GB No. 5-6, summer-fall 1991


One of the most distinguished features of the green movement is the principle that the movement is based on the activity of local communities. It should be deeply rooted in the local conditions - cultural, social and economic. That is where the Greens should search for their background and base. Sometimes the ecological movement represents simply the standing up for the local, traditional life-style. The conclusion would be that the green ideas can not be conveyed to the conditions different than those, the ideas have originated from. Everywhere they have to rise from the local "soil", again and again.

Another crucial feature of the green movement is its links to the alternative movement. One could even say that at the certain stage of development the alternative movement is calling the party into being - the party which is its political effluence. These links are reflected in the rules of political game the green parties are advocating - especially participatory forms of democracy, mobilizing the direct activity of members and constraining the role and competences of professional politicians.

Both those features, however, characterize Western Greens only. The green parties in the Eastern part of European continent seem to be quite different. One reason for that could be the question of transferring the green ideas to our social ground with disregard to the local conditions they are coming from and the conditions they are transferred to. In the case of socialistic or christian-democratic doctrines such transplantation goes quite feasible. The green movement instead, stressing its "locality" so much, is being founded in Eastern Europe like "from the top" - as a result of the influence of the ideology "from abroad".

I find it grimmy that political green initiatives usually have nothing to do with the genuine, grass-roots and local ecological and environmental movements. Even more often the parties are in open conflict with the movements, being perceived by environmentalists as double-dealing and destructive initiatives. One could call the concrete examples from Bulgaria, where really genuine "Ecoglasnost" is fighting against various "Greens", or the examples of Romania, Turkey and... Poland.

It was said that the Eastern counterparts of the Western Greens are taking over their ideology. However it should be added that the closer look at many of the statements and the papers of the "Greens" from East reveals that even their leader are sharing the view that the Greens are simply the ones who protect the environment and nothing more. Thus what we really face is the transfer of phraseology rather than ideology.

The alternative movement has not been developed as a consolidated social and cultural phenomenon in our part of Europe yet. However one could see that generally defined green issues are standing quite high in public opinion's favour. In an attempt to utilize this public benevolence many activists (not necessarily environmentalist) are trying to organize the political representation of "greens".

If we combine the transfer of phraseology with the isolation from the social base than it will became more clear why there are usually a few green parties in each country in our part of Europe. It will be perhaps easier to understand why these parties are so repugnant to each other, their main, if not the only, activity being to bring about the ruins of the rivals, who use the same name. Sometimes it looks like the farce, but often it is quite sad.

The attitude of the Western environmentalists to their Eastern counterparts is another story. It is not extraordinary that the activists of all political streams would love their ideas to have adherents around the world. However, the Greens from the Western Europe are missing a critical distance and they seem to be all too glad about the very existence of some "green parties" in Eastern Europe. They are very indulgent towards the activists from our part of Europe, and if they notice some shortcomings they are very eager to attribute it to the lack of democratic traditions and to the general "underdevelopment" in social and cultural terms. That is why they take very seriously every initiatives with the green color in the name. They allow our "greens" to use the symbols (eg. sunflower) otherwise protected by the copyrights, they invite them to the meetings and conferences, and what is even more specific - they provide our "greens" with various kind of assets free of charge. This has made our "green" activists enter a ridiculous rivalry for contacts and the "position" within the Western Europe. Some organizations have even got specialized in the activities oriented exclusively on winning the appreciation of Western counterparts, whereas their domestic activity disappears. Much has even been written about it.

I would like to conclude this paper with three appeals. The first appeal is aimed at our friends from the West. Remember that your aid to the East means too much here to be spread around without careful examination. The emerging network of our movements is still too soft. It is so easy to get it torn or tangled by imprudent actions. The second appeal is aimed to the people from our part of the continent who want to "do something for the environment". Try too search for your own roots and traditions and remember that humanity consists of local communities mainly and the diversity is its richness. The third appeal is aimed at the activists from those streams of our domestic political life, who derive their ideas from the pure tradition of democratic opposition. In the last months the political space for such streams is shrinking in Poland. Thus there is an urgent need to fill the gap in the political spectrum. There is a need to revive the movement of Polish radical political thoughts which was recently killed since the ethos of "Solidarność" got perverted and buried by money and power. Where is your spirit of uncorruptible, permanent opposition?! After all it is the very opposition and its ethos which preserves all the values in politics.

I am sure that sooner or later a significant Polish alternative movement is bound to appear. It is clear that the movement will be accompanied by a genuine and mature political party of the "green" type. But one can be also sure that we face a lot of confusion and perversion on the way.

Mirek Pukacz

GB No. 5-6, summer-fall 1991 | Contents