I came across an interesting article by German political scientist Franz Walter who makes an interesting observation about the German Greens and their lack of innovation and the accompanying reluctancy to use technology to further their cause on the website of the German newsmagazine the Spiegel.
As Walter explains, the German Greens currently have nothing to worry about. questions of ecology arrived in the middle of society: Health, climate change, nourishment, these are all topics the middle-classes don’t like to fool around with. Ecological imperatives move the minds of the bourgeoisie to the profit of the Greens who kept a rather low profile recently. Nevertheless, they’d reach about 10% at a federal election.
At the same time though the Greens don’t give the impression that they play an inspiring role in questions of environmentalism, that they are the head of new sensibilities by way of supplying original concepts; rather the cameras always show the same faces of a remarkably saturated political circle: while the party seemed a bit shrill in the early years, they have become a political sleeping pill.
If the party stays as dull it soon might have to face strong charismatic competition. Walter cites several examples from all over Europe, in countries with different political cultures and demographics. In France the journalist and TV-show host Nicolas Hulot made almost one million French sign his “Pacte écologique” on the internet. Amongst them was Nicolas Sarkozy who, once becoming president adopted parts of the manifesto for his vision of a green France. In Iceland a journalist, Ómar Ragnarsson, and an author of kid’s books, Andri Snaer Magnason, accomplished the prevention of the construction of a dam – again with the help of the internet. In Italy the actor Giuseppe Grillo, sometimes referred to as Italy’s Michael Moore, was able to mobilize ten of thousands to protest against Silvio Berlusconi through his enormously successful blog.
Then of course there’s the web-supported eco-populism of Al Gore, Leonardo Di Caprio and even Arnold Schwarzenegger; their staged environmentalism is another indicator of a trend towards an eco-charisma perpetuated by the media.
What is interesting about this comment is that Walter explicitly mentions blogs as a tool for the advancement of progressive politics and the dissemination of ideas. Interestingly enough there’s neither a blog on the Green’s official website nor on the websites of their chairpersons; all one can find is a (recently closed) forum, which, quite frankly, is pretty embarrassing for a party that formed itself out of a grassroots’ movement.
The even more interesting question to ask is why there seems to be such a reluctancy to utilize modern technology to advance the party’s cause and enliven it. Is it the schizophrenic attitude the Greens have towards technology? Is it due to whatever elements in German society that cause an unease with technology?
Whatever it is, they better figure it out quickly. Otherwise, as Walter points out, it won’t be the current chairpersons leading an innovative eco-movement but the host of some popular game show who’s going to become head of the do-gooders.
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