RYR = Retrograde Young Reds

Steven Welzer
3 min readAug 24, 2022

The Youth Caucus of the Green Party (called YES = Young Eco-Socialists) voted against the accreditation of an Elders Caucus because (as their representative wrote to the National Committee) . . . “I am voting ‘no’ on behalf of the Young Eco-Socialist caucus. We decided to vote ‘No’ because we are worried about the ideological leanings of said caucus. Many signatories are anti-socialist Old Guard Greens who we have reservations about.”

After that, here’s what I wrote to the Elders:

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Note that the situation is ironic. The young people think they’re ideologically advanced and the “Old Guard” Greens are retrograde. Well, what that representative (following Howie Hawkins) espouses was new and advanced in 1890. It was old, stale, and discredited as of 1960. Here’s what Howie’s mentor, Murray Bookchin, said about it in 1970: “. . . to infect the movement of our time with ‘workerism’ is reactionary to the core . . . to barge in with the worn recipes of Marxism, to babble about the ‘role of the working class,’ amounts to a subversion of the present and the future by the past.”

The old Red socialism was stale and discredited decades ago. Attempts to implement it FAILED in case after case after case. THAT’S WHY THE GREEN POLITICS MOVEMENT AROSE. Some of the Sixties activists recognized that the left needed a new direction. A new interpretation of human history (Marx’s was a joke of “progressive development”). A new strategy for effectuating social change. A new ultimate objective.

There were brilliant new insights during the 1970s and 1980s. They were encapsulated in a book many of us were reading in the early 1990s: The Green Reader by Andrew Dobson.

Ironic that the young “advanced” thinkers these days don’t seem to get it about what’s truly new about our movement. There is a Green way to be anti-capitalist. Bernie Sanders doesn’t get it. When the youth look to Bernie for ideas … those are Old Guard ideas!

Old Guard thinking is to have the idea that if one hates capitalism (as we should) then one must embrace socialism. The critically important paradigm shifts of the early Green theorists led in new directions. That’s where we come from, that’s what we represent.

The world so badly needs a new direction. The left should be showing the way forward. That’s what the early Greens recognized. It’s what Howie fails to convey. It’s what the YES-ers don’t seem to understand.

There is a Green way to be anti-capitalist:


The Socialist Party of Angela Walker doesn’t get it. It’s stuck ideologically. The SP and the DSA and Bernie Sanders are holding back the most important ideological project of our time: Transitioning the left from Red to Green:


There would be no need for a Green politics movement if our eco-socialism just represented some kind of minor tweaking of the old paradigm. But that’s not the case. Our Ten Key Values are the basis for a very different perspective on the human condition, a very new worldview. I worry about the ideological leanings of the YES caucus if they can’t appreciate how the idea of the “greening of society” is the legacy of what they disparage as “Old Guard.” I’m afraid they seem to have old ideological heads on young shoulders.



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”).