Green Left’s identity and using it as a media and organising tool

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The last national council meeting raised the issue of how we best use GL as a scaffolding today and the tension from building SA and putting resources into the separate project of GL.

I’m of the view that we need to prioritise GL as our predominant organising and media tool. This could mean exploring having a new identity.

I feel we need to have a clearer identity and role as an organisation. One that reflects the current media and political environment of today not the one SA was conceived in..I believe a lot of our issues stem from not having a clear identity and purpose.

In the first instance this includes how we relate to the global climate movement. I think we need to look at ourselves as a tendency within it and the role we can play in bringing broader layers into the movement and shaping its politics.

What GL was (and still is)

GL was launched almost 30 years ago.

SA was launched in 2001 and was initially an alliance of several socialist groups and had structures that reflected that. Now those groups have split or dissolved and SA is not an alliance of groups anymore but an individual organisation. This original identity is not relevant in a way it once was. If there is a “regroupment of the left” it would probably be within a new organisation.

GL was set up in a time when the internet had not taken off.

Thus it could cover news and rallies no one was covering, be the source for high profile left wing writers (such as Pilger) and be the best platform for movement allies to write for.

Now there are numerous other platforms (from social media to The Guardian) that have a greater reach and often do all of the above better than GL.

A weekly production cycle may have worked then. Now this cycle is often too long to react to protests and the political cycle and too short to develop in depth, original and researched multimedia pieces that include features, videos, photos, graphics, podcasts and call to actions.

There is not an audience for a weekly left wing newspaper in the same way there was when GL was conceived. For people to want to support and be a part of it, it has to offer something more than news, reprints and analysis - with most of research often pulled from other media sources.

Today media production has become a central pillar of organisations. Organisations now live stream events, write regular news updates on their blogs, share memes on social media and create their own documentaries. All within their own identity. Just look at the content GetUp!, and Stop Adani produce all the way to grassroots activists groups.

Organisations now more than ever produce media with clear strategies to build their identity and make an impact to achieve their demands.

We, however, use two separate platforms for our media and political organisational work. This is out of touch with how people are relating to organisations and their ideas today.

I feel this is part of the reason GL operates more as a left wing newspaper and less as a political tool with a clear identity.

I think we need to reevaluate what an effective scaffolding looks like today. Beginning by looking at our identity and the merits of using GL as both a media and organising tool.

One that recruits people, integrates members, organises and participates in protests and produces original media content.

Ecosocialist identity

With the global climate movement it makes sense for our identity to be informed by ecosocialism. One where we build on our strengths and work out where we can make a useful impact in movements.

In Ian Angus’s How to make an Ecosocialist Revolution he talks about the need for movements to force governments to be accountable to “working people, farmers, the poor, indigenous communities, and immigrants — in a word, to the victims of ecocidal capitalism, not its beneficiaries and representatives.”

One of our strengths is our history of working with communities in Australia (such as the Kurds, Latino’s and Sudanese) and socialist organisations in the Asian region.

We could look at ways of bringing their voices into the climate movement. The ecosocialism being practiced in Rojava and links between anti-capitalist struggles in India and Stop Adani in Australia are some ideas.

This would be work that no other left group is doing in Australia and a valuable contribution to the movement.

There are many more examples of how we can apply ecosocialism.

Green Left as an organising and media tool

Using GL as both a media and organising tool opens up numerous ways of recruiting and engaging members politically and creatively.  

Especially if we take more initiatives and organise protests in our own name.

This opens up a whole lot of roles around organising events from planning and running them to creating media content.

This is not to say we should not engage with broadly organised rallies - quite the opposite. We can approach major rallies as a chance to organise GL ecosocialist contingents with the aim of pulling broader layers into the movement.

In this approach people doing GL campaign stalls have a lot more agency in the rallies they’re building.

This approach makes it more conducive to producing GL content that is connected closer to activism and applying ecosocialism as opposed to being a news platform.

It gives greater emphasis to deciding what content to create and format it should be produced for that is most advantageous in building movements and spreading ecosocialist ideas.

The process of a group of comrades researching and producing a video on why people should join an ecosocialist contingent is educational for the people doing it. To create it you have to develop an understanding of ecosocialism and think about how it’s implemented. As well as producing an engaging video that advocates for our politics.

There are numerous media projects that we could engage people with (creating and absorbing) such as regular live video shows, podcasts, feature articles, photos, columns and so forth.

What does being a Green Left supporter mean

This approach also creates a more compelling argument as to why people should become a GL supporter. Being a supporter is now clearly seen as supporting the GL project rather than consuming a weekly paper.

More than that, supporters should be seen as a broader base. One that we encourage to become a part of our GL ecosocialist contingents and attend our conferences.

Perhaps supporters could put forward and vote on particular topics to be discussed on a weekly podcast.

Activist centres can become places supporters can have zine launches in, art exhibitions and perform. In this way GL (and Cultural Dissent) and our activist centres become a platform for local radical artists to host events and find an audience.

Becoming a GL supporter should be seen as important to supporting left wing film nights, poetry slams, comedy nights, book launches and so forth.

The opportunities for engaging supporters with our project and convincing some of them to become active members is endless.

Key Points

The key points I’d like comrades to consider are:

1.    For GL to be our predominant media tool and organising tool and consider alternative identities/names that reflect this.
2.    Have a clearer identity as an ecosocialist organisation and apply this in our work. Such as bringing broader layers into the climate movement.
3.    Produce content for GL that is more closely tied to this identity, especially in terms of implementing it, and less tied to being a general left wing newspaper.
4.    Initiate a discussion in GL about whether the current production model is the best one for spreading and implementing our ideas.
5.    Propose to GL that it take more initiatives in organising actions and contingents in GL’s name.
6.    Think of GL supporters as a broader base and encourage GL to find ways of engaging them beyond a consumer transaction for the paper.