Comment - Social Justice
The Philosophical Basis of the Green Party - Against the Change by David Flint.
I joined the Green Party three years ago because of my increasing fears
about climate change
(see my blog).
Climate change can only be addressed by a transformation in our economic base and
social relations and this, I thought, needs a political party - the Green
Since then I've come to appreciate the insights at the root of Green politics
- that humans are not the only living things with rights and that without
the support of the non-human world we all perish. Thus Green politics
differs from all other political systems by having our relationship to
nature, and not our relationships with each other, at its heart. I think the
new philosophical basis obscures that key point.
Now all political parties must seek power and must therefore develop
policies on many issues - some quite remote from their core concerns. For
these policies we need some guiding principles and I want to have social
justice as a key principle.
And, of course, we should seek social justice in our climate change
policies too. A high carbon tax, which we need, applied in isolation
would drive many more families into fuel poverty. Surely we should
avoid this by using part, perhaps all, of the tax revenues to avoid this
Still more, the price of avoiding climate change will include the ending of
growth in the developed world. This will not be acceptable unless we can
promise people a better life with fewer goods but more health, leisure and
community spirit. All these demand a more equal society.
But here's the sticky bit. The best time to adopt effective policies against
climate change has already passed. Effective policies will cause pain to
some - perhaps to many - and must be adopted in a world not hugely
different from today's. We do not have time to neutralise all the special
interests, to overthrow all the dictators and to conduct a social revolution
first. Therefore effective policies will require compromise with special
interests and dictators. To be effective we need absolute clarity about our
Avoiding catastrophic climate change ought to be our top priority
because catastrophic climate change will destroy essentially everything
we value from healthy food through biodiversity to democracy. If the
worst scenarios are correct then it will destroy billions of human lives.
It's a hard choice and we may yet avoid it. We must work to avoid it. But
if I have to choose between survival and justice then I will choose
survival. The danger of giving 'social justice' equal priority is that it may
distract us from the most serious threat we face.
First published in the EGP members newsletter, May 2013
Published and promoted
by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13