Sue Rule shares her personal political stance and explains how she arrived at it.
I find it sobering, not to say somewhat depressing, to find the Green Party still portrayed as the ones with the wacky, impractical ideas.
In fact, it is the neo-liberals who think we can continue with ‘business as usual’ who are the ones with the wacky, impractical – not to say, downright dangerous – ideas. Mankind simply can’t go on raiding the Earth’s resources in the way we are doing. That’s a fact that no political argument can change. You can ignore it, but you can’t change it. We depend on this planet. The planet does not depend on us. It will spin its merry way through space whether mankind exists or not.
The way I see it, there are two ways of tackling the issue. The Green Party option is to find a new and sustainable way of sharing the planet’s common treasury. The other option is to concentrate wealth in the hands of an elite and exclude anyone who doesn’t have the strength and the ruthlessness to join the elite. The excluded will, of course, fight tooth and nail for survival, but (presuming the planet is not rendered uninhabitable to humans during the conflict) I guess there will eventually be so few people left that the planet can support them. Until the population rises again and the whole cycle repeats.
By ignoring the issue, neo-liberalists are pursuing this second option. We see it in the treatment of refugees on the shores of Europe. We see it in the dealings between Greece and the EU. We see it in the utter disrespect the British government shows for those in need, and indeed for professionals in the business of caring, healing, or nurturing others, be they doctors or teachers. We see it in the bile Trump spouts. We see it in the shallow, science-denying populism of UKIP, and in the Little Englander mentality of the Brexiters. We see it everywhere businessmen, politicians, and ordinary, often well-meaning people, believe you can manage economies in the same way we have been managing them for the last century or so and get different results.
It ain’t going to happen. We have reached a crisis point. We need a radical change in thinking about the resources we use, the way we distribute wealth, the way we do business with each other. And the way we value human life on this planet.
The truly tragic thing is that the reality of climate change provides us with a huge opportunity to re-create ourselves as a better, fairer, sustainable civilization. It reminds humanity – and all the artefacts of human civilization, like economies and politics – where they belong in the global ecological system. Once the sustainability of the natural resources our civilization relies on for survival becomes your prime objective, suddenly it becomes clear why we need to re-invent our whole economic thinking, from re-structuring the financial and banking industry to the concept of paid work itself.
But all the while simply managing the economy according to past rules is the prime political objective, we run further and further up that dangerous dead end, eroding social justice, destroying social cohesion, fostering ignorance, fear, extremism and war. These are the means by which all but the elite can be got rid of – not by deliberate extermination but simply through the selfish and willful ignorance of those who don’t realise there’s no place for them in the lifeboat until its way too late.
The Greens undoubtedly don’t have all the right answers. But asking the right questions is a good place to start, and on that score, sadly, the Greens seem to be light years ahead of all the opposition. Still out there on the horizon, not waving, but drowning, while the British squabble about whether their little island lies on the European plate or not.
However, on the basis that all one individual can achieve is to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, I am an unashamed member of the Green Party.
Sue Rule is currently the Co-Ordinator of Sevenoaks Green Party