There has been talk of a new ‘Centre’ Party’.
The Green Party was founded on the premiss that economic growth would wreck the ecosphere if not checked. Kate Raworth is not the first to point out the obvious, that growth must have limits, hence her ‘Doughnut’ concept.
I hear a lot pf sophisticated arguments about green forms of growth, and how all kinds of eminently sensible measures, such as eating less meat, and having smaller families could cushion the effect of growth per se. Many others claim that increases in efficiency will minimise the problem, so the root problem of limiting economic activity is a can that can be kicked down the road.
I had a problem with that, and another has become clear with hindsight. I am reminded of these mitigations by the assurances we are given that post-Brexit, a whole host of new opportunities will plug the gap. They might, but to take any of these hopes as certainties is rash in the extreme. A no-growth strategy is a wise precaution in case any of the promised developments are delayed.
Growth per se is steadily taking an increasing toll, for now mainly in communities not in the economic mainstream, but there is also ocean acidification, habitat loss, and more. But a more insidious problem is the global mind set. The culture which underpins growth ensures that the aggressive strategies ideal for exploiting new opportunities become the worst possible strategies for an ecologically sustainable society. Does no one else wonder why a species capable of co-operation as no other, has such a record of killing its own kind?
All other political issues should pale into insignificance alongside the threat of serious damage to the ecosphere, but it is possible to understand why this has not happened. The reasons are complex, but central is the fact that humans are hard wired against loss. Once growth becomes the normal expectation, anything less looks like loss. Some blame the capitalists, but I have recently read in the Finncial Times that dividends from private companies over the past 100 years have averaged at least 5% n the UK and 6% in the USA. Zero growth will put an end to that gallop. Anything less than you are used to feels like loss. We eco-doomsters fear that dividends will be reduced with a vengeance a little later by natural forces, but this carries little weight due to the rationalizations about ‘green growth’ et cetera. They might be enough, but I would rather not take the risk.
All it needs is a new ‘quasi Buddhist’ mind set, er, world wide. The Green Party could have kept this issue in the public’s mind, just as Brexiteers did successfully on their issue. It would not have been ‘popular’ at first, but with the unconditional basic income (UBI) guaranteeing security for all whatever the level of economic activity, the issue would have gradually gained ground.
Instead, the Green Party concentrated on gaining support at local level. This was tactically astute, but it meant that the original raison d’être had to be quietly forgotten. The other difficulty was that ensuring security via the UBI would entail redistribution (i.e. loss for the better off). The party steadily morphed into a better socialist party than the one led by Ed Miliband.
The 2017 General election result in the Isle of Wight suggests that many Conservatives and Lib Dems might indeed support the Green Party if it could free itself of that ’left wing’ tag.
If all that is needed is a new ‘centre’ party, the Liberal Democrats should have been able to achieve that. But what some of us envisaged in 1973 s still needed – a Party with a new vision based on a recognition of the most important issue facing humankind. Would Kate Raworth mind us re-naming the Green Party the Doughnut Party?