The Most Inane Slogan Ever?
Postmodernism was fashionable about thirty years ago.
It was a cluster of artistic, literary, architectural styles and philosophical ideas. These overlapping trends were “characterised by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories.”
Philosophically it was “critical of the foundational assumptions and universalizing tendency of Western philosophy. It emphasizes the importance of power relationships, personalization and discourse in the “construction” of truth and world views.”
Amongst the more directly political themes advanced by theorists associated with the term were;
- Relativism – the idea that not only are there no “foundational” truths, but that political practice should be directed against agencies that seek to work with any.
- An end to “meta-narratives” – to overarching accounts of history, such the Marxism (historical materialism), or the economy (neo-liberalism).
- Support for identity politics: ” The identity of the oppressed group gives rise to a political basis around which they can unite.” Now known as “inter-sectionality”, ” intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination or discrimination. An example is black feminism, which argues that the experience of being a black woman cannot be understood in terms of being black, and of being a woman, considered independently, but must include the interactions, which frequently reinforce each other.”
- Other forms of localised fights against the dominant power relationships: regionalism, nationalist separatism, defending the rights of religious groups and other species.
Green politics is a political ideology that aims to create an ecologically sustainable society rooted in environmentalism, non-violence, social justice, and grassroots democracy.
It cannot be reduced to postmodernism.
Indeed some of the strands associated with the Greens are described as ‘fundamentalists’ – deep ecology, primitivism.
But the ghost of dead postmodernism lingers over Britain’s Green Party – as it does over the Leninist Left.
As a section of the left backs Lutfur Rahmen – dropping a concern for truth and the ‘meta-narrative’ of class struggle for the local Boss of Tower Hamlets and the ‘community’, not to mention the ‘rights’ of Islamists, the Green party is also undergoing its own ‘post-modernist turn.
This list is not at all exhaustive.
But it show that what tends to come out of Green politics is a kind of ‘post-modernist’ strategy. This is a bit by bit accumulation of ideas, as relativism (the idea that people should ‘just do what they want to do – who are you to tell me what to do!) co-exists with very clear messages about what you should do (animal rights), and messages from the Authority of a wide range of groups (speaking ‘Asa’).
Their ideas are a jumble but the drift is clear.
The Green Party values the diversity of ways in which people relate to each other and the natural environment. It seeks a balance between a number of different processes which contribute to human well-being, rather than stressing one at the expense of all others. It refuses to treat any single value, whether freedom, wealth or equality, as a supreme criterion of political success. In an ecological society a wide range of lifestyle choices will be promoted as individuals and communities seek to establish the most appropriate means of implementing sustainability. (Philosophical Basis of the Green Party.)
We reject the view that wealth can be measured solely in monetary units, a view which allows its adherents to think it consists primarily of the results of human labour. This error has caused successive governments to pursue objectives which appear to increase the nation’s wealth while in fact they reduce it. Symbols of wealth, like money, reinforce the error and dominate political decision making. Economic growth is a poor guide to human welfare.
We seek a society in which people are empowered and involved in making the decisions which affect them. We advocate participatory and democratic politics. Leadership should always be accountable, consensus-driven and moral. We reject the hierarchical structure of leaders and followers.
Property laws should permit neither states nor individuals to treat their property in whatever way they choose. Instead they should aim to ensure that all people, where they wish it, have their needs met through access to the land and its resources, while maintaining its quality for future generations. Property laws should therefore impose duties on owners as well as granting rights.
We do not believe that there is only one way to change society, or that we have all the answers. We seek to be part of a wider green movement that works for these principles through a variety of means. We generally support those who use reasonable and non-violent forms of direct action to further just aims.
Imposing ‘duties’ on property owners, however much wealth is “symbolic” does not seem an easy thing to do by “consensus”.
Why is wealth not a ‘life-style choice’ amongst others?
It is hardly worth going further.
The Green Party’s policies that result are an attempt to look at the world as it is and the world as it might be.
As a wish-list, drawn up by (largely) well-meaning people they appeal to the kind of fragmented interest groups typical of ‘post-modern’ politics. In the 1980s and 1990s this was often called the “post-materialist” constituency. Their French electorate is more recently described as “bobos” – bourgeois bohemians.
This political support is inherently unstable – as the rapid shrinking of the French Green (Europe Écologie Les Verts EELV) vote has indicated. This has gone from 16,28% (European elections 2009), 5,46 % (General Election, 2012), 8.95 (Europeans elections 2014) to 2,03% in this year’s regional elections (départmentals). They are on the point of breaking into separate parties, one aligned to the ruling Parti Socialiste, the other to the Front de gauche.
It would be tempting to go into the experience of the British Greens in local government, notably Brighton, where there politics have singularly failed.
But since this will be instantly dismissed as the result of Coalition policies t finish, this is an example of the British Green’s approach.
Citizen’s Income is both universal, and very post-modern: it would be given to all (within a nation state), and post-mdoern – detatched from any relationship to ‘production’ class struggle and history.
The Green party’s flagship economic policy, the £72 a week “citizen’s income”, would hit the poorest hardest unless it was made more complicated by including a means-tested element, the leading advocate of the policy has conceded.
The Citizen’s Income Trust (CIT), which has given advice to the Green party and been repeatedly cited by the Greens, has modelled its scheme and discovered it would mean 35.15% of households would be losers, with many of the biggest losers among the poorest households.