Who Do The Greens Think They Are?


“WHAT WE THINK, we become”, observed Siddhartha Gautama, the Enlightened One. What then, have the Greens, particularly their parliamentary representatives, been thinking to become the confused collection of MPs we see today?

The easy answer would be to say that thinking is the one activity the Greens have not been engaging in since facilitating the formation of the Coalition Government. In part, the party’s shambolic unmindfulness is the consequence of sheer panic. The destruction of Metiria Turei caused considerable collateral damage. The party lost a lot of talent – much of which it has yet to successfully replace.

Even more serious than temporarily losing its collective head, however, was the Green Party’s loss of direction. Ever since the 2017 election, the Greens have been spinning around in their own aimless eddies. No longer caught up in the strong currents of ecological activism which had propelled them forward since entering Parliament in their own right in 1999, the Greens energies have been swallowed up in the constantly multiplying micro-conflicts of identity politics.

Such appears to be the fate of all left-wing and progressive organisations that lose the impetus supplied by a single, unifying cause. In the absence of the latter, all the essentially irresolvable conflicts of identity politics – Male vs Female; Black vs White; Cis vs Non-Cis; Trans vs TERF – rush in to fill the vacuum. Regaining the movement’s forward momentum is never easy in these circumstances, but without effective and inspiring leadership it is practically impossible. Tragically, this is precisely where the Aotearoan Greens have ended up: unmoved by a great cause and uninspired by ineffectual leaders.

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On the face of it, the Greens predicament is absurd. Most activists would assume that an ecological party of the Greens’ pedigree would be in the vanguard of the struggle against climate change: advocates for the most radical and uncompromising means of defending the biosphere. Most activists would, however, be wrong. The Green Party of Aotearoa is not in the vanguard of the struggle against climate change: it’s best and its brightest are holding down ministerial jobs outside of the Cabinet; diligently toiling in the bureaucratic vineyards of mainstream politics.

In spite of the fact that the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls for massive sacrifices from the world’s wealthiest nations and a fundamental transformation of the global economy, the Aotearoan Greens have committed themselves to “the technological fix” that will, somehow, allow the planet to survive without its most dangerous species having to change very much of anything.

This is nothing short of tragic. Defeating anthropogenic global warming has always depended on humanity treating it as the moral equivalent of war. But, instead of green warriors urging their fellow citizens to fight and, if necessary, die for the planet, Aotearoa has been blessed with a party of conscientious objectors. To the question: “Is anybody standing up to the big corporates? The farmers? The road transport lobby?” James Shaw, Julie Anne Genter and Eugenie Sage reply that they are doing the best they can. That politics is the art of the possible. Moreover, there’s the Budget Responsibility Rules to consider – not to mention the wishes of Labour and NZ First. Not to worry, though, because Marama Davidson is rehabilitating the word “cunt” and sticking it to the misogynist “bros” on social media. Right-on, sister!

The Green Party’s key strategic error, post-election, was to want anything to do with ministerial warrants – or coalition partners. They should have told Labour and NZ First that if push came to shove on the floor of the House, then they would always vote to keep them in office and the National Party in opposition, but, beyond that, all bets were off. They would wield the hammer of justice, ring the bell of freedom and sing the song about love between their brothers and their sisters exactly as they saw fit – while fighting for the planet with all their might.

In the end, the increasingly urgent need to keep Planet Earth liveable is going to burn off the denialists and the compromisers; the incrementalists and the technological fixers. And when that moment comes there needs to be one party that has steadfastly refused to buy into the dangerous optimism of the she’ll-be-righters and the let’s-hope-for-the-besters. A party ready to step forward with the hard answers where all other answers have failed. A party that is willing, after many, many years in the political wilderness, to offer a terrified electorate the same terse instruction that Kyle Reese gave to Sarah Connor inThe Terminator: “Come with me if you want to live!”

If the Greens think anthropogenic global warming is real; if they think that only ecological-wisdom-in-arms can defeat it; then that is the sort of party they will become. Sorting out the bros can wait until the planet stops burning.




  1. ” a fundamental transformation of the global economy,”

    This is the problem. The planet is controlled by humans, the humans are controlled by their governments, the governments are controlled by international big business , and everything is controlled by the banking system that decides who shall have the money they issue and for what purpose. With the priority in those decisions being their own financial benefit.
    The changes that would have to occur to make looking after the planet the priority of human endeavour involve removing this control from the beneficiaries of this state of affairs, and placing the power in the hands of government, and the actions of government toward the interests of the people and their environment.
    Almost no-0ne seems to understand how the money system really works. The economists who study it disagree with each other , reformists like Positive Money and Modern Monetary Theory are spending their energies arguing with each other while we are all sucked dry by debt and the planet burns.
    The money/banking system is not the passive, neutral facility everyone assumes it to be. It isn’t a naturally occurring phenomenon like the sea. It’s a manmade invention and it is serving the wrong people and the wrong purpose, and the planet will never become the priority of mankind’s endeavour while it is in the power of a few private individuals. And not by people who fail to recognise the need for government to harness its power.
    D J S

    • Nicely put David.

      I would add that all human institutions (not just banks) reflect our species and the underlying biological drives that motivate us.
      The more selfish among us – the true power lusting types – will always rise (and be allowed to rise by us all) to the top eventually, whether it’s Goldman Sachs, the Catholic Church, Greenpeace, FIFA or the International Scouting Movement.
      And sadly those individuals often do not have the wellbeing of the greater community as their first priority.

      Our species, despite it’s massively developed cerebral cortex, has proven to be no superior than bacteria in the stewardship of this planet and it’s resources. The Universe may well record humanities brief flowering as “nothing special to see here – move on”.

      • For 4000 years China was the preeminent super power because they had the largest population. No there nation could compete with China economically or militarily until the Britain used coal energy to inflate its GDP higher than mega populations. Now that coal as a source of energy is under huge threat of extinction we are seeing a return to mega populations dominating the GDP rankings of the OECD. So if we want to keep pace with the change we need to phase out legacy power generation or grow our population pyramid.

    • Yes. The Ponzi financial system governs practically everything. And almost nobody wants to talk about the financial system, even as it progresses towards collapse.

  2. Yes Chris I left the Green Party years ago because of the declining ecological and sharp focus on chemical poisoning of our planet and ourselves.

    No where did I ever see during the ten years did I see the Green Party clearly place ‘the blowtorch on the former Government these serious toxic issues’ facing us all that was clearly depicted in Rachel Carson’s “gold standard book “The Silent Spring”.


    I left the Party in 2003.

  3. yes mr trotter..pointing the finger at the greens is all very well..(and i agree they should have sat outside of cabinet)..

    but what you..most green ‘activists’..green party mp’s..can’t seem to get your heads around/do anything about is deeply personal..doesn’t involve pointing fingers at anyone else but yourself..

    how you/them so easily ignore the strongest imperative..to stop eating animal-flesh/bye-products..to cut global consumption of animals by 70%..

    is it because of your personal addiction to chewing the sinews/masticating the fat..?…

    that you/them choose to studiously avoid mentioning that imperative..?

    and more importantly – avoid doing something about it in your own lives..?

    • Parts of Asia is already used to 4sq meter dwellings with a toilet in one corner and a shower in the other while every ones jacked into the Internet earning emoji coins for rations.

      Personally I wouldn’t mind a Blade Runner reality where giant corporations go extinct leaving behind giant skyscrapers full of Rachel’s to repopulate the planet.

  4. Very well said, Chris. I am a former Green Party voter and after Marama Davidson’s string of ridiculous comments, I feel completely confident that I made the right decision to vote for another party. Quite frankly, the Green Party is no more than a clown school. It is frankly unbelievable that they elected Davidson as it’s co-leader. She is so unbelievably unqualified for the job that, personally, I believe it is the left’s equivalent of Trump being elected President. Genter would have been better.

    If Davison remains co leader, there is no chance I will vote for them again.

    • I was a member of the Greens at one time and became increasingly frustrated by some of their foolishness but the thing that really made me quit was that the Green members voted for those they wished to represent them in Parliament. So far so good, but you had to try to achieve a balance of males/females, youngish/ elderly, maori/non-maori etc.
      In practice the process was so restrictive that a voter was virtually forced to vote for a certain person where the options were few(eg Maori/non-Maori). When I worked out all the options I found that I was required to vote for Metiria Turei to achieve the right ‘balance.’ I have nothing against her – we were in the same Branch and I thought she had rough justice when she had to quit Parliament but I couldn’t see that this was a democratic process.
      My guess is that when the members had to vote for Metirea’s
      replacement Marama Davidson was the only option that met the requirement for Maori balance. If so, you get the leaders you deserve.

  5. Not standing by Metiria Turei was a catastrophic mistake. She was ‘real’ in the truest sense of the word and as such, she represented a game changing level of integrity that one just can’t simply conjure up, no matter how deeply one has the MSM in one’s pocket.
    The Green Party clipped her wings just as she was about to take off. The complete and total dipshits.
    There’s one other peson in The DipShit party that could take flight but she’s blanketed by the great gusts of brain-fart, hot air, hate blather blowing out of Marama ‘ So-Last-Century’ Davidson. And that person is Chloe Swarbrick. She needs more air time. She’s entirely genuine. Just like Turei.

  6. ‘Well said, Chris.

    ‘Who Do The Greens Think They Are?’

    Surely the answer is they have little idea. And they have no sensible collective stance on anything that matters

    Indeed, since the early 2000s, the Greens have -through a combination of ignorance, laziness, lack of organisation and cowardice- morphed into an anti-environmental party which is dedicated to preserving the very systems that are causing massive disturbance to geochemical systems and are causing massive damage to life on Earth. At this point of time the Greens are dedicated to preserving systems which will ultimately render the Earth largely uninhabitable. Does that make them criminals or just clowns?

    Daily CO2
    October 24, 2018: 407.08 ppm
    October 24, 2017: 403.95 ppm


  7. A bit harsh, Chris. The Greens can only wield power FROM WITHIN. Staying outside govt and remaining purer than pure and holier than thous wont achieve a single damn thing. Except maybe a blogpost from you lamenting why the Greens chose not to be ” in the tent, rather than outside”. No win from carping critics.

    “If the Greens think anthropogenic global warming is real; if they think that only ecological-wisdom-in-arms can defeat it; then that is the sort of party they will become. Sorting out the bros can wait until the planet stops burning.”

    All of which can only be achieved from inside govt, not outside looking in, powerless to act, until the masses come begging cap in hand to the aloof Greens. Which will never happen, as the US sideshow has proven. People will flock to a demagogue offering easy “solutions” ratger than deep, meaningful change.

    Sorry, youve dropped the green ball on this one mate

  8. I too have been very disappointed in the new leaders of the Greens . Shaw is also a failure despite his obvious organizational skills. We need more non urban Green MPs to save the Green Party. Despite all of these failures however the lack of cohesion etc since Turei’s departure there is still more talent brains and ability in the Greens than in National.Woeful state of affairs all round.

  9. There is only ONE issue that matters.

    Every digression by the Greens communicates that global warming can’t be that serious. If it was, then that would be all they’d be talking about.

    It’s not like there isn’t anything to be thinking about or formulating policy for or preparing green (how apt) papers:
    * the vision for a post-carbon economy
    * policies on immigration – especially climate refugees when the numbers get BIG
    * house insurance – can the insurance industry handle the risk? Will premiums become unaffordable? If so, what does that do to new builds?
    * mental health – people under stress
    * bio threats – pests, diseases
    * transition to dry land agriculture – especially on the east coast
    * flood protection
    * transition of dwellings & roads where sea-level rise is a factor
    * delineating responsibility between central/local government
    * moving the capital city inland
    * drought management
    * strategy for handling hard-nosed deniers
    * how to get the farmers, energy sector, transport on board
    * the creation of sub-commissions under the Climate Change Commission
    * what productive role can the defence forces play? what skills do they have?

    If the Greens published a green paper every fortnight or every month on one of the multiple facets of global warming, what would that communicate?

  10. Here’s a few of the things the Greens have achieved over the past year:

    Secured $14 billion funding package for walkway infrastructure, cycle-ways, buses and light rail

    Real progress on taking climate action – with more than 15,000 submissions on the Zero Carbon Bill

    A Green Investment Fund: $125 million dollars in Budget 2018 to set it up

    Secured a win to wind-down Government subsidies of large-scale irrigation schemes

    A big increase of $15 million into the Sustainable Farming Fund

    A commitment that the review of the Overseas Investment Act will look at putting the protection of water at the heart of decision-making

    Negotiated the largest funding increase for DoC in 16 years

    Phasing out single use plastic bags

    Funding for the world’s first Predator Free Capital

    A world first to provide workplace leave for the victims of domestic violence

    Over $10 million dollars to pilot a programme to ensure young people have access to timely, quality, mental health services

    Warmer Kiwi Homes initiative funding two-thirds of the cost of insulating the homes of people on low incomes across Aotearoa

    Committing to end the gender pay gap and representing women properly in the public sector and on public boards

    Making headway on country-of-origin food labelling to re-include bacon

    Leading the way on more open and transparent government – we’re pro-actively releasing our Ministerial diaries so people can see who we’re meeting and why we’re meeting them

    Leading the way on a more accessible government – we’re on the verge of securing accessibility support for people with disabilities to be able to participate more easily in our democracy

    Shaping the terms of reference for future trade agreements, so that they actually support and enhance our social and environmental goals, not undermine them.

    New Zealand Treasury and Statistics NZ are working to set up a comprehensive framework for measuring – not just economic success – but social, and environmental, and cultural wellbeing too. So, in next years budget the Minister of Finance will be required to report on our wellbeing, not just our economic through-put.

    • …and be able to influence policy from the inside, all new legislation has to be run past the Greens in order for the coalition to function. The Green influence is everywhere. The Greens also have the most active back benchers with Chloe, Golriz and Gareth constantly in the media whether it be drug reform, international issues and animal rights…

      Chris also forgets that Green leaders grow into the role and the Greens strongest critics often come from within the Party. History shows that when things get tough the Greens rally and come back stronger.

      Pundits felt Russel Norman couldn’t replace Rod Donald until he did in his own way and was lauded as the actual opposition leader when Labour struggled. Metiria was seen as a poor replacement to Jeanette Fitzsimons until even Chris was praising her enthusiastically during the election.

      James Shaw held his nerve and performed well as the sole leader after Metiria’s resignation and he is seen as one of the more capable Ministers. Much of his influence in changing the way we collect and use data will be more transformational than many understand. The Green’s push for greater transparency in Government has recently proved to be a popular cause.

      Marama is a different kind of leader than Jeanette and Metiria, but she has real connections to communities that are often forgotten by the political system. The Greens are more than an environmental party and to trivialise her contribution shows a lack of understanding of our society. Successful leadership is more than impressing certain commentators.

  11. So you want to change & better our world?
    before this; know change & better your own country
    before this; know change & better your region
    before this; know change & better your community
    before this; know change & better your family & friends
    before this; know change & better yourself

    We humans like to pretend that we’re above such things, but in reality we’re mainly driven by our instincts & primary concerns, which are largely biochemical & behaviouristic in nature. However we like to spin it self interest & short term thinking rules, but of course there are many sugar coated ways of playing game. Put simply the mess we are in today is of our own making & we’re our own worst enemy.

    For those of us who dream of a better world, this is the real dilemma we’re faced with. There really is only one way out of this dilemma & that is to focus more on exploring bio-technical &/or spiritual ways in which humanity may eventually be able to transcend the dictatorial limits & negative aspects of our biology, behaviouristic & ethical programming.

    I suppose in biblical terms the best way of putting the above is more focus is needed on getting the specks out of our own eyes first.

  12. This is mean and unfair, Chris. The Greens are the most principled party within parliament and they are literally trying to save the world, rather than promote their own interests (unlike National who is full of ego maniacs). So give them a break.

    Personally, I believe that Marama is amazing and will hopefully one day be Prime Minister. How awesome would it be to have a strong Maori woman is our leader! So what if she doesn’t have a business background – you can’t eat money!

  13. If the world is facing several potential environmental disasters, then we need to do something about it.

    The TV is full of it: If it’s not CO2 in the atmosphere, it’s the extinction of blue fin tuna and rhino, it’s the stripping of rain forest in Indonesia and the global loss of insects.

    So what’s the common cause of all these plagues upon the face of the earth?

    Too many people is what!

    The globe is probably over populated. Maybe the natural carrying capacity of the Earth is 4 billion people not ten billion.

    So where are the Greens on contraception? Nowhere is where. In their bubble they favour handing more to welfare recipients who produce large families. They favour providing aid to 3rd world countries with massive fertility rates.

    Because the Green aren’t Green. They only play at being green. Most Greens and their voter base don’t even have the basic technical education to understand the issues.

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