The Australian Green(s’) New Deal

The next meeting of the 17 Group will take place in Unit 6, at 20 Drury St, West End, at 7 pm on Wednesday the 6th of March.  The topic will be “The Australian Green(s’) New Deal”. The speakers will be Max Chandler-Mather and Abraham O’Neill.


With the rise of left wing populists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders in the United States and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, it’s clear the old political order is under severe strain in the Western World. Many of the political and social conditions that fostered the rise of left wing populism in America and the UK exist in Australia and yet we have yet to see a similar phenomenon. Unlike the British Labour Party, with its substantial democratic socialist intellectual tradition, Australian Labor has not represented anything other than a regressive form of laborism and is arguably structurally incapable of undergoing a similar shift to it’s sister party in the UK. 

“the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” 

In this context the Australian Greens have the potential to become a powerful, radical progressive electoral force. From embracing the politics of a Green New Deal to overcome the technocratic moralism of current environmental politics, to forging a modern form of democratic socialism including a 4 day work week and universal services like childcare, education and housing – the Greens have the potential to forge a new political hegemony that breaks free of the fragmenting neoliberal order and the exhausted social democratic project.

But this doesn’t just require a change in rhetoric and policies. The Greens as a political party must undergo a process of democratisation from the top down, beginning with direct election of our parliamentary federal leader all the way down to building a large and vibrant branch structure that’s capable of intersecting with and supporting fledgling social movements. A party wide effort to engage in political education will be crucial for the success of democratisation, as we give our membership base the analytical tools to critique capitalism and articulate a democratic socialist future in their own words. 

This is an ambitious project – but undoubtedly possible and necessary in Australia’s current political and social environment.  You can read Max’s writing on this subject in Overland here.

Max and Abe are both interested in the potential for a fresh radicalism which is equal to the danger we face as a society. Both have worked with the Queensland Greens for some years. They will reflect on the possibilities, limitations and prospects for a transformative climate politics which is based on solidarity and improving people’s lives rather than technocratic fiddling or green moralism. 

Biographical Notes:

Max Chandler-Mather is a political organiser based in Brisbane. He’s worked for trade unions, written for Overland and he’s an editor at Flood Media. He is currently the Greens candidate for the federal seat of Griffith. 

Abe O’Neill is an organiser interested in radical political economy, environmentalism and emancipatory politics living in Meanjin/Brisbane. He currently works for the Greens and is an editor at Flood Media. 

Leon hopes that  you won’t put down his possible absence (due to a persistent tooth-ache actually) to pique at the ill-natured comments of a Green blogger called Derek Wall:

“I think perhaps lamely that while he was an advance on Stalin, he was far from grassroots democratic….I am unaware of anything environmental from his pen, Marx and Engels were great generally on ecology and even Lenin supported wildlife parks, Trotsky I may be wrong but I don’t think he was even the slightest shade of green.”

It was Leon who wrote the following in 1924 in Literature and Revolution, of course, but you can ask him about it if he turns up, and if he’s reconsidered the question at all in the last ninety-five years, at the risk of adding ear-ache to his tooth-ache:

“Faith merely promises to move mountains; but technology, which takes nothing “on faith,” is actually able to cut down mountains and move them. Up to now this was done for industrial purposes (mines) or for railways (tunnels); in the future this will be done on an immeasurably larger scale, according to a general industrial and artistic plan. Man will occupy himself with re-registering mountains and rivers, and will earnestly and repeatedly make improvements in nature. In the end, he will have rebuilt the earth, if not in his own image, at least according to his own taste. We have not the slightest fear that this taste will be bad.”

Dan O’Neill
28 Feb 2019

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