Divorce or stay together?

Steven Welzer
4 min readDec 28, 2020


There’s an idea that the Green Party should embody the “watermelon” ideology: green on the outside but red on the inside.

We no doubt are in an era of Red/Green coalitional work. That’s all to the good. But some people want to fully transform the Green Party into a kind of socialist party. That’s not good.

There are intensive debates about this within the party. Some Greens have become alarmed and advocated a fissure: Get the Reds out, let them start up their own party, let us be fully Green.

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Am I making too much re: “Red vs. Green”? Can’t it be “Red and Green”?

Well, again, I’m all for coalitional work. But I don’t think there’s enough appreciation of the distinctiveness of the two different leftist currents. That was my motivation for writing “On Leftism and Leftists, Reds and Greens”:


In that article I discussed the literature of the two movements and noted the extent to which it indicates distinctive paradigms.

Admittedly, there are Greens who not very leftist at all. Some are just slightly-left-of-Dem liberals. That’s OK, but those folks are not much part of the debate about the future of the radical (“go to the root”) left. The two contending currents that interest me are the eco-socialists who have “an intention of bringing Red-leftist consciousness to the Greens” (like Howie Hawkins) and the “new paradigm” bioregionalists, whom I refer to as “Deep Greens.” It’s well known that I identify with the latter:


In regard to encouraging the eco-socialists to “leave us alone,” go off and start a party that embodies their ideology, I just wonder if we deep Greens won’t ultimately have more influence on the Reds by dialoguing with them within the confines of the GP organizations (national, state, local party groups). I do believe that this dialogue is the most important one of our times among social change activists.

But, in a debate, we deep Greens don’t often carry the day. We have to understand that socialism has decades, in fact more than a century, of momentum as “the alternative” ideology. So it shouldn’t be surprising to see that DSA has been growing faster than the Green Party. And Nick Brana’s new People’s Party might have a lot of short-term success (Cornel West signed on).

Old-style socialism actually has been in decline, even if there seem to be occasional waves of renewal. The Green alternative is still fairly inchoate, not yet appreciated, but I believe we represent the future.

The Reds tend to adhere to misguided theory that views the chimerical “political working class” as the agent of social change; sees history as a process of progressive development (higher and higher stages, with socialism as next on the agenda); and an ultimate highest stage based on a system with universal socialized property relations. This is flawed theory with slowly fading prospects. If people influenced by those ideas come in to “work within the Green Party” — and attempt to transform the party — should that upset us? Or do deep Greens ultimately benefit from having those people channel young activists into our midst, subject to internal influence from our new-paradigm ideas? My impression is that Howie Hawkins’ efforts have actually resulted in more advancement for Green politics than for his less-than-Green ideological orientation.

Aside from us social change activists, the general electorate doesn’t pay all that much attention to the specifics and nuances of ideology. I think when Howie and his co-thinkers run for office under our banner, most people primarily hear “Green Party, Green Party” rather than “socialization of the means of production.” In other words, the old-style socialists may want to Redify us, but their work within the GP is actually Greenifying those they address in the electoral arena and many of those they recruit to join our party.

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I agree that there’s a certain dilemma in regard to the influence of retrograde ideology, a potential “mis-branding” of the Green politics movement. So I can understand the sentiment to separate from the Reds.
It’s possible that might, in fact, be the best resolution to the dilemma. But I’m more inclined to believe that it will work out better for us deep Greens in the long run to tolerate old-style leftism in our midst for the time being, rather than advocating for a fissure.

I was uncomfortable with the idea of “eco-socialism” at first, encountering it within the context of Howie’s orientation to “build a working class party” (as if it would inspire his fellow Teamsters to join up). But some reading I’ve done recently (especially the work of Samuel Alexander) suggests that there can be a very Green orientation, i.e., the idea of eco-socialism as a way to de-fang capitalism and open pathways toward the greening of society — with the ultimate destination being more bioregionalist than socialist. Maybe that kind of thinking can be a basis for Reds and Greens to coexist and work together synergistically under the auspices of the Green Party.



Steven Welzer

The editor of Green Horizon Magazine, Steve has been a movement activist for many years (he was an original co-editor of DSA’s “Ecosocialist Review”).