First Against the Wall When the Revolution Doesn't Happen…

by | Sep 2, 2008

The Green Party’s other principal speaker is Derek Wall. The party have been unable to decide on a leader over the years (they’re choosing one right at the moment), and so have had two: Caroline Lucas and Derek Wall – one for girls, and one for boys. No, we’re not kidding. Wall doesn’t make it into the media as often as his girly counterpart because he hasn’t had the electoral successes that Lucas has enjoyed. As we said yesterday, in 1999 Lucas won the support of 1.8% of the electorate, and 2.9% in 2004. Hmm. Maybe it’s just because she’s prettier.

Wall is a slightly different kind of Green to Lucas. He makes more noise about his eco-socialism than Lucas, who is more likely to tell you that capitalism will give you cancer. Wall’s blog lays out his stall:

“How to be green? Many people have asked us this important question. It’s really very simple and requires no expert knowledge or complex skills. Here’s the answer. Consume less. Share more. Enjoy life.” […] This blog promotes anti-capitalism, green politics, direct action, practical lifestyle change, Venezuela/Cuba and a touch of Zen. Ecosocialism or muerte!

(Anyone who thought we over-egged the pudding on Sunday for calling the Green Party ‘the party of death’, take note.)

One might expect Wall, allegedly a lecturer in political economy, to have a rather more sophisticated political argument than Lucas. But think again. The ‘Socialist Unity’ blog, for which Wall writes, carries the following image over his latest post.

Oh dear.

Wall’s post comes in the wake of the bizarre spectacle of the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, admitting to the Guardian newspaper that ‘people are pissed off with us [the Labour Government]’, and that economic times ahead ‘are arguably the worst they’ve been in 60 years’.

As we have said before, moments from history are often deployed where ideas have run dry

History lends today’s political players crutches to prop themselves up by. Alluding to WWII, public figures demand that we get on a ‘war footing’ to limit our consumption by ‘make do and mend’, as one British public information slogan said. To question this is to demand to be judged by that historical absolute; holocaust denial. To be a denier is, according to the likes of Hansen, to be guilty of ‘crimes against humanity’. The need for such crutches stems from the fact that today’s politicians have no legs to stand on, and environmentalism cannot produce its own history.

Darling puts us on a post-war footing by telling us that we face the worst economic conditions for 60 years. Caroline Lucas with the New Economics Foundation call for a ‘green New Deal‘. The United Nations Development Program’s 400-page Human Development Report on tackling climate change as a development issue begins by quoting Martin Luther King’s ‘Where do we go from here: chaos or community’ speech. [WARNING: BIG PDF]. Al Gore favorably compares himself to JFK by making ‘within ten years’ speeches, even though he holds no office, and has withdrawn from politics.

And Wall compares the Labour Government to Nazis, by using a quote from Mussolini (who was a fascist, not a Nazi), to advance his brand of eco-socialism (which, like the National Socialists is not socialist). There are two things to say about this. First, there is the fact that eco-socialism Wall is selling apparently cannot make a case for itself without the shadow of the swastika hovering above it. Second, Wall’s ‘socialism’ cannot sell itself without the ‘eco’ prefix. Wall calls for ‘eco-socialism or death’. But where the original slogan (‘socialism or death’) might have represented a sincere commitment to the struggle for equality, now it merely stands for ‘balance’ within the biosphere; if we don’t balance it, it kills us.

Wall places himself in contrast to Alistair Darling. But, as the Guardian article reveals, following his appointment, ‘Darling’s life, in his wife’s words, has been “a crisis a week” ever since.’ Mrs Darling understates things. The Labour Government has been in crisis since 1997. Poltics today only survives through generating crisis to avoid its own crises. And in his challenge to Darling’s party, and the mainstream politics which bumbles from crisis to crisis, Derek Wall does nothing other than create more crises – the spectres of Nazism and environmental chaos – because he, just like Darling, lacks any coherent political vision. Without crisis, he would be lost. As his profile on the Green Party website explains:

Dr. Wall describes himself as an eco-socialist, and Green politics as “the politics of survival”, stressing that “unless we build a green economy based on meeting need rather than greed our children face a bleak future. A world dominated by the need for constant growth puts people and the rest nature behind a blind economic system of accumulation”.

But this is fantasy politics. Later on in the profile, we learn that:

Dr. Wall practices Zazen and is influenced by spirituality through “pursuing a pagan appreciation of the living world in a variety of ways”. In Babylon and Beyond, he argues that Zen acts as a guard against utopianism as it “is based on being in the world rather than escaping from it”. He also links anti-capitalism and Zen, stating, based on the work of anthropologist and economist Marshall Sahlins, that “Zen minimises need and provides an alternative road to affluence”.

Hmm. The green hero, Dr. Wall stands against the forces of darkness and their plans to build an empire, by being in tune with the living world… Who does that remind you of?

Star Bores

Yoda.                    Derek Wall


  1. Alex Cull

    Some useful quotes for our Eco-Jedi hero:

    “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is.”

    “Capitalism is the path to the dark side. Capitalism leads to consumption. Consumption leads to indigestion. Indigestion leads to suffering.”

    “Prosperity. Heh! Economic development. Heh! An Eco-Socialist craves not these things.”

  2. Stefan

    People think Zen and Buddhism is anti-capitalist, but this is simply their own interpretation and projection. I know one real Zen Master who says, “It is all organic”, meaning humans, technology, chemicals, and everything else, is all “organic”, all produced by nature through us. It is all natural.

    A lot of people get the idea that Zen is anti-capitalist, but that’s just because they themselves are anti-capitalist, and through their poor understanding and misinterpretation, imagine that Zen somehow supports this. They meet other people who think the same way and forms groups and think their belief is “true”.

    Zen doesn’t actually make you a better or more egalitarian person. There are Japanese Zen Masters who are militaristic and fascistic, because that was the culture they lived in all their lives. Eco-warriors used to eco-warrior culture make the same mistake; they can’t see beyond their own clique.

    The moment after you have a satori, you are right back to being the same person with the same mind and the same beliefs and the same IQ and same cultural bias that you had the moment before your satori. Having a satori does not make you wise, any more than it suddenly makes you a great tennis player of a concert pianist. It doesn’t make you an environmentalist. It doesn’t make you a brain surgeon. It does tell you something about the nature of your own consciousness, but everything else, the material stuff of life, the and all the messy economics, politics, philosophy, and so on, all of that is still the same as what it was before. A hot sexy rich rock star could be more consciously enlightened than a quiet gentle tree hugging recycling feminist, because conscious enlightenment and the material ecological physical part of life are separate things. One is a state of consciousness, the rest is stages of life and material progress and culture.

    Sorry for the long rant but Zen keeps getting trashed by silly eco warriors and passive Buddhists who rant about how shopping malls are evil and stuff, and it just all gets in the way.

  3. Environment Über Alles

    Well lots of these self styled gurus exclude a lot of stuff they don’t like from there all-is-one rhetoric; In fact some would argue Satori could be detrimental to a person without the correct training and wisdom and so on, in that they use the experience as proof to solidify non-Satoric pre-formed opinions. Oh and isn’t it just dandy to realise how much more enlightened then everyone else you are?

  4. Alex Cull

    And another thing… New Labour as Nazis or an Evil Empire? The notion is laughable. If Derek Wall really thinks along these lines, he has to hail from a galaxy far far away, surely.

    If New Labour were to build the Death Star, it would probably be under-powered, delayed and over-budget. And the lifts and IT systems might not always work.

    And Princess Leia wouldn’t need to smuggle out the blueprints. Some muppet would probably burn them onto a CD and leave them in a briefcase in the Mos Eiseley cantina for anyone to find. Along with half the galaxy’s names, addresses, bank details and national insurance numbers.

    No, I don’t think the Universe is in any urgent peril from New Labour.

  5. Stefan

    Environment Über Alles, yes indeed that’s it in a nutshell.


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