Following the lead of the late Ulrich Beck in works such as Risk Society and Power in the Modern Age the time has now come to ask ourselves whether or not the Green party is already or is about to become a global political party.
First a little background in theory. Beck was, of course, famous for introducing the idea of a “risk society” and “second modernity”. What he meant by these phrases was that the modern world had left behind earlier forms (First Modernity) of national community and entered a phase where the complexities and uncertainties of the modern world led to the creation of a “global risk society”. In other words, a global technical modern society creates problems that only a global political response can effectively solve.
Related to these ideas, Beck also thought that traditional notions, practices, and institutions of the nation state would not be up to the job of meeting complex global challenges whether in the environment, finance, or the political sphere.
What was needed among other things was a new “cosmopolitan politics” both as a form of world consciousness and global practice.
For the latter, Beck proposed the formation of a global political party.
He supposed, quite rightly, that such a party would grow from urban, “world city” roots. In this, he was not mistaken.
For the modern Green party is most definitely a progressive, urban political phenomenon.
Its recent impressive showing in the European Parliament elections (particularly in Germany) seems to tell a story of a growing regional (if not yet global) political consciousness that is frightened of the future and is ready for present political action on a local, region, and worldwide scale.
The Green party due to the nature of the threat it wishes to solve is well suited to play the role of a global political party able to transcend its various national roots.
All Green parties are focused on the global nature of climate change, in order for each of them separately to achieve their self-professed goals they must to a much greater extent than other political parties work across borders which is to say transnationally.
This is exactly what Beck had in mind.
A world political movement, capturing the attention of the most progressive elements of both Western and (eventually) non-Western societies (many of them located in Global cities such as London, Paris, Frankfurt, New York, Sao Paulo) working transnationally to affect change in global society.
The Green party has all the potential elements of a world political party focused on the environment and social justice.
One of the key questions now is: will such a party be able to take effective root in, at least, two of the world’s greatest polluters: China and the USA?
Without the participation of these two nations (regions?), the Green party movement will ultimately prove ineffectual.
In the US, either the Green party will find ways to make itself more palatable to the American electorate or the most progressive fractions of the Democratic party will have to declare common cause with the world’s potentially first global party.
For now, we must agitate, advocate, and assist by all reasonable means the necessary birth of this potential global instrument of collective salvation.