The Dying of Die Grunen and the Birth of the Bioregional State: Shortcomings of Limiting Sustainability Strategies to a Single Co-optable Party
The Dying of Die Grunen and the Birth of the Bioregional State: The Shortcomings of Limiting Sustainability to a Single Co-optable Informal Party, when the Majority of the Political Spectrum Already Supports Green Politics
Just another gatekeeping informal party is a non-solution. It is important to work for novel more geo-specific institutions themselves and a more competitive party framework that would innately reflect wider ecological self-interest without being artificially bundled into a single informal party.
As I argue in Toward a Bioregional State, ecological salvation through any singular informal party is unlikely, given more competitive parties are the only check on unsustainable gatekeeping and the political corruption involved in environmental degradation. The German Greens, known as Die Grunen, seem to show this lack of capacity for serving ecological salvation from the moment they gained slight power in Germany and started to loose their original principles, demographic support, and many policies--toward greencoating an unsustainable arrangement.
The idea of moving a singular political party into the state and then reorienting the state from only that singular political party basis is a faulty model of sustainable change. Instead, the state should be reoriented first to generate a more competitive party framework to remove the gatekeeping of any party--because the grand majority of the population supports a combination of green sentiment in many countries worldwide.
While hardly denying some of the agenda of Die Grunen has been achieved (regarding phasing out nuclear power for instance), most of their agenda is increasing receeding into past history and a strange hollowed out Die Grunen has become the novel succubus housing increasingly unsustainable policies and pre-existing clientelism.
Instead, third/fourth parties should take a hint from Bolivia. Almost the sole aim of third/fourth parties should currently be concentrating as a team on constitutional change and formal institutional change issues to make a more competitive arrangement for democracy among parties to remove pre-existing corrupt gatekeeping, instead of simply joining a pre-existing gatekeeping along a novel ideological strategic axis. That only maintains ongoing corruption of democracy as the "German Greens" seem quite confident in doing.
Third/fourth parties should concentrate on creating a more competitive party democracy formally, and one more in-sync with reflecting voter concerns from particular environmental areas. Why? Because in terms of available polls, the majority is already green, instead of relegated toward a minority party participation.
The Dying of Die Grunen...
A recent story or two (or three) about the Green Party in Germany can be an object lesson concerning what the bioregional state avoids and what characterizes the difference of its approach of a path to sustainability, than simply expecting a novel informal political party moving into the state will get to sustainability.
It's endlessly fascinating, like a slow moving tragedy with the expected outcome already known, to watch the German Greens self-destruct and get co-opted. Die Grunen has just started exhibiting neo-liberalist sentiment in Germany:
The document was developed under the auspices of Fritz Kuhn and Matthias Berninger, the former state secretary of the Green Party environmental and consumer protection minister, Renate Künast. Other authors included several Green Party bundestag (federal parliament) deputies who in the past were linked to business-friendly policies.
Gerhard Schick, at 34 the youngest author, came directly to the Greens from a neo-liberal think tank. He attained a doctorate in political economy and worked at the Walter Eucken Institute and the Free-Market Foundation, and more recently worked as a project manager for the Bertelsmann Foundation. Walter Eucken was the joint founder of so-called ordo-liberalism, the German variant of neo-liberalism. According to experts, the Free-Market Foundation is financed by the engineering employers and some manufacturing families. According to Ulrich Müller of "Lobby Control," it provides ideas for the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the Liberal Democrats (FDP). The Bertelsmann Foundation is one of the largest lobbying groups for German big business, with influence in all fields of policy, and in particular in educational policy.
The Greens' new economic programme is a further step towards a government coalition....When the first draft was presented, party head Fritz Kuhn already said that his party would "prioritise" economic policy...[T]he most senior Green, Joschka Fischer [starting as a revolutionary worker organizer],...no longer wastes his time with Green Party conference wranglings, but speaks directly [to transnational corporations and bankers]....The recently published bundestag report on parliamentary deputies' supplementary earnings records that in 2006, Fischer gave 12 lectures, earning at least €7,000 apiece (greater sums are not indicated; but the actual fees will no doubt have been far higher). The audience for his lectures were mainly bankers from major players such as Barclays Capital, DWS Investment and the MainFirst Bank.
So in addition to green coating coalition governments in Germany as they did from 1998, where they supported German NATO pre-emptive war on Yugoslavia (simply because of false corporate media stories encouraging mass emotionalism over non-existant mass graves), they are now greencoating neo-liberalism ideologies. The neocons are attempting to jump into Die Grunen, and then use it to out 'neo' the neo-liberals and neocons, by just attempting to carry on the same depradative policies in a novel 'possessed' informal party using novel ideological symbolism to justify the same old thing. They are attempting to get people to believe that sustainability can come from a trickle down theory of crumbs off the corporate or bankers table? That has not worked before.
Several specific examples of others using the Green Party to greenwash pre-existing unsustainability can be see in  the mere concern over symbolic politics of putting Joschka Fischer, head of a minority party, in the Vice Chancellor position in 1998 while actual power was kept away from them;  Die Grunen's near total support for German NATO pre-emptive warfare on Yugoslavia led by Bill Clinton's attack on it; as well as the recent  Die Grunen lambasting of anti-war peace parades (one of their foundation principles), certainly because it such peace parades reflects badly on "Die Grunen, AG" as they lose their original principles.
Despite the tiny percentages, they were getting into a situation where they were promoted to greenwash the still unsustainable arrangement, greencoating it, instead of working toward systemic change:
In 1998, despite a slight fall in their percentage of the vote (6.7%), the Greens retained 47 seats and joined the federal government for the first time in coalition with the Social Democrats.  Joschka Fischer became vice chancellor and foreign minister in the new government, which had two other Green ministers (Andrea Fischer, later Renate Künast, and Jürgen Trittin).  Almost immediately, the party was plunged into a crisis by the question of German participation in the NATO actions in Kosovo. Numerous anti-war party members resigned their party membership when the first deployment of German troops in a military conflict abroad occurred under a Green government, and the party began to experience a long string of defeats in local and regional elections. Disappointment with the Green participation in government increased when anti-nuclear-power activists realized that shutting down the country's nuclear plants would not happen overnight,...In 2001, the party [once more greencoating war] experienced a further crisis as some Green Members of Parliament refused to back the government's plan of sending soldiers to help with the 2001 U.S. Attack on Afghanistan. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (Chancellor 98-05) called a vote of confidence, tying it to his strategy on the war. [Only] [f]our Green MPs and one Social Democrat voted against the government, but Schröder was still able to command a [Green] majority [support for his war]. On the other side, a major success of the Greens as a governing party, was in 2000, the decision to phase-out the use of nuclear energy. Jürgen Trittin as the Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, reached an agreement with energy companies on the gradual shut down of the country's nineteen nuclear power plants and a cessation of civil usage of nuclear power by 2020. This was enacted as the Nuclear Exit Law.
To German Greens: your ideas are fine. Your methods of party support are delusional. Die Grunen have become the neocons. So, you get the irony of German Greens promoting the demotion of nuclear power in Germany--while encouraging German and U.S. depleted uranium war pollution across two separate countries of Yugoslavia and Afghanistan-- that never attacked Germany. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether this is heinously self-defeating given the long run of nuclear material half-lives compared to the short half-lives of individual Green parties.
Die Grunen is additionally greencoating the neo-fascist, corrupt from top to bottom, corporatist monopoly run European Union by participating in the European Parliament. (To understand what I'm talking about, it is important to see the EU and Codex Alimentarius videos at that link).
As Die Grunen has moved against an explicitly politically integrative program of people's local bioregional concerns for health, ecology, and sustainable economics toward one that only appeals to 'green' from the point of view of corporate monopoly, their grass roots base is vanishing and turning into a 'green corporatist business party' only:
The Intrafest Dimap political research company has suggested the Green voter demographic includes those on higher incomes (e.g. above €2000/month) and the party's support is less among households with lower incomes. The same polling research also concluded that the Green's received fewer votes from the unemployed and general working population, with business people favouring the party as well as the Free Democratic Party.*
In general, the main examples of why the bioregional state's solutions of formal institutional change, openly first, is arguably the only route to sustainability is the poor performance of parties of green or libertarian bent despite supermajorities supporting their forms of formally devolutionary politics and local prioritization. Formal institutional change--openly first instead of a mere concern with a party formation--is important because of current formal blocks on party competition and political access for the full electorate. In other words, merely another informal party--without formal institutional changes toward a more competitive democracy first--only end up looking like the German Greens. By 2007 in Germany, Die Grunen leadership has even started to attack peace marches:
Reinhard Bütikofer, who along with Claudia Roth is co-leader of the [German] Greens, expressly defended Germany's international military missions [despite militarism being against the Green Party’s foundation platform of ten points]....German peace groups recently organized their traditional "Easter March" against war and militarism. This year, the protests were centered on the Iraq war and the expansion of the German military mission in Afghanistan. Leading Green Party politicians, whose parliamentary group had voted for the deployment of the Luftwaffe (Air Force) in the south of Afghanistan, have now attacked those organising the Easter Marches....Franziska Eichstädt-Bohlig, the leader of the Green Party parliamentary group in the Berlin city legislature, derided the Easter Marches as "not a contemporary form of anti-war protest." The peace marches have decayed into "a ritual," which was only directed against war, but offered no "differentiated and positive answers" to complex and contradictory situations. World conflicts could not be solved by "disarmament alone." The world was more complicated than just "for or against peace," said Eichstädt-Bohlig. This is pure war propaganda. In reality, the NATO troops in Afghanistan provide just as little protection for "democracy" as the American troops that are occupying Iraq. They are protecting the puppet regime of [Chevron lobbyist and royalist connected] Hamid Karzai, who came to power through the US military and is subservient to the imperialist powers. Karzai's influence does not extend beyond Kabul, and popular resistance to his regime is constantly growing. In order to support Karzai, the German Armed Forces are working in the north of the country with local warlords and drug barons. The warlords' trade in weapons and drugs is tolerated, and in return, the warlords agree not to undertake any action against the weak central government. Last year in Afghanistan, more opium was produced than ever before....The open attack by the Greens on the pacifists organizing the Easter Marches (the Network of Peace-cooperatives) marks a new stage in the party's turn to the [warmongering delimited 'business green'] right. Since they entered the German government in 1998 and Green leader Joschka Fischer took over responsibility for foreign policy, the Greens have abandoned their former pacifist views and become enthusiastic proponents of international military deployments. But they had always tried to retain the pacifists within their ranks, at least by making various verbal concessions. That is no longer the case. Now, the Greens are attacking the peace movement in a way that in the past would have been expected only from the Christian Democrats (Rippert 2007).The irony should hardly be lost on any international observer: Germany's first international pre-emptive military attacks on other countries since WWII were greenwashed by Die Grunen and still are to this day.
Instead of peace marches being "mere rituals," as the novel hierarchical, warmongering Die Grunen 'business party' attempted to claim above to justify their warmongering, the actual ritual is believing that any party regardless of its proclaimed "promised ideology," is going to aid us moving toward sustainability. We worldwide mostly live in broken formal institutional frameworks of democracies run by massive corruption that is only going to get worse with the artificial green coating. Only formal institutional democratic change first can ameliorate this, instead of voting for another party. Corruption and environmental degradation go hand in hand, just as more representative competitive party democracy and sustainability go hand in hand.
A more competitive party framework will innately let the ecological self-interest of the massive supermajority of voters who hold to "green values" work itself out. Then any and all parties will sort themselves out based on this supermajority instead of a gatekept framework of corruption, lies, and degradation--human and environmental.
...and the Birth of the Bioregional State
Is there another route against simply forming another informal party, and waiting for it to be co-opted as well? I think so.
To reiterate the above, as I mentioned in Toward a Bioregional State, ecological salvation through any singular informal party is unlikely. The German Greens seem to show this in such policies above. The idea of moving a singular political party into the state and then reorienting the state is a faulty model of sustainable change. Instead, the state should be reoriented first to generate a more competitive party framework to remove the gatekeeping seen above.
What is required is a more competitive party framework in general, which will AUTOMATICALLY and more durably work toward making all parties integrate a huge agreement on policy input concerns (noted in the summary of the polls below). The 'world has gone green', and it is a mistake to think that it can all fit within one singular party as the vehicle for change (for instance the almost immediate split between Die Grunen and the Ecological Democratic Party in 1982; that branch seems far more interested in formal institutional change, for instance, instead of serving as the latest greencoating for the same old unsustainable warmongering corporate fascism.)
If you want a plurality of specific local solutions as predominant, then you are required to support a context that encourages a plurality of parties, instead of a singular party and instead of a 'one size green fits all' centralized solution alone. From polls, it is wholly artificial to isolate green sentiment to only one party--when green sentiment occurs throughout the political spectrum.
In the United States, from two separate polls, around 77%-80% of the U.S. population want their environmental laws enforced and strengthened. This is a massive center sentiment expressed from people who vote Republican and Democrat, according to the poll. However, the elite parties that attempt to appeal to them gatekeep against this green majority sentiment completely.
Green views are those of the people at large--on issues of health, ecology, and economy. The people are undivided in this sentiment. Only the elites wish to keep them divided. Note these polls and their massive green center:
Majority (65%) of Americans want single-payer health care; willing to pay more taxes to get it. --- In ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll, 3 point margin, Americans by a 2-1 margin, 62-32 percent, prefer universal health insurance program over current employer-based system. 78% dissatisfied with cost of nation's health care, including 54% "very" dissatisfied. Most Americans...54%...now dissatisfied with overall quality of health care in U.S.--first majority in 3 polls since 1993, up 10 points since 2000. --- Public wants government to play leading role in providing health care for all. In the same poll, by almost a two-to-one margin (62% to 33%), Americans said that they preferred a universal system that would provide coverage to everyone under a government program, as opposed to current employer-based system. Slightly different question asked by Kaiser, June '03: more than 7 in 10 ten adults (72%) agreed government should guarantee health insurance for all citizens even if it means repealing most tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush--less than one-quarter (24%) disagreed with this. --- Americans overwhelmingly agree access to health care should be a right. In 2000, as in 1993, 8 in 10 agreed health care be provided equally to citizens; over half agreed “strongly” or “completely.” In 2004, 76% agreed strongly or somewhat that health care should be a right.
***The majority (77%)*** think we should do "whatever it takes" to protect environment. --- In another poll, reported in The Ecologist, ***upwards of 80%*** of the U.S. with little difference between left or right want their environmental laws seriously enforced, as well as strengthened.
[This is the issue that many of the people who 'vote right' may be more interpersonally conservative (like the Ecological Democracy Party in Germany) though have the same social policies and weigh in 'on the left' on the health, ecology, and economy issues.]
The majority (86 percent) favor raising the minimum wage. The majority (60%) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. --- The majority (87%) think big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. --- The majority (66%) want to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.
This is the massive green center. The 'left/right' thing is fictive and has totally broken down when left and right PARTY elites both have moved toward globalized privatization support--including parties in German like Die Grunen as well. Thus as Die Grunen dies, as well as much faith in a singular informal party being the method for sustainability, it still leaves a super-majority agreement for health, ecology, and economy issues festering WORLDWIDE across all nations.
To give voters choices, as well as to force elites to compete to represent the voters, it is important to have a wide array of multiple parties so that any and all parties are reflective of many different geo-specific localities. A more competitive party framework encourages all parties to sculpt themselves to represent the above massively supported policies.
The bioregional state would make the state itself green, instead of limited to a singular co-optive party, and then leave it up to the people themselves how to orient sustainability for their areas.
Examples and Strategies
What would be an example of this green state? For instance, to encourage a more bioregionally sound political feedback into state developmental policies, watershed districting would directly reflect people's geo-specific concerns--instead of yet another co-opted party and gerrymander arrangement that attempts to demote competitive parties. Dismantling gerrymandered districts in states via referendums--in the states that have it--would be another option. This is one of around 60 different ecological checks and balances added to formal democracy, in the book.
Other routes toward the green state instead of a co-optable green party are the watershed level institutions mentioned here: the commodity ecology frameworks as well as the civil democratic institutions.
In the United States, a third route would be toward state referendums that could institute proportional representation in that State's Electoral College vote, which can be done state by state to generate a more competitive party framework and a more accurate reflection of the demographics of a State's Presidential Vote. See the book for more elaboration on this point.
Following the principles already outlined in the bioregional state, a fourth route would be assuring that particular representatives actually are long term residents of the district and/or state they represent. You would be surprised how many shallow (or even non-existent!) long term residency requirements there are for people to 'represent' a particular area. For instance, after 2000, the placeless Hillary Clinton quickly moved to New York City. She never lived in the state in her life. Suddenly, she was running to 'represent New York State' in the federal Senate of the U.S.? Obviously not, regardless.
It additionally, came out that in the potential challenge of Cindy Sheehan against Nancy Pelosi, that under current U.S. laws such as they are, that neither would necessarily have to live in the district to run in it in California law?
Sheehan said she lives in a Sacramento suburb but declined to disclose which city, citing safety reasons. The area is outside Pelosi's district, but there are no residency requirements for congressional members, according to the California secretary of state's office.*The bioregional state solution already formulated in the book is in the text of the Constitution of Sustainability. Excerpted here:
The years of residence requirements in the particular district are of course tied to the length of being a representative and senator. It only makes sense that they at least live in the area at least as long as they claim to be about to represent it! However, currently, the U.S. in many cases does not have a way to make sure that its representative elites actually come from a particular area and are familiar with it and tied to it for a durable long term stay. The bioregional state assures its local leadership is truly drawn from a particular geographic area instead of an 'foreign import' like Hillary Clinton (or equally like New England's Bush family claiming they are 'from Texas.' Both are equally lying to you, though in their group lies they do have a lot in common, right? Look how cosy they are:
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the Constitution of Sustainability, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States associated with the Constitution of Sustainability, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of eighteen Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the Constitution of Sustainability, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State or watershed in which he shall be chosen for a period less than two years for watersheds, and six years for states.
With Bush/Clinton families 'high teas' and tee-offs like that, both are the U.S. examples of the same unsustainable policies no one wants co-opting informal parties. "Ms. Impeachment is off the Table," gatekeeper Representative Pelosi, seems another plant with some of the same affiliations. (Her father was in U.S. Military Intelligence in WWII, working closely with Lucky Luciano's Mafia (as both were 'allies' in U.S. Military Intelligence, stemming from the invasion of Sicily and other projects). If you are a U.S. citizen, and you still plan to vote Democrat or Republican in 2008, know that regardless of which party wins it will be a continuation of the same neocon neo-crime policies. Vote change entirely: ignore these people.
And given the current approval ratings of the Democratic Congress at below 30%, it is just like Bush's approval rating at below 25%. People are finally coming to understand turning over the same counterfeit coin to the other side is hardly a solution.
This is why public election funds are increasing in popularity. It is featured in the bioregional state, and it was noted in Maine in a previous post.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
REPORT: Voter Owned Elections in Maine via Clean Election Fund, Echos Bioregional State Ideas, And It Works
It works so well that the Corporate DemocratsTM are attempting to defund it to remove competitive elections!
A sixth way to green the state would be toward paper based voting, ballots, and paper based auditability. The scanning machines as well can be a source of corruption, so simultaneous hand counts should be conducted of all ballots. The bioregional state integrates paper ballots in the Constitution of Sustainability:
In the interest of a competitive party environment for democratic elections, where candidates are potentially independent of private capital for the launching and maintaining of campaigns or their content, all Local, State, and Federal Elections shall be publicly funded. Additionally, see Article II, Section 18.
No where are private public relations personnel or advertising personnel to be employed by the local, state, or federal governments, or funded by the local, state, or federal governments. The government itself is already public relations incarnate and can speak for itself to the people.
In all political party campaigns for office, political parties shall be prohibited from appointing personnel to their informal party administration of an election campaign from any simultaneously incumbent personnel in power in a state. [Bush did this during vote fraud in 2000 (Katherine Harris, FL) and 2004 (in Ohio).]
Complete transparency and paper-based auditability of the entire voting infrastructure in local, state, and federal elections shall be maintained as a public jurisdictional issue.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
There should additionally be an avoidance of 'calling elections' before the full vote is counted, even if it takes days. There is lots of corruption in calling the election, and then going back and muddying up the actual records to match how it was called on TV. This is according to the excellent book Votescam, which I recommend everyone read. One of the clearer ways to avoid what the Collier's describe is to entirely remove pre-calls which are the source of such corruption and collusion between corrupt politicians and the media.
In the picture of the Statue of Liberty above, it is appropriate that it has turned green with age, same as how the understanding of the importance of green politics becomes increasingly clear with age. We can muddle through the informal party hubristic details later, if the green state is sound in its additional ecological checks and balances on power corruption. Though if the building is unsound as it is presently, nothing can save it from facilitating environmental degradation and its own self-destruction.
Individual informal parties will be unable to get you to sustainability. Only learning to adjust the green state will do so.