Backward from Green to Red

Today Howie Hawkins will be nominated as the 2020 Green Party candidate for president:

Howie who?

Well, that’s beside the point.

So the Green Party couldn’t find a high-profile candidate in this Year of Dump Trump. OK. For Howie (who Happens to Hate ‘Howard’) his ascendance to leader of the party is the culmination of a 35-year campaign to make the GP into an SP (socialist party). I’ll address that in my next Medium post.

Meanwhile, his nomination does represent the coming of age of my generation of New Left activists. We didn’t pull off a “revolution.” We did manage to take some steps . . . toward a more participatory form of democracy and the new “greening” idea. That was inspiring, energizing, optimistic. But along the way something happened. There was a staring into an unanticipated abyss. OMG. It discouraged many. It disoriented many. It caused others to cling like a security blanket to the traditional (standard Red leftism.)

Howie’s platform — a couple of steps leftward from that of Bernie Sanders — is full of reforms.

They’ll never get embraced; hardly recognized, no less implemented. Why? Because good ideas can’t prevail under circumstances that are so far gone.

Underlying the New Left and the counterculture was a spectre of the abyss. An eerie kind of disquiet, a disconcerting foreboding. A de-energizing. We were taken aback. It provoked a kind of schizoid perspective: On the one hand, develop and promulgate progressive ideas. On the other hand, it’s a long way down, have no illusions. There’s actually little hope to implement the program.

‘Apocalypse’ can mean ‘a great unveiling or disclosure’ … a learning and a cleansing. Recognition of the coming descent calls for a degree of chastening, a touch of resignation in regard to “progressivism.” Yes, righteous resistance … with commitment and dignity. But have no illusions; embrace what we face … with defiant, yet patient kindness.

To lighten up now can be liberatory; to hope for a someday liberatory new equilibrium can be a source of encouragement. Gaia will survive. Rather than saving nature, we need to be saving ourselves. Tolerating our folly, while striving to correct it. Laughing like the Buddha, while maintaining our moral legitimacy as much as possible.

A co-editor of Green Horizon Magazine, Steve has been a Green movement activist for almost thirty years.