that’s particularly useful in terms of people developing an understanding of the systemic reasons behind the problems that they (the Greens or Labour) want to tackle, and worse, it feeds into notions that all or whatever of these problems and challenges are just a natural and somewhat unavoidable consequence of life; that the only way to ameliorate hardships is to vote in more charitable or less heartless leaders.

        And that leaves political parties seeking the endorsement of media so they can ‘have their turn’ in government off the back of those media selling them as a preference to a largely disconnected and ill-informed voting public.

        That too cynical?

    • weka 6.2

      I have’t done a direct comparison, but the strong impression is that the Greens easily have the most radical and useful* policies in terms of addressing poverty of any party in parliament. Easily. So if people who are affected by poverty aren’t voting for them, then there is an issue of cultural fit. No easy answer to that one.

      *short of abandoning capitalism of course.

      I’d be interested to hear more about the class issues. I tend to the view that it’s not the Greens’ role to pick up overt class issues (for the reasons that Lynn outlines) and that there is a big space on the left in NZ that isn’t being filled currently.

      “– then they’re going to be forever stuck on a fairly low percentage of the vote because of reasons you pointed out above with regards the effects of poverty.”

      Yeah, but if they rebranded as an anti-poverty party (more than they are doing already), they wouldn’t be the Greens and I’d guess that would destabilise them. Would be really interesting to see an anti-poverty green party though.

      I don’t have a problem if they stay in the 10 – 15% bracket if it means they’re holding that priority of the environment that includes the well being of people. At some point NZ will be forced to deal with the environment, one way or the other, and at that point I’m just glad we will have a party that largely stuck to its guns so to speak.

      • Bill 6.2.1

        When the class issue is seen in terms of not just capitalists exploiting workers, but quite reasonably, as capitalists exploiting the planetary basis that workers require, well…to live – then that broader perspective would allow class to enter a Green agenda without them losing any environmental focus.

        It would potentially bring a huge number of people to the Greens (no?)…if class and environmentalism were regarded as inseparable components of the same issue, which, by the way, I think they are.

        • Adrian Thornton 6.2.1.1

          I believe one of the main problems with the Green ideology, is that it seems to put environment before people, which I know sounds like it should or could make sense, however it seems to me, if we are talking about winning the war to save the environment, that ideology is the wrong way around.

          The number one priority should be to raise the consciousness of the people to a level where they would not let undue damage happen to their environment, as most critical thinking citizens would not.

          Sure the Greens can and do win a few battles against neoliberalism, but they will never win the war, not without a conscious critical think citizenry.

          • Bill 6.2.1.1.1

            Then a broad policy platform built around the proclamation that “An Injury to One is an Injury to All” that extends the sentiment out beyond its traditional human parameters perhaps? 😉

            • Robert Guyton 6.2.1.1.1.1

              Exactly, Bill, but I’d leave “perhaps” out.
              Adrian said:

              “The number one priority should be to raise the consciousness of the people to a level where they would not let undue damage happen to their environment, as most critical thinking citizens would not.”
              I agree with, “The number one priority should be to raise the consciousness of the people…” but baulked at,
              “… to a level where they would not let undue damage happen to their environment as most critical thinking citizens would not.”
              Most critical thinking citizens, in my experience, do let undue damage happen to their environment – it’s part and parcel of being a citizen. “Citizen” is a problem in itself. As is, “undue” and “their environment” and “environment”.

              • Adrian Thornton

                I disagree, I believe humans, who through a neoliberal lenses view themselves primarily as consumers, and being actively disconnected with being actual participating Citizens in the community, and by extension the environment is the nub of the issue.

                • Citizens exist only if cities exist, I’m assuming. For cities to exist, our present culture of exploitation must exist. If cities remain, so to will the supportive behaviours.

                • coffeeconnoiseur

                  Over the years I have found that right wingers accept the rules of the game, have an inward focus on themselves and their immediate family. They see government as holding them back from achieving the goals they want to in life and having the experience they want to have. They therefore often seek to minimize governments impact and reach into our lives.

                  Those on the Left tend to have a more outward focus. They see the problems yet don’t have the resources to fix them. Hence they look to Government to fix the problems that they see. To change the rules where necessary.

                  The result the left vs right paradigm locks us into incremental change that doesn’t give either side the outcome they want to have.
                  The sad part is both sides want the same thing when you breakl it right down.
                  They each want to be able to have the experience they want to have.

                  This is why we desperately need better systems more than anything. Systems that deliver the outcomes we want to see in society and not simply tinkering within the bounds of a very old antiquated and failing model that has already started a slow and painful collapse.

                  i.e. degradation of essential basic needs
                  -Increasing poverty
                  -increasing homelessness
                  -degradation of water quality
                  – Housing becoming less and less accessible to those in need.

                  and its only going to get worse.

              • coffeeconnoiseur

                No Adrian has it right. If you have the right system, one that puts delivering peoples needs and wants first and foremost, then you solve the key issue of people not caring about the environment as they are more concerned about simply surviving and being able to meet their essential basic needs.
                Structure your system around meeting peoples needs and wants and protection of the environment (and even the regeneration of it) will flow from this.
                Think about it. If people know their needs and wants are met then this is something they no longer need to give attention to.
                The destruction of the environment and essentially the world we live in will then a far greater level of importance in the minds of a far greater number of people leading to better solutions that still enable people to have the experience they want to have in a way that is far less or not at all destructive to the environment.
                This is possible under Capitalism but only if the right pieces of the puzzle come together and join forces to build the world that people want to see.
                It is not possible with the current redistribution of wealth model that enables the wealthiest to structure their affairs in a way that enables them to exploit the environment for the sake of profit and escape the cost of doing so.
                Of Course it would be easier to achieve in a more automated world beyond Capitalism

                • Putting “delivering people’s needs and wants first and foremost” is the problem, not the solution. It’s because we have done that, that we face disaster as a species. Recognising that people is more than humans, will start us on the course to recovery. Giving out rather than drawing in will save the day, if indeed the day can be saved. Trying to repair a corrupted system using the techniques that corrupted it in the first place, won’t work. Imo.

                  • coffeeconnoiseur

                    Nope you haven’t done that. No system in history has done that.
                    I’m talking about the needs and wants of everyone and having the systems that enable that.
                    Not catering for the needs and wants of a select few at the expense of everyone else and the environment using the central pillar of profit as the driving force to do so.
                    There’s a massive difference.

                    As for using the corrupted system to fix itself. I tend to agree with you. But faced with no other option then… well you have no other option.
                    To be fair its not exactly the same system. This would have to be done with openness and showing people what the plan is, removing the barriers to investment and enabling everyone to become part of it simply by living there day to day lives.
                    Many of these systems already exist, we just need to change how we use them and link some of the key ones together.

                    Start by asking yourself this question. Which children of the world do you not want to be able to have their essential basic needs met….?

                    Also don’t confuse satisfying wants with supplying one of everything to everyone. Its not about the product (and the resources used to make it. Its about the experience and the outcome you are wanting to have.

                    Example: I want a lawnmower so that I can mow my lawns.
                    at least that’s the stated requirement and taken at face value requires a crapload of lawnmowers (just as we have right now) that get used maybe 12 hrs per year.

                    The true requirement and want is that He/She has their lawns mowed…..
                    that requires far less lawnmowers, far less resources, far less environmental destruction.

                    What I am talking about does require a shift in thinking at a societal level.
                    That’s why it may be easier (in fact their may be no other option) other than to move to the same place via Capitalism with the same reactionary modes of government we have now.

                    Not enough jobs in the future? – prostition law reform making prostitution legal.
                    pension not enough to live on anymore? – make it illegal to discriminate against elderly.
                    Not enough money in the bank to ensure children aren’t in poverty? – blame the parents whilst enough non thinking people will still buy it.

          • Matthew Whitehead 6.2.1.1.2

            Ironically, this is the biggest divide between The Greens and Greenpeace. Greenpeace thinks The Greens are too pro-human and not environmentalist enough to be effective.

            So, I’d say if people on both sides are saying you’ve got the balance wrong, you can’t be too far off.

            • lprent 6.2.1.1.2.1

              For some strange reason, as a human, I find that I am pro-human.

              • Bill

                So maybe running in the same vein as I think Alan Rickman questioned how anyone could be a man and not be a feminist, we might ask how anyone can be pro-human and not be pro-environment.

                Seems pretty basic, no?

                • Adrian Thornton

                  Well, as you are always a human, therefore you cannot really be disconnected from being a human in some way ,shape or form, but one could in theory, easily feel disconnected from ‘environment’ for many reasons.

                  Locally we have many rivers, which I brought my kids up in, one thing that I could/can never my head around is other locals, who after enjoying the whole day swimming, cooking and eating at these same rivers, leaving behind soiled nappies and other rubbish…the total disconnection from the environment that they had just enjoyed is quite unsettling and unfathomable.

                  • Well, as you are always part of the wild world, therefore you cannot really be disconnected from being the wild world in some way, shape or form, therefore one could not, even in theory, easily feel disconnected from the wild world for many reasons. We are acting naturally when we leave behind soiled nappies and other rubbish. What we have to do is decide which natural behaviours we want to continue, knowing as we do that some of those will lead to our destruction.
                    It’s not us and nature, it’s just us – we are “nature, nature is us).

                • coffeeconnoiseur

                  Bingo!
                  It is the nature and structure of the system that results in a lack of concern for the environment on both sides of the spectrum.
                  at the lower end those in poverty care about little more than ensuring they can meet the essential basic needs of their family. For them it is about survival.
                  For the other end The environment and using the resources simply = Profit.

                  A system that looks after peoples needs and wants as the goal of the system (this is the key bit ‘as the goal of the system’. The current systems goal is soley profit, everything else is secondary) will by default result in the environment not only being looked after but regenerated and co-created with.

              • Yeah, pro-human is probably a dumb way of putting it in retrospect, but that was the framing people were using already. I think the objection is probably better described as “the Greens are too politically sensitive about climate change and aren’t going to act aggressively enough to save human civilisation,” not that I can guarantee that’s Greenpeace’s exact thinking.

                I think also the Green Party is closer to the pragmatic side of the spectrum, wheras Greenpeace is definitely closer to the idealistic side of the spectrum, so most of their disagreements generally come down to matters of getting-it-done vs doing-it-right.

              • But not exclusive of all other living beings, I’m assuming 🙂

                Misplaced reply to lprent@12:29

            • Robert Guyton 6.2.1.1.2.2

              Both “parties” have missed the salient point and are “off” as a result. The polarity, “human” and “environment” is the problem:
              He tangata, he tangata, he tangata, yes, but what is “tangata”?
              That’s the crucial point. In my view, the deep meaning of tangata is “persons” – that is, anything with personality: humans, animals, living things, things that we are not sure are living, tools, technologies, actions, ideas and so on. Getting peripheral here 🙂

        • Uh, if you ever listen to the Greens speaking on class, the idea that economic injustice and environmental injustice are intertwined has been their line from the very beginning. Even those Green MPs who aren’t very focused on the rights of beneficiaries or economic justice in general don’t undermine that line, and at least half the Green caucus at any time has been hugely active on those issues. I think it’s just a case of this being one of those things that people don’t notice because they don’t go looking for it.

          The Greens are incredibly anti-poverty and pro-economic justice, and as Weka says, they have the most aggressive policy of any party in Parliament to address those issues, and are to the left of Labour on economic justice, mainly by virtue of not throwing people who aren’t working under the bus, but they will also consider some things that the Labour Party is too pro-business for. (granted, Labour’s usual rationale is that they’re pro-business in those areas because they are pro-jobs, but there’s not always evidence that those policies provide jobs)

          As an aside, the difference between the Greens view that the environment enables economic activity and Labour’s view was summed up perfectly when I was listening to Nandor Tanczos talk at the old Drinking Liberally events about moving to a more zero-sum type of economy where growth isn’t viewed as necessary so that we could keep the ecosystem and thus the economy functional, and I heard Trevor Mallard mutter “but that would cost jobs!” to himself. In reality, what Nandor was talking about was stretching the jobs we already had over a longer timeframe so that they were sustainable, rather than simply making more at any given time, a concept Mallard should be intimately familiar with as one of the overstayers in Labour’s caucus, 😉 but Mallard was so focused on short-term employment he couldn’t even acknowledge that growth might, in some circumstances, be a problem.

          • Bill 6.2.1.2.1

            Mallard was correct if his response was predicated on there still being a profit motive. In that scenario, zero growth results is profits stagnating, investments dropping and people becoming unemployed.

            If Nandor was envisaging an economy without a profit motive driving it, then a prerequisite for even beginning to develop such an economy would be a broad understanding through-out society of what this present economy is and how it works.

            It’s only at that point of understanding that people could potentially reject an economy based on profit in favour of something better. As it stands, almost everyone is of the persuasion that what we have and how we do things is natural. Ie, there seems to be little comprehension of the fact that we only do things this way because of very definite rules that are followed by and protected by very powerful economic and political actors – that the number of potential economies is limited only by our imaginations.

            • Matthew Whitehead 6.2.1.2.1.1

              Well, if I recall correctly, this particular speech was basically about how all profit in the economy comes at the expense of externalising environmental costs, and that we effectively already have a zero-sum economy if you build back in the environmental externalities, so that we will either have to make huge efficiency gains or adjust our expectations of profit if we expect to move to a truly sustainable economy.

              But yeah, the specific reaction Mallard had was just plain wrong, it was ignoring that jobs would eventually crash in his preferred scenario, even if you’re absolutely correct that there are a lot of challenges to adjusting expectations around profit.

              • “Profit” and “yield” are different.

                • And that would be relevant if I had actually meant yield anywhere in that last post. Nandor was talking about profit, ie. when factoring in environmental costs, most businesses do not break even.

                  • We think we are externalizing environmental costs, but we are not.

                    • Well, “externalising” in economic context has a pretty specific meaning, ie. that nobody’s actually paying for the cost directly, they’re just damaging the commons or leaving it to the government to pay for.

                      Almost all environmental damage caused by modern consumerism starts as externalised costs, and only the most dire have resulted in any sort of cleanup or payback, (for instance: dairy byproducts/effluent in our rivers or groundwater are fully external at the moment, but greenhouse gases have a nominal cost) and when you actually calculate what it would take to clean up the damage and pass the cost on up the production chain, most business models would go bankrupt.

                      If we weren’t externalising the costs, we’d have a lot more fines, pollution credits, or taxes being paid by big business.

                    • Some might say that health issues brought about by poor water quality is an externalised cost, not one where money is involved, but a cost never the less. Still, if we are sticking to the economic context, my comments are of no value. I’m thinking globally; all costs are felt by the global self; they are internal.

            • Adrian Thornton 6.2.1.2.1.2

              @Bill +1 exactly, and exactly why raising the consciousness of the people should be one of the primary projects of any progressive political party or movement.

              https://www.democracynow.org/2010/11/26/chilean_economist_manfred_max_neef_on

            • coffeeconnoiseur 6.2.1.2.1.3

              Bill I love you today!

  7. Dot 7

    I do not doubt the Green Party’s commitment to environmental issues as they have a voting record as back up.
    It is good that Vernon Tava did not reach the leadership team with those condescending attitudes.
    Now he finds the Excuses Party appealing, no surprise there.

  8. Muttonbird 8

    As has been discussed above I’m not sure why Vernon Tava thinks Greens policy should stop at the environment. He seems to want them to be mute or apolitical (he himself probably couldn’t tell you which) on all other issues. Fairly hard to be relevant and useful to, and representative of New Zealand society if you are muzzled.

  9. s y d 9

    To summarise.

    The Green Party will be stuck on 11% cos most of us are just too poor to be able to give a fuck about streams, dolphins, driftnetting, fracking, mining or the next thing to be destroyed in the ceaseless march to elysium.
    Only the rich get to choose to go hiking, everyone else can get the bus, or get in their 1998 nissan sentra.

    • Jenny Kirk 9.1

      Sorry S y d – you left something out.
      You should also have said – and Labour are useless at doing anything except looking after the few workers left in NZ . (sarc).

      Wow – posters – all of the above sounds like an advertisement for the Greens. Not much anger at what National has done to us, and our environment for the last eight years. Not much analyasis as to why we have a lousy environment which is getting worse – but plenty of anti_Labour rhetoric, and very little (minimal I’d say) as to what Labour proposes to do to fix up both the social future of our people AND the environment.

      I’ve given you plenty of evidence over the last few days of the latter …… doubt if any of you posters have read it – maybe its time I turned off The Standard.

      ps Perhaps I should have mentioned that I quite liked lprent’s post –

      • coffeeconnoiseur 9.1.1

        The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

        Socrates.

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