According to George Megalogenis writing in the Weekend Australian neither the “right” nor the “left” in Australia can now win power without the support of the Greens.
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.
Well the Greens are now the left.
When Malcolm Fraser was asked why he appeared as a lefty these days he replied that HE hadn’t changed it’s just that everyone else has moved to his right, including Labor, leaving the Greens way out to the left. Beazley was rightwing dressed up as left and no one fell for it.
remember this classic Moir in the SMH
Those who would have voted Democrat turned to the Greens because Labour was too far right and the Greens were the only party willing to stand up against Howard.
Now the Greens stand up against Kevin Rudd because he won’t do anything for climate change.
it all makes sense to me 🙂
Thin king Man says
I like your post, Doctor Marohasy. You’re a person of great conviction and courage, and I admire that very, very much.
I do, however, disagree with this grassroots democracy business, which is just the tyranny of the masses repackaged, and also this notion of so-called economic justice, which is also called egalitarianism.
For the record, it was actually Jean-Jacques Rousseau who first really began propounding the immanent-goodness-of-nature-untouched-by-man nonsense. Rousseau also deplored “the corrupting influence of reason, culture, and civilization.” In fact, he as well preached economic egalitarianism and tribal democracy, the collective will and the primacy of the group over the individual. In a great many ways, Rousseau is the founder of present-day environmentalism.
His so-called Eden Premise was picked up by all the pantheists and transcendentalists, such as Henry David Thoreau, John Muir (founder of socialist Sierra Club), Aldo Leopold (who helped found the Wilderness Society), and of course the propagandist Rachel (“Rammstein”) Carson.
When, in 1860, Thoreau wrote that forests untouched by humans grow toward “the greatest regularity and harmony,” he inadvertently changed the life of a biologist named George Perkins Marsh, who in 1864 wrote a book called Man and Nature. In this extraordinarily influential book, George Marsh also tried to convince us that, absent humans, mother nature and her processes work in perfect harmony:
“Man” (said Marsh) “is everywhere a disturbing agent. Wherever he plants his foot, the harmonies of nature are turned to discord…. [Humans] are brute destroyers … [Humans] destroy the balance which nature had established.”
“But” (he continued) “nature avenges herself upon the intruder, [bringing humans] deprivation, barbarism, and perhaps even extinction.”
Just as Thoreau influenced George Marsh, so George Marsh influenced both Gifford Pinchot and John Muir.
Gifford Pinchot was a utilitarian who loathed private ownership of natural resources. He was also the first chief of the U. S. Forest Service under President Theodore Roosevelt.
Like Mr. Michael Luke Walker, Pinchot was a collectivist who believed in sacrificing individuals and their property for the sake of “the greatest number.”
It was in large part because of Pinchot that the United States federal government’s increased their land holdings dramatically, so that today over one third of America is owned by the federal government — which holdings comprise over half of America’s known resources, including “a third of our oil, over 40 percent of salable timber and natural gas, and most of the nation’s coal, copper, silver, asbestos, lead, and other minerals.”
In his excellent account of American environmentalism, Shabecoff says this:
“Pinchot wanted the forests managed for their usefulness, not for their beauty.… He was not interested in preserving the natural landscape for its own sake.”
At the very least, however, Pinchot, a conservationist, was still pro-human.
John Muir, Pinchot’s nemesis, was not.
It was John Muir, a Scottish immigrant, who introduced misanthropy into the environmental pseudo-philosophy, which misanthropy reigns supreme to this very day, as I discuss in my book.
“How narrow we selfish, conceited creatures are in our sympathies!” said John Muir, an unapologetic racist. “How blind to the rights of all the rest of creation! Well, I have precious little sympathy for the selfish propriety of civilized man, and if a war of races should occur between the wild beasts and Lord Man, I would be tempted to sympathize with the bears.”
From John Muir, it was only a short step to one Ernst Haeckel (1834 – 1919), a German zoologist, who told us that individuals don’t actually exist. Human individuals, he said, do not really possess an individual consciousness. Humans are only a part of a greater whole, and 1866 Haeckel coined the term “ecology,” which he defined as “the whole science of the relations of the organism to the environment.”
It was an Oxford botanist named A. G. Tansley who, in 1935, introduced the word “ecosystem.”
According to this same Tansley, individual entities don’t exist but are merely part of “the basic units of nature on the face of the earth.”
Aldo Leopold’s wildly popular Sand County Almanac was published in 1948. It preached “the pyramid of life,” and in order to preserve this pyramid, Leopold told us that federal governments must “enlarge the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals [which] changes the role of Homo Sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it.”
A Norwegian named Arne Naess also believed that human individuals don’t actually exist; only ecosystems do. It was Naess who first argued that the “shallow ecology,” as he called it, “of mainstream conservation groups” benefits humans too much. Thus, Naess began calling for “deep ecology” — i.e. “biospheric egalitarianism with the equal right [of all things] to live and blossom.”
These, of course, are just a small handful of the words that have frozen into secular dogma, and which Rachel Carson, with her puerile pen, brought to the mewling masses. Her book Silent Spring opens like this:
There once was a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchard where, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the fields. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines. Then foxes barked in the hills and deer silently crossed the fields, half hidden in the mists of the fall morning… The town is almost devoid of robins and starlings; chickadees have not been present for two years, and this year the cardinals are gone too… ‘Will they ever come back?’ the children ask, and I do not have the answer.
Most sane people see through this pablum like it’s a fishnet. It’s the insane people like Mr. Albert Gore who have swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.
The rest, of course, is history.
You are correct, there are two different types of “Greens”.
Those who are aware of the social agenda and the pawns that are not aware.
Jen – you report that neither the right or left in Australia can now not win power without the support of the Greens.
But then it’s off to Flannery and Gore again. So tedious. Iconic enemies I guess?
Winning elections is about numbers obviously. How do you really know what the “average” green voter really thinks?
Does the average green voter understand the political organisations they support?
Is the average green voter getting what they want?
And when will we see a serious State of the Nation environmental audit by the AEF. Without one the AEF’s entire philosophical position is one of shifting sands and mirages.
George M is complete idiot. The Federal ALP has won one election and he’s already calling the left the natural governing party for the country. Talk about jumping the gun.
The Greens are a dark green socialist party with a hard redistributionist/statist ideology and a strong streak of Luddite thinking. Basically I despise them. I despise their irrationality and the fact that they seem to prey on the cognitively weak members of society as their constituency tailoring policies that will attract these idiots as voters.
It was only about two years ago when the removed their policy of advocating against nuclear medicine from their site after they got so much heat for doing so. Nuclear medicine comprises cat scans, Xrays and radiation treatment for cancer suffers.
The policy was removed but I am certain they simply hid it from public viewing so it’s still there as the party minutes don’t suggest they haven’t revoked the policy. So these nihilistic barbarians would actually try to ban radiation therapy for cancer sufferers given the chance.
The party represents the worst elements of humanity and they should be treated no better than one would treat hard core Stalinists and members of neo-nazi movements: with total and complete contempt and scorn.
In the past, I’ve done quite a bit of day-hiking in California with the Sierra Club. I haven’t done any scientific surveys on the politics of SC members. My educated guess is that most are registered with the Democratic Party, rather than with the Green Party. The Green Party–small to begin with–has lost some credibility, since their presidential candidate, Ralph Nader, split the moderate vote in the swing states in 2000, and propelled The Chimp into office.
Anyway, my impression is that the SCers are becoming increasingly militant about everything. Once I really pissed off a hike leader, by speculating that marmots (aka woodchucks) are probably good eating. Apparently she was a Vegan. Open mouth, insert foot, chew vigorously.
This same leader made a snotty comment about the fact that I was wearing comfortable cotton on a day-hike, rather than the trendier synthetics. Hello, we don’t get much rain in the Northern Sierras during the Summer. The cotton-kills meme really doesn’t apply here. Some people wear only gym shorts and a T-shirts on local hikes.
I called another leader to express interest in an upcoming intermediate-level hike. It would have been reasonable for him to ask about my hiking experience and if I had exercise program. But nooo! He only asked my age, and then he informed me that I was too old for the hike. (In terms of aerobic fitness, I’m in better shape than most SC leaders.) Bloody ageist!
These days, I have my own online hiking group that’s open to everyone who wants to participate. And I didn’t bother to renew my SC membership this year.
The greens are the left of the nineties and the early twenty-first century. What does anyone think happened after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Tens of millions of communists in the West repented, recanted and saw the light? Wrong. They turned to the new light on the hill – greenism.
The corollary is that the return of old style leftism, with Kevin ‘death to the neo-libs- Rudd in the vanguard, will be bad for green business. Most of the malcontented, chippy deviants in the green ranks never really gave a damn about frogs and insects. Now they won’t need to pretend any more. Monbiot will need to start shooting people to shore up market share when the next wave of revolutionists arrive.
Geoff from Ourimbah says
Fluke says “Jen – you report that neither the right or left in Australia can now not win power without the support of the Greens.”
Well Fluke & Jen, I will contest that statement. I will say that the right can not win because they will never get green preferences.
The Hon John Howard in the last Federal election won more votes than the absent Maxine McHugh. The Greens directed their preferences to…. wait for it…… are you guessing…. hold on….the Green watermelons – green on the outside but pink on the inside… gave their preferences to ……. Labor!
In the Federal seat next to mine, the sitting member was Jim Lloyd (an excellent local member, unlike his postdecessor) who got primary votes of 39,792 which was 45.6 % of the vote. The Labor party candidate was the wife of NSW senator John Della Bosca. She only got 37,437 votes or 42.9%. Do you know who she is!! DO YOU KNOW WHO SHE IS!?!?!?
Well, before Kevin Rudd abused an air force flight attendant and showed he needed anger management, he said Ms Belinda Neal should have some anger management lessons.
So although Mr Lloyd got 46% of the vote (almost over the 50% requirement) and Ms Belinda *u*king Neal got 43%, it was Ms Wobblieovski – the green candidate with 7% of the vote that got Ms Belinda (Do you know who I am) Neal over the line. The final result – 2 party prefered was ALP 50.1 LIB 49.9
I could go through all the electorates, but if anyone can show me an electorate where the Rabid Greens gave the preferences to the right, I will buy the bar beers (alitoration) by Bank Card before Breakfast.
Sooner or later, perhaps not with the dills they have as leaders right now, the major parties will start to preference eachother, & the ratbags will be gone.
This will be all good. I would much prefer one to get control, & implement their policies in full, rather than the half baked government we have today.
Lets face it, the reason Howard is gone now, is because he got control of the senate, & implemented his dream policy. Bad luck for him, even if it was what we must have sooner or later, it was not what the majority would stand for right now, & he is gone.
If that Idiot Rudd was to get his policies in, as he would like, he’d be gone just as quickly. Oh that we should be so lucky. Hang on, that would mean Turnbull. God help us.
Sooner or later we may get a leader who lives within the possible, if India, & China allow us to be more than a quarry, & a farm. Even that can only be successful, long term, once we get Brown & his mates, out of the loop.
spangled drongo says
Many Green voters are laissez faire, comfortable, middle class chatterers with no presentpressingproblems.
This will change depending on future economy. I don’t think most of them have a clue about Greens policies.
The Greens say they support “social justice”. If this is true,
why does their version of “social justice” exclude 48 %
of the Australian people.
Why don’t they have a policy on Men’s health?
[Men die at higher rates from all leading causes of death and they
live on average 6 years less than women].
Why don’t they have a policy opposing violence against men?
[2/3 of all victims of violent crime are men and boys]
What is their policy on boy’s education?
[every leading indicator on educational outcomes shows boys trailing
girls at all level of primary and secondary education.]
Why do they adopt family policies that effectively ignore the
important role of fathers in the family?
[the single most damaging social pathology is fatherless children,
most as a result of natural fathers being forced out of their children’s
lives by the family court]
Like every other collectivist left party, the Greens treat men and boys
as somewhere below pond-scum.
The “hilarious” thing is that at least half their vote come from men.
Jen, Cant wait for Part 2. The logic is extraordinary – a tangled web. So the Oz greens owe it all to the late great Petra Kelly of the West German Greens. But she spent her formative years as an eco-feminist in the USA.
Jens next loosely connected point is that to understand the West German Greens (assuming we need to because Petra Kelly spent har later short life in Germany and came here too) you have to go back to the Second German Empire up to 1918. Really, why bother. That was when the alleged antecedents of Oz greens redefined nature as a “fragile life support system”. Maybe they are not the breakfast table words of a century ago?. But it leads the way to Jens next exciting episode – laced with self serving logic where the question will be answered –“Are the Greens based on Romanticism”. I bet we will see a few sly references to brown shirts as well before the logic leaps back to the left.
Jeremy C says
It seems that by concentrating on ‘greenery’ as mainly an ideological thingy (e.g. quotes from writers you use seem only to frame the ideology rather than thinking and debate) you are only reflecting how you approach things i.e. you are approaching all this from an ideological/power perspective and so assume everyone else does. An example is the previous post that you referred to above where you sought to put in green ‘categories’ various people (e.g. me a ‘Goreist – must remember that if I ever go to a bull fight in Spain).
You really need to free yourself from the IPA way of thinking.
Well, Bazza, perhaps explicating the origin and trajectory of the green movement is not rocket science, but, still, it is what it is.
Predictable redneck dross from the good ol’ boys.
david elder says
Four things bother me about the Green movement. Firstly, many of their leading figures do not understand science. The string of howlers in Gore’s recent film are an example. In the 1990s I was working in the Biochemistry department at Adelaide University. We had endless trouble with the Greens objecting to genetic modification. Figures like Peter Garrett wanted it totally stopped. I wrote to Garrett asking him if he realised that this would wreck much vital medical work just for a start. His reply evaded the point. Clearly he was a genuine person – I was unable to dislike him. But equally clearly, his background (law and music I believe) was inadequate for the subject he had taken on. Similar lack of pertinent qualifications is evident in Greenpeace’s attempts to ban all chlorine-containing chemicals and in the grimly successful Green blocking of DDT treatment of malaria, lethal to millions in a Third World that Greens are always moralising about. In Easter parlance, ‘forgive them Lord for they know not what they do.’
Needless to say, this sort of fiasco did not stop the media from treating figures like Garrett as sages on the environment. Even if we look at scientifically qualified Green commentators, the media will go straight for the ones who make the rashest statements – James Hansen in the US is a glaring case in point. This is my second problem with the Greens – lack of accountability from media and voters. Because they are not a major political party Greens can make rash promises on anything without having to actually deliver it in the context of a balanced budget and a balanced set of policies. Their predictions on environmental disasters are frequently proved false yet escape censure, or are too distant for ready verification (all those predictions of what the greenhouse temperature and the economic parameters will be like in 2050 – who really knows?). Journalists rarely ask hard questions to Greens, being dazzled by the ecological technobabble and the ‘motherhood’ rhetoric about environmental values or any other modish cause of the day. And the Greens can always be relied on to provide a dramatic media story full of criticism no matter what either major party has done. The media will repeat anything Greens say, and Greens will say anything to get in the media. It is an unholy alliance.
Thirdly, the environment has become a Trojan horse by which the ideological Left keeps itself going. By ‘Left’ I do not mean someone like Mike Rann who is Labor but sensible and basically middle-of-the-road. I mean the ideologues who proliferated on university campuses in the 1960s and 70s. Their hard-left ideologies have struggled to gain traction outside of protective environments like campus and educational bureaucracy. The environment allows them to package their radical agenda as mainstream.
Fourthly, the decline of traditional religion is often filled by environmentalism. Now whatever our beliefs, we don’t need to be critical of the sense of wonder at nature; it can be a healthy and humbling thing. But if we try to make nature directly divine, we risk naivety since nature can be harsh. We also risk conflict within society as Green true believers feel prompted to defend every part or as much as possible of a divinised nature from the evil touch of humanity and technology. It works against the necessary compromises to be thrashed out between conservation and human utilisation.
With these fourfold problems of unqualified/alarmist Green gurus, low media/electoral Green accountability, use of Green activism as camouflage for political radicalism and environmentalism as surrogate religion, it is not surprising that environmental policy is so often a mess. It is sad. You do need an environment.
Dennis Webb says
Jeremy, Luke and others who don’t like being labeled,
People are put in categories all the time. Some of the categories used by Luke and others here include ‘idiot’, ‘denier’, right wing, geriatric, redneck. They all suggest a particular type.
Jennifer is even classified by Jeremy in this thread as thinking like someone from the IPA when as far as I can tell noone else at the IPA thinks like her. Afterall they are all mostly blokes, economists and with Liberal party affiliations when she is a biologist from a Labor party family.
Why is it that you so object to an honest and every open examination of the core beliefs of people who claim to be environmentalists.
Jennifer even admits to being one herself and puts herself in one of the categories.
Jennifer Marohasy says
Jeremy, Bazza et. al,
You accuse me of approaching the issue from an “ideological/power perspective” and complain that I use “categories” and quote scholars on this issues. Can you suggest an alternative approach from which to examine environmentalism and in particular the beliefs of the Australian Greens?
I quite like what Jen has written, and I’m proud and happy to call myself a green voter. But just like any party its followers come in many many forms. Just because it is a smaller party does not mean that members can not be as varied as a radical unionist and a middle of the road left leaning liberal hearted soul in the ALP, or a redneck ballbreaker to a genteel economic rationalist in the Libs. Factions exist – it is just a fact(ion) of life.
As a green I know I am constantly frustrated by NIMBY types, or anti-development status quo types… or sustainable population types, or vehemently anti-nuclear types (I’m anti nuclear generally but would buy it as part of a package to make genuine deep cuts to CO2 emissions for example). In many ways I vote green because most of all I want ALP and Liberal governments to have to improve their environmental performance. I don’t take the bullcrap spin that suggests the greens dictate policy…. how can a party dictate against two mainstream parties that between them have 92% of the popular vote? It is not the greens fault that both parties would rather deal with them than eachother. Rudd almost got my 1st preference direct because I thought he deserved a chance to practice what he preached on climate change… but I’m rather glad I came to my senses in hindsight.
You can theorise about historical origins… but lets face it there is a similarly spinnable history to most political ideologies. There is no point demonising the greens – sort our your own backyards instead. Next you will demonise the greens and claim hanson was victimised lol;)
Luke: ‘Predictable redneck dross from the good ol’ boys.’
HAHAHAHA so incisive. Your understanding of climate science, even to an outsider, seems very shallow. Now don’t dabble where you haven’t got a clue boy. The greens are just the latest incarnation of the Malthusians and Puritans – those who have an irresistable urge to tell us all what to do, and no clue as to what makes the world and society go round. Chairman Mao would be proud of you Luke.
Ann Novek says
Your comment[following the post by Libby Eyre] is an interesting one: ( Dr Peter Corkeron)
“You are rebelling as a romantic against science and economics. Romantics identify with natural systems, scientists study them, some economists recognise the reality of human nature and work with, rather than against it.”
I see from this comment that dear Jennifer is demonising romantics and people who care about the environment.
I really can’t see anything wrong with romantics??? I have just been in town and I’m dead tired of the materialism/ consumerism and shops with names as ” Urban Life”.
So according to Jennifer a romantic can’t be a scientist ????
Ann Novek says
Romanticism and romantic can never be wrong :))))!
Ann Novek says
Of course there are many types of environmentalism, just look at the ocean of NGOs.
The Swedish Birdwatchers has an interesting article on their site claiming that ” old friends are
turning at each others”. Once they were friends , but now the climate people with their windturbines are ” enemies” with the naturalists and bird people. They claim it is impossible to estimate the damage what a 180 meter windturbine causes the wildlife” etc etc
Far too sensible MattB – far too intelligent a position – do you actually mean we might THINK independently about separate issues and make INDIVIDUAL determinations on the merits – WOW !!!
however these rednecks won’t negotiate on anything for a minute. All they understand by the “excellent” comments above is brute force. Don’t you sleep well knowing that dudes like Ra are out there?
And sorry Dennis for the robust language – but I attended the Ian Mott School for Decorum and Deportment. You see you guys get a “redneck” and a “denier” for every use of terms “alarmist” or “water melon”. Sound fair?
But still waiting for Jen – a major executive in an “alternative” environmental organisation – the “AEF” – to give us a position statement on the overall state of the current of the national environment. e.g. where does the AEF stand on soil acidity – or land cover management – terrestrial runoff into the coastal zone?
Environmentalism is anti-man. They say, nature can release CO2 in volcanos along the edge of the tectonics plates of the earth, but man cannot. Lightning strike can start forest fire and release CO2, but man cannot. Beavers can build dams, man cannot. Ants can build high-rise dwellings, man cannot.
Jennifer Marohasy says
The AEF takes a considered approach to issues. Check out our website at http://www.aefweb.info
We have made statements in support of waste water recycling for Toowomba, nuclear power for low carbon baseload power generation, and less restrictions on woody weed control in central western NSW.
We have advocated less grazing in the Macquarie Marshes and more grazing in the forests of the Central Murray Valley.
We have not made any comment yet on the issue of soil acidity.
Dennis Webb says
“Are the Greens and some ‘scientific disciplines’ based on Romanticism?”
It is perhaps reasonable to interpret this as hinting that science should not be based on Romanticism.
But she does not hint, as you suggest, that scientists can not be Romantics. Would that be like suggesting scientists can not be Christians.
Jen – fair enuff – but how are issues picked? What’s the rational basis? Surely a multi-criteria multi-attribute problem. The point being for an alternative environment organisation – do you not need (a) some assessment of the “state of the environment” and (b) a process for selecting which issues are important.
Soil acidity being chosen by myself here as a very needy but alas “non-sexy” example. No battle-ground there perhaps? But does that mean it’s not important.
So an answer to “Greens” to develop “alternative” environmental organisations that merely block or take contrary viewpoints on specific issues.
But in doing so can you be a fully rationally based organisation. Might whole mega-issues be totally missed?
And if one did a multi-criteria multi-attribute analysis – at least the assumptions and value weights are potentially transparent (if made public).
So – do we need to get beyond the romanticism and develop a robust and transparent process for identifying the importance of environmental issues? (except for the rednecks of course – who will inform us that there never are ANY issues).
I know Luke – pretty radical stuff yeah???
Girma – WTF? Environmentalism is anti-man???? are you like totally off your rocker? Such a simplistic, absurd, and totally incorrect blanket statement.
Like it or not Jen is an Environmentalist – so is she anti man?
Also to whoever up there – why can’t urbanists be romantics?
Jeremy C says
I just picked my jaw up from the ground after reading your post. Examine the ideas rather than framing things as ideology – take MattB’s post as an example.
BTW. I really liked how Lazlo was able to put greenery people, Malthus, the Puritans and Mao in the same basket. Very original and entertaining but just underlines what I am saying.
Ann Novek says
” Also to whoever up there – why can’t urbanists be romantics?” – MattB
Of course urban people can be romantics but I looked at this in this way:
Sunset for two
AEF has already answered the question:
Inferno Jones says
The Greens are primarily unable to grasp simple facts of nature, like how the Sun dominates the climate and co2 is next to nothing (if not actually nothing!) in comparison:
Do we really need to analyze who they really are, we should simply be pointing out what they are not. They are not scientists.
Ann Novek says
” Greens are illogical and treachrous” – AEF
When greens promoted population control they have beeen called human-haters many times on this site…
Re whales and dugongs it is well established by for example the UN and IUCN that indigenous people have a right to harvest animals , of course this must be under strictest scientific advice.
For example , the IUCN is not oppose that neither of the 19 polar bear subpopulations are harvested after scientific advice…
Ann Novek says
The AEF article is Mad Max indeed, all major enviro NGOs are opposed to bio fuels, for example Greenpeace is currently blocking ships with palm oil to the European market…
Responding to Jens invite –
“Jeremy, Bazza et. al, You accuse me of approaching the issue from an “ideological/power perspective” and complain that I use “categories” and quote scholars on this issues. Can you suggest an alternative approach from which to examine environmentalism and in particular the beliefs of the Australian Greens?”
Thanks Jen but I am not inclined to help advance your neo-green movement via the fledgling AEF yet to fly. (I mean you would not count on Dracula to do a dissertation on the origins of the Blood Bank if you wanted an objective version. ) I think you are more on about the Greens with a capital G, the political and activist arms. But you would need a broad brush to tar such a broad church. If you think the Greens with a capital G are your target, then you would be wrong. I see myself as very much lower case and even occasionally rational green, even blue green because it is not just about the greenery. I even have Tintern Abbey moments when I feel the earth move. Now to think for a moment that the Australian Greens are the key ones mucking up your agenda would be a mistake. There is very broad common sense community support for much of the Green agenda – take on the lot but don’t pretend to be objective pls, or worse run some environmentally cute photo to position your image.
So no analsysis … just more emotion and inuendo.
And I’m guessing you claim to be some sort of scientist.
Why won’t you engage in a rational discussion on this issue of what environmentalists believe in?
What exactly are you frightened of?
Ian Mott says
Luke, farmers have been correcting soil acidity problems by addition of the powdered form of a common rock, Dolomite, for more than a century. But whenever the greens run out of scare stories they can always trot out the old chestnut to put the willies up the bimboprols.
The greens ARE the ALP left. The link between the two is completely seamless. Two entities are used so that the major party can quarantine itself from the adverse impact of their worst decisions. Smoke and mirrors.
By the way, did anyone see the Courier Mail expose of the complete lack of historical evidence to support the ALP’s claim that their party was formed by striking shearers who met under what has been called “the tree of knowledge” at Barcaldine? Shearers met all over the place at that time but there is not the slightest evidence that they met under this tree.
Labor historians have known this all along but that didn’t stop the Labor Party spending $5 million on facilities to maintain what they knew was an urban myth. Barcaldine got a bogus tourist trap with funds that should have gone to bring rural health services up to scratch.
It is clear that the Labor Party has been bull$hitting about trees since before the party even formed. Thankfully, some splendid fighters for the downtrodden have poisoned this “Tree of shame” and hopefully all its seedlings will cop it soon as well. Congratulations guys, you have struck an important blow for people of the bush against a hated symbol of malgovernance and ignorant metrotyranny.
FYI guys – it is all just postmodernism I’m afraid.
Gee Motty – I wonder why industry is spending so much R&D money on the issue. Gawd they must be all duped mate. You’d better get on the board quick smart and sort them out eh? Funny that you’re prepared to accept a calculation of the cost of weeds but not the cost of soil acidity.
Of course if they only had you on the board – we’d have Mottsa approved research – only on Mottsa approved topics. No evidence needed. You can just herd whales if the agenda needs whale herding. But not roos coz whales are easy. LOL
And if you’re so outraged about metrotyranny – get on your bike and get down to the prickle farm and stay there. WTF are you doing in suburbia given you hate us all so much. Piss off !
Jen – dare I suggest Bazza is saying that being “green” is a very broad category as is being a Liberal (in the Aussie sense of the term)
so how do you really know what persons of greener persuasion think. Perhaps from deep down in the decency cortex even Motty has some greener moments. (that’s moments not movements).
You’ve focussed on some personalities and the political executive of a few organisations.
Again – if the AEF is :the alternative” environmental organisation – what’s your process for prioritisation of attention on the wide range of issues?
Green Man says
Having some 10,000 members it is near impossible to attribute some single minded philosophy to the Australian Greens. My rather wide experience with the group accross the country has revealed a great variety of opinion from across the old-style political spectrum. From Marxists to right-wing entrepreneurs. Ex-liberal voters, many church goers, anarchists, activists, ex-democrats, scientists, accountants, you name them, you can find them in the fast growing Greens. The common thread is a concern for the environment and social justice, and what is wrong with that.
Its a big leap to imply that a reference to Petra Kelly on the greens website, who simply called for state greens party’s to unite back in the early 80’s, means one can universally apply a full political or philosophical lineage to the German Greens. Indeed the Australian experience and circumstance has been very independent. But we’ve heard this association from the right -wingers before – the greens have nazi origins blah blah blah.
While this is completely untrue, it is much easier to trace the philosophical and political roots of the singular Author of this blog Jenifer Marohasy. According to multiple sources (start with wikipedia) She is (or was) a “senior fellow” at one of Australia’s most right-wing pro-business and anti-green think tanks – The Institute of Public Affairs. She is well connected to all the right wing so-called intelligentsia, and has long been considered to be at the forefront of dishonest anti-green propaganda, while pretending to be environmentally concerned. See for example the famous debacle of her work denying there is any environmental problem with the Murray river, which was found to be funded by the irrigation industry. Her work fighting The Wilderness Society also illustrates the pattern of dishonesty.
I have no problem with discussing policy issues related to the Australian Greens, indeed much of it can always do with a polish up, and as the science comes in we can all learn more. But Jenifer Marohasy is not doing this, she is simply pure right-wing evil.
The title of this blog post is defining the greens – not the AEF which has already defined itself as fundamentally different from other Australian-based green groups.
OK, accept green is a broad category, in fact have accepted this repeatedly in last two blog posts on this subject.
But, nevertheless, can we work out what the broad category represents in essence. What fundamentally do greens, as defined broadly by the Australian Greens, believe in?
PS Or are the Greens best defined by what they reject – making them in essence a protest movement? I don’t think so.
You end your rather long rant with comment suggesting that the Australian Greens learn from science … can you please elaborate? How does science inform policy?
Well they AEF surely has only defined itself as a counterpoint to specific green agendas.
You don’t have a broad scale policy outline. Well that I can see.
I imagine the first places we’d look to define the Australian Greens philosophical position is their web site, previous campaigns and voting patterns in the parliament.
I see the Greens today are highlighting alcopops, asylum seekers and ABC learning centres amongst other mainstream and not so mainstream enviro issues.
But is that what green Australians really think/believe?
As it is their votes and increasing dissatisfaction with major parties that you need to worry about.
Green Davey says
A most interesting thread. Being a romantic myself, I must applaud Ann’s defence of that aspect of human thought. Was that a Swedish haiku?
On another thread, a couple of us suggested a taxonomy of the green genus, and provisionally identified four species, ranging from salt-of-the-earth farmers and foresters, to political weasels, who could not lie straight in bed. As in any taxonomy, there is endless scope for splitting and lumping.
In another forum I have suggested that universities need to offer a tripos (three legged stool) of humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. This might bring us all together in trying to find our place in both the natural and social worlds.
As a romantic humanist, Ann can write her haiku. Luke can happily embrace his version of natural science, replete with dodgy models. Louis Hissink might have a very different version of natural science. I suspect that farmer (?) Ian Mott has a deeply practical economic streak, and economics claims to be the queen of the social sciences.
Although Luke, Ian and Louis may deny it, they are all, in my opinion, ‘greens’, in the sense that they feel strongly about both nature and society. The problem is that a few weasels claim to be ‘The Greens’, and the historical and psychological link to totalitarian propaganda and politics is quite clear in that direction. See Simon Schama’s Landscape and Memory.
Me? I’ll just keep picking up rubbish and planting trees and shrubs. I’m even kind to magpies, possums, and bandicoots.
Jen, you wrote,
“So no analsysis … just more emotion and inuendo (sic).
And I’m guessing you claim to be some sort of scientist.
Why won’t you engage in a rational discussion on this issue of what environmentalists believe in? What exactly are you frightened of?”
Ive lost the logic again. Is it relevant whether or not I am a scientist, particularly for discussing beliefs of environmentalists. I rather fancied I had had a go at a bit of a rational typology of the 40 shades of green, so there you go.
I had an emotional think of what it is I am frightened of and all I came up with was the demise of noblesse oblige.
You give the impression, from your many comments at this blog, that you value a rational and logical approach to issues, at least that you like order. So, tell us something about why you are an environmentalist taking to the extent possible, a rational and logical approach to your explaination. Please.
Green Davey says
P.S. I think I have made it plain in the past that I believe that Aborigines managed bushfire more intelligently than we do. By so doing survived through considerable past climate change. I suspect this puts me in conflict with ‘The Greens’ – some of them even write nasty things about me in the newspaper, or stuff their fingers in their ears and say daft things like ‘little is known about Aboriginal burning’. Intelligent use of fire is a major issue in maintaining green, healthy, diverse bush, rather than a scorched desert. We true ‘greens’ know that.
Jen, you invite me to:
“Tell something about why you are an environmentalist taking to the extent possible, a rational and logical approach to your explaination. Please.”
You are right, it is hard to be rational and logical because it is essentially about beliefs and values and the good news is socities have changed over the last four decades. But I was working in conservation-related areas before then. So my approach is pretty much common sense about a “do no harm’ conservation attitude to the natural environment. All very well until I take stock of my many impacts from my activities as a typical enough consumer and disposer. So I have spent a little of the last few decades thinking and acting on ways that the free market might do a better job, just as I used to think it did a fair job on the economy generally. I find it hard to generalise, but I do see the free market having no chance on air and water environments. I always see regulation by government as a last resort as there is too much evidence of regulation capture made worse by massive donations to political parties. And government failure is an issue. They stuffed up irrigation pricing about a century ago in many countries. So yes, I am a mere pragmatist, an optimistic cynic on how to resolve environmental problems. You have to look at each issue on its merits but if you wanted to generalise about environmentalists a good place to start is a classification is to whether they are inherently biased to either free market or other approach.
Ann Novek says
Glad that you care about magpies Davey:))))! I had one magpie patient yesterday….
Ann Novek says
Davey , the romantic rhyme was not a Swedish one, actually I read it from a commercial ad for Australian wine, Annie’s Lane;)!
Thin King Man; I like your style and your substance; there is, along with other undesirable qualities, a strong strain of expedient non-conformity amongst greens; simply put they vilify the social framework which makes their denial of modern existence possible; a reverence for nature is a thoroughly decadent condition; the elitists, like Glen Albrecht, Clive Hamilton, Monbiot and other prominent greens/alternatives, who disparage consumerism, materialism and estrangment from the true path of natural rhythm, are well known for their hypocrisy because they utilise all the mod-cons of modernity in spreading their message of rejection of these accoutrements. They are also misanthropes; they all subscribe to the Erhlich view of Malthusian doom and now have a voice in the Whitehouse in the form of Holdren.
All that is good and decent and civilized in life has come from asserting an anthropogenic primacy over nature and its dictates. Various descriptions of the psychology behind the denial of this and the worship of nature have promulgated; self-loathing extrapolated to the rest of humanity; return to the womb syndrome; cultism; authoritarianism; totemism; misonewism. personally I like the philosophy that humans and animals are equal as a possible explanation for why humanity should be subjugated to natural process; from this mental jaundice comes all sorts of delightful abberations; vegetarianism, PETA and high rates of starvation in India while productive lifestock roams the streets befouling all and sundry. Given all this it never ceases to astound me that people vote for the greens, a party which by definition puts people last.
I’m rather sick of the verdant greens and azure blues of nature and all the rest of the fearful symmetry; give me a black rose or the colours of the LASER [irony, remember little will] anytime.
Green Davey says
Oh Ann! A loaf of bread, a flask of wine, and thou beside me in the wilderness! (Preferably wholemeal bread, organically grown wine, and a wilderness without polar bears, tigers, crocodiles, death adders, spiky bushes etc.) We greens must stick together against those terrible rednecks – er, actually, I thought rooinek was the Afrikaans word for an Englishman, or am I confused (again)… I must go, my magpie is demanding (vegan) breakfast. Might try a cucumber sandwich.
Whilst it should be self evident that we all have an interest in maintaining biodivesity to understand the political movement that has captured the role to ‘defend the environment’ perhaps the words of two Tasmanian greens, one an academic (influencing our kids), the other a fiction and propaganda writer (influencing our adults), can best describe the green political movement:
Pete Hay and Richard Flanagan in 1995 made the following observations:
Flanagan: “I’ve always had this sense of the seventies being the age of great dreams … great nationalist dreams. Is that right Hazy? Things are much smaller now aren’t they?”
Hay: “Whitlam has been belittled by history and that’s unfortunate because Whitlam symbolised huge aspirations. Aspirations that were nationalist and cultural….
Hay: “And as for you and me, we’re the Pariah Dog Party.”
Flanagan: “Watermelon Greens, Hazy.”
Hay: “Watermelon Greens mate.”
Flanagan: Green on the outside, red on the inside.”
Hay: “The difficulty is, as my wife who is pretty astute has pointed out, watermelons are mushy and soft and insubstantial….”
Jen; true greens are able to read the signs of change, both positive and negative by themselves i.e. without help from some group or organisation, e.g. Peter Cundall
Are you an intune with nature? And what exactly does that mean?
Jeremy C says
You asked of Gavin,
“Are you an intune with nature? And what exactly does that mean?”
I couldn’t find where Gavin had used ‘intune with nature’ so I have to ask why are you asking a question of something you wrote?
I’m simply curious. Gavin wrote “about reading the signs” and made mention of “Peter Cundall”. Mr Cundall promotes organic gardening and I think, happy to be corrected, talks about being intune with nature and the seasons etcetera.
Gavin, I think, grew up in rural Tasmania, and this might be the type of language he grew up with … it goes with “reading the signs” don’t you think?
Do you agree with Gavin, that “true greens are able to read the signs of change, both positive and negative”?
I certainly don’t agree with Gavin, and I’m a green! I’m certain that there are some people who are very in tune with nature and can read the signs – either through sheer fluke of perception they have genetically inherited, or through cultural immersion in nature (which could just be a result of genetics), or through simply having lived on the land and just learned to recognise a pattern. I’m also certain that those people slot in to all sorts of political persuasions. But on the whole I think it is related to recognising physical evidence that others simply are unaware of – rather than some sort of connection to a spirit realm or the mother earth or whatever.
Jeremy C says
As you said earlier in this thread that things can only be framed from an ideological perspective any answer I give on ‘signs’ (or signs and wonders) will only be interpreted as such and so no use at all.
Yes, And being explicit about this “physical evidence” can progress understanding.
But don’t you mean, in the first sentence, “do agree” with Gavin?
Bazza et al,
Commonsense is a funny thing. What did Einsten say, its about our prejudices?
My very early years were spent on a small landholding south of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia – my parents grew vegetables, pasture seed and ran buffalo.
We left when I was just seven, to pull a caravan around Australia. I went back there a few years ago and found the waterhole where we used to swim as children. But it was overgrown with bamboo. I asked the old woman who now lives there why they had let it become overgrown and didn’t they swim there anymore. She laughed and said you couldn’t swim in the creek because of the crocodiles.
When I returned to Brisbane I asked Dad about the crocodiles. I asked were they a problem when we lived there? Why had I not be concerned about them when swimming in the waterhole as a child? He replied that they were freshwater crocodiles not a real problem, but he would shoot any that took up residence in our waterhole anyway.
And Gavin would probably consider my father someone who could read the signs.
PS So how does one reconcile the importance Gavin attaches to “reading the signs” with Bazza’s ideas about “no harm”?
Um…. no. Gavin said “true greens are able to read the signs of change… by themselves”. I don’t agree – my evidence being that I’m a true green and I have no special ability to read nature, signs, or whatever. Why do you think I mean I agree with him?
Why do you need to reconcile two different individual’s thoughts?
So, can they both be correct, or doesn’t it matter because they are just thoughts?
I could say that although I have never called myself green, it probably helps if one was once a keen gardener, farmer, fisherman or forester to be “in tune with nature” and sure, most of my early contacts were well grounded in one or more of these most serious endeavours.
From the business side, banking, building, manufacturing, mining, retailing, trade and transport its sometimes much harder to put people back into the landscape along with other native things we still desire so we struggle on with the jargon of the day. Labels are too convenient.
Recycling must be another measure. Dumping by any society of say their waste over the nearest back fence is a primary measure of who is not green today.
Jen – of course if you really want to push the definitional envelope – how do we feel about restoration ecology or terra-forming new functional landscapes.
i.e. tree strips – the pitch might be same grass production due to less wind run (and therefore evapotranspiration), reduced water table, biodiversity enhancer, carbon sink, extra woodlot income?
But management more complex?
So are you a natural systems at all cost type of greenie or could you entertain a mixed purpose bio-engineered system. Are they philosophically kosher?.
And of course you could engineer grazing landscapes that may be sustainable (like wall to wall swards of spear grass) yet totally biodiversity impoverished.
Green Davey says
MattB and Jennifer,
A German philosopher, Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002) suggested the metaphor of ‘fusion of horizons’. Two people, on the same spot, back to back, will have different views and thoughts. They may argue bitterly – it’s ocean – no, it’s mountains…the sky is cloudy – no, it’s blue… a slight turn of the head by each might resolve the matter.
I am greatly encouraged by the diversity of views expressed on this thread, with little ranting dogma or abuse. Australian philosophy on what it means to be ‘green’ is developing. We must not let it be decided by ‘The Greens’ alone. Priesthoods are always dodgy, because nobody knows more about God than anyone else. Scepticism is healthy. Thanks, Jen, for raising this fundamental issue.
Flavian Hardcastle says
[quote]According to George Megalogenis writing in the Weekend Australian neither the “right” nor the “left” in Australia can now win power without the support of the Greens. [/quote]
Well that’s just flat wrong for a start. When do the Liberals ever receive Greens preferences?
About the only time it happens is when the Greens do a split ticket, and that’s only ever in seats where it’s not likely to make a difference to the outcome anyway.
Ann Novek April 15th, 2009 at 11:03 pm
mentioned a possible conflict between bird-fancying environmentalists and wind-energy environmentalists. There may be a way to resolve the apparent squabble with a technological fix: the Mamikon Spinner design for windmill blades. Preliminary research suggests that birds don’t like Spinners, and that they would be less likely to attempt a shortcut through a Spinner than through a conventionally designed windmill blade. More research is needed to determine the relative efficiency of Spinners. At the moment, there’s ongoing litigation between Mamikon and a company that may be interested in marketing his design; so commercial, off-the-shelf windmill Spinners are still vaporware. Here’s a link to an article about the technical aspects of Mamikon Spinners.
Jeremy C: ‘BTW. I really liked how Lazlo was able to put greenery people, Malthus, the Puritans and Mao in the same basket. Very original and entertaining but just underlines what I am saying.’
Malthus: like Ehrlich, Holdren etc – the Population Bomb.
Puritans: we know better than you, your ways are evil and you must change – stop using airconditioners, cars, planes etc
Mao: totalitarian – Jim Hansen and democracy “isn’t working”
Do you start to get the picture?
Louis Hissink says
I though a Puritan was someone who was concerned that someone else was having some fun or pleasure, but the sense of your description seems to fit this intepretation.
Louis Hissink says
Your metaphor is much like the three blind fakirs and the elephant parable, when the first, on holding the elephant’s trunk announced it to be a python. No, no, exclaimed the second blind fakir, while holding onto the elephant’s leg, I am telling you, it is a tree we have here. Then at the rear of the elephant we finally hear No, no, both of your are very wrong, as he holds onto the elephant’s tail, I am telling both of you that we have a lion.
This parable highlights the errors that happen when we become too specialised in our interpretion of nature, and is the hallmark of the deductive method when used in the absence of empirical data.
Take the simple statement : The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
This is an objective fact.
However some interlocutors will seriously question this observation and insist that it is the earth which rotates causing the illusion of the Sun rising in the east and that the previous statement is thus wrong.
In one sense the interlocutor is correct, but only in a strict physical sense, but in terms of the original observation, quite irrelevant for what was not under discussion was the mechanism producing the illusion but the fact of simple observation.
It seems to me, from personal experience, that Greens, perhaps those of a more intense hue than normal, think llike the interlocutor two paragraphs above. I would suggest that what we might be witnessing is another difference in epistemology between Aristotle and Plato, or his successor Socrates (bearing in mind that Socrates had to commit suicide for losing an argument).
But the fact remains that the sun is observed to rise in the east, as presently defined, and if asked, any observant individual would answer the question correctly by pointing to the position along the observed horizon of the Earth.
It’s when we discover contradictions to this fact in historical documents or portrayals of celestial observations on the ceiling or walls of old monuments, care must be taken not to dismiss those observations as errors, and therefore “primitive” misinterpretations of present assumed “facts”.
I don’t think that Oliver Cromwell took over England because he was ‘concerned’. He had a jihadist zeal to control people. Now AKA greenism..
Jeremy C says
In running with ignorance you are just displaying your prejudices. Go and look up the Puritans perhaps start at wikipedia. Puritans and aircon – now that comment gave me a belly laugh.
If you just continue with your ignorance then other people will be able to control you.
From the above diatribe masquerading as an informed opinion…
“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.”
So the air, water and numerous resources we require to actually live` are not actually, in fact, our life support system?
Looks and smells a lot more absolute crap.
Continues to amaze how bloody minded ignorance passes for wisdom in these parts.
The consolation of course is that your need to rubbish on about all this, reflects the real growing movement towards the Greens fairer, more informed and realistic understanding of the place of contemporary human life and culture, in current circumstance.