Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fresh Shoots from a Dead Tree: The Bioregional State Compared and Contrasted to Green and Libertarian Ideologies, Pt. 2/4

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("Do you think they will notice that nothing changes if merely an informal Green Party achieves some power?" "Shhhh, my Red-Blue friend. Let them 'compete.' We will make a Green proxy we can wrap ourselves in to utilize for the same degradative policy, and it will delegitimate them despite the whole world supporting them instead of us." "Brilliant.")
Section Two: Unable to Get Around Gatekeeping Parties with Only a Strategy of Other Singular Parties

This is a continuation from part one.

There have been several previous posts about how singular parties as a SOLE method of approach have a poor track record in getting to sustainability. [1] [2]). From a previous post:

"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."

However, as noted before:

"I do support various forms of green parties however just without expecting that the model of political change for sustainability can ever be achieved by a singular party...[T]he bioregional state argues that a single informal party is a poor strategy for change to sustainability. A single party can be corrupted like the fading greenness of Die Grunen in Germany (discussed at that link above). Second, a single party it is a poor strategy for sustainability because support for greenness comes from across the left-right spectrum seen in above polls for global supermajorities supporting green politics. This makes a single informal party a poor strategy for mobilizing toward sustainability. It is perhaps ultimately self-defeating and self-divisive of the commonality of views on greenness to attempt to fit 'green' into one party framework."

A more competitive party framework in the beginning is crucial in sustainability instead of reliance on a singular party.

This is achievable through informal and formal change, first, after which the arrangement itself (instead of an individual party) provides checks and balance on political corruption and gatekeeping. This is because with a more competitive election framework, the common geographic self-interest of all populations (regardless of their different ideologies) could shine through. When it shines through, it forces any and all parties in a district to adapt to local conditions to win elections instead of allowing parties in an uncompetitive context to selectively appeal to positions that gatekeep only and tend to support the same degradative policies.

Current democratic procedures perversely reward forms of party as gatekeeper and reward parties that can maintain a lack of competitive elections. They reward party gatekeeping by preserving the political capacity of parties to appeal to small portions of the electorate only, instead of forms of democracy that force all parties to appeal to full electorate in a district to win elections. The latter forces them to endlessly adapt their strategies to suit particular district's interests. The former maintains gatekeeping and environmental degradation.

These current frameworks that encourage environmental degradation reward this lack of competitive strategy for the same voters and reward a lack of flexibility in party appeals. As a result, current frameworks discourage competitive elections pitched by parties to the full electorate, and voters get used to assuming that incomplete appeals are 'normative' to democratic procedure, instead of only normative to corruption of democracy. This keeps voters from understanding that more competitive elections are their only salvation for sustainability--particularly when current contexts of thin 'electoral competition' (of different parties with nearly identical goals) that are based on broken voting mechanisms lead to completely different outcomes than the majority's voting desires. In turn, gatekeeping parties frame blame upon a more competitive party situation when untoward outcomes happen. This is a perverse attribution of blame when the gatekeeping parties and broken democratic voting and districting mechanisms ruin democracy (given these polls) instead of electoral competition.

As said above, political gatekeeping that facilitates environmental degradation and works against sustainability has informal and formal aspects. It even has cultural hegemonic aspects implied above if gatekeeping corrupt parties succeed in convincing people that opposing them leads to strange electoral outcomes causing people to be afraid of more competitive party politics instead of call for more. For instance, there was the runoff of LePen versus Chirac in France several years ago--when no one wanted either. It was an outcome of more competitive party politics washing against a broken democratic formal institutional apparatus unable to handle a more robust democracy successfully or accurately.

Another example would be the media circus that blamed competitive democracy (scapegoat position: third and fourth parties) for strange electoral outcomes of the 2000 Presidential election in the USA. However, it was clearly another issue entirely of vote fraud in Florida for the Republicans that led to Bush instead of it being possible to pin the blame/tail (on the Democratic donkey) to third parties for 'splitting the left', so called, as a useful media scapegoat. Why? According to the Democrats' own internal journal, as mentioned in Toward a Bioregional State, when the Green Party in the USA ran in 2000 for the Presidency, doing so didn't 'take away' from Gore. The Democratic Party's own analysis of the demographics and party competition effects of the 2000 Presidential election noted that the Green Party running added more to Gore than he would have received because Gore had much less people turn out to support him. They only supported him and came out of the quiescent woodwork because it was a more competitive election with choices. Thus a more competitive party situation yields more of the full electorate voting, and nothing more. It did what it was supposed to do except for the vote fraud of course (an issue for part three, next).

Still, barely over 25% of the full electorate supported either Bush or Gore respectively.

Thus half of the electorate even then felt out of touch, and party incentives perversely rewarded these parties for keeping them out of touch.

So it is the issue of changing these informal party incentives to integrate the full electorate instead of only the partial electorate that the bioregional state concentrates upon.

Blaming voters is moot. If you provide parties the proper incentives to appeal to the full electorate, parties will be forced to do so and will find ways to integrate and to compete for the full electorate instead of appeal to only the partial electorate.

What are these party incentives that can be changed? Only two will be elaborated below, one for informal and one for formal. However, the bioregional state has over 60 novel checks and balances to integrate into democracy to make it more accurate and 'in sync' with geographic self-interests of populations.

One of the many informal gatekeeping solutions recommended by the bioregional state is to generate a more fluid informal party competitive structure that innately checks and balances against strategies of appeal to only partial electorates (i.e., lack of representation) in a district. One idea from the book is to provide all parties incentives to compete for the same full electorate to win an election instead of mutually agreeing to specialize in small subsets of voters--and typically in practice being silent on truly big issues like health care, ecology, and economic sustainability supported by supermajorities of the population. Such changed incentives in the bioregional state are provided by 'proportional representation with a majoritarian allotment' (PRMA)--one of many examples from the book.

Another changed incentive from the book that moves away from problematic formal gatekeeping issues in corrupt democracies is how watersheds should be made permanent, formal electoral districts worldwide to put the state in sync with durable local ecological feedback on policy and development instead of allowing gerrymandering (informal corruption in district drawing) to institutionalize an informal bias in the formal structure of the state and to institutionalize environmental degradation by demoting these catchment basins of environmental risk from expressing themselves as a tangible political community into state politics.

With incessant corrupt changes of a district's demographics and geography, it innately goes against this durable ecological self-interest of the people involved--as well as goes against the state's own survival. A concern of reapportionment issues has been raised as a critique to this, though it was already solved. Any reapportionment issues--that are an issue of relative vote weights between districts--could be solved more directly changing the relative weights of the representatives' power instead of indirectly changing the district. Certainly this direct solution is preferable? If reapportionment of representative weights becomes an excuse to gerrymander away permanent geographic self-interest from a particular area, it creates a corrupt cascade of future representational difficulties in the area in question, and it creates party corruption and gatekeeping biases in the very design of the formal state. Elections become biased from the start (and before they start) if districts keep changing. Ongoing gerrymandering only protects incumbency from competitive elections that can unseat its corruption. Ongoing district changes thus encourages corruption.

Gerrmandering destroys the expression of ecological self-interest from particular areas that serves people of the local area and serves the durable ecological existence of the larger state.

In short, all redistricting is a form of gerrymandering if it moves away from something more ecologically tangible. The 'risk catchment area' that all people in an area have in common is supremely tangible and neutral: it is a watershed. The natural way to design a political district is to use the watershed.

Gerrymandering that watershed and separating its population's innate geographic self-interest from state policy debates demotes local interests, demotes voter feedback, demotes party competition, encourages corruption in elections and development directions. Gerrmandering demotes the 'fresh shoots from a dead tree'--that durable demographic expression of ecological self-interest that can only come from a stable district pushing against the dead wood of corruption. As said above, the watershed district is merely a singular example from the book, one among over 60 additional checks and balances in the formal state required for sustainability.


Greens and Libertarians: the Local Wing Versus the National Wing

Another difficulty with mere informal party change as the solution is that the green supermajority is speckled across the 'traditional spectrum understanding' of politics. I will describe below another way to conceive of this spectrum of politics that makes more empirical sense instead of merely an ideological classification tool: the Local Wing versus the National Wing.

The left and right spectrum understanding of state politics is only a convention that there is a definable left and right demographic somehow permanently separate from a state's party structure, since you can only know the left and right from the party expressions that run on particular platforms instead of know the left and right directly. So the whole expectation of left and right entirely depends on parties. And these parties have been mostly of a common National Wing and have had similar solutions and policy approaches for consolidating power instead of decentralizing it. The National Wing has relied a great deal for maintaining these placeless appeals through the mobilization of ideologies. The Local Wing instead has relied on maintaining place-based appeals against the National Wing, and these appeals have been tangible interest driven. Most third parties in the USA for instance that run against the common National Wing are very geographically localized in their support.

I argue that this popular understanding of an ideological spectrum of politics of left and right (instead of a spectrum of politics ranging from National ideological to Local tangible cross-ideological politics) has additionally depended upon a massive amount of corruption and gatekeeping that shielded national left and national right parties from electoral competition and which encouraged environmental degradation. Thus we we have a misaligned conception of political demographic reality.

A closer approximation of what is more demonstrated is a Local Wing versus a National Wing, where the National Wing parties are far more similar than the labels 'right' and 'left' would like to let on, and where the Local Wing represents very particular, tangible, geographic interests. Labels of left and right ideologies upon analysis become meaningless ways to interpret local preferences or political histories. That goes for Nationalist Green or Libertarian ideologies as well--they are National Wing interpretations split across two party ideologies of the more unified Local Wing tangible interests.

Attempting to filter or push this Local Wing (geographic self-interest) into a single ideological party leads to self-demotion of the supermajority support for such motifs before it even begins.

The poor choice of strategy in supporting only singular informal party change causes immediate splintering. Take a listen, libertarians and greens, if you both are concerned about governmental decentralization.

For instance, Spretnak's/Capra's book Green Politics (1986) shows many examples that the movement of 'green' politics has been a combination of green/libertarian sentiment. Thus singular parties themselves are unable to alter unsustainable states. Simply calling this movement 'green' may be a misnomer since its support comes from the right and left, i.e., is unable to be captured in a placeless ideology so treasured by a national party.
”The first Green party was the Values party of New Zealand….It was founded in the late 1960s and presented itself from the very beginning as a true Green party long before the ideas were fashionable, emphasizing not only environmental issues but also [typical 'right wing'] values and spirituality, and situating itself clearly beyond left and right."
This 'party' [sic, more like Local Wing movement] splintered by the 1980s across different left and green factions hardly because there 'were' different factions waiting there and more because the poor strategy in the first place was attempting to be only an informal party movement instead of a formal change movement to promote the Local Wing, institutionally.

(Additionally, in all countries with repressive and uncompetitive first-past-the-post voting frameworks, third parties are demoted due to a combination of incumbent party shenanigans (see the book for examples). Moreover, the cultural hegemony of these parties interprets competitive democracy as 'messing up' their rigged game and even disenfranchised voters can absorb these ruling parties interpretation. However, the only thing messing up the rigged game is the rigged game, instead of competitive democracy.

Another example from the Spretnak and Capra book focuses on Germany. It shows the same widespread decentralization desire and upset from the Local Wing that was so soon attempted to be formed into an ideological National party as 'green' politics--despite drawing from the disenfranchised left and right. When the National ideological green party was formed, it translated into demographic splits in the movement as party organization began to be seen as the main route of change. And this party took some ideologically left positions that splintered the movement instead of concentrating on the cross-ideological issues that started it. This split led to the slow co-option of the larger ideological faction and local cocooning of the other. The result follows from when informal parties were seen as the sole technique toward sustainability.

In other words, step back from assuming a party formation should be the first or only option: there should be a green constitutional engineering movement first as pioneered by the bioregional state. Then competitive democracy will work more seamlessly to express the Local Wing more directly instead of gatekept through ideologically rarified appeals.
“The [German] greens [as well] proposed an integrated approach to the current ecological, economic, and political crises, which they stressed are in real it interrelated and global in nature. They spoke of the "spiritual impoverishment" of industrialized societies. They asked questions that neither of the major parties nor the government could answer and amplified with playful humor the ironies that resulted. Next to the starched white shirts in the assemblies, the greens looked unconventional and their innovative proposals [as the Local Wing] cut through [and rendered moot] the traditional boundaries of left and right [instead of were a recapitulation of either left and right].…[The then-recently elected Greens in Germany] walked through the streets of West Germany's capital on 22nd of March 1983 with a huge rubber globe and a branch of a tree that was dying from pollution in the Black Forest. They entered the lower chamber of their national assembly, the Bundestag, and took seats as the first new party to be elected in more than 30 years. The new parliamentarians insisted on being seated in between the conservative party (Christian Democrats), who sat on the right side of the chamber, and the liberal-left party (Social Democrats). They called themselves simply die Grunen, the Greens." [P. xx-xix]
This so called 'green' movement, closer to a combined green and libertarian movement to be more accurate, when it depended on mere party expression as its strategy it split immediately over interpersonal political interpretations, particularly over feminism and the family. One ideological wing became Die Grunen and the other became the Ecological Democracy Party as mentioned above (in part one).

For a third example, the same happens in other European countries.
“In both Austria and Switzerland there are two Green parties differing in their political positions and unable to merge into one party "beyond left and right." This inability was the main reason why the Austrian Greens failed to pass the critical five-percent hurdle in the 1983 national election.” [p. 176]
That is why formal institutional additions are the better route toward sustainability: to fit the state to the supermajority of ecological self-interest commonalities of localized populations, instead of fit the state to a particular singular limiting ideology. Another previous post on this issue:

“This is only a good example how the seat of any concern over human rights, health, ecology, and economy isn't an ideological issue. It is a geographic issue that appeals to particular geographies, instead of parties.…We should reconceptualize the whole basis of politics here, to take into account the Local Wing versus the National Wing. In the National Wing, they use whatever flavor of the month ideology to gatekeep against the Local Wing."

"The Local Wing is seen when so called 'left' environmentalist and so called 'right' gun rights organizations work together on the local level to create local conservation corridors for wildlife in the Rocky Mountains--while these ideological groups on the national level pretend these issues are enemies of each other. They aren't. The ideologies are. The issues aren't."

For a U.S. example, it is the same with libertarian and green 'parties' working together, on the local level, toward removal of gatekeeping laws stopping a required informal check and balance challenging unrepresentative developmental policies of Democrats and Republicans in a particular area. Meanwhile, they dissociate from each other on the national level. Interesting that, eh?

Another example of 'right-wing environmentalism'--and a serious critique of how misleading and prejudgemental it is to frame this green/libertarian movement that is green politics as only a 'substitute ideological left'--is the book Deeper Shades of Green: The Rise of Blue Collar and Minority Environmentalism in America:
“A new merger of movements is aborning. African-Americans, who had largely ignored much of the environmental movement as irrelevant to their primary social and economic concerns, became increasingly aware that racial discrimination can take the form of environmental injustice. Workers, long accustomed to the adage that jobs are more important than preserving the environment, have discovered that they were often sold a bill of goods....In the process, these groups have found each other. They have become America's newest, most radical, and most committed environmentalists. Radical, not because they adhere to esoteric theories about humankind's ecological crimes against the biosphere, but because they have discovered a mother's passion for true family values when her child's life or health is in danger. Committed, not because they believe deeply in a particular political philosophy, for most come from fairly unremarkable backgrounds, but because they are America's real communitarians. They believe that neighborhoods matter and that government should be in the business of protecting, not destroying, our sense of community.”
That is why the Local Wing--full of people on the left and right--are totally opposed to the neocons (globally) and their health destroying, economic destroying, and environmental destroying policies. For instance:

“The majority [of the U.S.] (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 once more that many of the people who 'vote right' (may be more interpersonally conservative) can have the same common, local, ecological self-interest in social policies and weigh in 'on the left' on the health, ecology, and economy issues for their communities."

That is why the Local Wing of left and right together works toward health care in local states, while the national wing of the Democrats and Republicans maintain environmental degradation policies. The less ideological Local Wing knows how to run society much more sustainably and democratically than the criminal one-party state ideological purists (of the left or right) who are degraders on the national level.

This is why you get the green side increasingly being co-opted by the the state centrists and their corporate partners, and why you get the libertarian side being co-opted by the corporate monopolists--when none of these national backers of these ideologies are doing anything except wrapping themselves in a novel color of party flag without changing their common gray policies.

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In Hawken’s book Blessed Unrest, he notes that the 'ecological movement' of this Local Wing is the largest movement in world history in terms of organizational support because it is very much across the existing spectrum of politics.

Authors@Google: Paul Hawken: Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It

59 min 26 sec



"Environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and author Paul Hawken discusses his latest book "Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It" as part of the Authors@Google and Google.org series. This event took place on May 9, 2007 at Google's main campus in Mountain View, CA."
This global environmental and civil rights movement is currently in search of forms of networking institutions of these massive numbers of groups that the bioregional state can provide.

This gets back to libertarian issues--noted in part one as having a green contingent from the beginning because libertarianism is localism as much as green is localism. It is just the same that the 'green movement' had quite a bit of libertarianism in it as well. It was a green/libertarian Local Wing movement from the beginning and is better understood as such instead of seen as an attempt to fit a round Local peg in the previous square National ideological political holes. Thus we can make sense of the cross-spectrum political positions of some branches of libertarianism (as well as obviously greens) as reflecting the same ecological self-interest.

Many arrive to see the fresh shoots of the dead tree from different directions.

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Part three will detail another difficulty with pinning one's hopes on only party-based sustainable change: the big matter of the globally expanding 'election fraud industry' and its links to unsustainable politics. Thus parties as a route to change are increasingly moot on a whole different level because elections as a process themselves are moot. This means the bioregional state may increasingly come to be seen as the only sound and rational option for sustainable change as other party options and general electoral framework options are respectively self-destructive or intentionally foreclosed on many levels.

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