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The Four Pillars of the Green Party are a foundational statement of Green politics and form the basis of many worldwide Green parties. The Four Pillars are:
- Ecological wisdom
- Social justice]
Different Green Parties that list the Four Pillars phrase them somewhat differently. In general, the four pillars define a Green Party as a political movement that interrelates its philosophy from four different social movements, the peace movement, the civil rights movement, the environmental movement, and the labour movement.
History of the Four Pillars
The practice of describing Green philosophy via Four Pillars began with the German Green Party in 1979-1980. At its founding meeting in 1984, the Green Committees of Correspondence in the United States expanded these into the Ten Key Values.
For the Australian Greens, they are known as "Ecological sustainability", "Social and economic justice", "Peace and nonviolence", and "Grassroots democracy".
For the German Greens (Die Grünen/Bündnis '90), they are known as "ökologisch", "Sozial", "Basisdemokratisch" and "Gewaltfrei".
For the Swedish Greens (Miljöpartiet de Gröna), in the 1980s they were called the Four Solidarities: "Solidarity with the ecological systems", "Solidarity with the people throughout the world", "Solidarity with future generations", and "Solidarity with the underprivileged people in our own country". Today they have merged them into Three Solidarities: "Solidarity with animals, nature and the ecological system", "Solidarity with future generations", and "Solidarity with all the world’s people."
On the global level, the Six Principles of the Global Greens Charter - which at the Global Greens conference of 2001 were arrived upon as a compromise of the North American and European traditions - added Respect for diversity and Sustainability. The Green Party of Canada, in 2002 adopted the Six Principles of the Global Greens as its official doctrine.
Explaining the Pillars
- Ecological wisdom encapsulates the diverse teachings and philosophies represented in numerous environmental movements. Central tenets include a recognized need to reduce the negative impact of human civilization on the natural environment, the biosphere, and the planet, and to find new, alternate ways to cohabitate harmoniously with earth's other life forms. The principles endorsed go deeper than a mere superficial change in policy, suggesting a qualitative shift in ethical norms and prevalent paradigms, but the precise character of views advocated range considerably over a spectrum of beliefs that include ecological utilitarianism on one side and Deep Ecology on the other, reflecting different degrees of innate value ascribed to humanity and other parts and levels of the larger biosphere. Notable proponents of the and less anthropocentric views include E. O. Wilson, Daniel Quinn, Donella Meadows, E.F. Schumacher, etc.
- Social justice (sometimes "Social equality and economic justice") reflects the general rejection of discrimination based on distinctions between class, gender, ethnicity, or culture. Green Parties are almost universally egalitarian in their outlook, seeing that great disparities in wealth or influence are caused by the perversion of or total lack of social institutions that prevent the strong from plundering the weak.
- Grassroots democracy or participatory democracy is embraced by Greens as the only reliable governance model for achieving social change. Many Green parties have rejected or constrained the traditional role of leaders as "party boss", in favor of having figurehead leaders or spokespeople. Many Green party constitutions are configured to prevent the party bureaucracy from accumulating too much power in the organization, in favor of more decentralized or member driven processes.
- Nonviolence reflects the Green movement's policy of rejecting violence as a means to overcoming its opponents. Green Philosophy draws heavily on both Gandhi and the Quaker traditions, which advocate measures by which the escalation of violence can be avoided, while not cooperating with those who commit violence.
The Pillars as an ethical system
The four pillars are generally considered interdependent, comprising an internally consistent ethical system. None of the four pillars can be regarded as a means to an end, as compared to "Respect for Diversity" in the Ten Key Values, which can be evaluated as a means to achieving both social justice and ecological wisdom. Greens believe that progress to achieving each one of the four pillars is dependent upon progress to achieving the other three.
For example: Ecological Wisdom requires social justice, grassroots democracy and non-violence. Anything other than a just distribution of the earth's finite resources can not be sustainable as an international agreement; unjust distributions lead to violence and a breakdown of the political process. Furthermore, traditional political structures - which are based on patronage, partisanship, and brinkmanship as their internal governance model - have proved themselves generally incapable of negotiating international agreements even while facing the threat of self-extinction.
Arundhati Roy describes the connectedness of Democracy, Peace and Non-Violence: "Where there is oppression, it will always be challenged... I don't believe that there can ever be peace without justice... The two go together. And there cannot be peace in the world with full-spectrum dominance." This approach arose from shared concerns of the peace movement and ecology movement.
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