Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Greens, Contrarians and Lobbyists

Recently I seem to have clashed more than is usual with bile-filled anti-green contrarians on the internet. I am not alone - any article about or involving greens attracts the Bjorn Lomborg- spouting, abusive technophile futurist, usually, (though not always) of extreme free-market beliefs. Their views seem startlingly uniform for so-called individualists and sceptics.

Being contrary is sometimes welcome and constructive. Whilst I agree with Peter Sanderson that Greens should encourage and tolerate questioning of unquestioned assumptions within our own ranks, much of the criticism we encounter from so-called contrarians on bulletin boards and comment pages is not in the spirit of testing and improving, but in the spirit of destructive criticism, mockery and stereotyping in the service of neo-liberalism and corporate power. Yes, some Deep Greens, primitivist elements and people uncritical of state socialist experiments annoy me. I feel enthusiastic about humanity's potential future in space and defend a progressive and humanistic, libertarian ecosocialist position at the expense of sometimes being characterised as an advocate of technical fixes or of democratic purism, but we must highlight the difference between legitimate and discriminating criticism of the ideas of some greens or some green ideas and hate-filled indiscriminate attacks from those with another agenda entirely.

Some of those who launch into anti-green attacks (and they always accuse you of being "totalitarian" or unable to accept criticism if you point out the inaccuracies or idiotic generalisations in their statements) seem to get their ideas from largely US-based conspiracy theory which sees the Greens as part of some UN/Red/Occult/Primitivist/Neo-religious agenda (delete or conflate as appropriate depending on flavour of conspiracist). Greens are attacked as "priggish" and "anti-pleasure puritans". Well, this is a caricature, but even if some of us are latter day Roundheads or Levellers, it is certainly true that some of our free-market critics are latter day 'Cavaliers'. They are cavalier with the facts, and have dispensed with the divine right of Kings to replace it with an equally mystical faith in the divine rights of entrepeneurs, the Market and Capital.

George Monbiot has what promises to be a very interesting and useful book coming out which deals with one source of some of the nonsense that gets thrown at greens. (A welcome break from his somewhat ludicrous and alarming "world government" musings!) He has blogged several articles along these lines of late - on big tobacco links to climate change deniers, on covert corporate lobbying and lobbyists and the BBC.
The source of much current anti-green propaganda was the US "Wise Use" movement, a network with strong links to the current Bush administration.
However, there are many good sites which expose corporate lobbyists and far-right ideologists like the US based PR Watch of the Center For Media and Democracy and the British version Spinwatch
Spinwatch now has a very good linked site exposing the current pro-nuclear offensive, Nuclear Spin

The lobbyists, the right wing "libertarian" fanatics and the conspiraloons should not stop us having good legitimate debate in the green movement about priorities and long term goals. I believe that the strongest green movement is likely to be built from taking on board the best ideas and valuable experiences of socialist, democratic and libertarian left movements and leaving behind some of the new-age mysticism, romanticism and techno-phobia that provides stereotypes and ammunition for our detractors.

The need for good ecosocialist theory and practice has never been greater as the climate change situation becomes more pressing. Attacks on greens are likely to become more frequent as we are seen as advocates of the responses that present the greatest challenge to vested interests. It is good that we have a well known figure like Peter Tatchell to get our views an airing as he does in his Guardian 'Comment is Free' Blog.

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