The Nader campaign, part 1

Mark Jones jones118 at SPAMlineone.net
Mon Jun 5 12:49:09 MDT 2000


Well, I can buy off on most of this Chris, and I think you're a big-hearted
sport for saying it.

Mark Jones
http://www.egroups.com/group/CrashList


> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-marxism at lists.panix.com
> [mailto:owner-marxism at lists.panix.com]On Behalf Of cc136 at cornell.edu
> Sent: 05 June 2000 18:18
> To: marxism at lists.panix.com
> Cc: marxism at lists.panix.com
> Subject: Re: The Nader campaign, part 1
>
>
>
>       I am not familiar with Blair Sandler's theoretical arguments, but
> I am sympathetic to the general thrust, as I was as an environmental
> organizer back in the day.   I should have said "they MAY help to push
> the capitalist system further into crisis".  Thanks for the correction.
>       At the same time, I think it is a mistake to categorically reject
> these kinds of environmental initiatives as inherently supportive of the
> capitalist system.  They MAY do so, they MAY not.  And yes, I do think it
> matters how these issues are framed by enviro/consumer groups.  I
> disagree with the portrait of Nader's "cretinism" being portrayed on this
> list.  Again, I'm not his biggest supporter, and agree that his failure
> to frame the issues in Marxist/class terms is a big mistake, BUT I don't
> think he supports shallow-minded consumerism.  Anyone who argues this
> probably hasn't listened to many of Nader's speeches.  His message has
> been remarkably consistent - citizens should have more control over
> corporations (including revocable corporate charters).  This is a good
> first step, and I think it is well received by many young would-be
> activists.  It is our job as socialists to push them, take the further
> step into class struggle and socialism.  We shouldn't tear down Nader
> because he isn't where we are, because they are very few who are.
>       Chris Carrick
>       PhD Candidate
>       Department of City and Regional Planning
>       Cornell University
>
>
> On Mon, 5 Jun 2000, M A Jones wrote:
>
> > >>True, the bottle bills, recycled content
> > standards for packaging, clean air, clean water, toxics, safe energy,
> > auto fuel efficiency standards, and campaign finance reform (to
> name just a
> > few of the many issues I worked on at PIRG) are not the revolution, but
> > they do help to push the capitalist system further into crisis, which is
> > all for the better (even if the PIRGs and other enviro groups
> don't frame
> > their work this way, which is a big mistake in my opinion).  <<
> >
> > How do they "help to push the capitalist system further into
> crisis"? Surely
> > the reverse is the case, as for eg Blair Sandler has argued
> theoretically:
> > the co-optation of 'green' issues to corporate agends can make
> corporations
> > more not less profitable, can relegitmise capitalism and can
> act as powerful
> > levers of social/poltical control and renewed economic hegemony
> in US client
> > states and 3rd world dependencies where local economies are forced to
> > compete against highly-capitalised 'envionrmentalised' US labour and
> > production standards.
> >
> > And are you seriosuly suggesting that if Nader outfits reinventted
> > themselves as explicitly revolutionary, they would even exist
> in the form
> > they do now? Of course they wouldn't; Nader would be perceived
> as one of the
> > marginal Trots Gary Maclellan just warned of...
> >
> > Mark Jones
> > http://www.egroups.com/group/CrashList
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: <cc136 at cornell.edu>
> > To: <marxism at lists.panix.com>
> > Cc: <marxism at lists.panix.com>; <pen-l at galaxy.csuchico.edu>;
> > <SOCIALIST-REGISTER at yorku.ca>; <jhurd_newparty at indiana.edu>;
> > <awald at umich.edu>
> > Sent: Monday, June 05, 2000 2:00 AM
> > Subject: Re: The Nader campaign, part 1
> >
> >
> > >
> > > I considered waiting until Louis had finished posting his
> > > analysis of the Nader campaign, especially since he indicated that he
> > > would be arguing that a Nader campaign might be beneficial
> for socialism,
> > > but there are several points in this first 'hit piece' to
> which I'd like
> > > to respond.
> > >
> > > First, I also think that it is a 'low blow' to use Jefferson's
> > > genocidal attitudes/policies towards Native Americans against Nader.
> > > But, more generally, I think the entire tone of Lou's post is
> sort of a
> > > 'low blow'.  It's not that I think that a person's history is
> irrelevant,
> > > but the attempt to 'disprove' a hagiography which Nader did
> not create or
> > > perpetuate is really a 'straw man' argument.  Nader never
> claimed to be a
> > > saint, and I think that (especially for Marxists, who should
> be sensitive
> > > to these kinds of personal attacks) it is unreasonable to expect
> > > activists to devote precious time/energy to refuting the
> claims made in
> > > one's behalf or against one's cause by supporters/opponents with their
> > > own various and sundry agendas.  Frankly, I don't care where
> Nader lives
> > > in DC but I do know from personal experience that the guy works harder
> > > than most people I know.  Nobody can credibly claim that Nader is not
> > > committed to his causes; on the contrary, if anything he is perhaps a
> > > little to single-minded (for his own health and for his
> various campaigns
> > > and co-workers).  It's a little disappointing to hear Lou (and other
> > > leftists) echo the same kinds of personal attacks against
> Nader which his
> > > right-wing opponents have been spewing for decades.
> > >
> > > Second, as someone who worked as a PIRG Campaign Manager for
> > > several years, in both DC and SF, I can attest to the fact
> that Nader has
> > > nothing to do with the various state PIRGs or their parent
> organization,
> > > the Fund for Public Interest.  Of course, the Executive
> Director of PIRG
> > > is a close friend and confidant of Nader, but the connection is purely
> > > informal (I imagine the same could be said of the other Nader
> 'spin-off'
> > > organizations).  It is frankly false to say that PIRG is a
> 'cash cow' for
> > > Nader.  Now, I would be the first to offer an extended
> critique of PIRG -
> > > it is far from perfect.  It is true that they offer barely subsistence
> > > wages, and as such recruit primarily upper middle class kids whose
> > > parents can subsidize the $12,000/year salary.  It is true
> that they work
> > > primarily in white, upper middle-class suburbs and avoid
> communities of
> > > color like the plague.  In this way, PIRG is like most other large
> > > environmental groups that perpetuate racism and classism.  It is also
> > > true that PIRG is primarily interested in raising lots of money to
> > > perpetuate its own existence.  At the same time, these same criticisms
> > > could be leveled at many socialist organizations and unions,
> so we should
> > > tread carefully here.  It is also true that the PIRGs (and
> other Naderite
> > > groups) do a lot of good work.  True, the bottle bills,
> recycled content
> > > standards for packaging, clean air, clean water, toxics, safe energy,
> > > auto fuel efficiency standards, and campaign finance reform
> (to name just
> > a
> > > few of the many issues I worked on at PIRG) are not the
> revolution, but
> > > they do help to push the capitalist system further into
> crisis, which is
> > > all for the better (even if the PIRGs and other enviro groups
> don't frame
> > > their work this way, which is a big mistake in my opinion).  But it
> > > troubles me to see Lou and other leftists echoing the same charges
> > > against PIRG that the right-wing student groups here at Cornell and
> > > across the country have been using to kick PIRGs off
> campuses.  It only
> > > serves to perpetuate the rampant student apathy that we see today.
> > >
> > > Third, and perhaps most important, regarding Nader's political
> > > philosophy, I think there is plenty of room for criticism (and I have
> > > been a big critic on this score among my PIRG and Nader
> supporters over
> > > the years).  It is true that Nader has an almost obsessively exclusive
> > > focus on domestic policy issues over the years.  As Marxists,
> we should
> > > criticize him for failing to link international politics (and
> US foreign
> > > policy) with domestic issues.  But on this score, we could
> criticize just
> > > about every public figure in the US today.  And, nobody ever
> claimed that
> > > Nader was a socialist or Marxist (least of all, Nader himself!). I
> > > suspect Lou will be touching on this issue in his upcoming
> posts, but I
> > > think that as members of a distinct political minority, we should be
> > > willing to hold off on some valid issues for the sake of supporting
> > > someone who might be able to peform the critical task of
> re-politicizing
> > > the masses (or at least the youth).  I would like to make it
> clear that I
> > > am not endorsing Nader here, and frankly I have serious
> doubts about his
> > > ability to energize the electorate.  I also think he is not
> doing enough
> > > to let Winona speak.  Frankly, she is a much more dynamic and
> compelling
> > > personality than he ever was or might be.  We'll see how his campaign
> > > progresses, but I'm not very hopeful.  The main point of my
> response was
> > > to caution us against the dangers of criticizing other
> 'progressives' in
> > > ways that the right wing demonizes everyone on the left.  One
> insightful
> > > point I have heard Ralph make both publicly and privately is that
> > > "whenever the left forms a firing squad, they do it in a
> circle".  Let's
> > > try to avoid that on this list and in our work.  I've seen
> far too many
> > > people criticize others they haven't read or whose work they haven't
> > > engaged in a serious way (especially those tarred with the 'pomo'
> > > label).  As serious socialists and scholars, I think we can do better.
> > >
> > > Yours in solidarity,
> > >
> > > Chris Carrick
> > > PhD Candidate
> > > Department of City and Regional Planning
> > > Cornell University
> > >
> > >
> >
> >
>






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