A shared ideology

Importantly, these core themes of green party ideology provide a basis for constructing an ideal type of green ideology that applies as well to greens outside the green parties. Losing any one of the three core themes means that the ideology is no longer green. This means that some forms of ecological radicalism cannot be called green ideology. For instance, many of those whom John Dryzek terms 'green romantics' do not have a green ideology because they 'are generally uninterested in the social structures or institutions of industrial society, or indeed its alternatives' (Dryzek 1997: 164) and are not committed to expanding democracy or egalitarianism. This would include some 'deep ecologists', some 'bio-regionalists', some ecofeminists and lifestyle ecologists. When advocates of the latter concentrate on changing individuals' consciousness and do not regard social structures as major constraints on actions by individuals, they stand outside the ideology developed by the green movement. However, neither deep ecology nor ecofeminism are homogeneous traditions and both contain strands that are compatible with green ideology. Deep ecology is associated with the defence of biocentric egalitarianism, or ecocentrism, in which nature is recognised as having intrinsic value and human interests are not necessarily superior to those of the natural world. As the discussion below shows, when this leads to anti-human misanthropic arguments, which reject ideas of democracy and social justice, deep ecologists are not tolerated by greens. Most deep ecologists (Devall and Sessions 1985; Taylor 1995), however, seek to combine ecocentrism with commitments to social justice and democracy.6 Similarly, most ecofeminists emphasise the need to challenge male-dominated views of nature, which they see as the source of ecological problems, and replace them with a feminist sensibility based on women's experience of being closer to nature, through childbirth, and the historically developed virtues through women's role as nurturers. Again, there is no necessary conflict between this and commitments to equality and democracy even though many other feminists criticise what they see as biological essentialism in many ecofeminist arguments. Both deep ecology and ecofemi-nism provide important sources of motivation for many green activists in a variety of radical and more mainstream groups. As Dryzek notes, their main impact is likely to be cultural. This is because the sensibilities they advocate do not provide answers to the kinds of political dilemmas that are most central for greens who seek to engage with social and political institutions. This suggests that the three core commitments remain the best litmus test for adherence to a green ideology.

Greens of various kinds seek to balance these three commitments and do not always give an a priori priority to ecological goals over others. For instance, green commitments to decentralisation have been defended on ecological grounds, as providing the best means of organising low-impact and self-reliant communities and, less instrumentally, as more consistent with nature insofar as communities are allowed to be constructed in ways that are shaped by geography and a sense of place; but, also on democratic grounds, because decentralisation increases the opportunities for individuals and groups to participate in decision-making and participation helps to develop citizenship. Decentralisation is also advocated because it breaks up the power of state elites and central bureaucracies. For most greens most of the time these are compatible and complementary commitments, part of what greens often call a 'holistic view'. Sometimes, though, these principles clash and this requires that judgements be made about which principle has priority; the broad framework ideology, however, provides no guidance on how this is to be done. For instance, when faced with the realities of the expansion of political union within the European Community in the early 1990s, greens in the European Parliament had to choose between outright rejection of the Maastricht Treaty or an alternative vision within the existing institutions. They chose to argue for a stronger European Parliament as a counter-balance to the bureaucrats of the European Commission and the narrower national interests of the Council of Ministers which was made up of representatives of national governments. Although they criticised the Maastricht Treaty because they saw its main purpose as supporting productivist expansion of European economies, they did not want to reject it outright because of the fear that it would encourage a return to narrow nationalism (Bomberg 1998: 77). It was non-ecological factors that determined the decision that reform from within was better than opposition from without. These factors were greens' anti-nationalism and the view that it was possible to make progress in democratising European Union institutions. But other green parties in Sweden, Britain and Ireland opposed the Treaty, not because they were less concerned with combating nationalism or more strongly opposed to economic growth than the other green parties, but because they saw opposition as the best means to achieve change.

Another example comes from a discussion within a local British Earth First! group. This group was discussing 'what we stand for' and used the UK Green Party manifesto as a starting point. The Earth Firsters! found little to disagree with in the document. As would be expected, decentralisation was defended on the grounds of conduciveness with sustainability but also because it allowed communities to govern themselves. When concern was expressed about the danger that some of these communities might pursue repressive policies even those most anarchistic among green activists were not necessarily confident in the ability of decentralised communities to defend human rights. As one said: 'You can't decentralise basic moral laws about rape or murder. And having a non-hierarchical system won't protect minorities that are being picked on'. On this and other issues there was much in common with the kinds of debates that occur in green parties. The point here is not to show that anarchist greens should therefore support green parties. In fact, there was no clear agreement in the Earth First! group on how to resolve the classic anarchist dilemma. However, what was clear was that what was being sought was a balance between the same three principles identifiable in the green parties' programmes and ideological debates.

Environmental movement organisations (EMOs) have more variable agendas, as is shown in more detail in Chapter Five. Their narrower focus on particular issues in their campaign work means that they seem closer to the idea of a public interest group than green parties or direct action groups. Yet it is still possible to find statements of ideological commitment from EMOs that are consistent with the general commitment to balancing ecological rationality, egalitarianism and grassroots democracy. For instance the mission statement of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), not the most radical of Australian EMOs, includes in its philosophy both ecocentric statements such as the ACF 'Recognises that we share the earth with many other living things that have intrinsic value and warrant our respect, whether or not they are of benefit to us,' with social and political statements such as the ACF 'Believes that social equity and justice are fundamental to sound environmental outcomes' and 'Values participatory democracy and will work to defend the rights and enhance the role of all people in protecting the environment'. A pamphlet published by British Friends of the Earth (FOE) Boardman, Bullock and McLaren (1999) makes a strong argument that environmental sustainability and social equity are interdependent and sets out a range of policies to meet these aims. Although it might be argued that we would hardly expect environmental groups to argue in favour of inequality or against democracy, their commitment to interpreting environmentalism in these terms distinguishes groups such as the ACF and FOE7 from the others such as the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) which do not see their environmentalism as requiring the same commitments. Perhaps the strongest test is whether the actions of EMOs are consistent with their philosophy. This issue is examined further in Chapter Five. The major point to emphasise is that not all green groups will act in the same way on every issue. Some such as EMOs are likely to focus more narrowly on issues of environmental policy. However, if they do so in a way which reflects commitments to social equity and participatory democracy, they share an ideological framework with more radical greens.8

Local environmental campaigns are too heterogeneous and often too shortlived to be able to make generalisations about their ideology. As Chapter Seven shows, although there is evidence that some of these groups become radicalised as a result of their experience as campaigners, most groups cannot be said to be green in ideology in the sense in which green ideology has been defined here. Yet, this is not to say that these groups do not develop ideology. Many have previous experience in other movements, others find themselves becoming more aware of the weakness of citizens' rights in existing democracies. It is from the environmental justice movement in the USA that new discourses of environmental racism and 'subaltern environmentalism' of the poor (previously seen as the preserve of non-western environmental groups) have emerged. These have posed an important challenge to green groups and have had an important impact on green ideology in general.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

If Pregnancy Is Something That Frightens You, It's Time To Convert Your Fear Into Joy. Ready To Give Birth To A Child? Is The New Status Hitting Your State Of Mind? Are You Still Scared To Undergo All The Pain That Your Best Friend Underwent Just A Few Days Back? Not Convinced With The Answers Given By The Experts?

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment