A pledge for positive (energy) politics

Screenshot of the Austrian Green Website showing how challenged (or should I say hyppocratic) we are when it comes to hope vs fear. It says on the left “make hope, not fear” while the right picture incorporates the exact opposite. Stating “prevent the nuclear power plant Mochovce” spreading the fear of a nuclear fuck up.

I want to change the world. That is why I am involved with the Greens. And I would expect that most, if not all other Greens see it that way as well. In everything we do and believe in, we are working towards a radically differently working planet.

Now in politics there are two fundamentally different approaches on how to turn things around. When you argue for change you can base your reasoning on the disadvantages of how it is today. Or you can rely on the advantages of what you believe to be recommendable change.

The basic question that we, as a political organization, but especially as responsible political beings as well have to ask ourselves day after day: How do we want to communicate our policies?

Do we want to talk about the opportunities of our ideas, or about the faults of the system that is in place? Do we want to be positive, empowering, visionary, or do we want to be negative and spread fear?

And the way we communicate also indicates the answer to another really interesting question: Do you know where we want to go? Or is it just that we are against how it is right now?

All Green parties I know of are facing this question over and over again. Do we focus on dangerous aspects or opportunity change would bring? I feel very strongly about which way I want to go on this one. But also how we, as a green organization, should approach this fundamental question. As it is mostly characteristic for populist (usually right wing) parties to talk about the downsides of problems, spreading fear and making people to look simple solutions to complex problems and even willing to give up basic rights because they are afraid, I do not agree with this way to do politics at all.

Of course that is the easier way. And on the short run, maybe electoral- wise even the more effective one. But we can and should do better than that! We have profound and well thought, through ideas. So we do not need to rely on the negative at all.

But there is a second aspect why it is fundamental to lay out the visions we have. The challenges we face are huge and I believe that only an optimistic attitude towards them will allow us to overcome them. Because change will be a bad thing as long as people are afraid of what is to come. But if they have a positive attitude towards the future – which positive politics is capable of introducing – they are not afraid, but in favor of change. And we will need a lot, a lot of that.

So to put it into perspective for the topic of this Ecosprinter issue: when we talk about energy politics – let’s not so much talk about how peak oil will make heating and mobility unaffordable for millions of Europeans. Let’s not so much focus on how nuclear energy waste is irresponsible and expensive. Or argue that the gas we import supports dictators all around the world.

But let’s rather talk about this amazing idea of a decentralized sustainable European energy system. And about its effects. The democratic aspect of it. People could own their own power supply. I mean how awesome, sustainable but especially independent would that make people? Or about how municipals could build their own power plants. And what effects that could have on their budgets. Allowing them to invest in sustainable economy, in social and educational facilities. Rethinking energy supply. Drawing a picture of a different world. And offering serious, concrete concepts and ideas how to do the first steps. There have been examples of participatory solar power plants in Austria just to give one example and there are many many more.

So let’s look for those positive examples, show them off; let’s wake the desire in people for a different world by waking the desire for a different way to organize energy supply. (Rather then appealing to people’s fears, talking about danger.)

Armin Soyka, 21, is a green district counselor in Vienna where he studies Economics as well. He blogs at http://arminsoyka.at/blog mostly in German, sometimes in English. He is looking forward to feedback, comments and ciritcism at armin.soyka@gruene.at