Video: “Green Politics in New Europe: Hope for Change?”
Get the Flash Player to see this video.
Bill Wilkins: This lecture is the tenth in our series to honor Ava Helen Pauling and to demonstrate our commitment to peace. Our speaker tonight joins a long list of distinguished people - their names are noted in your program. Although they have come from diverse backgrounds and even different countries, they share one common goal, and that is to achieve a more peaceful world. As your program notes, that was also Ava Helen Pauling's principle cause. At this point in the previous lectures, it has always been my pleasure to stop and to honor OSU's most distinguished alumnus, Dr. Linus Pauling. That's always been one of the real personal benefits to me of having the series and being associated with it. I'm sorry to report that Dr. Pauling is not with us tonight, and will not be able to join us tonight. We are, however, as you will note, videotaping this lecture a number of different places, a number of different ways, and we will be sending that video to Dr. Pauling for him to see. Would you join me, therefore - even though Dr. Pauling is not here - would you join me in giving him a standing ovation. Dr. Pauling.
Thank you so very much. I know he'll enjoy seeing that. To introduce our speaker, it's my pleasure to present George Keller, OSU's vice president for research, graduate studies, and international programs. Dr. Keller.
George Keller: Thank you, Bill. Our speaker this evening comes from Bonn, Germany, and has just arrived here in Corvallis yesterday, and is internationally known for her aggressive position on peace, the environment, and the feminist movement.
In the way of education, her formal education has been at American University, where she received her bachelor's degree in international relations, and at the University of Amsterdam with a master's degree in political science.
I want to make one slight correction in your program that Kelly, Petra is the step-daughter of a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. She is definitely a German citizen, and she wants to be remembered and known as that, and I congratulate her for that.
Since 1970, she has been actively involved in the German worldwide anti-nuclear, anti-war, and feminist movements. Early on during this time, she was an administrator at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, dealing with European health and social policy issues. She was the founder and chairperson of the Grace P. Kelly Association for the Support of Cancer Research [for] Children, a European [environmental] citizenship action group, which was founded after the death of her sister. Much of her effort went to studying the relationship between cancer and environmental causes.
In 1979, among other things, NATO's decision to modernize and nuclearize its alliance prompted the formation of another party in Germany: the Green Party. Our speaker is the co-founder of the Green Party of the Federal Republic of Germany, standing for anti-militarism, ecology, and nonviolence - a grassroots party. She served as a chair[woman] and speaker from 1980 to 1982. In 1983, she initiated and organized the Green International Tribunal Against First Strike and the Mass Destruction Weapons in the West and East. That same year until 1990, she served in the German Bundestag, the national parliament, where she had particular involvement through various committees in such issues as disarmament, human rights, neutrality, and foreign policy. Two terms as a representative of the Green Party in the Bundestag was [unique in] happening because that party was very strong in wanting its representation to change frequently so that they would not forget the roots from which they came - so she served a very unique role for that party.
In 1987, with Gert Bastian, who is here with us this evening, she initiated and organized the first international hearing on Tibet and human rights.
She is the author of numerous articles and books, and has lectured extensively on anti-nuclear, anti-war, and feminist issues around the world. Her efforts over the year have won her much recognition, among which was the Alternative Nobel Prize and the Woman of the Year Award by Women Strike for Peace.
Please welcome Petra Kelly, who will talk to us this evening [on] the subject of "Green Politics in New Europe: Hope for Change." [5:02]
Petra Kelly: I first have to excuse myself for sitting at the table, but I've just out of the hospital and I'm under severe jet lag problems, and I'm very grateful - maybe it's better to speak, not from the top down, but to just be more equal. And I also would like to thank very much the Pauling Peace Lectureship Committee for having invited me here to Oregon State University. I'll take some water because I probably will need this after fourteen hours of flying.
I'm very honored to be able to deliver this peace lecture, established by Linus Pauling, former student at Oregon State University, and it's a great privilege for me to speak in the format of the Ava Helen Pauling Lectureship for World Peace. Ava Helen Pauling is an inspiration to all women working for a sane, safe, more peaceful world.
When talking about Green politics in New Europe, it is almost a race for time, since every single day things are moving so swiftly in Europe, and we are rewriting our geography books almost every hour.
I would like to first speak, first of all, on saving the Earth, for we have inflicted awful wounds on the Earth, and are now caught in the trap of trying to heal these wounds by prescribing more of the same Earth-defying remedies. In the practice, the human spirit has come under constant attack. Many of the intangible values - a sense of community, pride, and serving others, a love of the land, spiritual enrichment - that once provided fulfillment and meaning are increasingly denied to many people on this Earth. I have studied in a book to save the Earth, "It is not just the Earth that has paid the price of our obsessive pursuit of industrial progress, but that fragile part of us that responds to a higher reality than material wealth." The healing of the Earth and the healing of the human spirit become one and the same. As we struggle with the implications of pollution control, environmentally friendly technologies, green consumerism, or sustainable development, it is that overwhelmingly powerful convergence between our human needs and the needs of the rest of life on Earth that now begins to offer real hope for the future.
From the early 1960s onward, environmentalists and people who are greenly tied have a feeling that time is running out. Some of our gloom messages have been disregarded, have been laughed at under dubious assumptions that for every problem, there is an appropriate solution or technology. But many of the processes we damage, we damage irreparably. At the heart of every ecological problem, there lives a political, economic, or spiritual cause.
I would like to quote, here, my very close friend, his holiness, the Dalai Lama, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. He wrote:
"Our ancestors viewed the Earth as rich and bountiful, which it is. Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustible and sustainable, which we know is the case only if we care for it. It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past which resulted from ignorance. But today we have access to more information than ever before, and it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, [and] what we will pass on to coming generations." [8:50]
Our marvels of science and technology are matched, if not outweighed, by many current tragedies, including human starvation in many parts of the world and the extinction of other life forms. The challenge we face is not just a question of managing the Earth's resources more efficiently, or to learn to exploit the Earth in a less destructive fashion. Nor, at the same end of the scale, does it entail the outright worship of nature. Somewhere in between lies the recognition of the intrinsic value of life on Earth, the feeling of reverence for its self-renewing complexity and beauty, and that we, in fact, are all, in the end, one.
In the autumn of '89, we all lived through the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the superpower rivalry, and the cry of freedom came from all many European/East European countries, and the nonviolent and Czech revolutions became a daily experience - soft revolutions for a civil society. But now there is a new wall, not between East and West, but between the industrialized countries of the North and the developing nations of the South - a wall made up of economic defenses against cheap imports from the Third World, psychological defenses against painful reminders of the terrible poverty of the South, and military defenses against the day when they've separated each at such a pitch that people simply march on the rich North.
While we are about to face a new year, we must remind ourselves every single day that every year fourteen million children under the age of five die in the developing world. Four million children die of diarrheal disease, mostly from drinking bad, polluted water, five million die of disease such as measles [and] tetanus, which have been brought under control in the west, and a million die of malaria. The rest are struck down by a combination of illnesses, mostly coming from hunger.
UNICEF has stated that the cost of providing vaccination and antibiotics would be around $2.5 [billion] a year, but here we have to provide some chilling comparison. This sum of $2.5 billion a year is equal to a small portion of the Third World's arms expenditure. It is the cost of five U.S. stealth bombers. It is the annual advertising budget of the U.S. tobacco industry. It is the amount that the Third World pays every single week to service its debts. That is all the amount we need to save children. Like the $20 million for 20 Patriot missiles which could have paid for vaccines to protect all women in Africa from tetanus. Or what about the $450 to pay for one M-16 rifle which could have paid for the training of a primary health care worker?
And for this one amount, one moment let us just imagine if you were to spend $1.2 million a day for 10 years - $1.2 million a day for 10 years - you would spend $44 billion, which is the estimated amount spent on the Gulf War alone - not including the long term costs, of course.
And while talking about that [unjust] and terrible Gulf War, let me remind you that weapons were used that had never been used in combat - still experimental - were rushed to the Gulf to be tested under battlefield conditions. For example, the 2,000 pound bombs that home in on a target, or the fuel-air explosives, which are large bombs filled with highly volatile fuels, or the cluster bomb unit. By the end of the Gulf War, the equivalent of five Hiroshimas was released by the United States. The test of new weapons and the conventional arms race it has now sparked is only the beginning of the Hiroshima analogy. The United States unleashed 85,000 tons of conventional bombs in the Gulf War.
It was not a war about human rights. It was not a war about the preservation of liberty. I believe it was a resources war to control oil, not unlike the war to control the canal that preceded it.
Now that the Cold War is finally over and the Soviet Union has been completely defeated, the question is: "What is next?" Cuba, North Korea, cocaine wars in South America. As Noam Chomsky has put it, "In President Bush's New World Order and the New World Order also of Europe, the Third World domains must be controlled, sometimes by force." The task is seen by President Bush as the sole responsibility of the United States. With its economic decline, the others are to pay for it - we in Europe are to pay for that burden. One reaction is that the United States persists in its historic task, while others, as I say, pick up the tab. [13:48]
The newly liberated Europe, instead of turning to a pacifist and demilitarized future, is now wanting to build up European weapon deployment forces under the WEU, build up a European army, send German soldiers to the front lines everywhere, and, in effect, become a second military-economic superpower.
The financial editor of the Chicago Tribune urged the United States to exploit its virtual monopoly in the security market as a lever to gain funds and economic concessions from Germany and Japan, extracting, as he says, "a fair price for our considerable services," as he called it, the United States being the world's "rent-a-cop."
And the British author, Worsthorne, wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that with the Cold War over, the new job is "to help build and sustain a world order stable enough to allow the advanced economies of the world to function without interruption and threat from Third World countries," a task that will require constant "intervention from the advanced nations," and perhaps, "preemptive action."
I must be very blunt and honest to you - I'm frightened by this New World Order about the United States enforcing obedience, with the support of an emerging Western European superpower, with a colony called "Eastern Europe." At home in Europe, we are discussing [how] to create a unified European army, Western European intervention forces, and, as I said, German soldiers to the front on top of all that. We are not discussing the reduction of NATO troops, NATO has, now, a million more soldiers than the Soviet Union, and we're not discussing the dissolution of NATO, but I feel that must be the answer to the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact: NATO must be dissolved. That must be the answer for the European countries.
We have all observed that the dawning of the post-Cold War era and the talk of a reduced arms budget has gotten arms manufacturers scrambling to identify new threats around the globe. One scenario sent shock waves through the diplomatic circles. It identifies India as a future military enemy of the U.S. in a major regional conflict similar to the Gulf War. We all thought we are entering an age of peace in Western Europe, but now we have a terrible and brutal war going on in Yugoslavia, with no end in sight. The military alliance - there was a pact - has dissolved, has crumbled, and yet European and American arms companies churn out new war scenarios day by day for new post-Cold War weapons programs, like General Dynamics, and like many other companies who look at India as a future target. In the absence of a single credible enemy for the United States, defense companies are clearly fumbling around on a minefield of complex regional fields. We are now a unipolar world, and Third World capitals are very afraid because alarm is growing that arms companies are, in fact, aggravating regional conflicts.
And [when] I add about the Gulf War and talk about its implications, let me look also at the impact of any war on the global environment. The Gulf War has shown what eco-war is all about. The White House knew as early as November 1990 that Saddam Hussein had wired the wellheads with explosives, yet U.S. President Bush opted for war despite the potential impact on a whole region that has turned into an environmental disaster. When talking about future resource wars, the U.S. and Europe may fight side by side, so I ask, what, in fact, is enough? Why are we fighting resource wars? How much, in fact, is enough?
Victor LeBow, in a post-World War II area of affluence, has said, "Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever-increasing rate." Since 1950, American consumption, for example - I take this example because I'm here - has soared. Per capita energy has soared 60 percent, car travel doubled, plastics use multiplied 20-fold, air travel jumped 25-fold. American children under the age of 13 have more spending money - $230 a year - than the 300 million poorest people in the world. The richest people in the world have created a form of civilization so acquisitive - and of course I include the Europeans in this, and other industrial countries - and profligate that the planet is in danger. [18:33]
The lifestyle of this top echelon - the car drivers, beef eaters, soda drinkers, and throwaway consumers - constitute an ecological threat unmatched in severity. The wealthiest fifth of humankind pumps out more than half of the greenhouse gases that threaten the Earth's climate, and ninety-percent of the fluorocarbons that are destroying the Earth's protective layer.
Of course, there are other forms of extremes to overconsumption: terrible poverty, which is no solution either. Dispossessed peasants have to burn their way into the rain forest, and hungry nomads turn their herds into fragile African rangeland. If environmental decline results when people have either too much or too little, we must ask, "How much is enough, and where is the limit?"
Aristotle declared twenty-three centuries ago that the avarice of humankind is insatiable. And let me cite another example. Indirectly, the meat-eating quarter of humanity consumes almost half of the world's grain - grain that fattens the livestock they eat. They are also responsible for the environmental strains produced by the present agricultural system, from soil erosion to over-pumping the groundwater. For American beef, one pound, you need five pounds of grain and the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline.
If we take the throwaway economy, then packaging is the essence of the product. Seven percent of consumer spending in this country goes into packaging, yet it all ends up in the waste dump. Disposable goods proliferate in America and other industrialized societies. Each year, Japan uses 30 million disposable single-roll cameras, and Americans toss away 18 billion diapers and enough aluminum cans that make 6,000 DC-10 jet airplanes.
When I look at Western wasteful societies, the way we live and work and play, the way we raise our children, I am reminded of Henry David Thoreau, who scribbled in his notebook, "A man is rich in proportion to the things he can afford to let alone," and that is the essence, I believe, of Green politics.
We in Europe are copying the American way of life in the negative aspects when it comes to wasting and consuming, and we in the Green parties have had much change in consciousness, but we have not been able to reverse the political decisions.
I was privileged enough to be at a special ecological conference recently in Morelia, Mexico. For the first time, writers, poets, and ecologists and native tribes of North and South America came together. Some of the conclusions we reached were staggering. Twenty-four billion tons of topsoil from cropland are being lost ever year. If deforestation continues at the current rate, the scientists stated that by the end of the decade, the Earth will have no additional farmland, but nearly a billion new mouths to feed. Seventy percent of the world's population lives within a hundred miles of the sea. The use of fossil fuels is rapidly changing our climate. Experts stress that continued rising sea levels will create global warming even more massively and create millions of new environmental refugees, even on a [more] global scale than at Bangladesh. The nuclear disaster of Chernobyl in '86, which in varying degrees has subjected 35 million people to radioactive assault, is only one of the hundreds of serious nuclear accidents that happened. Dr. Vladimir Chernousenko, the scientist responsible for the cleanup, stated his belief that at least three more Chernobyls will happen in this decade. We also learned that 20 percent of the world's population consumes 80 percent of its wealth and is responsible for 75 percent of its pollution, and we know that there is sufficient knowledge and technology to change all of that, if we only begin to think in an ecological and Green-oriented way.
We must demand a general transfer of knowledge and resources from North to South, not the dumping of obsolescent and inefficient highly toxic products and technologies. There must be an end to garbage imperialism, to dropping your toxic wastes in other Third World countries or across the Mexican border.
We must learn that traditional societies are generally the best managers of biodiversity. For the last 500 years, the knowledge and rights of the Native American peoples have been ignored. We believe that respecting the indigenous peoples, both in the Americas and throughout the world, who have become exploited minorities in their own country, is crucial for the preservation of biological and cultural diversity.
We in Germany also exploit native peoples when it comes to low-level flying of German Air Force planes in Goose Bay, Canada, or German uranium companies in Australia.
1992 marks a year, not of celebration, but of mourning for the first peoples of [the] Americas, for a holocaust had taken place. In the 500 years since Columbus arrived, tragedy has taken its toll on the descendants of the continent's original inhabitants. Indigenous people are among the poorest, achieving the least education. [24:41]
As the environmental issues become increasingly urgent, and as Western models of development become less sustainable, indigenous people, I believe, will come to occupy a position of considerable influence. They are fused in a union of development, and conservation will become even more important.
I was privileged to meet many American Indians, the first people of Hawaii, and the Aboriginals in Australia, and I have learned more from them than from any of my other political encounters. They are truly friends of the Earth.
We, in fact, have not forgotten that superpower rivalry has brought, even to the most remote regions of the Earth, military basis and strategies, whether it's the arctic homeland of the Inuit, or the draining paths of the Aborigines. Military installations are now in place everywhere where aboriginal people live. Their lands have been misused for bases and military test sites, as for example, the land of the Western Shoshone Nation, which is used as an atomic test site in Nevada, and the developing countries have become killing grounds.
No official economic policy has taken, to date, the global damage resulting from human activity into consideration. We in the Green Party feel that what is ecologically necessary is economically sound. A very respected feminist in India, Vandana Shiva, writes that "Amazonia is disappearing, not because of the local inhabitants, but to supply cheap beef to Northern consumers, and to supply charcoal for smelting iron for export. Southeast Asia's forests are disappearing to supply tropical hardwood to Europe and Japanese markets, and as commodity prices fall and the debt burdens spiral, the Third World is increasingly trapped in a vicious circle of exporting more to earn less. It is as if the sick and dying are giving blood transfusions to the healthy and rich."
The German Green Party, which I helped to found in 1979, declared, "A lifestyle and method of production which rely on an endless supply of raw materials and use those materials lavishly furnish the motive for the violent appropriation of raw materials from other countries. In contrast, a responsible use of raw materials is part of an ecologically sound economy and lifestyle. It will reduce the risk that policies of violence will be pursued in our name. The pursuance of these policies is, in fact, the precondition for reduction in tensions."
When I turn to the urgent issue, now, of changes in Eastern Europe and how they have affected the South, I use an African proverb: "When elephants make war, the grass gets trampled. When elephants make love, the grass gets trampled." The Third World environment and the Third World communities are the ones who have paid the highest price for our Cold War. Since 1945, two thousand - two hundred, excuse me - wars have been fought in the Third World, and the industrial world now moves from an over-armed peace to a disarmed one, and military producers are going to the Third World to sell their weapons.
New ecological transformation and reconstruction in Eastern Europe is fundamental for a civil society, but I believe it is again the Third World which will have to pay the cost for the new industrialism and new consumerism in the North, including the cost of cleaning up Eastern Europe. Eastern and Western Europe will use the Third World as a dump for hazards and wastes, and when the transport ways are too long to the Third World, the West will use Eastern Europe as its dump. I call this the Latin Americanization of Eastern Europe.
The environmental problems in Eastern Europe are difficult to describe - they are awesome. Bohemian children wear breathing masks to school, rivers serve as open sewers, entire hillsides are deforested, and the cleanup of [the] former GDR will cost $400 billion. We know the reasons for this tragic damage, and East Europe has, in fact, the unique opportunity to leapfrog the West by only implementing those policies which have been successful, and not those which do not work.
But the quick shift to Western market-oriented economies in Eastern Europe did not bring and does not bring the ecological transformation we had hoped for. Western banks, G7, World Bank, [and] Western governments do not learn from their mistakes of the past, and now that we, in fact, with our friends in Eastern Europe, are fighting exactly against those things we have fought for in the West, we're starting our battles all over again - against nuclear power, against chemical industries, against inefficient energy structures. We need new ecological taxation systems, new ecotaxes, new tax systems in both East and West Europe, and strong regulations on chemicals, and prohibitions on carcinogenic substances. But the political will is missing - the political will is not there - and the German Green Party has now weakened, the Swedish Green Party has weakened, and even the East European Green Parties have become weakened in the process of shifting to market economies. [28:45]
Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union will face, it is estimated, 30-40 million unemployed people in the 1990s in the Soviet Union and 16 million unemployed in Eastern Europe, which means about 60 million unemployed people, which means the motto will become "jobs at any price."
The soft revolutions did not lead to the ecological and feminist transition. There are now less women in the Eastern European parliaments than there have been before, and, in fact, if there is no feminization of power, I believe there can be no ecological transformation. I believe that feminists and women in the forefront of these revolutions have to have a political voice. Without them, it will be a very poor Europe.
When speaking about rich Western Europe and the colony of Eastern Europe, we must not forget the dispossessed who are waiting outside of our doors, which are about to close down with the coming of the single market in 1992. Today, a staggering 17 million refugees and 30 million more internally displaced people have emerged. Most are in the Third World and their numbers are multiplying. Many arrive having paid their bill, up to $5,000 a head to come to Europe, to traffickers to smuggle them in. This price will probably rise as the rich fortress called Europe from which I come is closing its doors, for plans to open up borders between the easy countries by the end of 1992 will most likely mean hauling up the drawbridge on Third World people.
We face, now, the rise of very ugly right wing political movements in Germany, in Western Europe - racism, fascism - all aimed against people seeking asylum, against foreigners and even against those who've lived with us for many years. At the moment, Western governments, including Germany's, are doing their best - and I say this in the most ironic way - to extinguish the lamp of asylum. We need, in Europe, a highly organized sanctuary movement, like that in the United States, which continues to assist and provide refuge for those who have escaped from war-torn, impoverished countries. In various parts of Europe, there are only a few courageous groups who do this, unfortunately.
We are a planet of immigrants and refugees - as I said, 17 million refugees, at the moment. By the end of this coming year, a razor wire in Strasbourg will prevent people from coming in, to a high security computer that will keep tap on 320 million EC citizens of a frontierless Europe. The aim is to keep the lid on crime, but in fact, the aim is also, through this computer, to keep out millions of desperate refugees queuing up on EC borders, having become refugees due to our exploitive policies. We have made them refugees. It is not their own condition; it is the conditions of the North that have made them into refugees. The EC, as a land of plenty, is turning away from its responsibility.
We witnessed how Italy treated Albanian refugees, how right wing movements grow in Germany and France and Sweden, and how we are unable to stop even the war in Yugoslavia. World War II left 25 million people homeless. The current decay of the Soviet Empire will dislocate 30 million people. The Germans were the first to move: 700,000 from former GDR and other East Europeans who consider themselves German by blood - we have this strange system that Germans are only Germans by blood, which I criticize very much - who are settling in West Germany. And many Jews are leaving the Soviet Union in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Sixteen million Soviet citizens living beyond their ethnic territories are desperately seizing the opportunity to resettle their republics. It seems as if every nationality is rushing about in every direction in Europe. Hungarians flee from Romania. Turks flee from Bulgaria. Roma and Sinti flee from Slovakia. We're fleeing all from each other. Recently, the Soviet Parliament passed a new law, bringing [complete] freedom of movement to the Soviet citizens. This law is soon to go into effect. It will double the current of immigrants. So it is a very, very sad situation in this present Europe.
In the past few months, also, I have observed that living in Germany has become difficult for me because I'm facing everywhere the ugly German, who is right back again. Germany's claim that it graciously accepts three to four percent of all applications for asylum loses all relevance. Neo-Nazi and fascist groups and skinheads have set Germany alight with hatred and loathing, and I feel ashamed to say this year I have lived in many other countries in my life, and I have been very sad to be back in Germany at such a period in time. [33:33]
German teenage neo-Nazi groups have not counted on getting so much unqualified support, as they have been getting in the last few months. Every single night in Germany, there are attacks on Romanian, Yugoslavian, Mozambiquan, [and] Vietnamese men, children, and women. As the neo-Nazis scream the most obscene slogans, and while they are pelting the foreign workers' hostels with Molotov cocktails, stones, and bottles, groups of local German residents and people looking on in East Germany, for example in Hoyerswerda, have screamed, and I quote this, "Get the animals out or we'll kill you all."
Foreign men, women, and children have tried to barricade their streets with dustbins to ward off the attacks, but to no avail. Every single day in the past seven months, every single evening the German police [come] too late. When the police arrived in a small town called Hoyerswerda on one Saturday afternoon at night, and also at night, on the sixth consecutive evening of racial attacks in that town, the violence was over - the police caught no one, as usual. Skinheads, neo-Nazis, and the residents of Hoyerswerda were able to claim their own actions as a success, for the German authorities in Saxony in East Germany had already begun busing out the foreign workers and asylum-seekers to undisclosed locations, so the neo-Nazis won the battle. Hoyerswerda is now made asylum-free. There are no foreigners living in Hoyerswerda.
Racial attacks against foreign workers have been mounting throughout Germany since reunification. It's a West and East German phenomenon. Neo-Nazi arson attacks have increased five-fold in the past four months. Social scientists say it's due to the theory of the communist education system, the unemployment, and the identity crisis, but I think it's even far more than that. Der Spiegel made a poll, [an] opinion poll, and said that 34 percent of my people in Germany, Germans, sympathize with the trend toward right wing extremism. Ninety-six percent of Germans say they don't want any more economic refugees in their country.
At the present time, we in Germany - a country of 80 million Germans, and I think you should never put so many Germans into one state - have 5.3 million immigrants. That is all we have. And in East Germany, there is only one percent foreigners in all of East Germany. We don't even allow those to live in peace.
We have a liberal lock on our political asylum due to our history, due to our terrible treatment of Jewish people, homosexuals, Roma, and Scinti that is still fresh in the memory, but is not fresh in the memory of our population. Now there are sixty percent that have to be recognized in Germany under the Geneva protocol for refugees, but we are only recognizing five to seven percent of them, and there is a terrible battle going on in Germany and our media and our parliament to change liberal asylum law in Germany, requiring at the moment that we have to allow the asylum people into the country, but we don't give them any rights or any freedoms. The Green Party has been the only one remaining fervently opposed to such an idea to change the Constitution, and we hope that we will receive more support in our campaign to uphold the liberal asylum law. Of all people, we in Germany have a moral responsibility toward refugees.
I have become very pessimistic watching the violence grow in Germany, seeing how race hate mounts to a fever pitch. Fire bombs and lead weights are thrown through the windows of buildings. Housing asylum seekers and foreign children are nearly burned to death, as recently had happened.
Our own government is not [the] only [government] moving closer to the idea of tightening the asylum laws. All over Western Europe, Europe is closing its borders to keep out the dispossessed - the people, in fact, we of the rich West have dispossessed. The new European house is closing its doors to all those who knock and want to come in, forgetting that it has been responsible, through its most brutal colonial period, but also through its exploitative economic policies, for that very amount of migration. It's been a very disgusting way, also, of weapons trade, and the way in which we have exploited the Third World for so many centuries. What a terrible European house if we build a fortress around ourselves which will exclude all non-EEC Europeans and all non-Europeans.
Graffiti is appearing all over the European walls in France and Sweden and Germany, with yesterday the Jews, tomorrow the Turks. Whatever happened to soul, to pity, to repentance? Whatever happened to learning from history? Have they been successfully tucked away in both East and West Germany? History haunts even the generations who think they have nothing to do with it, and silence kills; silence betrays. And too many of my German friends in Germany have become so silent. After we were so loud about nuclear power, so loud about nuclear weapons, so loud about chemical pollution, we have now become so silent about our own wealth, unwilling to share it with anyone else. [38:40]
Let me add that there are only 100,000 foreign workers living in East Germany in a region of 18 million inhabitants, and those 100,000 are too many. There are only, as I said, one percent foreigners living in the Eastern part of Germany, yet a daily war is being launched against them.
This also reminds me of another border, but it's been one not less spectacular and less brutal, but I have to mention it also, torn asunder by economic inequality. On the highly militarized Mexican-U.S. border, tens of thousands of hungry Mexicans and other Latin Americans already run the gauntlet of razor wire, helicopters, and dogs for the dubious sanctuary of the casual labor markets in San Diego and Los Angeles. It is also a problem.
But as one black friend had stated in Germany recently, "My blackness incites violence." People in the old GDR just don't realize how mobile the rest of the world is. They were cut off too long, and they take a very simplistic view of who belongs where. It is not 1933; it is 1991.
Germany is unified again, and we, the German Green Party, were against that very speedy reunification. We wanted to have a German confederation. All 80 million citizens in Germany are united, but it isn't prosperity or happiness that dominates the mood of the moment; it is gloom, anger, desperation, and racial hatred. The time of heartfelt embraces at the Brandenburg Gate and champagne for our brothers and sisters of the Eastern zone is finished. Now we of the West tell them arrogantly to work harder so they could earn more - because we all know how much it is meaning to us to work harder - and to become like us. The people of the GDR and of Eastern Europe really never had a chance to design a new blueprint for their own society. They never had a chance to discuss their society [or] their economy. We urged that reunification should take into account the aims and demands of the autumn and winter '89 revolution, but that revolution was abruptly cancelled by West German politicians and banks.
There are now only eight independent and Green members of parliament from former GDR and Bonn, and the West German Green who were at nine percent of the vote dropped out altogether from the national parliament last December, a most painful moment in my own life after working toward 12 years of Green Party politics to keep them in parliament. We're still very active in the local and regional level, sharing two governments, but we are not present at the national level.
I believe that we need policies not only of self-restraint for Western Europe, but policy of self-restraint for Germany. We should have no army. We should have more tolerance. We should have more solidarity. We should have a different economic system. [We should have] an ecological and demilitarized Europe, a pacifist and feminized Europe that is in solidarity with the Third World and that rethinks and redesigns its economic and industrial policies. And we need, as a cornerstone of politics, the respect of individual economic and social human rights. That has been, to me, the most important lesson - that human rights is, in fact, the road to peace. Without human rights policies, you cannot ever have any socially just policies. And I've learned that in my dealings with the Tibetan people, who are nonviolent, who for 40 years have fought nonviolently against the Chinese oppressors, but have been ignored by the world because the bombs and the violence of ... and even, at times, of the PLO, have spoken louder than nonviolent actions, and yet we always appeal about nonviolence.
As empire fades, separate nation-states emerge everywhere, and everywhere in Europe, old demons, like belligerent nationalism and demagogic populism, creep out of the corners. We are facing rampant anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, where there are programs planned against Jewish people still to this date. As in Hungary, totalitarianism still may be coming in Romania. We are facing the Lebanization of Yugoslavia, a war that is in the middle of Europe, and nobody seems to be very much concerned. The European peace movement has failed completely in the case of Yugoslavia and the politics of playing on discontent all over Europe.
There is a nationalism that does not involve the love of one's country, the love of one's people. It's a nationalism that, again, is the hostility to your neighbors. And it's very strange that at a time when all the walls have fallen down and the military blocs are dissolving, we are facing new nationalisms of the worst kind.
And yet never before, I believe, in history have conditions been so favorable to replace old thinking with new, brave, and creative new thinking, but only if the old demons in Europe do not escape again.
Thank you. [43:33]
Bill Wilkins: Ms. Kelly has agreed to answer some questions. Given the size of the auditorium, there is a microphone just here. If you're where you can get to the microphone, we'd urge you to go to the microphone to ask your question. If you're not, if you will rise and let me recognize you, and then you may have to talk loudly. The methodology we'll use, if that is the way the question is conveyed, is that I will try to interpret the question fairly back out to the audience, and then Ms. Kelly will undertake to answer.
There is a vicious circle of poverty and militarism. How can that be broken?
Petra Kelly: As I said before, the [Green] policies have been very clear to demilitarize completely. We have, for example, a very famous opinion poll issued in Switzerland, where 40 percent of [all who took it] wanted to get rid of the army. I think that if we get stronger and stronger pressure, especially in industrialized countries, to rid ourselves of arms, of military production, trade unions will have to go along with it, workers will have to start getting much more [radical in where they work], in what they produce. It's a question of [everyday life], not just a political sphere. It means that we have to radically rethink, and that's why it's [a little bit] pessimistic. We have many people who support Green policies, but when it comes to the political will of the government to change these policies, we've had very big difficulty.
And, of course, the vicious cycle is that the North is exploiting, to the point of ... , the South, and if we don't start changing that completely in our own industrial policies at home, there's no chance for the people in the South. It's already such a crime that if you look at the meetings of the World Bank in Bangkok, the G7, then you can only say it has to be the pressure at home of the minds of the people of the industrial North to [influence the government to change these policies]. That is the only way we have [to bring about change] in those governments - through the vote and through civil disobedience.
Audience Member: I'd like to ask how the Party, the Green Party, defines power and some sense from you of, in parliament in Germany, that rotation of seats and how you...how did you do it? How do you have leadership without leadership and how did you define power so that those rotations would work?
Petra Kelly: Everybody understand the question? We define power - we say power not "over" people, not power to control them; we say shared power - shared power at the grassroots level, nonviolent power - which means that you try to have a non-hierarchical leadership.
In the West German Green Party, we have leadership shared positions over three speakers, fifty percent capacity has to be for women, all candidates, fifty percent women are speakers, fifty percent women, and we also say rotation of such speaker offices [for] long periods of time. The two-year rotation didn't work. It just did not work. You cannot be in a four-year parliament and leave after two years. It's completely non-workable if you don't have people following you step by step to take over your seat. We're now at the point of having two full periods, and then we'll take a break - to be speaker for two full periods, then take a break, but not to exchange people within two years. That's almost impossible. We tried it, we were very hurt by this system, and we've learned from it.
But we're very strong in saying there has to be a quotation of women. Even if men don't want to give up parliament in a voluntary way, you have to take power, because they're privileged, they're overprivileged, and the only way is to get rid of that power by taking it from them and giving women a very fifty percent fair say. [48:29]
Audience Member: On proportional representation in Europe versus the United States, how would you recommend that we go about getting that here?
And a follow-up. Where do you feel capitalism plays a role in this whole lecture that you had this evening?
Bill Wilkins: Two questions: proportional representation - how is it achievable in the United States, and what role does capitalism play in the problems that she discussed in her lecture?
Petra Kelly: Well, on your election system, I think [the] electoral system [is] rather strange anyway. We don't ever understand it, how you elect Presidents by thirty percent of the vote - only so few people go to vote - and then you have these strange electoral colleges, and it doesn't seem to give any chance for any small parties. I think that there must be a third environmental, ecological force in the United States. I can't understand why all these many groups I've gotten to know over many years who've been very, very good at their local and regional work, why they can't get together and make a symbolic third candidacy.
I believe that our system, even though we think that five percent of class isn't fair, we have a representation system where we have lists, whereby you get seats through the list, and you have a direct representation system. So it's a mixed system. I think it's a rather good system because small parties are protected - at least you have to get all five percent to be in parliament.
In Great Britain, you have the, not the proportional, you have the direct representation. That's very difficult. Green parties have gotten 20 percent and have not gotten one seat.
I think that there is a movement, I have been told, in the United States, to change the electoral laws and to change the electoral system, but it is something I can't advise you on. It's probably such a long process, but I think locally there is a chance to run candidates for city councils to try to get more of an ecological, let's say, "list" going. I think that's possible in this country. It's a problem once you get to Senate and Congress, if I'm correct, which is still very difficult, but I do hope it can change. We are trying to get a European law for the European elections because we have separate, different electoral laws for the same European parliament, and that's very unfair, meaning we get into the parliament in Germany, but a Dutch or a British Green party would not get in even if they got twenty percent of the vote.
On capitalism, all I can say is the Green have always tried to go for a third way. That has not ever been practiced because we're not yet in power anywhere nationally. We don't believe that world capitalism can replace the very bad and human-alienated state socialism, but we do believe that both systems, socialism and capitalism, have some good and also many bad things, so we felt that ecologically induced economies and lifestyles, that's a completely different way of thinking. It's not a class thinking way. It's saying we're all together at this point in one boat, and we have to practice a very deep form of solidarity, and the rich have to give up some of their privileges. The rich are causing most of the problems, as we know, on this globe, and capitalism of the world form is now being practiced even in some East European countries, and we feel it's very difficult to make any change because these countries are at the bottom of the pole. They have very big poverty problems, unemployment rising at a level you can hardly describe, and now they're looking for simple, "jobs at any price" solutions. That makes it very difficult to talk about qualitative jobs, to tell them to have [an] ecological lifestyle.
Our influence, I have to say very openly, has very much lost impact since the revolutions have taken place. During the revolution, they ask for a different economy, different from capitalism, different from Western Europe, and now the Western banks have put conditions - I'll give you just one example: Gorbachev had been, in November of last year, he had been in Germany meeting a group of businessmen, and I was also allowed to be at that meeting for the Green Party. We have always [had] a chance to have been present at those meetings because we were in parliament. The German businessmen had a long debate with Gorbachev about investment, and Gorbachev had said, at one point, "Just give us money, and we'll produce anything you want." And that sentence is very indicative of the situation. The helplessness and the powerlessness of those economies [and] the great pollution problems make them feel that all they can do is beg, just for anything - beg for anything.
And the G7 countries in London, as you know, are very much not in solidarity with Eastern Europe. They simply want to bring out the most they can, find new markets, but not [invest] ecologically.
So our system of ecological taxation - taxing the air, the water, taxing the companies who produce the pollution - is a very radical idea, so it won't ever come into existence unless there is political will, and the EC does not have the political will to help Eastern Europe on that. It's a very bad battle of existence, and I do feel we're turning Eastern Europe into our own colony - just like Latin America has been turned into a colony of the United States. That is my very clear feeling, looking at the numbers, at the figures, and what kind of investment we are doing. What we, in fact, have stopped in Western Europe - certain companies, certain plants, certain production processes - is now happening in Eastern Europe. We can't stop it because there's no way to build such momentous movements [in] such short time. [53:43]
Audience Member: Maybe this could stimulate some discussion on Green politics in this country, but I wanted to let you know and, perhaps more importantly, to let the folks in this room know that there is a new political party in Oregon called the Pacific Party. We embrace Green values and we're actively seeking ballot access, so I'd like folks on their way out to help sign our petition. There are restrictive ballot access laws in this country. Oregon has one of the more restrictive ones. We need 38,000 signatures of registered voters in order to be on the ballot in 1992 and run candidates.
Audience Member: [I have a question about Germany] and I was wondering how the grassroots peace movement in Germany reacts to the neo-Nazis, and what's going on?
Petra Kelly: I had mentioned before about silence killing, about silence betraying. Probably the worst is that the peace movement in Germany, as well as in Western Europe, has become very silent. It's something that, again, has saddened me very much. There are very many local actions, yes, but the major demonstration we're about to have will be on the ninth of November in Berlin. It'll be a major demonstration against racism [and] neo-Nazi groups. The problem has been - and it's very hard to say this - the problem has been the sympathy by many normal, average German citizens to the neo-Nazi attacks, so it's difficult to get enough public support even to get meetings, and to rallies going. It's always the same few people that you know they are ready [and] so active, and [they] are overworked. It is not spreading, as we had hoped, into more segments of society.
There's also very big sympathy within the police force - I have to say this very openly - and it's been very difficult because the peace movement's efforts against Pershing or cruise [missiles] had been very clear, very dominant - one weapons system, and we can go against this. The more complex the issues became, even as to the war in Yugoslavia or the terrible hatred against foreigners, the more problematic it became to have a base, a national base. There's no real coordination anymore. Everybody's working at a local and regional level, and since the Green have dropped out of parliament in December, the national way to mobilize and to have the means at your disposal and the help through the offices has fallen away, and that has weakened us very much - very, very much.
We hope that maybe 500,000 will turn out in Berlin on [the] ninth of November, but that's an open question. Up to now, the demonstrations have not been very much at all. There was one in Frankfurt recently, a peace demonstration for tolerance toward the foreign workers to be more in solidarity. Only 2,000 people showed up. And these are very shocking numbers. As you know, we used to have a million people come to demonstrations, and Germany used to be in the forefront of numbers. Now, I believe, [there are] also many people, even within the peace movement, who do not have a clear position as to how Europe should cope and handle the immigrant flow that is happening now.
There are many, many, for me, shocking things that you see happening because people are not quite certain - what do we do? What, in fact, do we do if we have to start using police at our borders? The question of Albanians who came to Italy was a very big question also in Germany. What happens when people ward off these people by violence? What do you do then?
We do create sanctuaries now. As I mentioned before, we're trying to have a sanctuary movement where some groups are hiding people, are hiding people from being deported before being taken to the plane, but it's not enough. It is far too little and too few activities, still, in Germany.
Audience Member: What is your position regarding birth control, and estimate of the importance of that issue for the problems of poverty, ecology, and the status of women?
Petra Kelly: Well, first of all, I think we're not allowed to tell anyone, we women in the North, to tell women in the South how many children to have, but they must have, of course, the access to information about birth control. There must be safe and healthy forms of birth control.
It should not be the women who [are] tested by pharmaceutical companies. We've been guinea pigs for many years, I believe, and men have not taken responsibility for birth control. It's one of the major issues, I believe, in the whole world.
The Catholic church, I believe, has had a very bad influence, because it has not taken up the issue courageously, but I believe that it's not the problem. I believe the Earth has enough to feed all of its people. [58:35]
I also believe that women decide completely on their own - they have to have the right to decide on their own - how many children they should have. I believe that forced birth control programs are very wrong, the way they have happened in India. They are completely wrong, because women are not allowed to codetermine those policies. United Nations has many programs, and women are not part of those programs. They're done by men, and that's completely wrong.
And I also believe that women, now more and more, are being turned into [machines for] producing children. We, for example have, now, a very big debate on [the] genetic industry and of how women are asked to have babies for other women who can't have babies. There's even a debate now in Western Europe going on as to are we really producing, just simply as machines, children, and also the genetic examinations now being done - is the child going to be well or not going to be well?
I think these are very ethical questions, but it has to be clear that the woman has to be the sole decider, the sole decision-making person about birth of children because she has the children. And there must be safe and healthy contraceptives and such birth control information, but you cannot force this, and I think that there's something inherently wrong in the structures where children are meant to be brought to the Earth to simply keep the family alive, as in many poor countries. Of course, there are such terrible injustices, but I think we can never tell people in the Third World about their own birth control. It's completely, immorally wrong to do that.
Audience Member: Quickly, I wanted to say a word on developing or starting a Green Party in Ithaca, New York in the last four years, and within a year and a half we had two people on the city council out of ten seats, and we may get a third in the next two weeks. So it can happen. A small group of dedicated working people can have it happen.
But also, I had a question, because we in the Green Party there were quite surprised that the German Green Party was not in favor of the GDR joining West Germany, and it seemed, to me anyway, that that would have been a case where you could adopt an ecological disaster and clean it up by incorporating it into a first world country, and perhaps you can answer why that wasn't.
Bill Wilkins: The question, I think, is, "Why did the Green Party in West Germany not support the unification of Germany, and, therefore, adopt an ‘ecological disaster,' as it were.
Petra Kelly: Well, we, in fact, you know, we did not - it was very much more differential. We didn't support Mr. Kohl's very quick push to, as quickly as possible, make reunification. Maybe he was right in the end, because if you saw the Soviet Union's developments, they might not have agreed; Gorbachev had agreed. But, for example, we felt a confederation of two German states cooperating together, working together, combining their efforts on ecology, on women, on social policy, that would be all fine, but not to make one centralized German state.
There have been three cases in history where Germany has always been a centralized, unified state, and every time we've done it, it's gone wrong - gone wrong for ourselves, gone wrong for our neighbors. There's now 17 percent in Austria asking for Anschluss with Germany. That figure is frightening because if Austria has an economic decline, if the EC joins up with Austria, if Austria ends up in the EC, there's going to be Germany buying up Austria, because we're buying up Eastern Europe all the time. I think we are "Germanizing," in fact, Eastern Europe, and we're supposed to become more European in all of this, but I think we are, in fact, "Germanizing" - and I think that's a very bad word, but I'm going to use it - Eastern Europe.
And I think that the Greens were very correct in all the warnings we had made and all the warnings about the economic problems, [and] about not solving the ecological problems. Helmut Kohl is no longer, now, the hero he was a year ago because he had promised every East German, "You will be better off. You will never be worse off, but you will definitely be, you know, not having a negative effect in your life if Germany is unified," but 17 million East Germans are having a negative effect. They are getting the least paid jobs, the worst paid jobs. Women are fired the first; they're hired last. Pregnant women are fired immediately. The crushers are gone. There are no more provisions for child care. Their lives have been shattered and they have no identity - their identity has been taken away. And you cannot take away 40 years of East German identity. Even if there's a lot of it bad, they had some good things as well, and West Germany seems to have - I say it very openly - bought East Germany in one act, and Mr. Gorbachev more or less got a lot of money to say yes to this. [1:03:24]
One thing that we agreed very clearly on in the Green Party was we did not want East Germany to become part of NATO, and we never understood or could believe that Mr. Gorbachev agreed, when Mr. Kohl visited him, to let East Germany be part of NATO. We had hoped that this would be the first denuclearized and demilitarized zone in Europe. Begin with East Germany. They didn't want to have any more soldiers. They didn't want to have any more troops. There was a moment in time they didn't want to have any of this, and overnight they were taken into NATO and now we have NATO maneuvers, NATO troops, [and] German soldiers stationed, of course, in East Germany. There are still many weapons - also nuclear weapons, as we are told, in East Germany, from the Soviet side, and there are 400,000 Soviet soldiers, still, in East Germany, who are very badly treated.
The situation, I think, is now very tragic. I mentioned before the embraces and the champagne is finished. We don't talk about brothers and sisters anymore, and there is now a very big competition to make sure an East German does not get your job, an East German does not get your house or get your flat. The solidarity effect is gone, and I think that is, for me, the frightening point of it.
Reunification was never in the mentality of Germany for the last 40 years. When it finally and quickly happened, we were not ready for it, psychologically. There are many people - the suicide rate, by the way, has risen dramatically, not during the time only when the Wall came down, [but] also now - suicide of elderly people who cannot pay the rent because the rent, as of October, has increased ten-fold for most people, and they cannot pay the rent. They're out on the streets. People cannot pay their necessities of their daily life. There's a very big poverty now, and West Germany seems simply to say, "Well, you just have to work as hard as we do." It's a very arrogant attitude, and I think that the Green Party, though we were not understood about our criticism, I believe we were very correct, and I also believe that the reunification has brought on this idea of saving yourself and making sure you have your part of society for yourself, and making sure foreigners stay out, and foreigners [are] anybody who's not German.
And the fact that being German is now something special again is really frightening, because according to our German citizenship law, you can't really become German easily. You can only become German if you have a German grandfather somewhere in the SS or in the Wehrmacht who was German, then you can become German, but if you are coming from another country and you want to become German, it's a question almost of folk identity belonging to the German people of blood, and we can't even get this law changed. The law is completely hideous; it's medieval. But it also gives a special tendency to say Germans simply have a priority, and that's a very.... I mean, I am born in '47. I was not born during the war, but after the war, but I feel that we haven't learned any of this. The East Germans haven't learned it under communism. They were forced to be anti-fascistic. They didn't really believe it; they were forced to be that, and we in West Germany were very apathetic about it. And now it turns out we didn't learn whatsoever. And that is the frightening part, that 40 years of democracy, imposed, on one hand, on the Western side, but imposed through communism on another - but anyway, it did not help us become aware of our history.
When you have, for example, Ravensbrück, the concentration camp in East Germany, near Brandenburg - it was the concentration camp where many women had been killed and tortured [and] it has a line, a street called "Death Row," where women were taken to be hung and to be shot - when a supermarket is supposed to be built on the site or near the site of the concentration camp, and East German citizens are blocking the road, not to stop the supermarket, [but] to build the supermarket, then you really begin wondering. And they simply say, "We want to have part of our capitalism, now, finally coming here, so we want a supermarket," but to put it on a concentration camp site, that is a loss of all sensitivity, and I cannot understand what has happened in those past two years - why we have become so completely ignorant of our own history. And that's why I think the Greens' criticism, which was misunderstood, was, in fact, very correct about reunification, and I still would uphold [that] a German confederation, keeping Germans in separate states, is a very good system.
Audience Member: Thank you. I was just wondering - you spoke a little bit about the agricultural problems and practices that cause soil erosion and cause other problems - and I'd like to know a little bit about what agricultural policies the Green Party supports to turn that around, to reduce pesticide use and pollution, and promote safety for farm workers, and farmers themselves.
Petra Kelly: Well, the Green, you know, we have a very strong policy of criticizing the EC agriculture policy. We are looking for organic farming. We have some very good farmers, in fact, who were in the parliamentary group, who practiced organic farming. We have some of them in the European parliamentary factions still today. So we have very good examples, also with the Dutch, on organic farming to keep the soil, to make it healthy - first you have to make it healthy again - to improve the whole way you keep livestock because hens and animals are kept in batteries, as you know, all over the world. [1:08:42]
We have an exploitation because we end up importing grain from Ethiopia. At the height of the hunger crisis, Ethiopia gave grain to the EEC. It's rather unusual [that from] a country that is starving, we get grain. And also, we end up feeding our livestock with grain imported from poor areas so that people will eat more meat. It's a very bad and vicious circle, and we have been very much critical of the way the EEC agriculture policy has also driven off the small farmer with his small, overseeable farm, and has made, more or less, agricultural factories - huge centralized factories. Now that problem is of how to make it into different units in Eastern Germany. They have big factories there, agricultural factories, [and] the soil is finished. Ninety percent of the soil is acid, and now they're looking at how to make small farms work again.
So, in fact, I think in the agricultural area, even our Minister of Agriculture will attest publicly that the Green have the right solution, but he says, of course, the transition is very difficult because everything has been geared toward EC agricultural units, and also the way the subsidies have gone. You know, the subsidy system is completely crazy. You get money for producing too much, which you then destroy. Then you get money again for destroying it. And we have thousands of warehouses of butter, of crops, of vegetables, and we have many periodic times where crops and where vegetables and fruits are being destroyed through subsidies, that are actually being destroyed by machinery because we have produced too much of it. We don't share to the Third World or with the Third World. It's a very insane policy to keep the world price level at a stable position.
So our criticism is, rather, from the small unit to the very large EC policy, and I think in this area we have really gotten a lot of support by the small farming community all over Europe. And there are many examples of model farms in Holland, Denmark, in Germany - Southern Germany - and also already, now, in Italy through the Italian Green. So at least, there, there is a real inroad happening.
Audience Member: Hi, I have a question, but first of all, I have a very special letter from a great admirer of you - I leave that with you to read later at your convenience. My question is: I think time is short, concerning the ecology. Perhaps some would say that the catastrophe has finally arrived, and we have to deal with it. What extremes do you advocate to save the planet?
Bill Wilkins: I think the question is, "What are the measures that must be taken in order to stop the environmental - "
Audience Member: No, a little more than that. What extremes... what... we've got to get radical. What do you think we should do?
Petra Kelly: Well, probably one of the most extreme measures would be that you finally have governments practicing nonviolence in politics. That's probably the most extreme form, because most of our politics practices violent politics, whether it's your way in which you exploit people through your consumption - I tried to mention some very shocking figures, that if children have more pocket money than 300 million people on the Earth, there is something quite wrong with our distribution system and with our social justice. There is, of course, also much poverty in all of the rich countries that we're living in.
But I think nonviolent politics is a very big challenge. Mahatma Gandhi tried it. Martin Luther King tried it. Cesar Chavez tried it. Dorothy Day, Linus Pauling - they've all tried it. The problem has been that once you empower - and I have even noticed that in the Green Party when they share regional power with regional social democrats in regional governments, they're very quick to compromise and to forget their radical and extreme, as you say, solutions, and I've criticized the Green Party for sometimes very quickly going toward compromising and saying, "Well, once we're in power and have a ministry, a Green ministry, then we can tell people how to live." I don't want an eco-dictatorship either.
On the other hand, I think that being in power in a ministry means nothing unless people, in their daily consuming and buying habits, in their living habits, really take unto themselves to change themselves, which means to me [that] the problem isn't outside, out there; the problem is in every one of us. That's a very spiritual question. It really means that if you start to change your own life, if you start to take responsibility for your own actions, if you really do that - and that's about the only thing you have control over is your own actions - then you can force many things. Consumer campaigns have been done against Nestle, for example. They're very effective - the Nestle campaign. Consumers have tried very hard against South African fruits and vegetables to try to boycott them. They made some impact. But I think that people are not aware of their own power, and Green politics is really not about telling you, in a blueprint, how to change society. It's really about telling people how to take control of their own lives and how to live nonviolently. [1:13:32]
And to live nonviolently is probably the biggest challenge we've ever come across, because most everything we do is attached to some form of structural violence. And I've become, in the past years, also, so much aware about the disparity, about the injustice and the way in which we don't even realize what injustice we're perpetuating, that I think the Green Party's thinking has been correct to say that if we pursue, in our daily life, a way of living nonviolently, if we pursue in our politics, then it has to make an impact if enough people do it. And that has been maybe the big hope in Europe, that Green Parties, third parties, have finally erupted, have finally come upon the scene, and have said, "Enough is enough," and have asked the question of "How much is enough?" because people seem to live in this endless feeling of wealth, of material being, of "The Earth is not running out of resources." It's running out. I think it is five minutes to midnight, and I believe, also that we have very little chance anymore to change it, because even Eastern Europe, though it is liberated, though it is now moving toward democracy, it is again giving its high cost to the Third World. And the more, I guess, you travel in the Third World, you speak to many of the very courageous groups there, the more helpless you feel.
Even if I look at the disaster - you had the Alaskan oil spill, I think, at, I forgot the name... St. Prince or William Sound in Alaska - what did it really change? What did Three Mile Island change in the consciousness of people? What did Chernobyl really change?
In Chernobyl, I have much contact to the doctors there and to the children there, because we have many children treated in Germany. There are 10 million people who are going to be polluted in the coming decades from this nuclear accident - in some form, they're going to be assaulted by radioactivity. And all it had done is to make Germans say,
"Well, our German reactors don't do anything like this. They are much safer." And it makes us, now, sell our reactors to the Soviet Union. That was not the idea; the idea was to stop it altogether, and to find renewable sources of energy. And that's, to me, one very important example that even though there's such a tragedy that occurred, the memory of people is so short. They go back to their normal habits.
And we know that we need renewable energy - soft energy. We need to have energies that do not hurt people, that do not get used for building nuclear bombs, and yet we are facing countries who are proliferating from nuclear power and getting bombs in a very short time. And yet, we point at them - we point at Saddam Hussein and all the others - but we have to point at ourselves, because we're the ones who are living the example. We are showing to people [that] you are not anything unless you have these kind of weapons - you are nothing unless you can deter.
So I think it goes right back to something many people might say is far too spiritual, but I think it goes right back down to: the solution and the problem is in us. It's not out there anywhere. It's all in us.
Bill Wilkins: Thank you. It's been a wonderful addition to our series. This series is made possible by contributions of friends of peace. Please note the back of your program.
Next year's - let me halt, if I may. Next year's speaker, just about a year from now will be Dr. Oscar Arias, former President of Costa Rica, who will be here with us. 1993's speaker has also been selected, and has agreed to come - that's the Reverend William Sloane Coffin - about two years from tonight.
Thank you so very much for being with us, and we appreciate your wonderful presentation. [1:17:28]
Return to Main Page