May 12, 2016

Why I’ll never vote for the Greens

Don't believe what The Daily Telegraph tells you: there's no red in the Greens and they aren't the party of revolution many take them for.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

Larissa Waters, Richard Di Natale and Scott Ludlam
There is something wrong with the ABC’s democratic novelty, Vote Compass. There must be, because since its inception, this “whom should I vote for?” quiz has whacked me in the Greens quadrant every time. This makes me sore, as I am about as likely to ever vote Green as I am to afford a life in a suburb that is full of people who name their daughters after sexually liberated French modernist writers. Actually, that’s an input the ABC’s psephologists should really think about including in their test: “Have you seriously considered calling your child Anais?” would be a more accurate means to align a voter with the Greens. As would “Do you have an unread copy of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century sitting on your reclaimed ladder bookshelf?” Without such data, the outputs for the leftist voter will continue to be just (upcycled) garbage. But we can’t blame the algorithm. We can’t even really blame the ABC. The policy questions posed by the quiz -- roughly “do you support income and social equality?” and “do you believe that our species has become a monstrous geological force?”-- are the same questions posed by the Greens. The problem is that these are largely the wrong questions to ask. Even, and especially, if you happen to be the kind of voter who will answer “yes” to each of them without hesitation. [Poll Bludger: major parties collude to stonewall Greens] I am this kind of voter. I agree that we are headed to hell in a hand cart that runs on unsustainable fuel. I agree that nationalism is a hateful contagion, that economic inequality will cannibalise the state and that a treaty with indigenous Australia can only produce good dividends all ‘round. I am opposed to metadata retention. I am appalled by the irrational rationalism of offshore detention. I have often been critically disappointed by the ALP. FFS, I am a queer, unmarried, disabled woman who huffily left the Communist Party for feminist reasons in her teens and never returned. Fine, Vote Compass gets me. I should not simply be a Greens voter but a lifetime Greens member with a Samoan-inspired tattoo of Bob Brown etched on her arse. But I’m not. And this is not entirely due to the current possibility that the Greens will trade preferences with the Libs or that they may have done so in state elections of the past. This is not entirely due to the Greens support for their deal with the government on pensions, their stubbornness and myopia on the ETS and the fact that Larissa Waters is a cultural totalitarian who will not rest until all evidence of gender is purged from the shelves of our toy stores. It’s not my revulsion for fashionably named children or the tastefully rustic surrounds in which their Green-voting parents raise them. It’s not even the reclaimed ladder bookshelf; it’s more the Piketty that rests upon it, whether read or unread. Personally, I have made my way through about half of Piketty’s tortured data-gasm. This, by the by, is apparently above average. A scratch analysis of the those who purchased history’s best-selling work on economics found that no one much made it past page 26. But they kind of got what they paid for, because any assay beyond that will just reveal that Piketty, like the Greens, is interested only in making noise about inequality. When it comes to disturbing inequality at its foundation, he is every bit as chic, and every bit as useful, as the Greens. Spare yourself the trouble of Piketty. Just buy the book, as I did, to remind yourself that you are one of those consumers who thinks that inequality is really, really bad. If you do read it, you’ll just have a graph-hangover and perhaps the vague sense that Piketty, who uses the ideas of wealth and capital interchangeably, is being a bit opaque. Perhaps because he wants to hide the fact that he is recommending only minor changes to the economic organisation of the world. Buying Piketty is like buying a Fair Trade decaffeinated organic coffee. You get no real buzz, but you feel like you’ve done something civic-minded. Even though you really know you haven’t. Which is pretty much like voting Green. [Labor versus the hipsters? The inner-city campaign cools down] This election, as in previous elections, the Greens policy reads very much like the liberal compassionate documents of the World Bank. Which is to say, the party sounds very soothing in its acknowledgement of serious problems, but offers no surprising solutions to these, and seems to believe that it can benchmark its own success. The Greens say “inequality is really, really bad” and speak urgently of change. But they provide no real prescription for the big shift they say, and I agree, is needed. The optimistic leftist might choose to believe that this is because they are cleverly concealing their red flesh. This pessimist believes they are honeydew melons: a mild shade of green right through. Even those who came to the party by way of classical Marxism seem to have paled, believing only the most convenient and optimistic bits about an innovative new era of production. It’s true that the Greens provide, for some of us, a refreshing enticement. On the issue of offshore processing, for example, it’s tempting for some of us to throw a protest vote their way. But so long as they choose not to disturb our social and economic organisation, there will always be a group as maligned as asylum seekers. Inequality is really, really bad. It’s also inevitable if you don’t take a hammer to its foundation. And they don’t. The Greens’ focus is not on constituting our base differently. It’s about reflecting it more favourably. It’s about taking “gendered” toys off shelves, lighting compassionate candles and generally moralising about those who won’t publicly agree that inequality is really, really bad. It’s communism. But without the caffeine, or the communism.

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106 thoughts on “Why I’ll never vote for the Greens

  1. Sean

    There’s a gap in the Greens between the moderates in the parliamentary party and the true believers in the membership (not dissimilar to the ALP and the Libs, actually). So what? I can’t see how parliamentary politics under our rigid constitution would offer the structural changes you want, regardless of who you vote for. This “Nobody understands Capital like I do” act just sounds like Hitchens, or worse, Brendan O’Neill. Fine line between critic and self-involved contrarian. Get involved. There are still some old coms who never ditched their ALP membership and I’m sure would welcome you with open arms. Be sure to let me know how much structural change that gets you.

  2. rhwombat

    The other things about the neo-Greens (cf Bob Brown’s party, or the German) is the utter self-absorption – and consequent butt-hurt regarding heretics like you. Bravo HR.

  3. robert sessions

    Even if everything (bad) you say about the Greens is true, which it isn’t, it would be helpful if you could mount some arguments for voting ALP right now, which is the only alternative apart from the weak informal option for many of us.

  4. Popeye

    The ABC vote compass has also told me that I should vote Greens. It told me same thing in 2013 but in fact I’d die in the proverbial ditch before I’d vote for this this party of tree huggers, disappointed Trots and assorted political fantasists. There are a number of reasons for this opposition, but one stands out: While Greens prefer to spin arguments concerning why they effectively killed an ETS in 2009, in the end that’s precisely what they accomplished. And that has led, directly or indirectly – however you may wish to interpret history after 2010 – to the most divisive, vindictive and inept government since 1945 – perhaps since federation; as well as a climate ‘policy’ that would, if it wasn’t so serious, bring laughter. So I’ll be voting Labor.

    1. Antonny

      the greens torpedoed the rudd ets and gillards malaysian ‘solution’ for political reasons – in order to establish themselves as a third force – but it all backfired – look where we are – detention camps on manus and nauru and no credible carbon reduction reduction policy within cooee – they messed it all really badly, despite what bob brown says – as i see it, the problem is that if dont like then policies you have to join the major parties and try and effect change from within – and when that doesn’t work try accumulating wealth and buying a national (digital) newspaper

    2. Butidont Likespam

      Labor – oh you mean the party of perpetual war, torture, kidnapping, mass surveillance, offshore concentration camps, sponsored people smuggling, fossil fuel subsidies, open-cut coal mines, fracking, and so on?

      You’re too principled for me.

  5. Hoojakafoopy

    Odd that you bear a grudge against the Greens for killing off Labor’s ETS, Helen. A market-based mechanism for trading away responsibility for pollution that has been repeatedly discredited as ineffectual? Yeah, that’s really gonna stick it to the system! The Greens forced Gillard to introduce the carbon tax. Taxing polluters is a simpler and more effective means of reducing pollution. If you could get past your own stubborn myopia you would realize that they were right to reject Rudd’s cosmetic ETS. Bring back the carbon tax!

    1. Antonny

      like that’s gonna happen ffs!

      1. Hoojakafoopy

        That’s right Antonny, we’ll all burn to death first.

    2. Lachlan McCall

      Sorry Marcus I don’t think you understand how carbon pricing actually works. The ‘carbon tax’ was actually an ETS, with a three-year fixed price. Rudd’s CPRS was an ETS with a one-year fixed price. The Greens support a tougher ETS, not a radically different model altogether. Emissions trading is also hardly discredited; a trading scheme in CFC emissions effectively cut CFCs in response to the hole in the ozone layer. It worked because we had easily substitutable alternatives.

  6. Jason Murphy

    Hi Helen

    The great unaswered question I have at the end of this is who you will vote for? the ALP? Someone else? A donkey vote?
    We each have to resolve within ourself the problem that no party and no candidate matches our own preferences and find a way to measure what is least worst. Ruling things out is easy. Ruling things in is much harder! I’m always interested to see how people do that.

  7. Jane Clarke

    None of the mainstream parties want equality, since that would disturb their position within the status quo. Greens support Lib or Lab and would happily form a coalition with whichever would take them. Murdoch is now agitating against the Greens in favour of Labour, which tells me not that he is scared of the Greens getting in (tho that would be unhelpful for his business interests) by that if they do get in, their failure to do anything new at all (like Syriza in Greece) will increase working class unrest, and that might mean actual change in the future. If you want to vote for economic equality & international interests such as the environment, the voter might consider a Trotskyist candidate, since by definition, they think a one-country solution is so much nonsense. Not that there are a lot of these about, but the nationalist communist parties continue to support Labour, despite their drift to the right.

  8. adamingamells

    Hi Helen thanks for the article but I’m not convinced. Are you advocating for an informal vote?

  9. Marilyn J Shepherd

    I seriously don’t care who you vote for Helen.

    1. Helen Razer

      You must have been glad of the convenient warning to avoid this post contained in the headline, then.

  10. Deb

    Is a sort of cognitive dissonance to ignore – even get angry at – the result of a survey you have diligently completed and then turn that anger onto the logical conclusion?

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