Politics, they say, is the art of the possible. But the possible is not fixed. What we believe is possible depends on our knowledge and beliefs about the world. Ideas can change the world, and Green House is about challenging the ideas that have created the world we live in now, and offering positive alternatives.
The problems we face are systemic, and so the changes we need to make are complex and interconnected. Many of the critical analyses and policy prescriptions that will be part of the new paradigm are already out there. Our aim is to communicate them more clearly, and more widely.
GREEN PARTY CONFERENCE (SEPTEMBER 2016)
Prior to the election of Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley as co-leaders, and of Amelia Womack as Deputy Leader, Green House sent all candidates key questions on issues such as a potential progressive alliance and austerity. Read their answers
Green House convened a panel debate on the idea of progressive alliances with Caroline Lucas (co-leader of the Green Party and MP), Lisa Nandy (Labour MP), Chris Bowers (former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate), Neal Lawson (Chair of Compass) and Rupert Read (Chair, Green House). The panel was chaired by Guardian journalist Zoe Williams.
Almost 1,000 people attended this open debate about the pros (and cons) of progressive alliances and how they might work in practice. Whilst stressing the urgency to change the First Past the Post system Caroline Lucas said it was crucial that "this is something from the ground up – not being imposed from the top down". The Labour party would be key to any alliance. According to Neal Lawson “The glacier is melting. There is real movement in the labour movement and the Labour Party towards PR.” Read a summary of the panel.
Read recent articles by Rupert Read and Molly Scott Cato on why a progressive alliance is needed.
The Green Case For A Progressive Pact
This new Green House pamphlet was presented at the panel and looks at the case for a progressive alliance and how Greens could benefit. It includes contributions from Molly Scott Cato MEP, Victor Anderson, Rupert Read, Jonathan Essex, and Sara Parkin. This briefing was written before the EU referendum and the economic and political turmoil which has followed. However we believe its analysis and conclusions still stand – and in fact have been made much more urgent by the possibility of an early general election, and by the current state of the Labour Party. We invite everyone who wants to see an alternative to continued Conservative government to join in the discussion about what that alternative can be. Read the press statement issued on 3 July 2016
In a special Green House Gas on Victor Anderson explains why the Labour Party’s crisis is a problem for us all: "What has happened to the Labour Party since the June 23 referendum represents a further stage in its decline, beyond the already existing weaknesses which led to the argument for a progressive pact or alliance. That argument depended on the Labour Party still being there as the biggest component part of such a pact. It was assumed, or relied on, as being able to supply a solid central block around which other parties could gather in a co-operative effort, partially co-operative anyway."
GREENS AND THE EU REFERENDUM
On 19th June Green House issued the following communiqué prior to the EU referendum:
"Green House was not expecting to take a public position about the EU referendum. We had been exploring the issues and arguing about them among ourselves, privately; and facilitating debate about the referendum choice, publicly. But we didn't intend to speak out about it collectively, in public, with one voice.
That's changed, because we have become increasingly - and deeply - dismayed in recent days and weeks about the increasingly harmful form that the Leave campaign has taken, and about the results that this is now leading to. And we have become ever more united, as a result. Continue reading
Green House has also provided a platform for green views on the issues. In a special Green House Gas, based on his new book A Heart for Europe, Dick Pels (former leader of the Dutch green think tank Bureau de Helling and author of numerous books on European politics) says "we are Europeans, for better or for worse" and asks how can "we cultivate a spirit of civic love for Europe?" His book is available to download from the Good Works Publishing Co-operative. Meanwhile Rupert Read (Chair Green House) argues We must localise the EU and curb corporate power.
On 2nd June Green House hosted a debate between Molly Scott Cato (Green MEP) and Dick Pels (Dutch Green Party) who argued we should remain in the EU, and Green Party Baroness Jenny Jones and Patricia McKenna (former Green MEP for Dublin) who advocated leaving.
Read a summary of the debate.
REGULATIONS OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS IN THE EU
In this report Vesco Paskalev argues that the regulation of GMOs in the EU is a shambles. The main problem lies in a very narrow conception of risk and safety. All the emphasis is wrongly on laboratory tests, and evidence on the wider environmental effects is scant. Wider studies on the effects on consumption patterns or the cost pressures on non GM farmers are ignored. In addition, experts supplant the proper role of the political institutions, and the precautionary principle is rendered inoperative. Paskalev proposes specific legal amendments to remedy these faults.
THE REAL ECONOMICS OF ECOSYSTEMS AND BIODIVERSITY
What are the real causes of biodiversity loss and ecosystem decline? This question is asked and answered surprisingly rarely, and when it is, the most frequently proposed answers just scratch the surface of what is at stake. Victor Anderson's new pamphlet TREEB: the real economics of ecosystems & biodiversity gets to the economic and other issues at the root of what is happening to our planet.
GREEN POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Widening the focus from Europe to the global South, Peter Newell, Professor of International Relations at the University of Sussex (and the latest recruit to Green House's Advisory Group) argues in our latest Gas that we urgently need to bring Green politics to bear to chart a different model of development that provides real prosperity and well-being for all the planet’s inhabitants while placing sustainability centrally. This would be a radically different approach to development that addresses the root causes of under-development in growth mania, unregulated global business, militarism and worsening inequalities. To achieve this requires a progressive development politics that forges alliances with sympathetic governments and institutions and social movements and NGOs seeking to realise a vision of development as if both people and planet mattered.
This is intended to kick-start a bigger debate. To join in, download Green Politics and International Development here.
GOOD SHARING, BAD SHARING
Everybody's talking about the Sharing Economy. Some celebrate its capacity to help create a more equal society, but others warn of the threat of new all-powerful monopolies, and point to the example of Uber. In a new Green House Gas entitled Good Sharing, Bad Sharing, prominent German Green Reinhard Loske argues that whether its results will be positive or negative depends on whether the 'new economy' is designed to maximise profits or to maximise social benefits. If we can manage to find the right political regulatory framework for it, then the Sharing Economy might just show us the way to a sustainable future - and even to the demise of capitalism as we know it.
Another new Green House publication is an e-pamphlet authored by Andy Pearmain and entitled Newer Times. In this piece, which takes up a generation later the idea of the famous Marxism Today ‘New Times’ thesis, Pearmain suggests that the coming of robotisation is going to fundamentally change the nature of our society and our politics. It means an end to Labourism, and suggests new opportunities and a new need for Green ideas such as the Citizens Income. For, under the influence of robotisation, we face either a hideously unequal future where a few are rich while the rest are unneeded, or a genuine leisure society at last for all.
Simultaneously, Green House is publishing a response by its Chair, Rupert Read, to Pearmain’s pamphlet. Read argues in response to Pearmain that robotisation itself is going to be a very temporary phenomenon: planetary limits will (within a generation or at most two) severely limit the supplies of raw materials and energy needed to enable large-scale robotisation, and pollution-crises part-speeded-up by huge investments in automation will have the same effect. The question is whether we can rein in robotisation soon enough to ensure that ‘Peak Robot’ occurs under our control, and not as a result of a crash forced on us by collapsing ecosystems.
Green House sees the debate here as a central one for our times, and a topic that has not been dwelt on nearly enough by all those serious about our politics and our shared future. We hope that you will join the debate, on social media and beyond.
GREEN POLITICS AND THE LEFT
'Politics is the art of the possible,' to repeat the well-known quotation from Bismarck at the head of this page. He added to this definition '....the attainable - the art of the next best’ . For Greens today, politics has to be about more than ‘the next best’. Clearly, political goals have to be attainable, but what is considered attainable has for the last thirty years certainly not been either of the best or even the next best.
The election of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party - a Labour leader ‘without historical precedent’ - offers a challenge to all those who oppose continuing inequality, climate change and the dominance of ‘Capital’. For Greens he offers a special opportunity - an opportunity to articulate and promote a progressive politics that is distinctly different from that of the Labour Party, and one which is more capable of successfully addressing the complex and interconnected problems of the 21st century.
Green Politics and the Left is a new form of intervention for Green House. It brings together in one downloadable pdf seven short essays by Green House members to explore and debate the new dynamics of Ecologism, Socialism, Democracy and Republicanism. Not everyone will agree with the authors here - indeed, the point of the exercise is to draw out and debate different perspectives on the new landscape - but democracy, and especially a Green democracy, is about deliberation, participation and informed debate. Isn't that what Jeremy Corbyn has brought to the Labour Party? Let's all join in!
‘Limits to growth’ comes to Westminster at last!
A report from the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Limits to Growth at the House of Commons by Green House Chair, Rupert Read
Growing is a dangerous business. A person over seven feet tall is at massive extra risk of having a heart attack. Imagine how it would be for them at eight feet tall. Or nine. Or…
Aren’t we always told that ‘the sky’s the limit’? That more growth is clearly better?
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