A Green New Year

Petra Kelly was the foremost proponent and advocate for Green politics, concepts and principles right up to her untimely death. The following is the closing speech she gave at the International Green Congress in Stockholm in 1987. At this time, the Green Party in the U. S. was just beginning to organize. There are a number of similarities between the internal conflicts she talks about within the German Green Party then and those within Green parties in the U. S. now. In speaking about these problems, Petra pleads with us “Don’t repeat our mistakes!”  But her ideas about what a Green party and movement needs to look like are still valid, and the basis for our efforts in starting Green Shift.

With the start of the new year, we’ll begin posting excerpts to the Green Light / Green Shift list from the writings of Petra Kelly, Wangari Maathai and other Green advocates  on a regular basis with the hope of continuing with and building upon the foundation they put in place. A Green world is possible.

Dear Friends in the International Green Movement and in the International Green Parties! I would like to thank the Green Party of Sweden for having invited me, together with Jakob von Uexkull, to speak at this closing session.

I was only able to arrive last evening in Stockholm because of a family reunion we celebrated in Germany. I hope this first International Green Congress has been a valuable and constructive one. I can think of no better place to have an International Green Congress than in a neutral, nonaligned country like Sweden, especially at a time when some prominent Green members in the Green Party of the Federal Republic of Germany are trying to convince us that we must accept NATO membership, arguing that the Green position on nonalignment leads us into “a nation-state and nationalist” way of thinking.

I think the line of tactical thinking and argument, that we should abandon our platform on “nonalignment” and “active neutrality” as a concrete Green goal, is wrong and very destructive. To me, the Green parties and movements in West and East, North and South, must give new life and new commitment to the debate on nonalignment and active neutrality in Europe and elsewhere. Neutrality is not an end in itself but is an instrument for active peace policy. In my opinion Green parties and movements who must work in countries belonging to military alliances must keep nonalignment clearly and courageously in their political program and should act accordingly in political practice. That means also taking the first calculated step out of the military alliance.

I hope also that the Green parties in neutral countries such as Sweden, Finland, the Republic of Ireland, Austria, and Switzerland will cooperate more and more closely and will show us the way to a bloc-free Europe.

The recent internal turmoil in my own Green party concerning the question of NATO membership and unilateral disarmament is troubling me — as are a whole range of other internal Green squabbles which worry me and from which others should learn. I can only plead with all of you here in Stockholm:Don’t repeat our mistakes!

What has always given me hope is the fact that authentic Green movements, action groups, and Green parties have not been wedded to old styles and old ideologies. We were and still are genuinely open to new, radical, nonviolent, feminist, and ecological as well as pacifist approaches. Albert Einstein once stated that the splitting of the atom has changed everything — except the way people think. And that is and was what we set out to do — to help change the way people think — to help people make their own grass-roots decisions, to help them act locally and think globally. As Murray Bookchin, an American ecologist, has stated:

The great project of our time must be to open the other eye: to see outsidedly and wholly, to hear and to transcend the cleavage between humanity and nature that comes with early wisdom.

What is the meaning of “seeing outsidedly and seeing wholly” for us within the Green movement? What does   for our future? For a truly Green world? And what is meant after all by Green politics? At the U.S.A. National Green Gathering in Amherst, Massachusetts this summer, which I could not attend because I was in Moscow, there was much controversy between the political and spiritual/political wings of the Green movement. But why? I believe that both wings belong together, complement each other, and are part of each other because we cannot solve any political problems without also addressing our spiritual ones. Those who intentionally keep confusing the spiritual content of Green politics with a “religious movement,” as some do on the Left, detract attention from, and,in fact, ridicule the core of Green politics, the ethics of Green politics. Green politics has always had a spiritual base. This means respecting all living things and knowing about the interrelatedness and interconnectedness of all living things.

Whether in the macrocosm or microcosm, the political is the personal and the personal is the political. Theodore Roszak stated that the spiritual void in our lives is the prime political fact of our time. I believe we must learn to get in touch with the nonmaterial states of consciousness. We must talk about alienation and self-alienation. We must talk about the alienation many of us have suffered at some point in time within the Green movement. Perhaps we should all talk less about political or spiritual problems and begin acting ourselves more from a spiritual place!

It is a very, very sad thing. On the one hand we watch how we upset traditional voting patterns and how we can disturb traditional politicians on the Right and on the Left, gaining great electoral successes in parliamentary elections, as we did in January 1987. And then on the other hand we watch how we bring just as much disarray and just as much upset upon ourselves. We bring it right smack into our own Green movement through internal fighting; old power tactics; loveless,hard, and endless argumentative turmoil in the process of “full-consensus decision-making;” and through a game familiar to all here, called “Mistrust the People You Have Just Elected!” In the 1960s, this was called “Kill the Leaders!” We have been self-destructive through envy and intolerance and are often rather violent verbally with one another. I have experienced all of these things within our own Green Party at home to a very frightening extent.

We also experience conflicts between those coming from a rather dogmatic, old, Leftist political perspective, which shares,rightly so, many anti-capitalist positions‹and those who come from a holistic New Age perspective, whose aims I also very much support. There is often a great clash of interest, not so much in what we are aiming for, but about how we are to do it,about what strategies we should pursue toward our commongoal.

Also there are those who are called in our party the”Realos” In fact, at every step of the way, they try to moderate our political program so as to become more acceptable political partners to the Social Democrats. In the past few weeks the “Realos” have begun questioning our green strategy of “unilateral disarmament” and our aim of dismantling the two military blocs by starting first at home with NATO. Of course, demanding to leave NATO is in itself not a program, but the beginning of a much-needed discussion about taking the first calculated step out of military alliances. It is a most necessary and important one, when we think about what the NATO alliance has been all about in the past few months. Think about Libya, think about Grenada, think about the Gulf crisis,think about the Cuban crisis, and think about the NATO maneuvers taking place in Turkey under the guise of which Kurdish minorities are being killed by Turkish troops.

There are also the undogmatic, radical independent ecologists and pacifists in the Greens, among whom I count myself, who hope to reconcile the differences I have described if the Green Party is to survive. We do not want to moderate or soften the program for the sake of power tactics!

The title of this closing session, “Toward a Green Europe and a Green World,” poses questions about our own political survival at a time when major Green parties, in Germany, for example, begin to split internally on basic questions such as establishing power coalitions, and where and when to make certain compromises. The Green Party in the Federal Republic of Germany, as “the lesser of the political evils,” is becoming increasingly co-opted into the existing political system.

At the recent peace demonstration in Bonn during the summer of 1987, a Green sympathizer and well-known doctor committed to the fight against nuclear war told me that he is not about to vote for the Green Party again. The reason he gave was the following: “I voted for the Greens because they set out to solve the most burning questions in society or at least they set out to try to solve them. But in the past few months all they have been doing is creating their own problems and discussing them at such length that it becomes absolutely disgusting.” Constantly debating our own internal problems, running down our opponents within the Green Party, humiliating and threatening others in all sorts of ways–these have been the media headlines of the Green Party over the past few months, despite all the very valuable and efficient political work that we are doing in the extra-parliamentary and parliamentary areas. We have failed to make known the concrete political projects in which we are engaged. We ourselves have done everything possible to make the media interested only in our internal squabbles and personal wars. Worst of all, the Green Party is facing a political wing within its own ranks which is beginning to moderate or make compromises on key Green issues and principles that have been an essential part of the Green program since 1979.

I believe that the Green way of thinking and living is here to stay, even if some of the Green parties will not survive into the nineties. I also believe that we as a party are here to stay if we do not make compromises when it comes to life and death questions. There is no such thing as a little bit of cancer, or a little bit of malnutrition, or a little bit of death, or a little bit of social injustice, or a little bit of torture. It does not help us in any way if we begin accepting, for example, lower and so-calledsafer levels of radioactivity, or lower and so-called safer levels of lead and dioxin. We must speak out clearly, loudly, and courageously if we know that there are no safe levels. We must not begin to compromise our aims and our demands for the sake of joining others in power, others who are not yet ready to go on the ecological path, for the sake of wanting to exercise power in those very same institutions which we wanted to transform— not violently but through grass-roots pressure and through”Greenpeace” type nonviolent actions and campaigns.

Simply repairing the existing systems, whether they are capitalist or state-socialist oriented, should not be our aim. Our aim is nonviolent transformation of societal structures. Our aim is radical, nonviolent change of a patriarchal society which has been militarized and which has been so much accustomed to the use of force. Decentralism, global responsibility, developing at the grass-roots level new soft technologies and soft energies scaled to a comprehensible human dimension, developing a truly free and truly nonviolent society in our own communities,showing solidarity across all national boundaries and ideologies with people who are repressed and discriminated against,practicing civil disobedience against the nuclear and military state–all this can be done very effectively without having to send a lone Green minister into a Social Democratic cabinet accompanied by making compromises all along the way to the point of no return. This recently occurred in Hessen!

I believe that we already have considerable power. I also believe that we have much responsibility without joining any government. We can be successful if we truly believe in our own concept of power. First, it is important to realize that we do not talk about “power over” or “power to dominate” or “power to terrorize or oppress.” When we speak of a new type of power,the power of nonviolence, it is rather about abolishing power as we know it. We define the power of nonviolence as something common to all, to be used by all, and for all. Power over is to be replaced by shared power, by the power to do things, by the discovery of our own strength as opposed to a passive reception of power exercised by others, often in our name.

At the founding of the Green Party in the Federal Republic of Germany, I coined the term “anti-party party” for the Greens—trying to express that new kind of power. The Hungarian writer Gyorgy Konrad expressed it all the better with the term “anti-politics,” as a moral force: “Anti-politics strives to put politics in its place and makes sure it stays there, never overstepping its proper office of defending and refining the rules of the game in a civil society. Anti- politics is the ethos of civil society, and civil society is the antithesis of military society.”

The time may or could come one day when we will have a truly ecological political partner. Then we could form a “Green government.” (We already have Green mayors!) But that time is not yet in sight. Many more must first be convinced of ecological politics as the only choice for survival on planet Earth before we can have truly alternative governments.

Years ago, recalls Murray Bookchin, the French students in the May-June uprising of 1968 magnificently expressed their sharp contrast of alternatives in their slogan: “Be practical. Do the impossible!” To this demand, we, the generation that faces the next century, can add the more solemn injunction: “If wedon¹t do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable. As one poet put it:

Where would we get to
If everyone said
Where would we get to
And no one went
To have a look
Where we’d get to
If we went.

We would like to get to a Green Europe and a Green World. But there are a few important preconditions that must be part of Green thinking.

First, an ecological society is a truly free society that is based on ecological principles that can mediate humanity’s relationship with nature. That means searching for soft,decentralised technologies and energies and for ways of true co-and self-determination. It means rejecting and moving away from monolithic modes of production and monolithic technology and monolithic institutions like the military-industrial complex. I believe it is true, as Professor Seymour Melman of Columbia University points out, that there is no economic necessity inherent in capitalism which gives the war-economy dominance.That is a political choice. But at this moment, the five hundred largest industrial corporations control nearly one trillion dollars in corporate assets in the United States. The six hundred largest multinational corporations will control over forty percent of the planetary production by the end of the 1980s. The result of all of these monolithic modes and trends has been wastefulness,overdependence, and unnaturalness.

But a truly free society must also mean the guarantee of economic, social, and individual human rights. It means that we must speak out loudly to be heard and counted wherever basic human rights are not respected, regardless of country or ideology, regardless of where human rights are violated, whether in Poland or Chile, South Africa or Turkey, El Salvador orAfghanistan.

Unfortunately, at this congress of Green parties, our friends working in the independent Green initiatives in East Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Soviet Union, and Czechoslovakia are missing, unable to join us. “Glasnost” must also include them and their right, as well as ours, to travel and consult one another.Green movements are growing daily within Eastern Europe and in the Third World. We must never forget or ignore them, for all too often we are too “Eurocentric” in our thinking. Each of us must have the right to practice detente from below!

A truly free society must also mean that we do not want peace that oppresses us. We must learn, on our terms, what peace and freedom mean. The phrase “peace and freedom” all too long has been part of Right-wing vocabulary and ideology, at times sadly neglected by the Left, sometimes even within our own ranks. I have been disappointed when I have seen the amount of time, effort, and money we have put into campaigns against the Contras in Nicaragua while at the same time neglecting the question of Afghanistan or the question of releasing certain political prisoners in countries of Eastern Europe. There can be no peace if there is social injustice, if there is suppression of human rights. Internal and external peace are inseparable!

Second, when we try to rid the world of things as oppressive as nuclear, chemical, and conventional weapons, or poverty, sexism, and racism, it can help us to look at their structural underpinning. This is a system of patriarchy which is found in all systems, whether they are capitalist or state-socialist.Patriarchy is a system of male domination, prevalent in both capitalist and socialist countries, which is suppressive of women and restrictive to men. Patriarchy is a hierarchical system in which men have more value and more social and economic power. Under it women suffer both from oppressive structures and from individual men. It shows itself in all areas of our lives, affecting political and economic structures, our work, our home,and our personal relationships. To put it bluntly— men are at the center of a patriarchal world in East and West and South and North— whether they want to be or not. But I believe that norms of human behavior can and do change over the centuries and these aspects also can be changed. No pattern of domination is necessarily part of human nature. However, that means that certain men within the Green parties must give up their privileges and their male-chauvinistic ways of “politics.”

Third, the type of true disarmament we are talking about has been best expressed by women coming from five European countries where deployment of American and Soviet nuclear missiles has taken place. I quote from their joint statement:

Despite our differences, we are united by the will for self-determination, to struggle against the culture of militarism in the world, against uniforms and violence, against our children being educated as soldiers, and against the senseless waste of resources. We demand the right of self-determination for all individuals and peoples. We want to make a specific cultural contribution to changing existing social structures. That is why we also challenge conventional gender roles and why we ask men to do the same.
The freedom to determine one’s own fate also means freedom from exploitation and violence: in our thoughts and actions, at our places of work, in our relationship with nature, and in the relationship between men and women, between generations, between states,between East and West, and between North and South in global terms.

We must, I believe, hold on to our strategies of unilateral disarmament, always making the first step and never pointing at the other side before we look at our own glass house.

Fourth, the most internationalist task for us all is to practice”detente from below” across all national boundaries and ideologies. This means that we should stay in touch with those high up in places of power, but at the same time we should devote our time and efforts equally to those in nonviolent political opposition, to those working on independent initiatives who are still harassed and politically suppressed. Some Greens in my own country prefer to speak only at a selected high level. But speaking with politicians at a very high level should never make us compromise or make us less committed when it comes to our friends in the independent ecological, peace, and women’s movements from below. For example, some who want to speak to Mr. Erich Honecker may moderate or lessen their contacts with the independent peace initiatives in Eastern Germany or may begin to ignore them in order to be reinvited. They have not yet understood what can be done when one speaks to both levels on an equal basis and when one devotes energies and time both to Mr. Honecker and to those working in the independent initiatives. Mr. Honecker and the rest will respect the Greens all the more if we continue our solidarity work in favor of the independent peace and ecological groups in Eastern Germany without losing touch. We need not take up the game of “silent”diplomacy. Too many do that already!

Practicing “detente from below” also means doing everything possible to build up a demilitarized, nonaligned Europe in the spirit of Olof Palme, as opposed to Western European military and nuclear superpower now in the making.The German Christian Democrats and the CSU want a hand on the nuclear trigger and more co-determination in nuclear affairs.I need not explain again the Pershing 1-A debate in our country.For the time being Mr. Helmut Kohl has begun to understand at last the arguments of the peace movement concerning the Pershing 1-A missile. But we all know that between the lines,conservative and reactionary forces in the Federal Republic of Germany are in favor of the idea of British and French nuclear cooperation including, one day, German participation on the basis of full equality. I believe that one of the most important tasks for the European Green Parties is preventing a third military and nuclear superpower called Western Europe.

Fifth, recently our Minister of Justice, Mr. Hans Engelhard,claimed that there is no such thing as the right to civil disobedience in a democratic society. But we continue to insist upon this right as an integral part of every democratic society.We shall continue to reply to the violence of the state with effective nonviolent campaigns. Nonviolence is stronger than violence. We must do everything possible for nonviolent conflict resolution within our own ranks and to spread knowledge and training concerning social defense, i.e. nonmilitary forms of defense. We must be very clear about what we mean when we call ourselves a nonviolent party and a nonviolent movement.The means and the ends must be parallel. You cannot reach a peaceful end with violent means and you cannot reach a just end with unjust means.

Those who call themselves part of the “autonomous”movement and who use violent means at mass rallies and demonstrations must realise that they are not helping us. They are not aiding our cause but rather are deliberately or involuntarily doing our adversaries a service whenever they act side by side with paid provocateurs as if they themselves were supporters of the nuclear lobby and of the nuclear state which we reject. Nonviolent struggle does not mean passive acceptance or inaction. Nonviolent struggle gains its meaning and impact from massive civil disobedience, creatively planned and carried out without confirming conventional establishment expectations of violence. Therefore, we must learn from similar situations in other countries and develop effective methods of nonviolentaction.

I was very saddened last April while in Guernica in the Basque country to find that some Green members of the Rainbow Fraktion of the European Parliament have sympathies with the ETA, which is nothing but a criminal organisation using very violent means to try to bring about change. It was embarrassing to see how frustrated and how upset nonviolent groups in the Basque country have become because a few prominent Green members of the European Parliament have suggested that an organisation such as ETA should begin discussions and talks with the Spanish army. This is like asking the Red Army Faction to have discussions with the German government. Actually, as I discovered in the Basque region,there is so much hope and support for nonviolent forms of change that the majority of the Basque people are not on the side of violence and senseless killings. I hope that all Green parties will become more and more Greenpeace-like, firmly committed to nonviolent action. This is a model that all of us should follow.

Sixth, last but not least, in the process of trying to bring more peace, justice, and harmony to this world, we ourselves must become more peaceful, just, and tolerant with one another,within our own ranks. The hurt, the hypocrisy, the intolerance,the mean-hearted spirit, and the attitude of always “controlling”and not “trusting” each other within the Greens at home has been a strong disappointment to many of us. Such ways have minimized our appeal, our chances, and our concrete results.Participatory democracy must not become a new formula for demagoguery—for misuse of grass-roots power and for tactics such as making decisions for others after most members have left a long and tiring meeting. We must not hurt each other just because there is a disagreement, just because some may not think the same way that the “grass-roots level” has decided. The question always remains: who are the grass roots? This can often be manipulated. There must always be room for tolerance, for accepting each others’ positions and points of view. There must always be room to act according to one’s conscience.

The Green Party in the Federal Republic of Germany has often complained about the types of pressure other political parties have applied on their own members. But within the Greenparliamentary fraction as well there is a lot of pressure on the individual. Considerable psychological pressure is applied if he or she expresses a dissenting opinion. Respecting each individual, his or her talents and individuality without coercion,without mistrust, and without committees and bureaucracies to control and watch over him or her— this is also part of Green politics. Living our values is what Green politics is all about!

[This speech and others given by Petra Kelly can be found in her book “Nonviolence Speaks To Power”, © 1992 Center for Global Nonviolence Planning Project.]


Tony’s report on defending the occupation

The following is a report from Bronx Greens Chair Tony Gronowicz on his experience at Occupy Wall Street during the defense of the site in the face of police eviction.

On the evening of October 13, I found on my computer many emails from different groups, including the AFL-CIO, summoning people to come and defend the Occupation Wall Street site from a 7 AM police eviction order.  So I went.

I arrived on the scene shortly before 5 AM.  I chatted with Brooklyn Green Gary Davidson; Laurie Wen. Executive Director of PNHP-NY Metro; and a student videographer from BMCC.  As I wandered through the site, the crowd continued to swell. There was apprehension, but little fear.  I could feel a sense of determination to stick together and not leave the area.

I went to the northeast corner of Zuccotti Park while people streamed down the west side of Broadway, some in union shirts and caps.  Shortly before 6 AM, I encountered Jack Baldwin, and Jonathan Jetter who runs his own film studio. Jetter said he was “there on behalf of my friends who are in dead-end jobs and his parents who are afraid to retire.”  At 6:15, I saw Steve Scher, and ten minutes later, a few people from my union, the PSC, including Barbara Bowen, our union president; and Steve Bloom.

I talked to a teamster who had taken the day off to attend the protests.  I told him that the Green Party had run a teamster for Governor who regained our ballot status; I gave him our web site information.

I crossed the street to talk to a construction worker who said that he was working for J.P. Morgan Chase, the day it took over the bankrupt Bear Stearns.  The executives “were throwing darts across the streets” aimed at the offices they coveted.  They were so happy that they gave him and his fellow workers the day off at full pay.  He then talked about Milton William Cooper and how he was killed for detailing government conspiracies.

Next was Ted from Wisconsin, a veteran of a 1968 Seattle strike, who had spent two weeks camped out in the state house in Wisconsin during the January encampment there.  He had come to New York City with his wife and another couple to visit Occupy Wall Street.

Next I ran into Jim Perlstein, chair of my union’s Solidarity Committee.

At this point, the crowd had completely filled the square and the sidewalk.  The police were clearly caught off guard by the vast number of protestors.  Great roars of jubilation went up from the crowd when it was announced that the evacuation order had been cancelled.

It was clear to me that the reason for the cancellation was the size of the crowd, numbering in the thousands; and that any police attack would tear apart the downtown area.

Then I joined a breakaway group of several hundred who marched up Broadway past the Fulton Street Station rehabilitation.  I heard a loud horn and looked up at a giant crane whose operator was honking in unison with our chants.  As we raised clenched fist power-to-the-people salutes, the workers high up on the site responded in kind.  It was a glorious moment. Unlike the Sixties, students and workers are united.

I ran ahead of the march to City Hall where I saw plainclothes and other officers scrambling to close the gates to City Hall.  Further up near the R train entrance, I saw plainclothes’ officers huffing and puffing diagonally across Broadway to meet the crowd.  They were clearly unprepared for this move by a battalion of the Occupation Wall Street army.

We marched up Chambers and around the corner where I took the subway, tired but clearly exhilarated by the four hours I spent that early morning.

Fricking and Fracking

[Author’s note: In the Tuesday 5/31/11 edition of the NY Daily News, columnist Bill Hammond wrote a very condescending and one-sided opinion piece on the issue of hydraulic fracturing in NY State. The following is the response I sent to the News for publication. I don’t expect the News to print it, so I’ve posted it here.]

Dear Mr. Hammond,

Picked me up a copy of your paper yesterday and saw your piece on this fric-a-frac thing or whatever it’s called. I always take great interest in things that might affect me and the family even if I don’t always know all that much about it. So, naturally, as I’m reading it, a lot of questions popped into my head. You seem to have a good head on your shoulders and to be real schooled on this subject. I hope you can help me figure it out.

My family’s been in these parts for generations. We been through all kinds of bust and booms over the years. It ain’t always been an easy life but as long as the land’s fertile, the water clear and the air sweet, it’s been pretty good to us. What I been hearing now, though, scares the dickens out of me. Now you pointed out that we already have drilling rigs operating up here and that’s true. Don’t mean we like ‘em much or that we want more. They take up a lot more land than you might think. And that’s just drilling straight down. These new rigs are supposed to be drilling sideways, if you can believe it. How much land are these things gonna need? I heard something like 15 acres for one rig. And maybe 40 rigs on one site. How many sites are we talking here? And if that ain’t enough to concern us, I hear they need millions of gallons of clean water to pump down there to break up the shale. And they gotta mix it with some concoction made out of things we don’t know nothing about. And they won’t tell us either. It’s like “it’s for us to know and you to find out”. Not exactly a neighborly attitude for a bunch a fellas that need our land so bad. I did hear that benzene was in it. I don’t know if you know this but the hardware store stopped carrying benzene years ago because it was too dangerous to use. If I can’t use it why can they? You say there ain’t necessarily a connection between the drilling and all the problems I been hearing about. Smoking don’t necessarily cause cancer either but most folks know better than to risk it these days. Then there’s all the trucks and machinery that’ll have to come to the sites. We don’t have much in the way of highways up here. We don’t even have all that many paved roads. We’ve already had a taste of the noise and the fumes. It can only gonna get worse.

On top of this, they can take the water from anywhere. I’ve heard of folks who had ponds on their own land pumped dry. Time was when a man respected another man’s right to use water. Now those politicians we send to Albany are messing with our God given right for the benefit of the gas company?

I don’t know a lot about science but I know shale. All of us up this way know it. One thing I can tell you is you never know how or where it’s gonna split. Nature’s gotta mind of it’s own. Pretty good bet them gas boys don’t know either, no matter what their experts might tell ‘em.

Now I know you said we should all just calm down because the answer to all our concerns is rules and regulations. My brother runs a little business a couple of towns over. He’s supposed to have an inspector come by every six months to make sure he’s following the rules. I can’t tell you the last time he saw one. He heard with all the money problems we got these days and the budget cuts to all the agencies they don’t have enough inspectors to go around. Whose gonna be guarding this henhouse?

You said you’re depressed because folks seem to have lost trust and faith in business. I been around the block once or twice. I know a thing or two about business. Like they always say “Let the buyer beware”. They also say “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me.” We got sheep up here. We know when the wool’s being pulled over our eyes.

Y’know, a lot of the folks here and in towns all around have been getting together to figure out how to stop this. We got all sorts of folks meeting – church leaders, farmers, small business owners, even winery and brewery owners (they’re a big business up this way and they depend on clean air, water and land). They ain’t exactly peasants with torches and pitchforks. We have representatives from the Indian tribes too. This is still their native and sacred land no matter how much we’ve changed it. We get a lot of visitors out here that come for the view and the connection to the land and the history. How much more will we lose if there’s nothing but an industrial site to visit?

Then I got to thinking about another thing. How is this gas supposed to be delivered? It sure can’t be trucked out. I guess this means we’re gonna need pipelines to run it through. Nobody’s even talking about this. Where are these pipelines gonna go? They’re not gonna be just a local problem. I suspect, folks in the city are not gonna be too happy about the answer. Y’know pipelines leak too; sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident.

A lot of us up here are on board with the new ways of producing power. We know better than most folks how the sun and water can work for us. It has been for centuries. Why aren’t we doing more to use these natural and clean gifts of nature than trying to fill a sack with cats?

I hope you can ease our minds some and assure us that they have it under control.. Otherwise, my brother can get us a good deal on pitchforks. We’ll probably have enough fuel for the torches.

Best wishes,
Carl Lundgren

GPNYS adopts peace symbol for ballot icon

The Green Party of New York State at yesterday’s State Committee meeting adopted the classic and iconic peace symbol as the emblem that will appear on voting ballots in New York State elections.

The symbol was chosen overwhelmingly by the members from a number of choices that were submitted for approval.

Nonviolence is one of the Key Values upon which the Green Party was founded. The choice of the peace symbol makes it clear that the Green Party is the only ballot status political party in New York actively opposed to war and dedicated to nonviolence.

The symbol will now appear on New York State ballots along side the Democratic star, Republican eagle, Conservative liberty torch, Independent Party eagle with superimposed “I” and Working Families “WF”

CWCWC Sues to Ban Fracking in NYS

PO Box 484 Bedford, NY 10506 http://www.newyorkwater.org

May 3, 2011 Contact: Marian Rose (914) 234-3179 or
For Immediate Release MarianR451@aol.com

CWCWC Sues to Prevent DEC from High Volume Horizontal
Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State Forests

The Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, Inc. (CWCWC) has sued the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in New York State Supreme Court to declare High Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHHF) in New York State Forests contrary to the New York State Constitution and applicable environmental laws.

CWCWC president Fay Muir explained, “New York State Forests are one of the great environmental success stories of the 20th century. After years of industrialization laying waste to hundreds of thousands of acres, New York State began a reforestation program with assistance from depression-era work programs. DEC correctly states that ‘New York’s green certified State Forests shine among the gems of the State’s public land holdings… sustainable management of these lands [adds] multiple benefits including clean water, timber, recreation, wildlife and scenic beauty.’ HVHHF in State Forests will reverse those gains allowing industry to profit over people. Further, the radioactive discharges will threaten human health for centuries. New Yorkers deserve better. Although DEC allows minor vertical drilling, the New York State Constitution guarantees that these forests shall be used for wildlife and forest conservation as opposed to massive HVHHF with gas rigs, pipelines, compressor stations, and access roads. DEC bans other industrial uses such as wind turbines, commercial mining and communications towers and there is no reason to reverse DEC policy by allowing HVHHF in such an important public resource.”

For an independent analysis of the biological impacts of HVHHF in the State Forests, CWCWC retained Hudsonia, a nonprofit, non-advocacy institute that conducts research and provides information for land use planning and environmental management. Hudsonia and Hickory Creek Consulting prepared a report analyzing a number of potential impacts to biological resources,
particularly including the toxicity of spilled or leaked wastewater affecting streams and wetlands, and the fragmentation of forests by drilling pads, access roads, and pipelines.

Sierra Club’s Lower Hudson Group chairman George Klein said, “Our DEC’s mission includes protecting New York’s natural resources and environment and controlling water, land and air pollution, in order to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state. Allowing HVHHF in our state forests would be an outrageous violation of their mission, and of our forests. This suit simply prods DEC to fulfill its mission.”

“The Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition has done a great service to all New Yorkers by bringing this lawsuit and seeking to protect us from the harms of HVHHF in our state forests. I am grateful for the opportunity to join in the suit as an individual plaintiff. I live next to the Birdseye Hollow State Forest in Steuben County, and am concerned that air and water contamination caused by HVHHF in Birdseye Hollow will be harmful to the health of those of us who live near the forest and destructive to property values, farming and tourism in our area,” said Rachel Treichler, Hammondsport, New York.

HVHHF is the highly controversial process used to extract natural gas (mostly methane) from a deep-lying hard rock formation, the Marcellus Shale, which underlies most of NYS’s southern tier. Explosive forces and millions of gallons of water per well, under high pressure and laced with carcinogenic chemicals, amongst others, are used to shatter the rock and release the methane. The briny water that goes back to the surface contains heavy metals and unusually high levels of salt and radioactivity. No water treatment plant in NYS is capable of safely treating or disposing of these products, and the underlying geological formations are unsuitable for injection wells. Air pollution from the hundreds of trucks needed to bring in the water; stream and lake pollution from inadequate holding ponds; spills and stormwater runoff; noise pollution; destruction of forested areas – all will disperse the wildlife. Instead of being areas for recreation and a low-level, sustainable industry of forest products such as timber, these forests will become highly industrialized zones, entirely contrary to the purposes for which they were established and maintained since 1929, at public expense.

For legal questions please contact James Bacon, Esq., attorney for CWCWC at (845) 255-2026.

The Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, Inc. (CWCWC) is a not-for-profit organization comprising over fifty community, environmental, religious and housing groups throughout NYC, Westchester and Putnam Counties. CWCWC strives to protect and improve the waters of NYC’s Croton Watershed as well as all NYS watersheds. We are an alliance of individuals and groups who believe that safe, clean and affordable drinking water is a basic human right.

Green Party Teachers to Apply for Cathie Black’s Position as Chair of Hearst Magazines

Green Party Teachers to Apply for Cathie Black’s Position as Chair of
Hearst Magazines

Greens Oppose Black’s Nomination, Launches Campaign to Restore
Community Control of Schools

What: Teachers to Apply for Cathie Black’s job at Heart Magazine;
Greens Launch Campaign to Restore Community Control of Public
Who: Green Party, teachers and ex-teachers and their supporters
When: Tuesday, November 30th, 11:00 am
Where: In front of Hearst Tower, 300 West 57th St. at 8th Avenue, Manhattan

On Tuesday November 30, several current and former teachers from the
Green Party of New York City will apply for the job of Chair of Hearst
Magazines that Cathie Black is vacating. Ms. Black has been nominated
by Mayor Bloomberg to head the NYC School System despite lacking the
minimal educational qualifications. The Greens contend the nomination
of Ms. Black highlights the problems with Bloomberg’s top-down
corporate CEO model of governance of the city school’s system.

If a magazine executive with no educational experience is qualified to
serve as chancellor of the nation’s largest school system, then it’s
only logical that an experienced teacher with no publishing background
should be eminently qualified to chair the board of a media
conglomerate. The teachers will bring books about the publishing
industry to demonstrate that they, like Ms. Black, fully intend to
“get up to speed” in their new profession.

The Greens will also launch the Green Platform for Public Education,
which opposes mayoral control. The Platform calls for publicly
elected NYC community school boards to elect a citywide school board,
which will hire the chancellor. To mobilize public support, the
Greens plan to take their campaign to NYC’s 59 Community Boards.

Should capitalism be saved?

Riverdale Press
July 9, 2009

Point of view: Should capitalism be saved?

By Florence Gold

“From Zurich and Washington to Frankfurt, London, and Tokyo, all the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men, bankers, economists, policy analysts, and government leaders are trying to put capitalism back together again.” So wrote Dr. John Sonbonmatsu, a professor of philosophy, at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. And, he continued, “It would be difficult to exaggerate either the profundity of the contemporary crisis or the importance of developing a viable alternative to the existing order.”

Few critics of the current financial debacle are as honest, as frank or as courageous in confronting the shifting foundations of a world which seems to be in the process of dissolution. What is really needed? What should we be doing? Is minor, superficial tinkering, simply pretending that a little more money thrown to the banks, a little more supervision by the Feds will put us together again? Or is it necessary to admit that the hard work of real, profound change is necessary?

The end of capitalism has been predicted many times in the past century, perhaps too many times, and admittedly solutions, when tried, have been costly, varied and unsuccessful. What are our choices? The contemporary crisis is certainly one of major significance. Let us be honest, we are experiencing a depression not a recession. I refuse to engage the sophistry of calling it just another recession, one that given time, we can easily overcome.

Last September, the U.S. treasury injected “half a trillion dollars into the monetary system in its attempt to lift us out of the deep, financial well into which we had sunk. Ben Bernanke, the current chairman of the Federal reserve, informed members of Congress that our financial system had come close to collapse. Prompt action by the treasury and the Fed had prevented “disaster and full scale panic.”

Shortly thereafter, the French president, Nicholas Sarkozy, told reporters that the world economy was “on the edge of an abyss.” At the same time, governments of other industrialized, capitalist nations were also engaged in a struggle to keep financial and banking systems afloat. Germany has just put up $679 billion to stabilize its own government while Great Britain has spent about 1/5 of its national GDP. The U.S. at the same time had assumed obligations for or spent $7.8 trillion to attempt to save itself, (about half of this country’s annual GDP).

President Obama warned of catastrophe if Congress failed to approve his $700 billion economic package. And Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, announced his plan to commit the U.S. to an additional $2.1 trillion to stabilize our own ailing system. Until spring 2009, leading industrialized states in Europe, North America, and Asia have either spent or committed themselves to amounts totaling over $10 trillion.

Contrast this amount with the entire Marshall Plan expenditure to rebuild Europe after World War II. According to the United Nations, $195 billion could have eradicated most poverty-related deaths in the third world, including deaths from malnutrition, malaria and AIDS. We are speaking about a current sum which is 50 times greater than would have been required to save tens of millions from terrible suffering and premature loss of life. And it is important to remember that the ten trillion dollars which we are investing are being thrown to the world’s richest banks, private financial institutions and investors, rather than securing the economies and the infrastructure of the third world.

In an effort to research and explore the global wave of financial destruction to our battered economies and the disruption of human life because of loss of jobs, homes, health, and standards of living as well as the evidence of crushing emotional despair, I came across a periodical whose title “Tikkun” means “to mend, repair, and transform the world.” Its courage and integrity are remarkable, its ability to expose the tragedy of a world which may be on the point of collapse, indisputable. It questions our values of greed and our efforts to achieve huge profits above all else and asks not only whether or not we can repair our world, but whether it merits salvation without major change.

It asks openly and simply, “should capitalism be saved?” Do we put our shoulders to the proverbial wheel and attempt to resuscitate a withering social order or do we, as individuals, as nations, as a world, gather whatever strength and passion we can muster, admit that we need a total turn-around and embark on a voyage of discovery?

It has been said that Wall Street is our most powerful and most selfish lobby. We are suffering a shattering, financial earthquake and yet, despite the daily news of increasing unemployment, poverty and despair, there are signs that Wall Street is returning to its old habits again. Goldman Sachs is handing out bonuses larger than the lifetime income of small towns in the middle of America. Greed is once more the order of the day.

The old order is again demonstrating its careless avariciousness and strength. It expects to roll over any signs of protest.

Falling wages and hence falling incomes are signs of a sick economy and the problems of excessive debt become more forceful, more frightening, more difficult to solve.

We must gather our strength to say that change, a word used too freely of late, is not merely a word to be used on campaign posters, but is vigorous and demonstrable. And that we the people can create transformations, can create new worlds. As I stated earlier in this essay a viable democracy must become a reality. Otherwise, our children and grandchildren will be battling not only environmental disaster, but political collapse.