Among the many things people don’t get about the Greens and the green movement is -- it’s organic. This is not just a nice conceit. Greens live and breathe above and below ground, which makes them resilient

People think the Green party in Parliament is the Greens. The trolls in the blogosphere wish it were so: so easy, such rich pickings, to gobble up each of the nine as they step out on to the bridge.

The Green party in Parliament is only the bit people notice. Its MPs are like fruit on a bush.

Sustainable economics is the dry topic du jour, but I was always going to lose patience with it and wander off into the garden, eventually. So: the greenest growth, maybe the only Green kind, is that embodied by the green movement itself, and the Green party.

I decided this morning: it is far far more than a nice conceit, to say that the Greens are organic. It’s not what they eat, or how they garden, or the fact that they’re food for worms.

It is one of life’s curiosities: was a conscious decision made, in 1972 by Values (the Greens’ parent party), to practice this theory? Or is it a lovely metaphor that happened serendipitously, sort of Gaia taking care of her own.

Announcing in 2009 that she would step down as co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons said:

unlike some other parties who would disappear if their leader did, the Greens represent a new force in politics which is growing around the world … If all of us disappeared, there would be nine more to take our places.

I think I sighed, and shook my head. It seemed idealistic and unrealistic, for such a grounded woman; it seemed just plain wrong. I learned a bit since then, I understand her better now, and as so often, she was right.

Six months or so after Fitzsimons left Parliament, she came back to the roots, where she started.

Never mind the visible bits that seem to support the fruit and feed it: Green party members and policy and organisation and so on. These are necessary, but not sufficient. The really important part is the network you can’t see, down in the roots of the eco-movement: the environmental and conservation NGOs, the sustainable business and transition towns networks, the activism, the covert sympathisers.

Those roots reach out to all corners; who knows where they stop and start, because there is a sort of symbiosis, between the Green and the green.

So, while I am lurking round the edge of the Green party, trying to figure them out, it dawns on me, slowly -- it blazes over me this morning, far too late, like an epiphany -- there are others here too, who give external, independent, expert comment and critique, whom the party listens to and feeds off. They are not Green, in the big 'G' political sense, and probably never will be; and in the end it does not matter much. But some of them are green at heart.

And so this (among other reasons) is why the perennial hoop-la round changes of co-leader (for example) is, well, a bit dumb -- if a happy political distraction. It’s the difference between substance and form. Politically, maybe form matters more, but the substance comes from the ground up. And when the trolls come and gobble up the fruit or piddle and stamp on the bush: more fool them. Its roots go deep, and it’ll grow back.

I was asked a little while ago, how did I end up here, on Pundit, writing about green stuff. I think I waffled and prevaricated; in fact, I know I did. I hate those kind of questions.

Thinking about it afterwards, I decided actually, it’s very simple. I bought a house, and I made a garden. For the first time in my life, I had a place to put down roots, and I sank them quick and deep. I wanted the garden to grow; I wondered whether it would, and for how long; I fretted about climate change.

The garden got too small, but the same principles apply, the world over. So Pundit is gardening too, in its way: big picture virtual gardening. And, the interconnectedness of things being what it is, one thing led to another, and here we are.

As for the Greens, I won’t say it takes a gardener to understand it. It would be nicer if more people and the whole world did. But it makes it easier.

Comments (19)

by Jackson James Wood on November 19, 2010
Jackson James Wood

Sometimes it is hard to get past the WHARRGARBL of people whose basic instinct is one of fear and derision of the Greens.

Posts like this one from Australia—and some of comments of your last post on the Sustainable Economics Conference—really nail that home.

"As for the Greens, I won’t say it takes a gardener to understand it. It would be nicer if more people and the whole world did."

I was sitting on a plane to New Plymouth a couple of months ago and the dairy farmer next to me struck up a conversation.

His two first questions where "Where do you work? What do you do?"

As soon as I said that I worked for the Green Party he started ripping into me. After explaining that we're not all pot smoking hippies who want to destroy farmers I touched on our Water Policy. Suddenly you could see the light go on in his head: "S**t, this kid might know what he's talking about."

By the end of the flight I think I had him thinking differently about the Greens. Maybe. Hopefully.

Unfortunetly we can't sit down and talk individually with every New Zealander. But the party has been saying the same thing for 20 years and it'll keep saying it for another 20 at least. One hopes that eventually it will sink in and become harder to attack on the basis of unfounded stereotype.

by Raymond A Francis on November 20, 2010
Raymond A Francis

Nice post Claire

I feel that anybody who thinks about the subject (Gaia, sustainability) will agree with something the Greens espouse

My problem is I know what they against  ( and that seems to be just everything) and bugger all about the positives

And judging by the polls that is how most of NZ see them

by Mark Wilson on November 21, 2010
Mark Wilson

The problem with the greens and their ilk is that they are bludgers. They use way more of society's wealth than they create.

Their "sustainable" society does not create the wealth that they consume. A society run on the Green's ideology would have to do without any high tech health care, quality education, pensions or dole (the latter would of course wipe out their voter base.) 

If they were not such a dishonest class they would refuse to take advantage of all the modern benefits including those listed above. The reality is that the green voter base are costing the taxpayer a fortune and they are greedy beyond belief.    

by Jackson James Wood on November 21, 2010
Jackson James Wood

Case in point above.

by Mark Wilson on November 21, 2010
Mark Wilson

Personal insult doesn't take away the embarrassing point that the Greens consume much more than they contribute and that have no answer to that point

by Claire Browning on November 22, 2010
Claire Browning

Nobody's insulting you, Mark. JJ was just observing that your "point" was an own goal -- magnificently executed, twice.

by nommopilot on November 22, 2010

"They use way more of society's wealth than they create"

I love the way you like to imagine yourself as some wealh-creating hero, Mark.  Is it similar to the way a spider creates webs?  do you have some kind of wealth-exuding orifice?

by Claire Browning on November 22, 2010
Claire Browning

I think probably something more like this:

And this:

by Mark Wilson on November 22, 2010
Mark Wilson

Oh dear - I really have hit the target - not one attempt to justify the Greens insistance that other people must provide for them.

It's only an own goal if its wrong - you guys are not exactly good at spotting when you are mocked are you.


by nommopilot on November 22, 2010

"not one attempt to justify the Greens insistance that other people must provide for them."

um, we're not attempting to justify something you just made up and this proves what?

you may have hit the target, but unfortunately the target only exists for you, in your imagination and to everyone else you seem like just another self-righteous insane priest of randianism on teh internetz.

by Mark Wilson on November 23, 2010
Mark Wilson

Well Mic if its not true then please explain why the wealth creaters have to pay more taxes than they should to support the Greens support base who consume more wealth than they should?

I have no time for Rand as her approach would require the same level of fascism that the left have used over the last 110 years to kill 100 million. Which they now want to avoid any mention off.

And let me guess - you are one of the people who consume more than you create. 

by nommopilot on November 23, 2010

"please explain why the wealth creaters have to pay more taxes than they should to support the Greens support base who consume more wealth than they should?"

see where you use the word "should" twice in that sentence?  that's where it becomes obvious that your question assumes everyone shares your ideology.

most so called "wealth creators" are actually exploiting the natural environment and visiting externalities upon the people and ecosystems with which they share it.  you ask me if I consume more than I create - the answer is I consume very little and I am very very creative.

does your wealth creation actually improve the world for future generations or just bring more stuff and economic activity into it?  why don't you tell us specifically what it is you think makes you such a valuable economic superhero?

by nommopilot on November 23, 2010

"I have no time for Rand"

except your world view sounds like it comes straight out of the fountainhead.  a few "wealth creators" supporting a raft of parasitic consumers?

I believe the only wealth the human race has is the natural environment and what you call 'wealth creation' is in fact destruction of natural wealth.  Is the production of an iPod creating wealth?  I would argue no:  it burns up and uses fossil fuels and metals and will end up in a landfill it may generate economic activity but I don't think economic activity is necessarily wealth.

I'd really like to hear just what your definition of wealth is, Mark, because it seems like the concept you use to justify your existence and proclaim your superiority over the rabble.

by Mark Wilson on November 23, 2010
Mark Wilson

I have no interest or need to be superior to anyone.

My point is that someone has to pay for what I regard as wealth - high tech health care, quality education, pensions for those in need, police to protect the weak, roads, power, water etc. In poor countries none of those things are provided.

There is only one sustainable way to provide those - taxes. The problem is, as in Greece, the US and much of the first world, that over the last 50 years the number of those who create wealth and pay tax on money they were not paid by the state on has radically diminished as a proportion against those who don't. In NZ's case it has gone from 7 tax payers per wealth consumer to 2 to 1.   

I have no problem with you holding the beliefs that you do but if you are a person of integrity you should also refuse to benefit from such things as modern health care - if you need a major heart operation at some stage you should decline it on the grounds that you haven't paid for it and also on the grounds it requires the destruction of "natural wealth". So as a person of integrity you would go home and quietly die.

Will you do that? I have no doubt you wont.

Where Rand was right is that, as in Venezuela, the left want to redistribute wealth and of course the wealth creators then withdraw their capital and abilities. Look at Ireland - they overcooked their economy and spent madly and now have massive capital flight and a diaspora of talent and ability.

New Zealand cannot compete with the rest of the world in the future if we will not reduce the numbers of people like yourself who have the sense of entitlement that you do. Already hundreds of thousands of wealth creators have left in the last 10 years (more than 10,000 last month alone) and we are increasing the proportion of consumers to creators beyond the systems ability to survive.

If the Greens won a majority in the next election and implemented their policy's we would be driven back to an agrarian based form of poverty. The average lifespan would return to the 40s which is all that system can provide.

My beef is that the left are not honest enough to admit that without encouraging the wealth creators you have nothing but poverty to redistribute.

by Mark Wilson on November 23, 2010
Mark Wilson

"We are not without accomplishment. We have managed to distribute poverty equally."

Vietnamese Communist Minister. 

by nommopilot on November 23, 2010

"I have no interest or need to be superior to anyone."

nonsense - every comment you make sneers at those who haven't attained the rank of wealth creator that you regard as the epitome of virtue.

you seem to lack any empathy or understanding of society in your little model.  do you actually think it's possible for the huge number of people you term "wealth consumers" to move into the ranks of the "wealth creators" when those "wealth creators" are motivated to maximise profits and maximise the differential between their own wealth and that of others.  how do you propose the rabble become wealth creators in a society with growing unemployment, low wages and very few opportunities?

by Mark Wilson on November 23, 2010
Mark Wilson

Mic it all comes down to whether you think that you can strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

When it was possible to restrict the movement of capital and ability then you could try and make everyone equal which is why all hard left governments have to restrict freedoms so much. Thus you get Venezuela which as the lunatic "equalises" the wealth he destroys the economy. Who gets hammered? - the poor and weak of course.  

My points are consistant -

- A society that provides for all has to have a successful and wealthy economy.

- There is a tipping point where if you put too great a burden on the wealth creation mechanisms you get withdrawal of capital and of risk taking. Who gets hammered? - dittto.                                      

-  Not enough people in this country pay their way so over the last decade capital and expertise has gone elsewhere.

- The Greens are stronger than they were and their rise is in direct proportion to the flight of the capital and entrepreneurship so the country is already in a downward spiral. Who is getting hammered?

- The next Labour led government will lurch left and excacerbate the flight. Who gets hammered? 


by nommopilot on November 24, 2010

"My points are consistant"

your points are consistent only with your own internal logic and narcissistic worldview.

unfortunately they do not address any of the questions I have asked you, leading to confirmation of my suspicion that you are just a troll spouting right wing talking points and complaining about having to pay tax when it is your divine right as a 'wealth creator' to keep all the 'wealth' you 'create'.  it's boring, selfish, and also total rubbish.

by Mark Wilson on November 24, 2010
Mark Wilson

No where do I say anything of the sort.

My post answers your points - your problem is you don't like the answers.

You will be the one who gets hammered not me. 

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