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The Green Party and Libertarianism?

CanadaApple
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Joined: Dec 1 2011

I had never heard this before joining Babble, but according to some on here, the Green Party of Canada is quite Libertarian. Where is the evidence for this exactly? How exactly are they Libertarian? Also, does this just apply to the Federal Green Party, or does it extend to their provincial counter parts as well?


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JoshD
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Joined: Dec 23 2011

I'm bumping this because I am curious about it myself.


Boze
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Joined: Apr 24 2007

In my experience, though many Greens hold some political views that could be described as libertarian for lack of a better word, most committed libertarians loathe the Greens and hold their nose and vote Conservative or Liberal. Most of my friends are Greens and the party is definitely not libertarian.

Actually, in my experience libertarians tend to be quite anti-environmentalist.


Ken Burch
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Joined: Feb 26 2005

And it also needs to be asked here:

When we ponder the question of whether the Greens are libertarian...is that "libertarian" with a large or small "l"?

in Europe and the UK, "libertarianism" with a small-l is a synonym for "anarchism", especially the non-violent sort that focuses on a voluntary, often voluntarily collective, form of social organization.  The German Greens, IMHO, were significantly influenced by THAT form of "libertarianism"...as opposed to the Ayn Rand Fan Club meeting that is Libertarianism with a large "L".


Boze
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Joined: Apr 24 2007

Well, I think many Greens like Ron Paul because they don't know much about him and because they like his uncompromising stance on foreign policy, but also because he doesn't look like a politician and, without even trying, he exposes everyone he shares a stage with as a "politician," i.e. a fake person created by the public relations industry trained to tell people what they want to hear. Both Greens and Libertarians broadly support peace, democratic reform and decentralism, but there's another noteworthy thing they share and that is disdain for, even disgust with, politics as usual and the political establishment, which they would count the NDP as part of. It's a view I'm extremely sympathetic towards. I expect the NDP to step up and be the party of the anti-war left, but it was pretty difficult to sell them as such when they were supporting intervention in Libya.


Interested Observer
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Joined: Sep 25 2008

Neither. It's a party with both Social Ecologists (Libertarian Socialism) as well as Green Liberals, plus some Red Tories, as well as Deep Ecologists. I'd place them on the spectrum as being close to Liberal Democrats in the UK (merger of Social Democrats and Liberals).


Interested Observer
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Joined: Sep 25 2008

As far as Ron Paul goes, any true green would be appalled at his wanting to axe the EPA and most regulation. I think he appeals to Social Liberals generally who don't get the difference in the reasoning of their shared ideas with Classical Liberalism/Libertarianism.


flight from kamakura
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Joined: Nov 24 2006

green libetarianism elizabeth may-style finds its most perfect form its heavy reliance on consumption taxes and a virtual elimination of progressive taxation as the major sources of government revenue. 


Gaian
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Joined: Aug 5 2011
flight from kamakura wrote:

green libetarianism elizabeth may-style finds its most perfect form its heavy reliance on consumption taxes and a virtual elimination of progressive taxation as the major sources of government revenue. 

Yes indeed. The simple market solution they arrived at, fossil fuel pricing to rise and in self-correcting fashion, lower the use of fossil fuels. It appeals enormously to the middle class property owner who was able to move next to nature thanks to a healthy bank account (see the Green vote in the Halton Hills) while salving conscience ...they "love" nature, did not cut down many trees to build among them, enjoy watching wildlife up close, feed deer, etc. But those who are torn betwen heating and eating are told to eat cake. It started out well. A handful of us who formed the Green Party of Ontario in early 1983 had visits from German Greens and it was a radical environmental force. Then Petra Kelly was murdered by her partner, the Green Party in Canada (I'll only speak to ONtario)was taken over by children whose primary goal was to create a democratic, leaderless emasculated non-oentity. With the advent of federal funding per voter head, Jim Harris and a couple of other old Conservative cronies moved in and convinced all and sundry that an intelligent sales force would bring large gains. Debating with the provincial leadership a few years ago brought only snake oil answers about the forms of alternative energy that would keep the "Lights of civilization burning" (Lovelock) when all else was unavailable. A lot of good people have been led down the garden path, relying on wishful thinking, over the years. And I don't know what Liz is going to do for an encore out in the islands, next election. But rest assured, THE libertarian idea so attractive to the wealthier Green is NOT far removed from that of the Texan. Social Darwinism of another, earlier century.

contrarianna
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Joined: Aug 15 2006

Boze wrote:

In my experience, though many Greens hold some political views that could be described as libertarian for lack of a better word, most committed libertarians loathe the Greens and hold their nose and vote Conservative or Liberal. Most of my friends are Greens and the party is definitely not libertarian.

Actually, in my experience libertarians tend to be quite anti-environmentalist.

That's essentially correct, on this board, and for the generic "left" most often "libertarian" is understood solely as the incoherent rightwing bag of "private rights", often associated with Randism (Aynalism??) and its US gun-totin' neanderthals.
As such, particularly at the grassroots level, it is the antihesis of green concerns for the environment and the associated human commonweal. Grassroot level conflict is typically played out as: "Hey, its MY property, I OWN IT, and no treehugger can tell me I can't change MY wetland into a profitable wasteland".


Winston
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Joined: Feb 17 2007

contrarianna wrote:

Randism (Aynalism??) and its US gun-totin' neanderthals. 

Laughing

Aynalism - love it!


Ken Burch
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Joined: Feb 26 2005

Of course, the most rigid devotees of Randism have gone on to organize the now-legendary "Aynal Sects".


Doug
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Joined: Apr 17 2001

There is a strand of free-market environmentalism in the Green Party for sure. Just to briefly summarize that position (so far as I can), it's that environmental problems are caused by public ownership or lack of ownership of resources or important media like the atmosphere and oceans. Nobody owns the atmosphere or ocean, so it's cost-free for everyone to dump waste in them. Fishers don't own the fish they take before they take them, so nobody has any incentive for fishing sustainably. That sort of thing - there's an element of truth to it but it's incomplete.


Ken Burch
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Joined: Feb 26 2005

Sounds like somebody read "The Tragedy of The Commons" a few too many times, methinks.


janfromthebruce
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Joined: Apr 24 2007

ha ha ha - oh I must read the tragedy of the commons again - link  Kiss


ygtbk
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Joined: Jul 16 2009
flight from kamakura
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Joined: Nov 24 2006

environmental costing is a huge sub-discipline in economics today, but it's not unique to the greens (mulcair, for instance, is our most prominent proponent).  what's unique to the greens - or at least was, the last time i paid any attention to them - is the strong emphasis on broad-spectrum consumption taxes and user fees for the majority of government revenues, and the de-emphasis of progressive taxation.  essentially.


ontheground
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Joined: Mar 20 2012

The reference to libertarianism in association with Greens comes from the party's European roots where the term is associated with anarcho-communitarian tradition (Bakunin) - far different from the North American variety.  This translates into principles/policy of decentralization / local autonomy and self-reliance and the ability of every individual to contribute fully to society without discrimination.  It really doesn't have any resonance in North America, except for followers of Murray Bookchin's anarcho-socialist version of social ecology.  As far as "free market environmentalism" in the Green Party, that's just a convenient fiction, as is the idea that the party rejects or downplays progressive taxation.  The Greens do talk about tax shifting - from things we want like employment to things we don't want like pollution.  This is a centrepiece of ecological economics as espoused by Herman Daly, who argues for depletion taxes (in addition to pollution taxes) on natural resource extraction to replace payroll taxes.  Also from Daly, Greens reject the premise of unlimited economic growth based on increased throughput of energy and raw materials.  They also advocate for a guaranteed annual income or basic income guarantee to replace the hodge podge of punitive, patriarchal social assistance programs that keep vulnerable people in structural poverty and under the thumb of bureaucracy.

The only way to get past unhelpful labels is to go Vision Green and read what it says, rather than making stuff up.


Gaian
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Joined: Aug 5 2011
This founding member of the Greep Party of Ontario is not "making things up," and could not come near to the obfuscation and mystification of that piece on Bakunin. When you put forward a policy that depends on market forces to lower consumption of fossil fuels, you are taking the libertarian path of the Greens hereabouts. Course, you could always ask Liz for clarification. :)

contrarianna
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Joined: Aug 15 2006

The claim that the current Green Party of Canada is a version of US-right libertarianism is nonsense.

Neither is the Green Pary particularly neoliberal  compared to the  major federal parties. Its putitive policies are certainly more appealing and more positive than the Liberals or Conservatives.

I haven't found any summation of proposed revenues-spending of the recent NDP to compare with the GP.

Although proposed policies of any party out of government have to be taken with a heart-stopping dose of salt, they do reflect policies that are designed to appeal to their present and targeted supporters, and to some extent present a party wish-list.
 
Here are a few the Green Party proposed budget points which is hardly neoliberal capitalism:

introduce toxic substance tax

Close corporate tax haven loopholes

Cancel scheduled corporate tax rate reductions

establish a national affordable housing program

re-invest in arail system

Income tax dropped from anyone making 20,000 or less

Invest in national pharmacare

Reduce military spending to 2005 spending ratio and reorient to peacekeeping

(Althgough both the Green Party and the NDP argue for a move to more peacekeeping less interventionist rolls for Canada's military (though not born out by recent NDP votes) only the Green Party, I think, has asked for a big reduction of the new obscene levels of military spending.)

http://www.greenparty.ca/platform2011/budget


Gaian
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Joined: Aug 5 2011
And, of course, it was not meant to compare in scale or severity, only to assure people that it was not this complicated: "The reference to libertarianism in association with Greens comes from the party's European roots where the term is associated with anarcho-communitarian tradition (Bakunin) - far different from the North American variety. This translates into principles/policy of decentralization / local autonomy and self-reliance and the ability of every individual to contribute fully to society without discrimination. It really doesn't have any resonance in North America, except for followers of Murray Bookchin's anarcho-socialist version of social ecology. As far as "free market environmentalism" in the Green Party, that's just a convenient fiction, as is the idea that the party rejects or downplays progressive taxation. The Greens do talk about tax shifting - from things we want like employment to things we don't want like pollution. This is a centrepiece of ecological economics as espoused by Herman Daly, who argues for depletion taxes (in addition to pollution taxes) on natural resource extraction to replace payroll taxes. "

Gaian
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Joined: Aug 5 2011
And after spending a few hours in contact with the leadership, determining what technology would replace those sources of power that they condemn, you might become as suspicious of their entire platform as did I...one of the founders of the outfit.

socialdemocrati...
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Joined: Jan 10 2012

I just think it was part of an attitude that they care more about the environment than they care about the poor. Notably, the NDP has often cautioned against taxes on home heating so people don't freeze, whereas the greens would say that's meddling in the economy in a way that harms the environment.

I don't think all Greens are unconcerned about poverty. But some are pretty bougie. And some just don't think about who shoulders the cost of green reforms.


mimeguy
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Joined: Jul 27 2005

The GPC placed protections for the lowest income earners as a buffer to the carbon tax and consequences of introducing it similar to the GST/HST rebates in place to counter that tax and its impact on lower income earners.  The argument that the NDP in Ontario argued against higher heating taxes to protect the poor was disengenuous as there were alternatives such as higher income support targeted to lower income earners, targeted rebates etc. rather than condemning the tax across the board and effectively subsidizing higher income earners rather than challenging the status quo attitude that consumption can continue unabated.

The Green Party believes that a person's contribution to society cannot be rated on economic wealth alone, unlike the present perception that gives wealthier Canadians a higher status socially.  The debate on a guaranteed annual income is still alive within the Party and, as mentioned in an above post, the removal of income taxes from those earning $20,000 and less.  It has never, as stated in above post #8, advocated the elimination of progressive taxes and replaced by consumption taxes and for the record, Elizabeth May is hardly a libertarian in any way shape or form.    

Is the Green Party different from its origins.  Absolutely.  That naturally comes from growth in numbers and diversity within the membership in the same manner as the NDP.  The NDP of the late 90's and beginning of the 21st century is nothing like its origins rooted in the CCF/NDP of the 50's & 60's.  I respect those who founded the various Green Parties and now have left because the evolution of the Party no longer matches the ideals of its founders.  That happens in many Parties and as Ed Broadbent's recent challenge proves, is a factor among older New Democrats as well.  The North American Green Parties are of course different from the European Greens as the Latin & South American Greens are different from the European Greens since culturally they are not the same and have different histories.  Even the debate between the Mexican Greens earlier support of the death penalty due to the extraordinary conditions in Mexico and the European Green condemnation of that support despite, as the Mexican Greens pointed out, the support of the Afghanistan war shows the struggles involved in maintaining the spirit of the Global Green Charter.

As to economic libertarianism, there isn't a lot of room in the present Canadian Green Party to satisfy many libertarians as government regulation and a desire for more Canadian sovereignty in our economic relationships plays a prominent role in the Green platform as well.  A couple of my colleagues have recently left the Party to join the Libertarian Party, mainly because they don't see an avenue within the GPC to satisfy their belief that government is too big and interventionist.  

The Green Party doesn't advocate the immediate elimination of those power sources that it condemns.  It believes that more innovation is necessary and the government has a direct role in encouraging the growth of alternative exploration and where necessary, significant government investment to develop those alternatives and discover new ones.  The GPC in general believes that a much more diverse and balanced sourcing system should be developed, reducing the need for coal, oil, and other heavy polluting industries.

Canada is an exporting nation, largely dependent on a giant economic neighbour that holds an economic view completely opposed to much of what is expressed in the NDP & Green platforms, and there will always be limits on how independent and insular it can become, and so a realistic outlook has to balance the stated economic ideals of both the NDP and Green Parties.  I don't believe this is impossible nor a betrayal of the spirit of either Parties.

The environment will always play a significant role with the Green Party but there are many of us within the Party that actively work for strengthened social justice polices, labour rights, and peace building which build on earlier ideals of the Party.  The active membership has responded in kind by continuing to pass social justice, labour rights and peace building policies.  

There really is much more depth and balance in the Party than people care to give credit to and both anti-Green/anti-NDP participants on this board cross the line with intentional exaggeration.  It's as deceptive to say the Green Party is solely environmental/libertarian as it is to say the NDP is a socialist Party. 


Gaian
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Joined: Aug 5 2011
Ah, yes. And to round out their nevero-to-be-challenged platform in the sky, energy from wind power was to be "stored." Follow the implications on that one, from Buck Rogers. The techies get really twisted into knots explaining it, or any of the other alternatives...solar, biomass, whatever. And the disposessed are kept in mind. quote: "As to economic libertarianism, there isn't a lot of room in the present Canadian Green Party to satisfy many libertarians as government regulation and a desire for more Canadian sovereignty in our economic relationships plays a prominent role in the Green platform as well. A couple of my colleagues have recently left the Party to join the Libertarian Party, mainly because they don't see an avenue within the GPC to satisfy their belief that government is too big and interventionist." The libertarians tended to be in leadership roles, mg. As to exagerration: "There really is much more depth and balance in the Party than people care to give credit to and both anti-Green/anti-NDP participants on this board cross the line with intentional exaggeration. It's as deceptive to say the Green Party is solely environmental/libertarian as it is to say the NDP is a socialist Party." The problem in the past for this founding member, was that the mainstream membership never challenged the leadership as to the viability of plans to do a technological switchover. As to the idea of creeping libertarianism...politics was marginalized by the HUGE FEAR OF EARTH'S DESTRUCTION that motivated the mainstream. "Just do something, please...."

autoworker
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Joined: Dec 21 2008

Green libertarianism: The freedom to live as Nature intended, or, if one prefers: The dictatorship of Nature, as interpreted and enforced by the stewardship of humankind.


autoworker
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Joined: Dec 21 2008

Green libertarianism: The freedom to live as Nature intended, or, if one prefers: The dictatorship of Nature, as interpreted and enforced by the stewardship of humankind.


green-left
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Joined: Mar 26 2012

I would consider the greens more left than the NDP.

Higher taxes on corporations
Lower taxes for the middle class and the poor
Guaranteed income supplement
Support for a living a wage
Reduction in military spending

Do people actually think supporting a carbon tax will not hurt low income persons that use energy? It would be impossible to stop a corporation from passing on the cost.
So why does everyone seem to think the green party is so right wing? I have no issue with either the NDP or the green party.
I wish people would act more like Nathan Cullen and work together and not tear one another down. Sometimes i wonder if the left will get anywhere or if we will continue to tear each other apart because of small differences.

 


Sean in Ottawa
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Joined: Jun 3 2003

I think the Green party does not fit neatly on the right-left continuum.

Some are indeed quite left; others very right wing.

The NDP attracts a large chunk of left environmentalists and that is likely the main reason the Greens tilt a bit more to the right than they would otherwise.

But let's not pretend it is a monolith.


Grandpa_Bill
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Joined: Apr 25 2009

green-left wrote:

I wish people would . . . work together and not tear one another down. Sometimes i wonder if the left will get anywhere or if we will continue to tear each other apart because of small differences.

In a not-so-long-ago thread, on a not-so-far-away subject, someone characterized the discussion as a narcisism of small differences.  Apt, both there and here.


Gaian
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Joined: Aug 5 2011
Right, Sean. It is just more of a pain in the ass when votes are counted and Liz's tribute to Lyin' Brian , Canada's Greenest Prime Minister, comes to mind. :)

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