Greens tend to fight shy of grand, abstract terms, especially in the political sphere. It is probably better that way but it can lead to misunderstandings. It can obscure the extent to which there is a distinctly Green political philosophy; it is also exploited by many journalists, who still feign surprise when Greens talk of anything other than the environment. This reticence is probably born of the primacy in Green minds of what is loosely called ‘the planet’, without whose good health no one will survive. Alone among political movements, the Greens arose not out of social preferences but scientific knowledge of the physical state of the world. This can conceal a considerable unity of purpose and cohesion in the political analysis it gives rise to, which is also testament to important, but undervalued, intellectual currents beneath it.
This paper looks at those currents and where they place Green ideas in the universe of political thought, particularly in relation to older ideas about socialism. A couple of sections will briefly describe the ideas themselves, which will then be examined in the light of three touchstones of political thinking:
- The State v. Market debate
- Attitudes to the commons
- The Role of money