The Green Party continues with its march rightwards, with the election of James Shaw as co-leader.
IT COMES AS NO SURPRISE that the Green Party have voted yet another free market devotee to the position of co-leader.
James Shaw though disputes that he is the advocate of neoliberalism, on the simple grounds that we apparently have never had free market capitalism since 2008. In his speech to the Green Party AGM held over the weekend he baldly states:
"I am not a hero of free market capitalism, because free market capitalism is dead. It has been dead for seven years."
'Free market capitalism' apparently just vanished after government's around the world bailed out the banks and the finance sector. Shaw was apparently somewhere else when the social democratic managed economy prevailed.
It is true that in 2008, the banks did not uphold the principle of free market values and keeping the state out of the market – they begged the state to use taxpayer money to cover their debts whilst they raked in the profits. In 2014 the IMF estimated that this bailout had so far cost the people of the world some $11.9trn.
And, on top of that, the working class has been forced to bear the brunt of savage austerity polices that have flowed from the 2008 crisis.
But this is far from being a totally different economic system which Shaw implies. The bailout of the bankers and the financiers was not an aberration but the result of an economic system in crisis, an economic system that remains with us today.
The truth is that we have never lived in a pure free market capitalist world where the state has been absent. Indeed the state has always had an important and fundamental role to play.
is Shaw, who used to work for multinationals like Shell Oil, suggesting that everything would be peachy if only we had pure free market capitalism? Is this what he believes? Is he a closet Ayn Rand supporter?
Who knows. He says that 'our current, deliberately broken economic system is broken' but then states that his opposition to it "... is not ideological. It is moral." Clear as mud.
In the meantime though Shaw, like former co-leader Russel Norman, thinks we can create an environmentally friendly capitalism.
Given that Shaw's election was greeted with general approval by the Green Party AGM it is again clear that there is no organised dissent to the nonsensical ideology of 'green capitalism' from within the Green Party itself.
The Green Party's view put it at odds with activists like Naomi Klein, the author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Climate.
Klein, who was the darling of the Green Party when her first book, No Logo,was published, has continued to emphasise that the fight against environmental destruction and climate change also means a fight against capitalism.
While James Shaw talks of working with the National Party, Klein argues that capitalist parties like National are not allies of an environmental movement that is committed to real change.
In recent interview she said:
"...there’s still a really strong strain of the green movement that thinks that it’s going to find a way to move forward that doesn’t offend those in power. I frankly think it’s just a bad strategy. If capitalism was working really well for the majority for people except for this problem of climate change, then we’d really need some kind of a strategy that protected that capitalist system, if such a strategy existed, which I don’t think it does. The fact is, that’s not where we are at. We’re at a point where there is a widespread popular understanding that this economic system is failing even on its own terms, more widespread than there ever has been in my lifetime."
In This Changes Everything she writes that “revolutionary levels of transformation” of the system offer the only real hope in avoiding “climate chaos.”
This is a not view you will hear James Shaw or the Green Party agreeing with anytime soon.