The hard core of political ecology includes issues related to:
- Protection of the environment
- Sustainability and viability
- Human Rights
- The support and promotion of the principles of non-violence
Policies on these issues should hold together and run throughout our political decisions and goals.
From this point of view, climate change is the greatest challenge that humankind and the planet’s natural environment are currently facing. It is directly related to the imperatives of ecology by dictating the limits and the nature of development, the ways of sustainable management of natural resources and justice between generations. The need for immediate and drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 80% up to 2050, implies deep reforms on energy and transport sectors, through energy saving and gradual replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy sources.
At the same time the climate issue should be a directive of policy making on every sector of human activity. While it has become more and more clear that climate change is not reversible, human efforts should aim in reducing and counter balancing its impact.
For this purpose, emergency action on social policy is needed for the creation of suitable surveillance tools in order to support the social groups as well as ecosystems that are affected by these changes on a national and regional level.
Under current conditions we wish to highlight the importance of the following four issues and show our commitment to them, while keeping in mind the hard core of the policy described above.
A. Federal Europe.
We need “more” Europe urgently.
The solution to the current economic and political crisis either will be european or it will not exist. Despite serious malfunction problems of the european institutions, despite a democratic deficit on european level, EU has often persuaded governments of member states to adopt progressive measures regarding environmental issues and sustainability as well as progressive policies on human rights, even though balance of forces on a national level were were often far from favorable. Viability and sustainability, issuing to an alternative economic model, can have a chance of becoming reality only in a united Europe.
For this reason we are strongly in favor of a political, social and economic integration of Europe, we are in favor of those policies that aim to european federation as soon as possible.
Throughout this road political ecology may converge with other political forces. Controversy and consent will spring out that will be reflected on the features of this federal Europe. We know that our own vision for Europe cannot win the majority right now. But we can contribute on a european level to the shaping of this new Europe. And in such a Europe our political action could be carried out on much better terms than today.
B. Institutional Reforms
Our country cannot stand in this new Europe without introducing major institutional reforms that will be in harmony with the shaping of the new European reality. The present status quo perpetuating the notion”normality as usual”, discouraging any radical change, aggravates even more the meta-democratic features of the last 40 years’ regime and its social strongholds (corruption, graft and mafia economics, sinecure). Eventual collapse of this regime, “without overthrowing normality”, implying for instance open bankruptcy leads to extremely autocratic and nationalist capitalist development. What we want-and we are always ready to assume the political and administrative responsibilities that our co-citizens may confide to us, – is “reversal with normality”, a long road map through the institutional reforms. More specifically, our first priority should be institutional reforms in the following areas:
B1. A new era for democracy.
We need reforms on both the Constitution and the electoral law that:
• separate fully legislative and executive power.
• establish an equilibrium between the powers of the Prime Minister and those of the Parliament’s President.
• Deputies should be real representatives of their constituencies and not hostages of trade unions, party barons and corporate lobbies .
We need to carry out the necessary reforms that will make Justice a truly independent authority, independent from the executive authority as well as from various obscure, interrelated interests. Justice should be armed with the necessary instruments and infrastructure, that up to this moment are dramatically inadequate.
Personnel should fulfill their duties rationally and be relieved from unnecessary burden in order to carry out the great number of accumulated cases in the courts of justice and issue court decisions in due course. Otherwise, citizens’ recourse to the law is meaningless.
Finally, transparency is needed as well as constant evaluation of procedures and personnel by independent authorities. Transparency and control on eventual changes of private property of judges and other officers, in order to block illegal networks’ activity, resulting to unjust decisions, illegal wealth, obscure connections and distortion of the overall institutional and political structure.
B3. Mass Media: tanks in our living room?
We need an independent authority who will carry out frequency licensing to broadcast media in a transparent way. An adequate formal framework is needed, to prevent concentration of power through media and block corruption through financial transparency.
We need nurseries and kindergartens, schools and universities that will offer to our children, regardless of their social, economic, or racial etc. status, education necessary for the development of their individual talents, skills and sensibilities, for the deepening of their understanding of the world we live in, for enabling them to participate in social, economic and political activities. We need an educational system that form active citizens, fit to contribute in tolerant and cohesive society.
We believe that special emphasis should be given to preschool and to technical education, as well as to the education for the disabled.
We need really independent universities. Free distribution of university textbooks to students should be stopped and the sums paid should be used to finance public libraries accessible to everybody.
Now more than ever, scientific research should be encouraged. Education should be tuned to the needs of society, economy included. We want every citizen to contribute to this process according each one’s cultural and economic abilities.
We wish to reinforce forms of social self-organization in education, particularly to aid students in difficulty, as to encourage them not to abandon school. We support constant and transparent procedures evaluating teachers. We need to strengthen positive incentives for teachers at all levels to improve the quality of education provided, while introducing zero tolerance to corruption and favoritism.
We need to design a new health chart, so that full benefit is drawn, through public as well as private investment. Benefit for all patients and not for obscure corrupted networks who raise health costs to abnormal heights. We need immediate intervention in the system of pharmaceutical products where enormous waste drives health care to suffocation and encourage political and corporate corruption.
B6. Agriculture and Food.
We want agriculture to support food sovereignty on local and national level. It has to be institutionalized and form a positive environment for the self-employed multifunctional farmers, encourage farmers’ markets with organic products and guarantee traceability of organic products, in order to protect our genetic wealth of local plant varieties and indigenous breeds. We propose to put immediately in place a national plan for sustainable rural development that focuses on the following targets:
On young farmers , through a comprehensive support package: counceling by certified ‘agricultural mentors’, reliable training (private and public), guarantees and access to capital, land, collective equipment and supplies.
On the reservation of areas for Organic Agriculture in order to encourage the creation of producer groups, since isolated farming pockets have proven too difficult to survive.
On irrigation water. We need the adaptation of the institutional framework for the local organizations of land reclamation (TOEB) ensuring rational water pricing policy and incentives to replace old irrigation piperworks to achieve water saving.
On the creation of Model Livestock Farms and rational planning of pasture areas on municipal level by using modern technologies like GIS etc.
C. Economy – Production model
Unemployment and underemployment demolish present and future of a vast number of people, but also of the country as a whole. If this issue is not directly dealt with, social explosion will follow that will force us rapidly backwards on all levels: economic, social and cultural. We should pay particular attention to strengthen the “underprivileged of the post-dictatorship regime”, women, young people and all those who suffer discriminations concerning access to employment, services and goods. Many of these priorities have already been proposed by the Greens in the European Parliament.
Encouraging the employment of women and young people. The State has to give immediate priority for the support of children care and adopt special actions and incentives promoting youth employment and entrepreneurship. We need to develop alternative social networks in a framework of exchanging services that can contribute to the upbringing of children and the support of small busines. In this direction we need to particularly strengthen small entrepreneurship associated with the use of new knowledge and innovation. Support for the creation of networks, and “new type” of cooperatives in the primary and tertiary sectors is needed. In parallel, there is need for the support of alternative small-scale credit institutions and alternative networks of exchange and sales.
Fostering entrepreneurship when it helps maintain or create new jobs without causing environmental problems, and when it complies with labor legislation and tax regulations. We have to promote green economic activities and work for immediate reduction of administrative cost for businesses. We need real opening of all protected professions.
Health care and Pension system: we have to fight for intergenerational justice. We need a health care and pension system that will function as a protection mechanism for the economically weaker groups while keeping its contributory character as well. This can be applied directly to the calculation of the supplied lump sum received by the beneficiary upon retirement. We need both to create and strengthen alternative institutions for social solidarity and intergenerational support at local, national and supranational level. In these hard times, we need fast programs of immediate “on the street” medical care and housing projects that could be funded by both European and national resources as well as by local self-organization and mutual support.
Effective blow against tax fraud and evasion -big and small- and employers’ contribution evasion. Corruption of tax authorities and social security organizations has to stop! We need active participation of the European Commission in the effort to obtain full data from Swiss and other banks about accounts of Greek citizens, in order to catch dubious wealth exported to these banks and money given under the table by European companies in Greece. We need a new tax system that will not facilitate tax evasion, but will support job creating activities and prevent the accumulation of idle wealth. We need to restructure the tax offices, to dismiss all civil servants who have violated the law, support and facilitate the mechanisms for cross-checking and collection of relevant information.
Rationalization of the public sector. Although political ecology does not favour statism, we do not support privatizations unconditionally. There are certain strategic sectors that should be under close government (or European) control and subject to intervention. There are activities that should belong wholly or primarily to the public sector, other activities that should belong to the field of social economy, others that can be transferred to the private sector and also fields of coexistence of these three economic sectors. We need to reorganize the public sector from scratch, with primary target good, decent services offered to the citizens (security, health care, education, public transportation, urban planning). Public services exist to serve the people and not their personnel. Constant evaluation and rationalization of public services offered and corrective interventions are required. The protection of jobs in the public sector should not be a goal in itself, at the expense of jobs in the private sector.
European support for to Greek regions and municipalities in order to revive real economy, to absorb existing EU funds and mobilize additional investments. A significant part of the Structural Funds should be made for social purposes available with no national contribution requirements, in order to combat poverty and create jobs, especially for young people and women.
Immediate claim for a ” Green New Deal Investment Package” for Greece in the aim of stimulating real economy. Support has to be provided mainly to investments in energy efficiency and efficient use of natural resources, renewable energy and green and social innovation.
Safeguarding of Greek borders with European guarantees, that will enable Greece to freeze all armament programs for three years. At the same time the European Green Parties should take initiatives proving that there are always possibilities through a green perspective for a fair settlement of the problems Greece is facing with its neighbors, that the environmental and social issues we have in common with our neighbors, are more important than those dividing us.
Ensuring greater European support on the migration and refugee policy in Greece under a common European policy on asylum with responsibility shared proportionally among the European countries as well as a common immigration policy. Greek governments must work out and implement a coherent and effective policy, consistent with the country’s legal commitments and with respect for human rights. They should avoid fragmentary, inefficient and inhumane measures derived from populism and try to use all relevant EU funds.
D. Non-violence – Confronting extreme Right and neo-Nazis.
The answer to violence, to taking the law into one’s hand, and to the Neo-Nazi and right-wing populism should be only a political answer.
It is urgent to change the agenda in public political debate, that currently is set by the far Right, and to promote the principles of non-violence, democracy, open society, citizen participation, respect for diversity and combating discrimination, stereotypes and prejudices.
A broad consensus should be built among all political and social forces that are opposed to violence and fascism. We need this rally in order to oppose in the most clear-cut way the violence and taking the law into one’s hand.
It is also necessary for the institutions to function effectively. The police and justice must not delay or turn a blind eye to these phenomena. The perpetrators of criminal attacks should be arrested and tried. Groups organizing murders, pogroms and terror have to be treated by the public authority as criminal organizations, no matter if they appear to be political movements.
The state must take extra measures such as an observatory against racist violence, and should pass additional laws against racist crimes. Teaching courses related to respect of human rights should also be introduced in all educational levels. We still need to deal with the everyday racist speech by a great number of people.
In any case, violence is not the answer to these phenomena. Instead, it can lead to small civil wars with disastrous results. The goal is not the extinction of the opponent, but to combat attitudes and conditions that favor the availability, the audience, even the tolerance of populist or extremist far right but also the support or tolerance of violence as a means of resolving social and political problems.
In Greece today, the mainstream political system not only gives no solutions, but it does not even seem to understand the problem. It does so not because of incompetence, but because of selfish interest. It defends the interests of oligarchs and organized guilds that it expresses. The incumbent political forces are trying hard in order not to change anything and cockfight around the wrong question: “Pro- Memorandum or anti-Memorandum”.
They conceal the essence of the problem:
How to change from a country of consumers to a country of producers,
How a state that now serves “clients” will change to serve citizens,
How corporatist interests will be replaced by public interests,
How Europe will achieve besides common currency, real political unity and
How this Unity will transform Europe ecologically and socially, rebuilding a new European Vision.