Communist Party International Emblem, 1919
“Go Green” Emblem, 2010
A part of the bourgeoisie wants to redress social grievances in order to assure the maintenance of bourgeois society.
Included in it are economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, do-gooders for the working classes, charity organisers, animal welfare enthusiasts, temperance union workers, two-a-penny reformers of multifarious kinds.
— Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party
Surveying the various constituencies that make up the present-day Green movement, a number of distinct tendencies can be observed. These each have their own peculiarities and distinguishing features, and are sometimes even at odds with one another. But there do exist overarching themes that hold this jumbled mass of ideological fragments together. One trend held in common by most of them, for example, is a shared opposition to “big business” and “corporate greed.” It is on this basis that many of them fancy themselves to hold a generally anti-capitalist worldview.
1. THE IDEOLOGY OF “LOCAL” AND “ORGANIC”: LOCAVORES AND URBAN-AGRICULTURALISM
But on closer inspection, it can be seen in most cases that these activists don’t really want to overturn capitalism. They merely want to turn back the clock to what they perceive as a kinder, gentler capitalism, in which the “little guy” wasn’t stomped on so severely by all the corporate giants. They want the family-run local shops down the block where everybody knows each other’s first name. They miss the nearby farms that were owned by honest, hardworking families who brought their fresh produce into market every day. They want to get rid of all the corporate suits who come into town and vampirically leach off the hard labor of others and put these local stores and farms out of business by importing cheap goods made by foreign labor and selling produce enhanced by synthetic additives. (The völkisch and vaguely crypto-fascist/anti-Semitic overtones of this perspective should be obvious). Instead, these activists advocate to “buy local” and “go organic,” since they imagine that a world built on these principles is more “natural” than the one in which we live today. The pro-organic and “locavore” movements are based on precisely this belief, which they consider to be more “eco-friendly.”
This world is, of course, a fiction. But that doesn’t stop activists from calling for a return to this paradise that Marx and Engels called “the idiocy of rural life.” Indeed, many leftish urbanites and self-proclaimed radical students have developed a bad conscience out of their sense of distance from the more natural and “authentic” world of organic farming. In fact, this has driven many such greenophiles out of their urban lofts or student housing in some vain hope of achieving a “return to the land.” They buy some land out on the outskirts and set up farms where they can grow their own food. This gives them an overweening sense of self-satisfaction; they experience the thrill of producing homemade, holistic goods, which they can consume or perhaps sell at the local co-op back in town. The maintenance of such small-scale organic farms, however, is a luxury available only to those who are wealthy enough to afford selling their produce at a loss, or those who find clientele wealthy enough to afford paying much higher prices for local organic products rather than their mass-produced synthetic equivalents. It is thus an elitist phenomenon not only in the smug sense of ethical virtue that comes with buying organic or local, but also in a very real, economic sense.
There are those, however, who have not even had to look beyond the city limits for a place to reunite with nature. Though parks and public gardens have been a feature of most major urban centers since the nineteenth century, the movement toward urban-agriculturalism is a relatively recent phenomenon, and is associated with the whole ideology of Green. Many urban-agriculturalists are simply private individuals buy their own plots at outrageous prices inside the greater urban municipality, where the retail-value for the same acreage bought on the countryside would be dwarfed. So it goes without saying that those who can stand to keep up such an expensive hobby must be extraordinarily rich. But what they’re buying is almost certainly not the crops they will grown on it, or the relaxation brought from the hobby, but rather the knowledge that they, city-dweller though they may be, are eco-friendlier than thou.
Read the rest here