The Four Pillars

Charlene Spretnak’s book, Green Politics: The Global Promise, became an early primer and inspiration to those seeking to start a Green Party in the US.  The book provided insights into the challenges German Greens faced, as they sought to bring together social movements in an “anti-party” party that was capable of practicing Green values and winning seats in Parliament.

The book also publicized the Four Pillars of the West German Greens, as a values basis for their new party:  ecology, social justice, grassroots democracy and non-violence.

The wording of the Four Pillars has varied slightly as different local Green Parties have adapted them.

The Ten Key Values

The Ten Key Values came about at a marathon session at the first Green meeting in 1984,  facilitated by then Los Angeles-based and later Eugene, OR activist Jeff Land, with primary contributions by Charlene Spretnak and Murray Bookchin of the New England Institute for Social Ecology.

According to Mark Satin, a journalist invited to cover the meeting, “About 50 of us were trying to think of a project that could help define us and put us on the political map.  Everyone sensed that something important could come out of [the workshop designed to come up with the document]. A “collective brain” seemed to take hold, and we began working together as one”

Eventually a committee of Spretnak, Satin and Eleanor LeCain (coordinator of the Peace and Environmental Coalition) were charged with writing a draft Values Statement from the notes, and reporting that back for approval.

The eventual set of Ten Key Values they submitted was approved by consensus in late 1984, and became a foundational basis for U.S. Greens going forward.

Yet it would not be long before the Left Green Network (LGN), formed in 1988, issued their own, this time with 14 Values.  Over time, Greens in different states would adopt their own versions of the Ten Key Values, most often modifying Post-patriarchal Values into Feminism and/or Gender Equity; Personal and Social Responsibility as Social Justice, and Future Focus to include Sustainability.


  • 01 Grassroots Democracy
    Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect his or her life and should not be subject to the will of another. Therefore, we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political organizations which expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision-making process.

  • 02 Social Justice and Equal Opportunity
    All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment. We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and homophobia, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.

  • 03 Ecological Wisdom
    Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society which utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must practice agriculture which replenishes the soil; move to an energy efficient economy; and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.

  • 04 Non-Violence
    It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to society’s current patterns of violence. We will work to demilitarize, and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naive about the intentions of other governments. We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in help- less situations. We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.

  • 05 Decentralization
    Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system which is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.

  • 06 Community Based Economics
    Redesign our work structures to encourage employee ownership and workplace democracy. Develop new economic activities and institutions that will allow us to use our new technologies in ways that are humane, freeing, ecological and accountable, and responsive to communities. Establish some form of basic economic security, open to all. Move beyond the narrow “job ethic” to new definitions of “work,” jobs” and “income” that reflect the changing economy. Restructure our patterns of income distribution to reflect the wealth created by those outside the formal monetary economy: those who take responsibility for parenting, housekeeping, home gardens, community volunteer work, etc. Restrict the size and concentrated power of corporations with- out discouraging superior efficiency or technological innovation.

  • 07 Feminism and Gender Equity
    We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control with more cooperative ways of interacting that respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.

  • 08 Respect for Diversity
    We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines. We believe that the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision-making bodies, and we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles. We acknowledge and encourage respect for other life forms than our own and the preservation of biodiversity.

  • 09 Personal and Global Responsibility
    We encourage individuals to act to improve their personal well- being and, at the same time, to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet.

  • 10 Future Focus And Sustainability
    Our actions and policies should be motivated by long-term goals. We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or “unmaking” all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion for survival. We must counterbalance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions. Make the quality of life, rather than open-ended economic growth, the focus of future thinking.