Is the Green Party beyond the old ideologies of ‘left’ and ‘right’?
The answer I think is complicated. A yes and no story:
The most obvious example of an excellent Green idea in the traditional Right
is the idea of conserving things. That is what I typically say to
self-admitted Conservatives on the doorstep: If you believe in conserving
things, then you should vote Green, because unfortunately the Conservative
Party has given up on conserving things, and now believes mostly in tearing
them up and converting them into trinkets etc. . Whereas the Green Party actually cares about conserving our countryside, our wildlife, our traditional ways of life, in the face of corporate profiteering. [For an intriguing account of some other respects in which the Right can foster genuinely Green thinking, see the always-intriguing John Gray’s book, ‘Beyond the New Right’.]
But, speaking of corporate profiteering: To think that the Green Party is ‘beyond’ all left ideas, and that we can accommodate to capitalism in the way that (for instance) Jonathon Porritt nowadays suggests seems to me very over-optimistic about capitalism. For a powerful argument to undercut such optimism, I strongly recommend all Greens to read the new edition of Joel Kovel’s fascinating book, ‘The enemy of nature: The end of capitalism
or the end of the world’.
[For the long-term philosophical-political consequences of this kind of point, see e.g. my
The Green Party draws ideas from both left and right. But there is one important sense in which it is closer to left ideas than to right ideas: because it is about equality. It takes the socialist ideal of equality between individuals, and extends this into the future. People not yet alive deserve to be treated fairly too – and they only will, if we act so as to create a truly – permanently — sustainable society.
The best account of this new Green ‘ideology’, part Right, definitely part Left, and part simply new and beyond, is Andrew Dobson’s ‘Green Political Thought’. He calls the new ideology ‘Ecologism’. That seems to me the right name. Because what we are about is above all emphasising that we live in an ecosystem, that we are part of. The world is not simply a basket of ‘resources’ for us to plunder: and our goal is not, as that of environmentalists typically is, simply to reduce the scale of the plunder.