Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why are the Greens so green?

Why are the interviewers always catching Natalie Bennett out? Is it because the Leader of the Green Party is not up to it? Or because she was having a bad day? The second is her explanation for what happened yesterday. Maybe she did have one but there is another possible explanation -- that the Green Party's reformist programme is incoherent and doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

The Green Party supports capitalism and believes that under it people's needs can be made to come before profit-making. But history has amply demonstrated that this can't be done, that capitalism cannot be reformed so as to benefit the majority in society.

So, when the Green Party advocates that 500,000 new houses should be built (or any other expensive reform measure for that matter and there are plenty on the Green Party's wish list), "how are you going to pay for it?" is a question which revolutionary socialists can legitimately pose as well as pro-capitalist interviewers. The Green Party answers vaguely something along the lines of taxing the rich, corporations as well as individuals. But that means reducing profits and profits are what makes capitalism go round. So if you reduce them then you risk provoking an economic downward and you're back to square one.

It's official Green Party policy that banks can create money out of thin air and Bennett could have answered that the money to pay for the 500,000 new houses could simply be magicked into existence. Which of course would cause massive inflation. Fortunately for her, she did not to give that answer as the interviewer would have torn her to pieces. Or perhaps in this case she decided that discretion was the better part of valour and that um... er ... was the best way out.

Twenty-five years ago Derek Wall, once a Green Party spokesperson (in the days before they had a Leader) described rather well what was likely to happen if ever a reformist, Green Party government were to be elected:
‘A Green government will be controlled by the economy rather than being in control. On coming to office through coalition or more absolute electoral success, it would be met by an instant collapse of sterling as 'hot money' and entrepreneurial capital went elsewhere. The exchange rate would fall and industrialists would move their factories to countries with more relaxed environmental controls and workplace regulation. Sources of finance would dry up as unemployment rocketed, slashing the revenue from taxation and pushing up the social security bills. The money for ecological reconstruction – the building of railways, the closing of motorways and construction of a proper sewage system – would run out’ (Getting There, 1990, p. 78).
The socialist idea is ecological

The conclusion is not that we can't do anything but that we should act to get rid of capitalism and its production for profit and establish a socialist system, based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production. This, and only this, is the framework in which problems such as the housing crisis can be solved once and for all. Then, it wouldn't be a question of trying to put people before profits. It would be people instead of profits since production for profit, and so profits, would no longer exist.