Sunday, April 13, 2008

Recurrent themes

There are a number of themes that will recur, over and over again on this blog until I get tired of beating the same drum, the drum turns into a dead horse, or something finally changes.

One of these is the way that certain corporations, specifically and foremost, Monsanto, work to gain control of the dna of everything. Ever since someone made the one headed decision that a corporation could patent DNA sequences, Monsanto has been working to gain control of the seed supply of every plant that might be useful to humans, especially those that we eat.

Finally, the tide is beginning to turn and, thanks to the hard work of Erica Martenson, the Green Party of California has taken an official stand that makes sense. At the latest plenary a new platform position was approved. You can read the text that was passed by consensus here. It took some time and a learning curve, but this was the last productive thing to make it from the Green Issues Working Group to the Platform Committee and then to be enacted. Thank you Erica.

Another recurring theme involves the fact that I have next to no patience for those who spend so much energy working against something and no energy on building the alternative. The latest case of this involves the war against WalMart and other big-box stores.

I wrote a column for the Morgan Hill Times that focused on the fact that one of the root causes for global warming is the American Consumer. Yet, we are being told by our government that the way to get out of every negative economic situation is for Americans to use more, buy more, exhaust our savings and our planet at an even faster rate that we are doing. This, of course, will only accelerate the expenditures of energy that are causing global warming in the first place. The solution to one problem, accoring to our government, is to make another worse. That does not make sense.

In the middle of this, I made the following statement that has drawn a lot of flack from my green friends.
The largest corporation in the U.S. is no longer a manufacturer but retail giant Wal-Mart stores. There are only three ways that this company can grow in the U.S.: open new stores in areas not yet served, have the population grow, or for us to just consume more.

There are many who fight Wal-Mart on the first issue. I am not one of those hawks. There are times and places where Wal-Mart makes sense.

There are other times and places where it does not. It should be up to each local area to decide.
For these friends of mine, the essence of being Green is to fight everything WalMart and an evil second only to Dick Chaney. At least the editor of the MH Times was able to see that the column was not "pro WalMart" but very much anti-consumerism. She headlined it "Consumerism will permanently damage our planet".

Now, I have no problem with anyone finding good reasons to stop WalMart from coming into their town. What bothers me is that so many progressives seem to be regressive, working to stop something rather than working to creating an alternative.

What is the alternative to WalMart? If we just let things go as the flow along, it might be failing mom and pop stores where you have to drive from store to store, burning gas each time, rather than going to a shopping center where they are all in one place, even if the do all look the same.

Since I have been associated with the GPCA, I have only had discussions with a couple of people on the question of Community Based Sustainable Economics.
The keystone of the Green Party's economic program is community-based economics. As an alternative to an economy owned by either government or gigantic corporations, Greens favor a Jeffersonian model with ownership and control spread as widely as possible among Californians.
That is right from the Platform. But, we get all excited about fighting WalMart and I have yet to see a session held about doing anything positive in regard to furthering our goals.

There is a sense in which the current economic problems in America will shape the presidential choice we make next November. So, what is the Green Solution? How do we move from where we are now to the point where we have something to fight for rather than fighting against?

You might make a case (a weak one, I admit) that the fight against WalMart displays a lack of Green Values in that it does nothing to support our own platform position. But then, proposing things that actually have to get done is so much harder than just going out and fighting the Evil Empire.

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