Category: The Greens

The Precariat – The new dangerous class

by Guy Standing

For the first time in history, the mainstream left has no progressive agenda. It has forgotten a basic principle. Every progressive political movement has been built on the anger, needs and aspirations of the emerging major class. Today that class is the precariat.

So far, the precariat in Europe has been mostly engaged in EuroMayDay parades and loosely organised protests. But this is changing rapidly, as events in Spain and Greece are showing, following on the precariat-led uprisings in the middle-east. Remember that welfare states were built only when the working class mobilised through collective action to demand the relevant policies and institutions. The precariat is busy defining its demands.

The precariat has emerged from the liberalisation that underpinned globalisation. Politicians should beware. It is a new dangerous class, not yet what Karl Marx would have described as a class-for-itself, but a class-in-the-making, internally divided into angry and bitter factions.

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Republican liberty and the future of the centre-left

by Michael Lind

The dominant tradition in popular politics is infused with the values of republican liberalism.  The contemporary centre-left, influenced by a mix of residual Marxism and technocratic progressivism, has ceded this ground to conservatives and libertarians, losing elections and popular appeal in the process. A twenty-first century centre-left needs to reclaim the tradition of republican liberty as its own.

The centre-left in Europe and North America is in a state of political collapse and intellectual exhaustion. In recent elections the Labour party lost control of the British government to a centre-right coalition and in the US the Democrats lost the House of Representatives to a resurgent right.  Parties of the right already ruled Germany, France and Italy.  Even Sweden, long the flagship of social democracy, is now governed by conservatives.

The crumbling of social democratic parties on both sides of the Atlantic has much deeper causes than poor leadership or the voter discontent produced by the Great Recession.  It is the culmination of trends going back to the unraveling of postwar social democratic settlements in the 1970s. In Europe and America alike, the industrial working class that supported midcentury social democracy has contracted, as a result of the offshoring of industry, productivity growth and the shift toward services in employment. When the postwar boom came to an end in the 1970s, Keynesian full employment and demand management policies appeared to be discredited. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and their counterparts in other countries led a counter-revolution which failed to shrink the size of the state but succeeded in deregulating the economy and marginalising social democrats.

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Going Green without the Moralism

by Heleen de Coninck

There is no question about it: social democrats need to embrace environmental sustainability. Protecting our natural surroundings, keeping our air clean, providing a healthy environment and access to nature for everyone should be at the core of social democratic policies, just like providing economic and social sustainability should be.

However, we have to admit that in the triangle environmental, social and economic sustainability, sometimes simplistically referred to as planet, people and profit, the balance is tilted. While we see that at the moment either type of sustainability is sacrificed to short-term gains, environmental sustainability often loses out even in more prosperous times. Why is that?

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Pricing Carbon

 

by Bob Carr

It passed and it will pass the Senate.

Whyalla won’t become a ghost town and the price of Corn Flakes will not spike.Australiawill have a carbon trading scheme and the media can interrogate Abbott about how he will repeal it, forgo the revenue and struggle with a budget black-hole, and what else he will do in government.

This is no time to revisit the might-have-beens such as where we would be if Prime Minister Rudd had implemented a cap and trade scheme in 2007 instead of shuttling it to the Garnaut review; or what would have happened if the Green Party had passed the Rudd legislation in late 2009.

The government now needs to talk to investors and facilitate investment in the renewables sector so that there are ribbon-cutting milestones along the path of reduced carbon dependence.

 

Not a Party of Protest. Not a Party of Slogans.

by Bob Carr

 

Last night I was honoured to address the Marrickville State Electoral Council of the Australian Labor Party. Good crowd, also attended by Carmel Tebbutt, the local heroine who held the seat against the Green Party threat at the last state elections in March.

I told them there were things the Labor party could do that the Green Party could never do. The best example was the 16 year record of nature conservation in New South Wales. It took a Labor government to negotiate deals with the timber mills, the timber workers and the union that paved the way for saving the South East Forest, the hundred extra parks between Nowra and the Bega Valley, the saving of the forest icons of the north coast and the saving of the Pilliga. The Green Party could mount protests and take up these causes, and they are very fine causes. But it took a Labor government to make the big industrial reform decisions that restructured forestry and enable the massive conservation gains to occur. The serious policy making fell to us.

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Progressing the Social Democratic Agenda