5.6 Methods of struggle

If the above provides a brief road map to a strategy for getting from here to there, what follows is a consideration of tactics, that is, what vehicles are at our disposal. The common methods of struggle (tactics) are probably obvious to most readers, primarily through a combination of personal experience, observation and reading. So the principal concern of the immediately following paragraphs is the appropriateness of each of the major options.

Reflecting on history, a first consideration needs to be the relationship between ends (goals and results) and means (the methods of struggle chosen). Introspection alone should make it clear that the use of terror and violence generates the most tenacious opposition, enduring across generations. Terror and violence beget more terror and violence. A new system won and consolidated through the use of terror and violence is likely in time to be lost for the same reason. The 1917 Russian Revolution and its Stalinist aftermath provide some evidence of that. The ends (both results and the goals they reveal) inevitably embody the means.

The tactics employed in achieving a green social democracy should be consistent with the intended ends. If the ends include democracy, the means should feature democratic decision making by those working for the new society. If the ends include conservation of nature, the means of struggle should be those calculated to minimize waste and protect the environment. If the ends include human solidarity, then the means should include priority to human life and well-being. If the ends include education, then education should be a principal means of struggle - arguably THE principal means. If the ends include science as a guide to decision-making, then the means should include study and application of the related scientific knowledge. If the ends include the development of imagination, then imagination should be used in the selection and exercise of means of struggle.

While these considerations should eliminate some frequently used means of struggle, they suggest other, ultimately more powerful means. A continuing motto of the struggle for a just, sustainable future is the recognition of the truth of the old metaphor, "the pen is mightier than the sword".

These considerations do not eliminate force. The force of public opinion, the force of an electoral majority, the force of peaceful civil disobedience, the force of moral argument and persuasion, the force of knowledge and logic, the force of organization and commitment - all these have demonstrated their power through historical examples. Most are undoubtedly part of the reader's experience, and can be judged on that basis.

Some final comments on electoral struggle and the link between electoral and other forms of struggle are merited. Conducted in a principled way, electoral struggle is a logical means of achieving a social transformation. So, why has this not been the case in the past? What needs to change if electoral struggle is to become a route to a green social democracy?

The key is undoubtedly the concept of "principled" struggle. The nature of a hierarchical, neo-liberal capitalist society militates against this. In neo-liberal capitalist society, and perhaps any society that includes representative democracy as the means of making legislative decisions, politics is a career. This means, inevitably, that among the concerns of politicians must be how to support themselves and their families economically. For those not already economically independent - and on that account more likely to act in a hierarchical form of government to preserve this privilege - electoral success and the privileges and opportunities that governance provides become a personal economic objective. Such corruption of principles is an inevitable problem in a representative neo-liberal capitalist democracy. Such a system provides abundant opportunities for the wealthy to exercise their economic power to shape the outcome of governmental decisions. Only in a society that either strips the wealthiest of their excessive wealth or effectively constrains them from exercising their economic power over governance and only when at the same time there is in place a social safety network that protects everyone - legislators as well as the rest of us, can a representative democracy be reasonably counted on to act in the interests of all the people.

The electoral route to social transformation, then, either requires politicians whose commitment to principle over-rides their personal economic concerns or an electorate so motivated, politically well-educated and politically active - to the point of constantly being in the face of the politicians - as to ensure no future in government for elected politicians who act contrary to the interests of the electorate. This is a large challenge for the progressive movement, but the nature of the crisis humankind is now facing may help to create a cadre of principled politicians who connect their own and their family's personal futures with the future of the planet and human civilization and an electorate sufficiently motivated to stay continually in the face of their representatives.

Clearly key to such an electoral strategy are the constitutional means provided for governance of the people, by the people and for the people, that may include recall of elected officials, frequent elections, and all the freedoms of expression and political action by the public. Where such means do not exist or are inadequately developed to match the task, they should be fought for as part of the struggle for democracy and, ultimately, the achievement of a green social democracy.

In conclusion to this part of our argument, there are multiple routes to the goal of a green social democracy and multiple methods of achieving it that are consistent with this goal. The achievement of a society characterized by democracy, human solidarity, education, imagination, science and the conservation of nature can be accomplished by using these ends as the means. Taking this course of revolutionary struggle already means a higher quality of life for those who choose it.


This website was launched September 1, 2010 in support of a green social democratic alternative to neoliberal capitalist policy and practice. The primary result is a work by Charles and Karen McFadden of seven chapters, grouped under the title, Towards a Green Social Democratic Alternative to Capitalism available here in pdf and html formats.

Below under the heading What’s New can be found the most recent materials posted on this website, including opinion pieces, book reviews, articles and selections from the 2017 edition of the main work.  For the interest of new and returning visitors, new materials will be included quarterly.

What's New


Authors' Preface

1.6 The epochal nature of the period we are entering

6.0 The socialism we need against the "socialism" of the 20th century

6.8 Additional concerns about 20th century variants of "socialism"

6.9 The people united!

7.1 Policy alternatives and political movements to advance them


Charles and Karen McFadden, Is revolutionary transformation on the agenda

Charles and Karen McFaddenHumanity on the Brink

Charles and Karen McFaddenMovements of Resistance to Movements for System Change

Charles McFaddenTranslating Green Principles into Education Policy and Practice

Charles and Karen McFadden, The Role of Revolutionaries in the Labor Movement


Charles and Karen McFadden, “The Shape of Water” as an Antidote to the Age of Trump 

Charles McFadden, Decolonizing the U.S. & Canada: The People United for a More Just Sustainable Future

Karen and Charles McFaddenCan emergent early 21st century neo-fascism be defeated without coming to grips with late 20th century restructuring of capitalism into a global system

Karen and Charles McFaddenA Dominant Capitalism or a Sustainable Environment? Why we can't have both.


William I. RobinsonThe Crisis of Global Capitalism and Trump's March to War

William I. RobinsonTrumpism, 21st Century Fascism, and the Dictatorship of the Transnational Capitalist Class


George HewisonWINNIPEG 1919 & THE COLD WAR

George HewisonArt Manuel - "Unsettling Canada

George HewisonThe NDP and LEAP


Albert Einstein, David Swanson, Jill Stein, Chris Hedges, William I. Robinson, and others Selected articles for Winter 2018



1.7 The dynamics of capitalism as a system and the limits of single issue reforms

2.11 The economy in transition towards a new deal for labor and the community

3.1 The challenge of a moribund economic system

3.7 Public banking: A cornerstone of a green social democracy

4.7 Economics and culture

6.5 Using the non-market economy as an opportunity to begin moving beyond capitalism


1.6 The epochal nature of the period we are entering

2.0 Theoretical Perspective: Defining Green Social Democracy

2.5. Socialism and green social democracy in historical materialist theory

4.3 Culture in historical perspective

5.1 Contrasting a green social democratic world with the currently prevailing, but challenged neo-liberal one

6.2 Socialism and capitalism as coexisting social systems


2.11 The economy in transition towards a new deal for labor and the community

5.7 Defeating neo-liberal capitalism: The role of social movements

7.3 Justice: Creating a just society, based on the right of all to a dignified, secure existence

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) applies to all work posted on this website except that which appears with authors whose last name is other than McFadden, in which case standard copyright should be assumed to apply.