Regime Change: Ditch the Green Party for Socialist Campaigns

by Matt Hoke on September 22, 2015


This article is both a call to action, but also importantly the acknowledgment of a trend already underway.  The writing is on the wall.  When it comes to electoral politics in the USA, we need a transition from Green to Socialist.

Furthermore, this conflict is irreconcilable.  It is true that we can work together in alliances.  However, the Green label and ticket is so thoroughly flawed, not simply in terms of culture and political identity, but also in strictly name terms alone, that it cannot possibly be salvaged as a tool or vehicle for building a mass party.

To be clear I am not saying running Green is unprincipled.  Rather I am saying it is a pointless dead-end and we need to shift resources.

Certain of the more strident Green critics have said “a dollar for Bernie is a dollar for Hillary.”  Whether that’s true, or relevant, or not, we can also add: any resources spent working within the Green Party are building up and reinforcing a dead-end electoral strategy.  All those resources, every single dollar, every single hour spent, every single person dedicated, needs to be redirected toward something that can actually act as a vehicle for a mass electoral challenge.  Ultimately in practice, you have to choose which you give your resources to, one or the other.  The new option is socialism.

Why socialist?

In the past socialists hid as partners in other, broader, labels.  That is no longer necessary.  The conventional wisdom is we must appeal to a majority who is more moderate than us.  However, the modern USA is not about centrism or moderation.  It is about a majority which is increasingly polarized toward extremes and who largely views the political system as illegitimate.  The entire phenomenon of the Tea Party proves that people can easily win if they align themselves with these tendencies (but let’s do it from the other side).

As we are seeing with Sawant and Sanders, socialism works.  However it is not the label alone which is key here.  Instead, it is the combination of that anti-mainstream label with the way these socialists make economic wedge issues the focus of their campaigns that secures them victory.  For almost a decade now, economics has been the primary grievance of Americans, with both the label “socialist” and the left economic demands which socialists tend to focus on addressing this grievance directly.

Does this mean the word socialism, alone, can win a majority in every locale?  Absolutely not.  Instead we should be consolidated our already-existing-yet-still-unorganized support base to create a socialist party which does not immediately replace the Republicans or Democrats, but is instead at first a minority party which contends for influence.

It’s not just that the word socialism is what we really, directly stand for; it’s also that it works.  And it’s not just that the world socialism works, but it’s also what we really, directly stand for.

Why not Green?

The reasons for abandoning the Greens are basically the inverse of the reasons for running socialist campaigns, plus a few.

Whereas socialism is a totalizing system that addresses the entire spectrum of social grievances through an economic systemic solution and class perspective, “Green” suggests a single niche issue.  It irreconcilably sounds like an environmentalist niche issue party no matter how many times you repeat yourself to the contrary, because when you give a party a niche issue name and then insist it has a platform that covers everything, the resultant inevitable and constant confusion is your fault, not your audience’s.

Lobbying within the Greens to transform them is also probably futile.  The party locals do not tend to be vibrant grassroots affairs of supporters.  Rather they tend to be small numbers of party cadres who are tremendously set in their ways, insisting on all the cultural trappings that make the party a failure as somehow its greatest values.

The Green Party has a culture which is gut-churningly remote from the headspace of the working majority, and marked by all the world’s middle-class progressive moralism and aesthetic hangovers of the 1960s’ failures.  Maybe the Green Party made sense for the Global Justice Movement’s themes in the 1990s, but the situation has transformed markedly since then, from one with first-worlders sympathizing with the plight of third-worlders, to one of first-worlders themselves viewing themselves as oppressed and exploited by capitalism.  This is everything.

It’s not that I think the Greens will betray the working class or anything; it’s that they will never produce a culture or image which the working majority can identify with.  Green rhetoric tends to center on imminent ecological apocalypse and moral injunctions to be an embattled, enlightened minority fighting for the truth against difficult odds, rather than speaking to people’s personal economic predicaments the way Kshama Sawant and Bernie Sanders do.  When you talk about the global picture, or morality, most people sympathize with what you’re saying, but don’t feel empowered to fight.  Those things are so distant from them; they don’t have any power over them or direct connection to them.  But when you talk about what’s going on in their bank account, their job, their apartment, this is something they can rally around.

I look at the infographic at the top and I nearly vomit.  People are still out of work, and here the Green Party is listing things which sound like they were cobbled together from a Bingo game of Social Forum buzzwords.  Some of the very terminology is unfamiliar to the average person, whereas much of the rest is an expression of liberal moralistic culture which wags its finger at you, instead of class grievances which take your side because you are oppressed and don’t have as much as you deserve.  Politics which guilt-trips the working class instead of siding with it is not going to appeal to the bottom 50% beyond a minority of freaks.  Even if the actual platform of the Greens is very pro-labor, the party’s culture and imagery is so aligned with progressive moralism that such impressions will dominate in the perceptions of possible worker supporters.

It’s not that I don’t believe environmentalism is important.  You can’t redistribute wealth after the apocalypse, or not as meaningfully.  However, we have to be realists about how we will achieve our environmentalist goals.  If people think economics is the key issue, that’s where we have to begin.  Rather than having a party based on an environmental label and tacking class warfare onto it, we need a party recognizably based on class warfare, in which we contend for environmentalist positions.

It is not enough to incorporate class into your party as an afterthought, now that is has become a popular issue.  Instead it must be the forefront of your visual identity, messaging, and actual priorities in order to resonate at a mass scale.

But the Greens already exist!

A constant argument is that the Greens already have electoral infrastructure.  They already have a swathe of low-level candidates elected.  But isn’t it telling that all those officials combined have made so much less of an impact than the single socialist city councilor Kshama Sawant?

They say the Greens are already on the ballot, already have a small but real electoral machine.  But what is the point of having an apparatus, if that apparatus is aligned with a party/culture/name/identity that literally cannot become a mass party due to its intrinsic, unavoidable characteristics?  It seems then that we simply cannot avoid the task of building a new infrastructure from scratch, or building it some other way.

Furthermore the Greens have locked themselves into futile national campaigns.  They frequently campaign at offices higher than they can possibly hope for.  Often this is because getting a certain percentage of the vote at those levels allows you certain privileges at the level of lower offices, like automatic ballot access or funding.

However it is literally worth more to do the petition work of getting on the ballot at the level of low offices than it is to demoralize your audience and deplete your credibility by running constant losing campaigns for high office.  Protest votes don’t appeal to the majority.  People who run for offices they can actually win do.  Even if winning legislative power is not your key priority, it just allows you to be taken so much more seriously by most people to run for offices you can win.

Why can’t the Green Party be socialist?

A constant refrain among advocates of the Green Party strategy is that the Green Party doesn’t preclude socialist participation.  The arguments go:

  • Socialists are welcome within the Green Party
  • Numerous Greens already are socialist
  • Much of the Green platform is economically leftist in its content
  • It’s just a name
  • Look at these Green candidates who ran openly as socialists/with strong class war campaign themes!

All these arguments either fall short or miss the point completely.

I will hammer it home as many times as I have to.  The Green name itself is a fatal obstacle to the kind of class-centered electoral strategy we need.  If you run as “a socialist but within the Greens,” the economic relevance that you have to people’s everyday lives is just going to be blunted by those weird moralistic progressive overtones that are inextricable from the Green label and culture, and which are foreign and obnoxious to the really-existing working class.  (And no, I don’t have some blue-collar manufacturing image of the working class, but nor do I have any delusions about how deeply reactionary workers can be when left without socialist expression.)

We need a radical, class-oriented face, not class radicalism buried somewhere in our list of social justice issues.

When you deliver a class war message straight, or even with some social justice supplements, it can win in red states.  When you mire it in equal emphasis with progressive moralism, it cannot.  And whatever leftism cannot win in red states will probably not be able to flourish at a mass scale in any state, by the law of diminishing returns and the proletariat’s general impatience and disinterest in anything that does not speak to its situation directly and unmistakably.  This may hurt to hear for people who place a high, perhaps moralistic premium on intersectionality.  This is not to say that intersectionality is unimportant.  Rather it is to say that a politics that deals in the millions is going to have class as its main, central theme – definitely not the only theme by a long shot, but indisputably as the main and central one.

How do we do this?

There are serious obstacles to the above strategy being implemented.

Some of the USA’s more prominent socialist groups have some kind of obsessive investment in building the Green Party.  They absolutely refuse to face reality about how that party is a dead-end.  Their minds are locked into supporting the organizational investments they have already made in building the Green Party, and in whatever standing they have gained within it.  It is the classic bureaucratic conservative resistance against changing course that exists in any organization – except of course that socialists are supposed to be better about withstanding that kind of temptation because we are supposed to be based on energetic grassroots democracy which acts as a pressure against such bureaucratic conservatism.  In practice maybe we are a little more top-down stage-managed and a little less grassroots than we pretend.

Furthermore, socialist campaigns fall victim to the socialist left’s fragmentation.  In some cases they are merely propaganda campaigns revolving solely around building up one group, or even if more substantial they are still largely the project of one group, causing others to shy away out of disdain for the prospect of being the junior partner in a united front.  And then attempts to build multi-tendency socialist campaigns, such as the Chicago Socialist Campaign or San Diego Socialist Campaign, fall prey to sectarian infighting between the factions.  Since many socialist groups view intertendency efforts as a threat to their turf, they do not offer their resources in any sustained way to these efforts.

(Of course, if I suggested that maybe Sanders is already implementing the kind of thing I want to see, despite his running with the Democratic Party, everyone would throw a fit, so I will just link to an old North Star article where someone else says it for me two years ago.)

We are going to have to build a Left committed to multi-tendency, but explicitly socialist collaboration in the electoral arena.  Rather than continuously lobby the standing organizations to do this, we may have to build the kind of left we want to see on our own.  In some cases this may mean starting what seems at first to be another sect, or a local formation.  In other cases it may mean being part of a faction or caucus within one of the more standard groups.  For now North Star discussion groups and conference calls might be a next step.

What can I say?  Sometimes you have to build from scratch and there is no easy way around it.  But everything begins from scratch, so you might as well get started.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Trudeau September 23, 2015 at 1:05 am

A simplistic hit piece from a supporter of Democrat Bernie Sanders who has no understanding of the Green Party.


Liane Gale September 23, 2015 at 2:33 am

And you sound like a hit piece from the Greens, and who just does not respond to some valid points regarding weaknesses of the Green Party.


Scott McLarty September 23, 2015 at 5:35 am

Mr. Hoke calls the Green Party an “environmentalist niche issue party” and writes “Green rhetoric tends to center on imminent ecological apocalypse and moral injunctions to be an embattled, enlightened minority fighting for the truth against difficult odds, rather than speaking to people’s personal economic predicaments the way Kshama Sawant and Bernie Sanders do.”

In other words, he has done almost no research on what the GP stands for or has stated publicly, beyond glancing at the home page. He ignores Green Mayor Gayle McLaughlin’s rescue of underwater homeowners from foreclosure in Richmond, California, among other Green actions. He has no idea of the number of Green candidates and party leaders with union and community organizing experience.

Mr. Hoke declares “it is literally worth more to do the petition work of getting on the ballot at the level of low offices than it is to demoralize your audience and deplete your credibility by running constant losing campaigns for high office.” In fact, hundreds of Greens run for local public office in every election. One of the main reasons for the GP’s participation in presidential races is that the nominees promote state & local candidates and help state GPs achieve ballot status, enabling stronger and more numerous state & local Green campaigns. In some states, ballot access rules require a presidential candidate for a party to gain major-party status. None of this occurs to Mr. Hoke, which leads me to believe that he has only the most abstract knowledge of what party-building means.

Early in his essay, Mr. Hoke declares “The new option is socialism.” Socialism has obviously been around for a long time, long before some socialist organizations decided that the only worthwhile way to participate in elections was always to vote for Dems. The Democratic Party has taken the left’s votes for granted while it slid further to the right. That’ll happen again if Sandernistas follow Bernie’s lead and throw their support to lesser-evil Hillary after she defeats him in the primaries, which remains likely. Mr. Hoke’s allegiance to Bernie Sanders doesn’t bother to take this into account.

Meanwhile, the Green Party is following the pattern set by Eugene Debs and the Socialist Party of a century ago, running candidates at every level and sometimes winning. (The Socialist Party and other left parties did pretty well before D & R legislators enacted restrictive ballot-access rules and the Cold War was used to defuse left insurgencies.) Greens generally don’t consider the GP to be in competition with Socialists who run for office. You won’t see a Green counterpart to Mr. Hoke’s essay. We consider ourselves allies in pursuit of many (probably most) of the same goals. We’re working for the end of two-party rule and emergence of a multi-party democracy that would benefit both Greens and Socialists.


Steve Welzer September 23, 2015 at 9:42 pm

Scott McLarty writes:

> Greens generally don’t consider the GP to be in competition with Socialists who run for office.

Well, that sounds constructive, but I’m afraid it might be a glossing over of the ideological reality. Green parties were formed in the ’70s by people who felt a new alternative was needed — an alternative to all the extant ideologies. Ever since we’ve been in competition wherever a race includes a socialist candidate and a Green candidate.

In Germany the Greens run a full slate for parliament competitively against the SPD slate and against the Die Linke slate. In New Jersey, when we run for statewide office we often are running against a candidate of the Socialist Party. There are third party debates where we do our best to distinguish the Green perspective and make the case that it’s superior to that of both the Libertarians and the Socialists.

I happen to agree with Harlan Hoke’s assertion that there’s a significant distinction between “Red” and “Green.” The distinction is ideological, cultural, and strategic. While I welcome any and all efforts to build the Green Party, if a person is an adherent of the Red worldview there’s clearly some logic in the idea that they should identify as, organize as, and run for office as a socialist.

Before encountering the literature that motivated my “Red to Green” transition twenty years ago I thought Marxism offered the best analyses and guidelines for action. During the 1980s I joined the local DSA chapter (because it was the only active socialist group in my area). Their orientation was to work within the Democratic Party. I continually said to my comrades: “Why bother trying to drag the Democrats toward our perspective, why not run for office directly as socialists?” So I can appreciate what Harlan Hoke is saying to his co-thinkers: “Why bother trying to drag the Green Party toward our perspective, why not run directly as socialists?”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Lacking a mass socialist party of any kind (social democratic or Leninist) the U.S. has been an exceptional case, and it may turn out that the Green Party becomes the umbrella electoral vehicle for left-of-Dem progressives. That would be great. In this country I think that Green will prove to have more appeal than Red. On the other hand, it’s possible that socialism will make a comeback in this country. After all, for two hundred years there has been the idea that rejection of capitalism leads to the espousal of socialism. That’s why most of us student radicals in the Sixties gravitated toward Marx. I no longer view the alternatives or the ideological spectrum in the same way, but I recognize that many people still do. So as the crisis of capitalism intensifies there could be a socialist upsurge, even in this country.

It then would make sense to see, in every race, a representative of each of the contending ideologies — a Libertarian, a conservative, a liberal, a socialist, and a Green. A debate among such candidates would be enlightening for the electorate. Consider the scenario . . .

A question might be: What should be done about the multinational corporations?

The Libertarian probably would respond: “Government should keep its hands off of the economy in general and off of the corporations specifically. It should de-regulate, eliminate taxes, and let the market work freely.”

The conservative would say: “Minimize regulation and taxation.”

The liberal: “We advocate for an optimal degree of regulation and taxation.” (wimpy answer!)

A true socialist position would be: “Socialize [nationalize] American Express, Apple, Caterpillar, Cisco, du Pont, Exxon-Mobil, General Electric, IBM, etc.” They are among the Dow 30 companies that represent the “commanding heights” of the economy, or, in Marxist terms, the “major means of production.” The distinctive idea of socialism is that companies so economically significant should not be owned privately, they should be owned publicly. The objective is that, under those circumstances, the economy can be rationally planned and democratically run by the people.

A text distributed by the Socialist Alternative group (“Socialism in the 21st Century: The Way Forward for Anti-Capitalism”) says: “A socialist economy would have to be a planned economy. This would involve bringing all of the big corporations, which control around 80% of the economy, into democratic public ownership.”

No other candidate in our hypothetical debate would take that distinctively socialist position. For example, there’s nothing in the Green Party platform about nationalizing the large corporations or full-scale public ownership of productive enterprises.

I think the Green candidate would put forward a very different answer to the question, one informed by the idea of “community-based economics.” He or she might begin by saying that we’re sympathetic to the idea of having the economy democratically run by the people — but the history of attempts to implement that concept via socialism show that a large, complex industrial economy doesn’t lend itself to such. In fact, socializing the large corporations primarily has the effect of concentrating more productive assets and more power in the centralized national government.

Greens want to see the deconcentration of wealth and power. Ultimately, as decentralists, we want to see more localized regional economies and polities where participatory democracy could become a reality.

It will take time. Things have come so far in the direction of being overly large-scale, complex, and remote from the people that, at this point, a shift onto a radically different path can only be done gradually over time. During the transition we need to tightly regulate the multinationals, diminish their power by getting corporate money out of politics, diminish their wealth through appropriately heavy taxation, remove their subsidies, end their bail-outs. We should undermine corporate dominance by re-allocating social resources toward community-based enterprises (some private, some public, depending upon local preference) . . . all as part of a holistic vision of social change informed by an eco-communitarian, rather than a socialist, paradigm.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The idea of a “working class revolution to overthrow capitalism” will continue to appeal to plenty of leftists. It’s part of a dramatic (and romantic) paradigm of social change. I believe it’s chimerical. History has yet to show otherwise.

The idea of a gradualistic “greening of society” — rejuvenating local community; living more simply and more lightly; living more responsibly (both ecologically and socially) — is realistic, but more incremental. So be it. By disposition some people will identify as Reds, others as Greens — adhering to distinctive worldviews that will need to coexist on the left for a long time to come.


Will April 4, 2016 at 12:17 am

If there’s Greens in New Jersey competing with SPUSA, then they should talk, this normally doesn’t happen and should be rectified with just some phone calls.

If there’s a real fight between the two in NJ, tell me more about it and try and bugger the NJ Greens about it.


Brandy Baker September 23, 2015 at 10:38 pm

Many of the most active Greens in the GPUS ARE socialists. They are the left wing of the GP. The GP would not be as strong, its platform not as bold without them. The very best Green candidates are most always socialist. Others are anarchists or another form of anti-capitalist. One anti-capitalist in the GP usually does the work of 20 people.

The GP of Portugal is eco-socialist, they have elected reps who work with elected communists in Parliament. The GP of Quebec is also eco-socialist. It is only a matter of time before the GPUS fully embraces socialism in its platform, or at least names capitalism as the root cause of so much of our misery. The GP platform is just as good, and in some instances better than some of the socialist parties.

There is also an understanding of party-building that exists in the GP that does not exists among the US socialist groups. I left the GP to go the socialist route. It is a dead end.

I will more when I have time.


Brandy Baker September 23, 2015 at 10:39 pm

I will *post* more when I have time.


Steve Welzer September 24, 2015 at 5:46 pm

Regarding the name: Green Party.

I think it’s completely appropriate because I view the party as the electoral expression of the broad movement for “the greening of society.”

The movement is, in fact, worldwide and very broad. The literature is vast. It’s a different literature from that of the socialist movement. In my estimation it overlaps a little more with eco-anarchism than with eco-socialism. It surely has its roots in the ecological and communitarian ferment of the Sixties, but proto-Green thinkers can be readily identified from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Thoreau, Gandhi, Schumacher, of course — also Lewis Mumford, Paul Goodman, Murray Bookchin, Ralph Borsodi, Aldo Leopold, others).

Reference Gary Snyder’s essay “Four Changes” and you’ll see the Green worldview explicated as early as 1970. It’s quite different from the socialist worldview. In fact, it was formulated as an alternative to socialism — because, by 1970, the most insightful theorists were recognizing that socialism was failing to deliver as a movement for human liberation.


Illin_Spree September 26, 2015 at 10:04 pm

“It’s not that I think the Greens will betray the working class or anything; it’s that they will never produce a culture or image which the working majority can identify with. Green rhetoric tends to center on imminent ecological apocalypse and moral injunctions to be an embattled, enlightened minority fighting for the truth against difficult odds, rather than speaking to people’s personal economic predicaments the way Kshama Sawant and Bernie Sanders do. ”

With regards to the first point, assuming that you’ve been to socialist meetups, you’re probably aware the above applies equally to radical socialists in general…who, let’s face it, come from and represent pretty much the same strata as Greens (eg they are largely white and college educated). This is an old issue for the left and for socialism. To quote George Orwell, ch 11 “The Road to Wigan Pier” from 1938

“In addition to this there is the horrible — the really disquieting — prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words “Socialism” and “Communism” draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, “Nature Cure” quack, pacifist, and feminist in England. ”

So my point is that any consciously social justice oriented party will attract these kinds of ‘outsider’ people and accompanying disapproval from mass society–the trick is overcoming petty prejudice.via virtue and reason.

Bernie Sanders has a gift for deploying traditional socialist rhetoric in rhetorically devastating ways. But let’s be fair, he’s also very effective at deploying the “moral injunctions” as well as “moralistic progressive overtones” and “middle-class progressive moralism” that you associate with the Green agenda. But, make no mistake, the Green agenda and Sanders’ agenda, as well as Kshama Sawant’s legislative agenda, are by and large the same thing. As for Sanders, if you don’t think appeals to morality and justice aren’t a big part of his rhetorical playbook (as well as the playbook of pre-Leninists like Debs and Hillquit), then you haven’t been watching. See for example the speech at Liberty.

Ecology and ecological sustainability is not a remote issue. It is a big part of the radical playbook and radical vocabulary now. The relationship between capitalist development and ecological degradation is a major weapon in our arsenal. Climate change is a potential game-changer. In the 21st century, socialism is not just about class justice. It’s also about survival.

I agree the Green Party as it exists is not what it needs to be (given could it be?).. It is insufficiently democratic or participatory and it isn’t attracting new members at the rate it needs to for credibility. The Sanders campaign has demonstrated that a substantial mass of people agree with the policy proscriptions advanced by Greens…we’ll have to see if that translates into support in 2016 assuming Sanders loses. I’m pessimistic because I don’t see information getting to the people in an efficient way due to the pernicious impact of media consolidation, in addition to concerns about the integrity of elections.

Even though I support the GP I agree the GP should give way to a broader mass 3rd party movement representing the interests of the 99%. Hopefully such a movement would be socialist insofar as demanding that workers control the MOP and internationalist with respect to world affairs (and in this respect the Green brand is tainted by the actions of prominent foreign Greens, however admirable the international politics of leading American Greens happens to be).

I’m talking about a party much more democratic and participatory in structure than the Greens. A party (like the old SPA) where there is initiative and referendum re the platform/bylaws and where all representatives/delegates involved in party business are revocable. The business of such a party would not merely be elections (from which they might be well advised to abstain), it would be promoting class-consciousness and self-organization and possibly dual power.


Jonathan Nack September 30, 2015 at 5:23 pm

I’m absolutely open to the development of a new left mass party. I’m what I heard my late comrade, Peter Camejo, refer to as a “watermelon” – green on the outside, red on the inside – though I’m not claiming Peter coined the term. It’s not that I’m a socialist hiding within the Green Party, or that I don’t take environmental struggles extremely seriously. It is because the Green Party is by far the largest most developed left party in the U.S. It’s also because the Greens have, or at least from what I’ve seen and experienced, welcomed socialists – I haven’t seen or known of a practice of red-baiting.

Where I live in Oakland, CA, most of the active members of the Greens are also watermelons, though I know that is far from the case everywhere.

The Green Party has lost momentum over the past decade and, with the exception of some good recent campaigns, such as that of Howie Hawkins for Governor of NY (another watermelon), we are not progressing.

In Oakland, the vote for Green Party candidates has declined dramatically, and we don’t seem to attract the same caliber of candidates as we once did. Our ability to attract younger activists to the Oakland Green Party has been quite limited.

So, I don’t see the Green Party as the be all and end all. Perhaps the Greens can regain momentum – it remains the strongest of the current “third parties,” and its name, which does emphasize environmental issues is far from irrelevant to our times – but perhaps not.

There is a socialist party in California which has had ballot status for decades – the Peace & Freedom Party. In a number of ways I’m politically closer to it. So why aren’t I, and other California socialists in the Green Party and not the PFP? Because, unfortunately, as week and poorly organized as the Green Party of California is, it is considerably stronger and vital than PFP. All too often, PFP candidates have settled for getting their names on the ballot, and haven’t had the ability to mount real campaigns. Perhaps a new generation of socialists will come to reinvigorate the PFP, but so far, that hasn’t happened.

New political parties of the left arise out of social movements. The Green Party arose out of the growing environmental movements in the 1980s and 1990s. The Peace & Freedom Party arose out of the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Anti-War movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

Conditions may be ripening for the development of a new mass left electoral party. The Occupy Wall Street movement may prove to be a pivotal historical moment in this regard. It remains to be seen. If a new mass electoral party does coalesce, it remains unclear whether such a party should be labeled socialist, anti-capitalist, labor, or progressive.

This question will not be settled by diatribes, but by on the ground electoral campaigns which bring people together. It will not emerge from us attacking each other, but by building a more powerful unity in action. It will have to have strong organic connections to our social movements, drawing in dynamic leaders.

If a new left electoral party does emerge, it must build on the experiences and struggles of parties such as the Greens, PFP, the Socialist Party, the Working Families Party, and others. It must also build upon the struggles of left-wing candidates within the Democratic Party, such as the current Presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, bringing along people ready to break with the Democrats and chart a truly independent course.

Let’s not denigrate and attack each other. Let’s respect, learn from, and build upon our respective experiences.


Steve Welzer September 30, 2015 at 9:05 pm

> Let’s not denigrate and attack each other.
> Let’s respect, learn from, and build upon our respective experiences.

Sure, absolutely. That includes the idea that discussing and understanding ideological distinctions can yield insight and direction. A problem with Occupy was that it wanted to be inclusive at the expense of doing so . . . therefore it remained ideologically amorphous.

The “Red vs. Green” discussion can be respectful and work toward Red/Green alliances. I don’t know any Greens who “red-bait” in the way that conservatives do.

If you call me a Green, I couldn’t be prouder. “Red” is a historical term enveloping a certain ideological orientation. Socialist, Communist, and Marxist organizations identify with that and so tend to march under red banners. Proudly.

Our Green banners indicate our basis in an ecological politics. Our Ten Key Values serve as a good introduction to such. Beyond that there’s a vast literature explicating our new political orientation. Our goal needs to be to gradually get the left to understand why Green represents the way forward.


Darwin26 October 7, 2015 at 4:35 pm

I liked the more recent GP platform as it took a stronger stand than in the past with Israhell and Palestine (before it was ‘they’re ‘both’ at fault meme).
The GP in Montana had a great chance to elect a US Senator… with less than a million ppl in a state that is all about Green and those that want to suck the life out of it (GOP).
i begged and pleaded but was told Nat’l GP has nothing to implement such a great possibility ~ It would not have taken much to fill the vacant Max Baucus seat with a Green! The Greens not only miss making bets they aren’t even looking for them!!!
The GP needs a ‘war dept’ think tank to locate and implement a campaign for Quality candidates. They need to establish a better state/s Opps (opportunities) and Battle/ ground campaign or they’re wasting precious time and money.
The GP needs good generals and cadre; i’m sure the platform fits most ‘Watermelons’ and it’s adjustable… what it needs is a serious war room. Of course a think tank with resources to demographics etc is what we should be spending money on and one by one get Socialists in US offices and whatever else they’ll fit in between.
i cannot speak to the rest of the world of Socialists & Greens, each country is on it’s own but for sure with any luck the GP’s and Reds should strike up communications… esp in neighboring countries. Like Canada has a quality Socialist party NDP running Tom Mulcair and there’s nothing coming from the Greens on how to support him/NDP? of course there’s always money but the GP should be watching this campaign at a minimum.
They need a campaign slogan to solicit more people: Like: Can we get more votes than Trump? and get this out to GP / Socialist personnel in each state.
i know there’s a clear diff between the Socialism i want and what the GP’s are contemplating but i’ve never felt red-baited, however i have winced at having Green-anarchists setting any goals.

good topic,
Thank you,


Brandy Baker October 7, 2015 at 9:32 pm

I am an American who lives in Canada and Tom Mulcair has taken the NDP to the right. Also, he supports Israel under “any and all circumstances” and has booted NDP candidates who have supported Palestine.


Brandy Baker October 7, 2015 at 9:33 pm

…oh, and in 2012, NDP activists were coming over the border to GOTV for Barack Obama. They should have been working to GOTV for the USGP. I guess that they didn’t get the memo that the USGP is not like the English-Canadian GP.


Brandy Baker October 7, 2015 at 9:29 pm

Some on here are balking at the idea of the USGP being socialist by discussing its “roots”. There is what the GP started out as, but what it has become in the United States in the 21st century is very different. It is a socialist party. Some may not like that, but that is the reality.

The GPUS cannot be compared to most other Green Parties (except Quebec and Portugal as I do above and other eco-socalist Green parties, if tehre are any) because of the rigid two party system that we have here in the States. The USGP is an electoral catch-all for the far left and while its roots may be “deep green” that is not what it is now. Not all Green Parties in the world deserve our support. Not all Green Parties are left. English Canada’s GP isn’t.

The GPUS is a socialist party, it just has not yet publicly identified as such.

It’s only a matter of time.


Darwin26 October 7, 2015 at 10:01 pm

Thank you Brandy, for that timely memo, big heads up. Glad i didn’t send him any dough. You’re saying Mulcair is bringing the NDP to the right! Probably why the GPUS hasn’t gone intercontinental :)


Aaron Renaud October 12, 2015 at 8:59 am

This article tosses around a lot of cultural criticism without really or actually proving anything.

Certainly GP has faults, but I would say its project IS socialist and democratic. To say that class issues were “tacked on” as an afterthought totally ignores the history of the GP in the US and Texas. It’s never been just about environmentalism.

Besides, a socialist party itself is niche. Not EVERY leftist agrees on the same degree of governmental use. There are many that explicitly reject the socialist label, not because they are capitalist reformists, but because they tend more towards social solutions. I think the Green Party covers a much broader range of the left then a purely socialist party.

But then, there’s no reason not to have both and more. We need to be building alternative power networks and coalitions outside of mainstream politics, not tearing down allies because of holier-than-thou sentiments.

Red-Green alliance y’all, not either/or.


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