In Defence of Liberty

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Being Green

The Green Party's manifesto requires serious examination. (Edited: Leo Reynolds)

The Green Party’s manifesto requires serious examination. (Edited: Leo Reynolds)

In formal debates of policies, it is incumbent on speakers for the proposition to state how they believe the motion should be enacted. This plan, called a mechanism, may then be supported as an effective method of achieving the motion’s aim, or criticised as futile or counter-productive. Occasionally, political parties can eschew the responsibility of explaining how their preferred world will rise into existence.

On the Green Party website, the principle (labelled EC904) states:

New global agreements are urgently needed to regulate international trade and investment in the interests of equity and sustainable development. Green policies are based on the principle that we need to reduce to a minimum the overall volume of international trade, and to revitalise local communities by promoting maximum self-reliance, economic, social and political control, and environmental sustainability. These policies will also greatly increase employment opportunities.

Beyond the claimed mitigation of collapsing international trade in EC940, the exploration of this principle is written in policy EC911:

EC911 Green policies will be adopted which increase small-scale, local community import substitution, rather than export promotion, support local food growing in place of cash crops for the international market, and encourage forms of economic development which are consistent with the culture and aspirations of the people concerned – involving their effective participation in all areas of development and at all stages of the decision-making process.

The Tale of Two Towns

This proposal conjures many questions.

Let’s say there are two small towns near to each other. One town grows great crops, whilst the other makes excellent garments. Wouldn’t both towns be better off if they specialised and then traded, rather than both pursue “small-scale, local community import substitution” in growing food and weaving clothes whilst refusing to trade? Doesn’t desiring “small-scale, local community import substitution” mean foregoing economies of scale, thereby impoverishing both towns? Would such trade really represent the dissolution of separate town identities into a bland homogeneous mono-culture (as the principle EC903 implies)?

(Video: Learn Liberty)

What if the “people concerned” aspire to obtain a type of food or service that is not presently provided in either town? What if these people wish to be exposed to a differing culture, whether in food, music or other forms of cultural production? Agreeing that these people should import such goods is not reducing international trade “to a minimum”, nor promoting “maximum self-reliance”.

It was also difficult to divine from the Green Party website what is meant by “local”. This is rather pertinent, since the locality defines the borders of these quasi-contained political, cultural, economic and social communes. There are echoes of a romanticised view of preindustrial peasantry, that recalls the poetry but forgets the dysentery. Despite their nominal support of freedom of movement, the Green Party believe in the taxation of international transport and international trade “which pollute the global environment”.

It is less than a hundred days before a General Election: the Green Party seeks your votes. Expecting a whisper of a word of detail about their plans for the nation is no longer a trifling triviality.

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This entry was posted on February 2, 2015 by in National Politics and tagged , , .
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