What values are NZ political parties appealing to? Party three: Green

It is less than a month before the general election in New Zealand, so I decided to take a look at the websites of the three main political parties and analyse the extent to which they are appealing to infinite and finite values.  I looked only at the messages that were instantly visible on the homepage of each party. This blog extends over three days. Today, it features the Green Party, currently 12% in the polls. (Note: I worked from screenshots taken on August 19, 2014).

Like Labour, the Greens have three sections. The first is headed for a cleaner environment. The text that follows says: We love Aotearoa and we want to protect it. Our kids have a birth right to swim in clean rivers, to fish in the sea, and walk in pristine forests. At first glance this seems to draw on infinite values. It uses the word “love”, the only party to do so, and refers to natural features of our environment. It evokes positive emotions and tangible experiences. But the term “birth right” sits a little uncomfortably in this mix. “Rights” are about entitlement, and they have a finite tone. This term somewhat undercuts the infinite value of the natural world by implying that its value derives from the pleasure people can obtain from it.

The second is headed for a fairer society. The Green Party envisions an Aotearoa New Zealand which celebrates diversity and encourages appreciation between groups. All pure infinite, I envision that too. I can’t help but notice, however, that the term “fairer” almost seems like a less generous, expansive word than the fuller description below. “Fairer” implies dividing things up, whereas “celebrating diversity” implies bringing us together.

Finally the Greens say: For a smarter economy. The Green Party has a plan to deliver a smart economy that will deliver real prosperity to everyone and help the environment. There’s that smarter economy again. As I said in the earlier post on Labour, it makes me suspicious. It sounds too cerebral to be true, or too cerebral to be good perhaps?  It is certainly finite, of value because of what it enables. The word “prosperity” is interesting in here. At first reading this seems to mean more money for everyone, but I suspect the Green’s have been deliberately ambiguous. Unlike Labour’s reference to “higher incomes”, “prosperity” is a broader more open concept that doesn’t necessary amount to money.

It seems a pity that the Greens have framed the natural environment as primarily of value because of what it offers people. I am not sure this reflects their deepest values. Like Labour they are highly focused on social inclusion, a core aspect of the infinite game. But also like Labour they have taken a stake the economic game, implying that they can make us more prosperous through being “smart”.

So here are the questions: Are Labour and the Greens more firmly in the infinite space than National, because this is their genuine base? Is National’s finite-speak a reflection of its “centre-right” or “neoliberal” philosophy, or is a result of being in power (or neither)? 

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