Whatever cavils I have with Ernest Callenbach’s 1981 novel, Ecotopia Emerging (details available upon request), this utopian view of the Green Party movement in the Pacific Northwest does make an essential argument that must guide our work, in these times of yet another choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee (that is, Corporate Shill Barack Obama and Corporate Shill Mitt Romney):
You may have a hopeless feeling about politics — as many Americans do.
says the as-it-were Georgina Washington of this new American Revolution on page 179. She continues directly:
The idea of a new party may not exactly fill you with enthusiasm if you think it means just more speeches, more compromises, more meetings. You may not really enjoy talking or even thinking about politics.
Well, we who have formed the Green Party [I substitute the actual name — MM] have many of the same feelings, and that’s we’re a different kind of party. We don’t ask you to ‘support’ us with votes and then forget about us for four years. We ask you to join us. That doesn’t mean signing a form, as it does with the Democratic and Republican parties.
I wish that were true for the Pacific Green Party as a whole; but sadly, it is not. There are canvassers out on the streets of our city doing exactly that, asking people to sign a form, or to donate dollars, none of which will be used for political activities. Here in Portland the Pacific Green Party recently, by means of these paid canvassers, just succeeded registering enough voters with signatures on forms to keep the Party on the ballot for this election — and this was announced in a press release with jubilation, as if it were some sort of marvelous victory. Alas.
The first President of Ecotopia in Callenbach’s novel, however, did not speak solely in negatives but continued:
It means linking up with people and actually doing things together, things that make sense to you — whether that’s to form a neighborhood child-care service or to try and pass legislation to protect our food and water supplies from chemical contamination.
It means talking frankly about what matters to you, and what can be done about it. We want you to realize that, in the end, power over this society is in our hands, and we can exercise it if we want to. . . .
If we decide to buy smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, which our auto industry can’t or won’t produce, that industry declines drastically. Huge corporations go bankrupt. If the food industry can’t or won’t produce foods free of additives, preservatives, flavorings, colorings and other questionable ingredients, than a new natural foods industry springs up to displace it. . . .
Now what’s important about these huge, slow changes is that we all participate in them every day, whether we think about it or not. And basically all the Green Party invites you to do is to become conscious of this process and participate in it with your friends in a systematic way.
We actual folk, here in Portland in 2012, like to say that the Pacific Green Party is the political arm of the Green Movement; Callenbach’s character articulated the very same vision over thirty years ago, and at least as clearly and succinctly as anything I’ve heard from the Party leaders in my time as an activist.
That’s why you ought to come down and meet us at the Bipartisan Cafe some Thursday night. We want to help you organize to do what seems sensible to you, and have some fun discussing it as we go about it.