But what exactly do the Greens stand for?
I recently suggested there are different types of Environmentalists, for example there are those like Tim Flannery who support geoengineering solutions to cool the planet, while Goreists tend to be more interested in changing societal attitudes.
According to the website for the Australian Greens, their vision is for a “fair, independent and sustainable” Australia. The home page has a banner stating they are about “peace and non-violence, grassroots democracy, social and economic justice and ecological sustainability”.
No one could disagree with any of this, but what does it mean in terms of the environment, power and politics?
The Australian Greens website also explains that it is part of the Global Greens network and that it owes its inception to a visit in 1984 by West German Green, Petra Kelly.
I’ve read bits and pieces of the book ‘The Environmental Movement in Germany’ by Raymond Dominick and interestingly it claims you need to go back to the Second German Empire, from 1871 to 1918, to understand how the Greens forged their identity. This was a period of rapid industrialization. Reference is made to most of the local industries dumping their waste directly into rivers and streams with absolutely no treatment creating major public health as well as other environmental issues.
At that time, despite the deteriorating conditions most Germans are reported as ignoring or resisting pleas from a few early environmentalists for a Naturschutz crusade.
Mr Dominick writes, “Many people had a hard time perceiving the problem, perhaps because the anthropogenic deterioration of the environment differed in fundamental respects from other challenges humankind had confronted before. Indeed, it directly contradicted the lessons of collective human experience from those many millennia when civilization struggled to protect itself from the overpowering forces of nature. The conservation crusade required the adoption of a revolutionary new vision, one that would see Nature neither as menace nor as a trove of inexhaustible resources, but rather as a fragile life-support system.”
And so Nature was successfully redefined. This was for political purposes, not because of new scientific insights. There are now, however, whole scientific disciplines that have developed around the belief that Nature is a “fragile life-support system”.
Are the Greens and some ‘scientific disciplines’ based on Romanticism? I plan to explore this idea in Part 2 of ‘Defining the Greens’.
‘Nation leans to the left by George Megalogenis, The Weekend Australian, April 11-12, pg 18
Easter Musing on Life and Environmentalism, by Jennifer Marohasy http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/2009/04/easter-musings-on-life-and-environmentalism/
Australian Greens, http://greens.org.au/
The Environmental Movement in Germany: Prophets and Pioneers 1871-1971, by Raymond H. Dominick III. Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis, 1992. quote from page 4.
The image of Chris Ho is from the Australian Greens website.