Check the message box for Morbo's election vermin of the week, there's an interesting debate there (we may have to change the subtitle of the blog, you never know). The issue of Respect and the Greens is an interesting one.
The tug of war over the anti-war vote and the continuing heritage of the movement is actually between the Socialist Workers Party and the Greens, Respect is a medium in this case.
My opinion is that what is at stake, in terms of Respect, is bigger than two small 'left-wing' parties (we'll get onto the politics later). Respect is the best attempt sofar to constitute a new left in Britain. The anti-war movement is the big success story of the British left, so it makes sense to constitute a new political platform round the movement. In France (where the stakes are currently higher) you'd want something along the lines of the anti-cpe and anti-EU constitution movements.
The SWP understood this and chose to involve itself in the new party that was being formed around late-2003/early 2004. After taking a quick look, the Greens chose not to, and have been actively hostile to the newleft project ever since.
In so far as this is discussed, this fact is put down to Green sectarianism. But, that doesn't tell the whole story. The SWP went through a period of sectarianism during the 80s and early 90s, based on an analysis of the period of political and economic "downturn" in the working-class movement. It was able to come out of that period and relate to the outside world around the time of Seattle and the anti-war movement.
The question is, where does the Green's sectarianism come from. I think its something more deeprooted.
The first, and most obvious problem with Green politics is one of agency (that age old Marxist complaint!). By what means are Green politics brought to life? There's a variety of answers, from electoralism (by the way, is there a Green international) to direct action and advocacy. While the working class movement has secured various gains at various stages, the Green movement, though young, it has to be pointed out, hasn't made much headway. Has the electoralism of the Green parties shifted states decisively toward eco-friendly policy? Have the stunts of Greenpeace radicalised any significant sections of society to any great effect?
At the heart of Green politics is a contradiction. One wing of Green politics points to the left, to a democratically planned economy with redistribution of wealth in order to decrease mankind's impact on earth while sustaining standards of living. The other wing points to the right. Deep ecology, for example, maintains that industry and civilisation in themselves are the problem. Deep ecology essentially looks to turn the clock back. It is a reactionary philosophy with dangerous implications. A philosophy that can attract both Martin Heidegger and Prince Charles.
Whether or not the Greens decide to throw their lot in with the new left project in Britain depends upon which strand of Green politics wins out. As things stand the Green leadership know they have a left flank to cover. If the Greens move to the left they are likely to be subsumed by a more coherent and consistent left philosophy. While this might elevate left politics it would negate Green politics.
The definition of sectarianism is putting your organisation before the movement. This suits the Green party to a t.