The ideological drive behind the Greens

By Kevin Andrews
Updated 12 Nov 2010, 11:40am

The Greens operate out of a set of ideological principles and beliefs that extend beyond the warm, cuddly environmentalism they wrap themselves in. [i]

While ‘environmentalism’ lies at the core of the Greens ideology, their policies, if ever enacted, would radically change the economic and social culture of Australia.

This has been true from the outset. In the 1970s, Jack Mundey’s BLF campaigned for a range of radical issues beyond the immediate industrial interests of the union. He appealed beyond the blue collar construction workers to the new left alliance of what has become known as “doctors’ wives” and tertiary students and academics. [ii]

John Black has analysed Green voters over a series of elections. In a recent report, he categorises Green voters.[iii]

First, those who vote Green as their primary vote: “This is the Don’s Party group that used to be in the ALP in the ‘60s and ‘70s: young university students or graduates, frequently working or still studying in academia, no kids, often gay, arts and drama type degrees or architecture where they specialise is designing environmentally friendly suburbs, agnostic or atheist, often US or Canadian refugees from capitalism, but well paid in professional consulting or media jobs.” [iv]

These groups swung more heavily to the Greens in 2010. “They were led by arts, media or architectural graduate, twenty-somethings, atheists and agnostics, Kiwis, the highly mobile university student groups, gays and the Green family group, which is a professional or admin consulting couple with one child attending expensive private schools.” [v]

While the Greens appeal to an alliance of young, tertiary educated students and professionals, the party has increasingly been infiltrated at the parliamentary level by members of the hard left. Let me take two examples. New South Wales senator-elect, Lee Rhiannon, is a former member of the Moscow-aligned Socialist Party of Australia. Her parents were prominent members of the Communist Party.

The new Member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, was a radical student activist. He once attacked the Greens as a “bourgeois” party. Writing on a Marxist website in the 1990s, Mr Bandt attacked capitalism, arguing that ideological purity was paramount. It is clear from his 1995 comments – “Communists can’t fetishise alternative political parties, but should always make some kind of materially based assessment about the effectiveness of any given strategy come election time” – that Bandt views the Greens as a vehicle for his ideological pursuits.

Ecological Marxism

There are many descriptions that could be applied to the Greens, but none seems more accurate than Jack Mundey’s own description of “ecological Marxism”. This description sums up the two core beliefs of the Greens. First, the environment or the ecology is to be placed before all else. This is spelt out in the first principle in the Greens Global Charter:

“We acknowledge that human beings are part of the natural world and we respect the specific values of all forms of life, including non-human species.” [vi]

Secondly, the Greens are Marxist in their philosophy, and display the same totalitarian tendencies of all previous forms of Marxism when applied as a political movement.  By totalitarian, I mean the subordination of the individual and the impulse to rid society of all elements that, in the eyes of the adherent, mar its perfection.

Let me expand.

According to the Greens ideology, human dignity is neither inherent, nor absolute, but relevant. [vii] Humans are only one species amongst others. As Brown and Singer write: “We hold that the dominant ethic is indefensible because it focuses only on human beings and on human beings who are living now, leaving out the interests of others who are not of our species, or not of our generation.” [viii] (emphasis added)

Elsewhere, they equate humans with animals: “The revolutionary element in Green ethics is its challenge to us to see ourselves in universal terms… I must take into account the interests of others, on the same footing as my own. This is true, whether these others are Victorians or Queenslanders, Australians or Rwandans, or even the non-human animals whose habitat is destroyed when a forest is destroyed.” [ix]

What is revolutionary about this statement is not that the interests of another should be considered in an ethical judgment. Judeo-Christian belief extols consideration of others, as does Kant’s Golden Rule. Burke wrote of society being a compact across generations. What is revolutionary is the equation of humans and animals.

Peter Singer expands these notions in his other works on animal liberation. He charges that humans are guilty of ‘speciesism’, that is, preferring their own species over all others. It leads him to argue in favour of infanticide and doctor-assisted suicide on one hand; and bestiality on the other, provided there is mutual consent! [x]

Peter Singer’s influence is evident in the Greens’ ideology. The author of a series of books, including Animal Liberation, Singer not only co-authored the Greens’ manifesto with Bob Brown, but stood as a candidate for the party in the Kooyong in 1994, and subsequently as a Senate candidate. [xi]

Gaia and ecological wisdom

The Green movement projects the whole planet with a spiritual dimension. The British chemist, James Lovelock, described the Earth as a complex living organism, of which humans are merely parts. He named this planetary organism after the Greek goddess who personified the earth – Gaia – and described “Her” as “alive.” [xii] (emphasis added)

Singer and Brown are correct to describe this as revolutionary. It involves the creation of a new pagan belief system, concerned not with the relationship between humans and a creator, but based on a deification of the environment.

For the Greens, a pristine global environment represents earthy perfection. It underpins their “ecological wisdom” [xiii] and is at the core of the new ethic. [xiv] It is to be protected and promoted at all costs. Hence, all old growth forests are to be locked up; [xv] logging is to be prohibited; wealth is to be scorned; [xvi] economic growth is opposed; [xvii] exclusive ownership of property is questioned; [xviii] there should be a moratorium of fossil fuels exploration; [xix] dam construction should be discouraged; [xx] genetic engineering and agricultural monoculture is rejected; [xxi] world trade should be reduced; [xxii] and a barter economy encouraged. [xxiii]

It explains why the Greens believe the world’s population is excessive and should be reduced, [xxiv] and why human consumption should be cut. [xxv]

The Greens also “Call for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be amended to include rights to a healthy natural environment and intergenerational rights to natural and cultural resources”. [xxvi] In turn, the Greens would be able to rely on international courts and fora to press their agenda. It also explains their concept of “intergenerational rights”: [xxvii] It is a concept squarely aimed at the defence of their belief in “Gaia”, or the perfect pristine earthly environment.

It explains why the Greens support the “right of Indigenous peoples to self-determination, land rights, and access to traditional hunting and fishing rights for their own subsistence” [xxviii] and reject measures such as the Northern Territory intervention and income management against the efforts of both major political parties.

Faith and belief

For many Greens supporters, environmentalism is ultimately an article of faith and belief. This is no better illustrated than in the controversy surrounding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It has become increasingly clear that the process of “establishing” human-caused global warming has been manipulated by a small group of people, using mutual peer processes, and claiming to speak for many more scientists who had little input and no real opportunity to review the final documents. The closed-shop nature of the process is counter the scientific empiricism of the enlightenment, and marks another significant break with traditional western culture.

To Greens believers, this is of little consequence. Ultimately, global warming is a matter of faith.

Similarly Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Perhaps one of the most dramatic scenes in the film is the depiction of an ice-wall collapsing. Viewers are led to believe that they are watching footage of an actual collapse. The truth, however, is that the scene was taken from the opening credits of a Hollywood movie, The day after tomorrow. [xxix]

Despite the fact that a British court found the film contained significant errors, [xxx] many environmentalists continue to believe it is true.  For these environmentalists, the errors are merely inconvenient mistakes that fail to negate the Armageddon the world faces unless drastic measures are taken. Again, this is an example of belief, rather than reason. “Evidence” can be manufactured. Scientific empiricism is a vehicle to be manipulated for a political cause. Worse still, the film is now being proposed for the National Curriculum in Australian schools.

The Greens belief in their environmental nirvana manifests itself in a new coercive utopianism.

Unless we understand the ideological foundations of the Greens, we will fail to effectively address the challenge of their revolution. We will be left debating instrumental outcomes, as if they are based on the same cultural and philosophical foundations that underpin western civilisation. What the Greens present is the cutting edge of a clash within western civilization itself. [xxxi]

A shorter version of this article was delivered as a speech to the News Weekly annual dinner in Melbourne on November 10, 2010.

Kevin Andrews is the Federal Member for Menzies.

[i] See for example The Charter of the Global Greens, Canberra, 2001 [hereinafter Charter] The Charter is a set of “the core beliefs and ideals” that Green parties hold in common: The Australian Greens are members of the Global Greens and were instrumental in the conference and charter. In 2008, the Greens leader, Senator Bob Brown, announced that Australian would establish and host a Global Greens Secretariat and Information Centre.
[ii] Mundey interview
[iii] John Black, 2010 election profile and some relevant documents, [Australian Development Strategies Pty Ltd, 2010] See also: John Black “Wealthy Greens the new DLP” Online Opinion, June 11, 2010
[iv] Ibid, 14
[v] Ibid., 16
[vi] Charter, 3
[vii] The Australian Greens do not refer to any inherent dignity of the human person. The Victorian Greens state that “every human being has inherent, inalienable human rights by virtue of birth” but it this is not the same ‘human dignity’ as understood in the western, Judeo-Christian tradition.
[viii] The Greens, 44
[ix] The Greens, 55
[x] Peter Singer (2001) “Heavy Petting”, Nerve
[xi] The Greens, 87
[xii] James E Lovelock, (1989) The ages of Gaia [Oxford University Press, Oxford] Many environmentalists subscribe to Lovelock’s theory, although many scientists question it.
[xiii] Charter, 3
[xiv] The Greens, 51 ff
[xv]  Greens website, Environmental principles
[xvi] The Greens, 49-51
[xvii] The Greens, 43
[xviii] Charter, 8
[xix] Charter, 9
[xx] Charter, 10
[xxi] Charter, 10
[xxii] Charter, 10 – 11
[xxiii] The Greens, 149
[xxiv] The Greens, 5, 42, 190; Charter, 1
[xxv] Charter, 5
[xxvi] Charter, 12
[xxvii] Charter, 12
[xxviii] Charter, 12
[xxix] Noel Sheppard, “Gore uses fictional video to illustrate ‘inconvenient truth’ “ Newsbusters, April 22, 2008, quoting script from the ABC TV (US) program 20/20.
[xxx] Dimmock v Secretary of State for Education and Skills [2007] EWHC 2288
[xxxi] On the idea of a clash within western civilization more generally, see James Kurth, (1994) ‘The real clash’, The National Interest, 3 – 15. See also Robert P George (2001) The clash of orthodoxies [ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware]