In Green circles recently, there has been no small amount of hullabaloo surrounding the Green Party National Committee's Proposal 835, amending the platform for adoption of language that opposes capitalism. Much of this hullabaloo ignores the additional language opposing state socialism. Below is the new language added to the platform's Chapter IV on Economic Justice and Sustainability.
The Green Party seeks to build an alternative economic system based on ecology and decentralization of power, an alternative that rejects both the capitalist system that maintains private ownership over almost all production as well as the state-socialist system that assumes control over industries without democratic, local decision making. We believe the old models of capitalism (private ownership of production) and state socialism (state ownership of production) are not ecologically sound, socially just, or democratic and that both contain built-in structures that advance injustices.
Instead we will build an economy based on large-scale green public works, municipalization, and workplace and community democracy. Some call this decentralized system "ecological socialism," "communalism," or the "cooperative commonwealth," but whatever the terminology, we believe it will help end labor exploitation, environmental exploitation, and racial, gender, and wealth inequality and bring about economic and social justice due to the positive effects of democratic decision making.
Production is best for people and planet when democratically owned and operated by those who do the work and those most affected by production decisions. This model of worker and community empowerment will ensure that decisions that greatly affect our lives are made in the interests of our communities, not at the whim of centralized power structures of state administrators or of capitalist CEOs and distant boards of directors. Small, democratically run enterprises, when embedded in and accountable to our communities, will make more ecologically sound decisions in materials sourcing, waste disposal, recycling, reuse, and more. Democratic, diverse ownership of production would decentralize power in the workplace, which would in turn decentralize economic power more broadly.
The language of the platform amendment may still be revised or rejected entirely at the national convention in August.
Less exciting and less of an attention-getter, but equally important, is the work recently done to streamline the party's Ten Key Values. These values are part of what distinguishes the Greens from other political parties: basing our policies on values rather than expediency.
- All decisions that the party makes are (supposed to) conform to all of these values; in any decision-making body within the party, one person may raise a principled objection citing the value(s) that a proposal would violate.
- Green candidates that the party recognizes (national, state, or local) must not hold any stated beliefs or undertake any actions that directly contravene these values.
- The first four Key Values, also known as the Pillars of the Green Movement, are the main topics of the four chapters of the party's national and state platforms.
As the NC notes, "The changes are minimal, mainly improving grammar, pragmatic, and intended to ease the manner in which the text of each informs the others." While reading them on this page, it may be difficult to process both the content and the differences between old and new text simultaneously. So I'll paste the new text here and on another page on this site.
1. GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY
All human beings must be allowed a say in decisions that affect their lives; no one should be subject to the will of another. We work to improve public participation in every aspect of government and seek to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We also work to create new types of political organizations that expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in decision-making.
2. SOCIAL JUSTICE AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
As a matter of right, all persons must have the opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment. We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, any discrimination by race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, religion, or physical or mental ability that denies fair treatment and equal justice under the law.
3. ECOLOGICAL WISDOM
Human societies must function with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society that utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must practice agriculture that replenishes the soil, move to an energy-efficient economy, and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.
It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to society's current patterns of violence. We will work to demilitarize and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naive about the intentions of other governments. We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in danger. We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.
Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. We seek a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system controlled by and mostly benefiting the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all.
6. COMMUNITY-BASED ECONOMICS
We support redesigning our work structures to encourage employee ownership and workplace democracy. We support developing new economic activities and institutions that allow us to use technology in ways that are humane, freeing, ecological, and responsive and accountable to communities. We support establishing a form of basic economic security open to all. We call for moving beyond the narrow "job ethic" to new definitions of "work," "jobs" and "income" in a cooperative and democratic economy. We support restructuring our patterns of income distribution to reflect the wealth created by those outside the formal monetary economy—those who take responsibility for parenting, housekeeping, home gardens, community volunteer work, and the like. We support restricting the size and concentrated power of corporations without discouraging superior efficiency or technological innovation.
7. FEMINISM AND GENDER EQUITY
We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control with cooperative ways of interacting that respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as gender equity, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We recognize that the processes for determining our decisions and actions are just as important as achieving the outcomes we want.
8. RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY
We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across the human spectrum. We believe that the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision-making bodies, and we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles. We encourage respect for all life forms, and increased attention to the preservation of biodiversity.
9. PERSONAL AND GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY
We encourage individuals to act to improve their personal well-being and, at the same time, to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet.
10. FUTURE FOCUS AND SUSTAINABILITY
Our actions and policies should be motivated by long-term goals. We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or "unmaking" all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion for survival. We must counterbalance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions. We must make the quality of all lives, rather than open-ended economic growth, the focus of future thinking and policy.