Thursday, 25 October 2007

Is there such a thing as a Green Socialist?

Reading and watching the news over the past couple of days my interest has been roused by the story about the Soil Association classification of Organic food.

For those of you not familiar story it runs thus: The Soil Association have raised questions over whether "organic" food that has clocked up a lot of food miles is in fact truly organic.

Thus they have been discussing whether to remove the Soil Association organic certification from such foods.

It has been highlighted, if it wasn't obvious, that this poses a substantial risk to third world farmers.

The Soil Association have decided today that they will continue to mark produce that has a lot of air miles as organic if it has been produced on Fair Trade premises.

It got me wondering though.

What if the Soil Association had stuck to a "Greener" definition of what Organic means?

Namely that the produce should have a low environmental impact regardless of social considerations.

No longer could the ethical consumer save the world with their wallet.

They would be torn between saving the planet and saving the developing world.

I realise that I am putting this in very stark terms, but perhaps it highlights the niavety that consumers really have that much power.

The attitude that all the world's problems will go away if we just buy the right stuff is more than a little patronising after all.

So on the surface the answer to my original question is no: you can't have a Green Socialist.

But if you think that perhaps the best mode of development isn't one tied up with globalisation, but rather old fashioned Socialism in one nation, the answer may be a little different.

We should all be providing for our needs, as far as possible, in our own country.

Such logic would then mean that developing nations would not be dependent on cash crops and the ficklties of the market and could develop much as Britain did in the industrial revolution and as China is doing now.

However the industrial process in itself would be frowned on by "Deep Greens", they would rather have us living in small self sufficient communes.

Not the nicest picture of a Utopia to my mind.

So the answer is a qualified yes, if you are prepared to give up most of our creature comforts.

My blog would probably be the first thing to go.

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