Green Politics

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Green politics, sometimes known as political ecology, is a political ideology which seeks to achieve environmental sustainability, social justice and peace through inclusive and participatory democratic processes. It is informed by progressive thinking on ecology, human rights, feminism, civil liberties, respect for diversity, equality, animal rights and nonviolence. Electoral politics is not the only expression of Green politics (which also sees peaceful direct action as a legitimate tool), but it is a vital element in the process of achieving political change.

Green politics offers a profound critique of conventional economic theory, and a direct challenge to the domination of corporate power. Ecological economics, based on the recognition that a planet of finite resources cannot sustain indefinite economic growth, is at the heart of the Green political approach, together with a commitment to the policies of radical redistribution, both nationally and internationally.

Greens believe an infinitely growing capitalist economy is destroying nature, fuelling injustice and leading to an alienated way of life. Since we threaten our future if we try to live beyond what the Earth can provide, we must build a sustainable society that guarantees our long-term survival. Everyone should be entitled to basic material security. In green politics, basic needs are classed as not only the physiological needs of food, water, and shelter, but also the need for love, respect, autonomy, security, and meaningful activity within communities. The fact that many people's basic needs are not met has far reaching consequences, expressed as anxiety, insecurity, and aggressive behaviour towards others, and exploitation of the environment. These personal factors give rise to, and are perpetuated by, social institutions which actively encourage oppression, pollution, resource depletion, poverty and military conflict.

Diversity, creativity and empowerment are also core Green political values, which find expression in Green support for the promotion of The Commons, as a model for consensus-based sharing and co-operation. Open-source software, for example, can be seen as a stunning example of how both the market and the state can be bypassed by cooperative creativity.

The first Green Parties were founded in the early 1970s. In 1972, the Values Party of New Zealand became the world's first country-wide green party to contest Parliamentary seats nationally. A year later in 1973, Europe's first green party, the UK's Ecology Party, was founded. One of the most electorally successful parties has been the German Green Party, which won its first 27 seats in the Bundestag in the 1983 federal elections. There are now around 90 Green Parties around the world.

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Author: Caroline Lucas