Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says he and the Green Party are more committed to free market policies than the National Party.
BECAUSE OF THE FURORE THAT is still being generated by Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics, I doubt that many people took much notice of Russel Norman laying out the politics of the Green Party this week.
Despite the media's lazy and inaccurate characterisation of the Green Party as a 'left wing' party, Norman reaffirmed the party's commitment to free market policies. Norman actually says he's more of a disciple of market policies than the National Party! I don't think you'll see any mention of the Green's loyalty to neoliberalism in its election material though. 'We're more neoliberal than National!' would not be a vote winner.
Or maybe it would. The Green's, after all, have managed to capture a swathe of conservative supporters and Green activism has largely been reduced to single issue campaigns like agitating for more public transport. Nothing to frighten the voter from Remuera or Fendalton here.
Said Norman this week: "If you look at the Greens, or at least our policies, they are pro-market. Lower company tax rates, price signals for carbon - let the market resolve the issue."
Yes the 'invisible hand' of the market will resolve our problems!
Norman's right wing views do not come as a surprise though. He was enthusing about the 'power of the market several years ago and he has not changed his tune. In fact he seems to be singing from the free market hymn book with an ever greater gusto these days:
'The fact is my view, and the Green Party policy, is that markets are a really good solution to the big challenges we're facing in sustainability, so that's why we're very pro the use of market forces, whereas National are into state intervention, which is the exact opposite of the predominant discourse, right?"
Russel Norman's cuddly view of the economic beast flies in the face of reality.
The fact is a system that concentrates political and economic power in the hands of those who pursue the accumulation of capital without restraint is going to continue to demand expansion and growth. The imperative to grow and accumulate in turn redoubles the economy’s impacts on the earth’s threatened ecosystems as well as increasing levels of social deprivation.
Indeed we are confronted with a double whammy of a crisis. At the same time as we are confronted by a deepening ecological crisis, a social crisis is becoming increasingly obvious to all: the failure of capitalism to make good on its promise of raising living standards.
As the American philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky said last year, “In the moral calculus of capitalism, greater profits in the next quarter outweigh the fate of your grandchildren.”
This is a point that author and activist Naomi Klein elaborates in her new book This Changes Everything, which will be published next month.
She has signaled the themes of her new book in several newspaper and magazine columns.
She says that the market has not—and cannot—fix the environmental crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by an even more rampant capitalism.
She has made the point that such is the magnitude of the ecological crisis that we now need to ditch our present economic system. This, she says, is now no longer a matter of mere ideological preference but rather 'one of species-wide existential necessity.'
In his important article 'Green Capitalism: The God That Failed' Richard Smith writes:
...market-based efforts are doomed to fail, and a sustainable economy is inconceivable without sweeping systemic economic change. The project of sustainable capitalism based on carbon taxes, green marketing, "dematerialization" and so forth was misconceived and doomed from the start because maximizing profit and saving the planet are inherently in conflict and cannot be systematically aligned even if, here and there, they might coincide for a moment. That's because under capitalism, CEOs and corporate boards are not responsible to society; they're responsible to private shareholders.
Russel Norman and the Green Party are having none of this though. They continue to support the machine that is killing our planet. That the Green Party can even be described as 'progressive' once again highlights the arid and conservative nature of New Zealand politics in 2014.