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Synthesis/Regeneration 14   (Fall 1997)

Who Are The Greens?

by Don Fitz, Gateway Green Alliance

The Greens are not just an environmental movement. They are a movement of diversity and empowerment. The Greens see domination of the environment by people as intimately related to the domination of people by people. Thus, environmentalism is a cornerstone, but not the sole component, of The Greens.

Many environmental groups appear to share the same goals as The Greens. But The Greens' focus on overcoming domination may mean that they are best situated to become an umbrella uniting environmentalists, feminists, trade unionists, civil rights activists, community organizers, anti-imperialists, socialists and anarchists.

In order to embrace this diversity, The Greens attempt to include all in decisions. But this attempt at concensus broke down in 1991 and 1992 when a minority in The Greens/Green Party USA refused to accept democratically made decisions and split from the organization. As this issue of Synthesis/Regeneration goes out, Greens across the US are making major decisions about their future. Will Greens create a national organization which is based exclusively on state parties or will the umbrella be broad enough to include representation from state parties, local groups, multi-state regions, people of color, women, youth and lesbian/gays? In other words, will Greens develop a rigid ideology that a state party structure must be imposed on members whether they seek it or not; or, will the sunflower blossom to embrace a diversity of organiza-tional structures?

One of the biggest concerns confronting efforts to unite The Greens/Green Party USA, Association of State Green Parties, Left Green Network, interest caucuses, unaffiliated state parties, locals and regions is whether negotiations will be open or closed. Politics-as-usual is the politics of closed-door negotiations. Decisions are made by power-brokers in smoke-filled rooms. The power-brokers then give people the option to "ratify" (i.e., rubber stamp) the decision that others have made. What is missing from politics-as-usual is the ability of the people to participate in formulating plans and alternatives.

Will Greens succumb to these old forms of domination or will Greens develop a politics-of-inclusion? As Greens move toward creating a unified organization, the essential question will be: Who will formulate the plan for unity? Will a handful of power-brokers draft a plan which they submit to various organizations to ratify? Or will Greens have the openness of mind to invite all contending groups to meet at the same time and same place to provide input and draft plans for unity? Will average Green members themselves participate in a grand meeting to select between and refine formulations for unification? Or, will Green members be told that their role is limited to rubber stamping a plan prepared by an elite?

The question which Greens must ask themselves is this: If, in seeking to overcome differences, they resort to back-room deals, then; in what way is the Green movement different from the political and economic system it strives to replace?

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