A Green State of Mind is presented by the Green Party of New York State to inform debate and spark discussion. The views and opinions expressed are strictly those of the authors


Will our state government be for the people, or continue to serve the super-rich and the giant corporations? Nothing of real substance changes when Democrats replace Republicans in the state legislature, the Governor’s mansion, Congress, or the White House. Both of these parties serve the corporations that fund them. Instead we need a party that really is responsible to the voters, that takes no corporate money, and will therefore take action on balancing the budget, job creation, housing, public transit, a plan for sustainable, renewable, non-polluting energy, and similar issues. This year, you have the chance to cast a vote that counts and help initiate real solutions. Even if we do not win, a significant vote for the Green candidates sends the kind of message that politicians in Albany and Washington can understand, and will remember. Don’t waste your vote, vote Green in 2010. Continue reading


The phrase “Freedom isn’t free.” is perhaps one of the most egregious lies foisted upon the American people, and reveals a severe misunderstanding of the nature of freedom. For the past ten years, the idea that freedom isn’t free has been greatly amplified and in its amplification no one has dared question its validity. The phrase presents a definition of freedom as something scarce and inherently fragile, and has been used by those in power to demand blind obedience during states of emergency. In other words, it is implied that freedom must be paid for by a predetermined price that includes servility to an authority that provides security. On its face, the phrase confuses security and freedom, but underneath this misstatement is a profound misunderstanding of the nature of freedom as a human phenomenon. Continue reading


The following is a series of letters to the editor that has, over time, expressed the political awakening of 2010 that can happen with the Howie Hawkins for Governor campaign in New York. As we enter into a new decade, we must understand the great ideological divergence that occurred in the past decade. A politics of fear using patriotism as a weapon predominated, sacrificing democracy, civil liberties, and economics for the people. By last year, we reached a point where there are two mutually exclusive realities about America and the real question is not whether Obama is a dangerous radical or too liberal. He campaigned left-of-center and is now right-of-center. The vital question is whether we will see substantial change or a perpetuation of the status quo in the near future. This authentic question transcends the imaginary conflict between the Republicans and Democrats. For one thing that can not happen in our nation is a return to the past 30 years of corporate greed, environmental degradation, and weakening of democratic empowerment. Those who falsely propose that the current administration is socialist or communist are either willfully ignorant or deliberately lying. Their goal is not to save America, but condemn it to a seamless continuation of power regardless of party affiliation. The issues that people care about never went away, and the past year of business as usual proves that neither Democrats or Republicans will address those issues. This year, the Green Party in New York will run candidates for statewide offices, including Governor and U.S. Senate. Instead of doing the same thing expecting different results, voters can choose real change, new ideas, and begin to draw the line between the old America and the new America. Continue reading


In order for democracy to be a positive force in a society, it must expand beyond a simple ritual of voting for representatives. The nature of democracy is such that it can only be a force for good if it is practiced. And it must be practiced across the entire space that is set up by the social field in order for its goals to be fulfilled. For the sake of clarification, it can be said that if democracy is to have any goal it must be both autonomy and equality of power. Autonomy and equality of power are interrelated to the degree that self-law or self-determination requires a direct end to hierarchy that an equality of power would provide. A hierarchy is an inequality of power that is also a divergence of ownership and participation. Those who have control are those who are considered owners, while there is those who are controlled and who participate in the structure of power. The separation of those who own and those who participate precedes a more technical class formation in an economy. The left has a much longer record of critiquing class formation, but it should be understood that class formation is a specific mode of hierarchy that goes beyond economics. Objective class formation is the imposition of hierarchy upon humans and it develops into a ubiquitous acceptance as something natural. Subjective class formation, on the other hand, is the conscious act of group organizing with the goal of apparent resistance that brings the artificial nature of hierarchy to the foreground. The movement from objective class formation to subjective class formation is autonomy. Continue reading


The recent statements of Rand Paul reveal the inherent limits of defining freedom as liberty, and the failure of containing libertarianism within conservatism. When Rand Paul won the Republican Kentucky primary to become the candidate for U.S. Senate, it was assumed that it was a major victory for the Tea Party movement. A few days later the candidate, the son of outspoken libertarian-minded Congressman Ron Paul, stated that if he were in Congress at the time he would probably alter the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Particularly, he found a problem with private businesses having to comply with this law. Paul added that private businesses that discriminated should be publicly condemned and not be patronized, but that these businesses had the right to not be “forced” by the government to allow everyone. The media coverage of these statements has greatly expanded to such a degree that it was seriously questioned whether Rand Paul was fit to be a candidate for any office. But the media coverage appears to portray the statements as more a case of racist attitude rather than the cognitive dissonance that can occur with a strict adherence to defining freedom as solely liberty. Continue reading


Autonomous solidarity is a form of association that can be truly an expression of justice as it balances freedom and equality. A big question, that is not necessarily at the forefront of public debate, is whether autonomy or liberty is more important. Liberty can easily be defined as freedom from government tyranny, and obviously is quite valuable in its own respect regardless of political ideology. There can be a leftwing or rightwing movement for liberty. Autonomy, on the other hand, must be defined strictly from its origins in ancient Greek. Autonomy translates into “self-law” and is the act of people creating the institutions that govern their lives in such a way as to be able to decide on actions that directly affect themselves. This definition implies that direct democracy is the best method to achieve this goal, whereas the definition of liberty never proposes a way to accomplish itself. In fact, some have argued that democracy can be a detriment to liberty since it can become mob rule. A republic where representatives govern has been seen as an improvement on direct democracy. But a republic carries with it the baggage of an inherent elitism, and over time has been shown to be also imperfect. If a democracy and a republic were compared based on the negative connotations of mob rule and elitism respectively, then an interesting factor emerges. The will of a mob may infringe on liberty at times, but this will has the potential to change over time. In contrast, the goal of an elite is always to perpetuate itself and its hierarchy. If democracy can be corrected to insure that liberty is not sacrificed, it will result in more autonomy. Therefore, autonomy has a more long-term importance. This autonomy can exist on the individual level or collective level, but the element of a new type of association must be formed in between in order to balance individual freedom and collective equality. This is what is called autonomous solidarity. Continue reading

The Democrats, The Republicans, And The Tea Party

By Tom Siracuse: The Republican Party is appealing to the prejudices of the white working class by supporting the “Tea Party”. They have encouraged these prejudices over many years but when they get into office, they temper their ultra right rhetoric and resemble the Democratic Party. It is not because the Republican Party is ignorant, crazy or particularly racist. Fostering racism and xenophobia enables the Republican Party to confuse the American people and especially the white working class and that prevents them from focusing in on what is really happening–saving the capitalist elite by reducing its taxes, restoring its profits by cheapening the cost of labor through high unemployment, denying climate change by maintaining the super profitable oil and coal industries, militarizing the economy through expanding the arms industry and keeping the banks deregulated so that they can continue to engage in ultra profitable speculation. Continue reading


The inherent flaw of the bailout was that it did not address the structural flaws of the economy, which could be addressed by a non-corporate and community-based economic democracy. The economic crisis that occurred in September of 2008 initiated a mode of public policy that bridged two presidential administrations and two political parties. Commonly referred to as the bailout of the financial system, it gave government support to large corporations in an attempt to avoid a depression as great as the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Though enacted before the transition from the Bush administration to the Obama administration, president Obama has fully supported this approach in his first year in office. Even though it was argued that these large financial institutions were “too big to fail”, the use of taxpayer money to save large corporations illustrated a long-term economic trend in public policy to favor corporations in general in the U.S. economy. It can be argued that an emphasis on local ownership, and expanded ownership as well, may be a far better alternative to sustain a stable economy. The 2008 bailout can be critiqued as a symptom of a larger economic problem. Continue reading


The Tea Party movement that emerged last year presents itself as the heart of America, and a true political alternative, but is in fact an atavistic force embedded within the American psyche. The year 2009, the first year of the Obama administration, can be seen as the year where everything changed. It was the year where the United States had the first black president, and the ending of the eight years where the nation stood closest to the precipice of an actual dictatorship in many a generation. But it was also the formation of a movement that came from a deep dissatisfaction with the status quo and that in turn reverted to a blind allegiance to the status quo. The Tea Party movement that assembled from various supporters of the Ron Paul presidential campaign quickly transformed into a political entity that labeled the new president a “socialist fascist” without an understanding of either term or any evidence to support this label. Their first target was the August town halls where any reasonable discussion of healthcare was disrupted by screeching propaganda supplied by conservative ideologues within the Republican Party and the health insurance industry. Then there was a rally during the anniversary of September 11th that sought to return the country to the day after the attacks and that was organized by Glenn Beck. This call to return to the day after the attacks implied a return to the fear and willingness to give up real political power and freedom that could have happened at that time. In other words, immediately after the attacks, George W. Bush could have declared martial law and suspended all elections, and the majority of the American people would have accepted it out of fear for their physical safety. The Tea Party and followers of Glenn Beck refused to acknowledge this fact in their rallies, all the while stating that they were “losing the country” while Obama was president. This complaint reveals much about how these individuals view themselves as the rightful owners of this nation, at the explicit expense of others who are marginalized both politically and economically. Continue reading


The recent Supreme Court decision on the Citizens United case has granted freedom of speech to corporate entities, and there is a need to illustrate how the unequal distribution of money results in the unequal right to free speech using the lens of a past Supreme Court case. Any attempt to enact campaign finance reform in the United States must meet the obstacle of a Supreme Court decision on a case called Buckley versus Valeo in 1976. The case concerned the brother of conservative commentator and elder William Buckley. The brother, James Buckley, was a sitting U.S. Senator from New York and gigantic monetary contributions to campaigns were considered as a type of bribery due to campaign finance reform that was passed in 1974. The campaign finance law set limits to monetary contributions to campaigns. However, the Supreme Court did not agree, retaining some contribution limits in the law and officially stating that giving money to a campaign was an act of political speech and therefore was protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution. Since then, attempts to ban soft money and PAC contributions in campaigns have been hobbled by the argument that it is through these donations that individuals express their support and political beliefs. This connection of speech and money has been used to subsequently normalize the idea that large business interests and corporations also have the right to contribute money as free speech. Continue reading