Re.: Nader

cc136 at SPAMcornell.edu cc136 at SPAMcornell.edu
Tue Jun 6 15:08:56 MDT 2000



        Chris Brady is absolutely correct.  One of Nader's biggest
weaknesses, as I've argued in my previous posts, is his failure to
provide a class analysis.  His other big failure is to give people the
false belief that it is "evil corporations", or "greedy CEOs" who produce
unsafe products, rather than inter-capitalist competition which forces
them to do so.  Again, we need to focus on the STRUCTURES and not just
the individual AGENTS responsible for the "anarchy of the market".  As
for holding on to Marxist categories, I didn't mean to imply that we
should abandon them (least of all class), but that, as socialists, we
should use whatever opportunities are at hand to accomplish the critical
first task of politicizing the masses.  And, for all his faults, I think a
Nader campaign (or Naderite analysis) might accomplish that for the
Seattle crowd.  He is a tad better than the totally apolitical,
anti-industrialist, romantic-utopian anarchist stuff that comes out of
Eugene.
        BTW, if anyone has some recommendations for good introductory texts
to marxism/socialism that might penetrate the fogginess of some
enviro-thinking, I'd love to check them out.  Unfortunately, when I was
at PIRG, people read Nader's book like they used to read Mao in the 60s.
I used to get castigated at the time for reading Capital, which was my
introduction to Marxism.  As important as it is to read Capital (and not
just volume 1), it may not be the easiest way to get into it.  I have
since had other graduate students ask me for good introductory volumes,
and I have pointed them to Avineri's "Karl Marx: Social and Political
Thought", McMurty's "The Structure of Marx's World View", and Wilson's
"To the Finland Station".  I wonder what people think of more recent editions
like Foley's "Understanding Capital" and Schmitt's "Introduction to Marx and
Engels".
        I know Louis set up this list to get away from the exclusive
focus on revolution found on the international list, but this issue has
been bugging me for some time now. As I'm sure many of you know already,
the quality of Marx education in the academy (even in a supposedly
'radical' department like mine at Cornell) is pitifully low.  And while
we can't expect the bourgeois university to facilitate revolutionary
thinking, I have had many grad students come to me hungry for some more
balanced treatment of Marxism than the usual POMO dismissals of
"irrelevance" of "totalitarianism".  And even though I still consider
myself to be pretty much a neophyte, not many academics-in-training that
I've encountered even have my rudimentary knowledge.  So hopefully, some
of you will consider this pedagogical question worthwhile.

        Yours in solidarity,

        Chris Carrick
        PhD Candidate
        Department of City and Regional Planning
        Cornell University


On Tue, 6 Jun 2000, Chris Brady wrote:

> Chris Carrick chided: “Now is the time for creativity on our parts,
>  not for holding on to categories passed down from Marx.”
> I agree with the first bit, but find his conclusion to be a
> somewhat odd suggestion to the MARXIST list…
>
> I like his suggestion about developing class consciousness out of
> revelations concerning the moral pitfalls of the military-industrial
> complex, or the auto-maker/petroleum/road construction complex, etc.
> But I would have to agree with Carrol about the Naderite groups’
> organizing categories of citizen and consumer-- both exclusive and
> not inclusive notions.  We have to get over such privileges as devolve
> from “rights” under the aegis of a state rooted in violence and
> privatization, and transcend the limitations imposed by bourgeoisies
> around the world to keep us divided.
>
> Carrick asks: “Wasn't the 'genius' of the Fordist system the turning of
> workers into consumers in order to put off the crisis of overproduction?
>
> Doesn't consumption complete the circuit of capital accumulation?
> Isn't the act of consumption tremendously important for environmental
> concerns?  Isn't it possible to start with consumption and then move
> into matters of production, and might that not be a way to organize
> segments of the working class not traditionally reached by unions or
> socialist organizations?”
>
> We might consider that it is possible to begin the measurement of a
> circle at any point in its circumference.  We can initiate our
> arguments for socialism just about anywhere.  So do so.
>
> Recognize the heuristic potential of Naderism –and move on.
> Point made. Develop the next.
>
> Another writer asserted: “to make sure that consumers know that
> corporations don't give a rats ass about safety is something that is a
> rude awakening for many...”
>
> True, and then: car-makers simply cannot be nice, or they will go under.
>
> We really do have to follow up and drive our line of reasoning to
> the conclusion that the current economic system is an inhuman absurdity.
>
> Cars “unsafe at any speed” should become a symbol of capitalism itself:
> a social order that is harmful either at the speed-up of laissez-faire
> or under the guises of gradualism (e.g., progressivism, social democracy
> , etc.).
>
> Forget about Ralph.  If  Nader introduced you to ideas that got you to
> the point where you realize that we require basic, substantial change
> in our socioeconomic order, then he is to be thanked. But Ralph Nader
> does not make it that far himself at any speed.  So get over it.
>  And help others to get over it as well.
>
> Mark Jones' polemic on dirt is fundamental: bottle refunds will not
> save us. Tin can recycling will not save us.  Saving some trees won’t
> save us nor the forest.  Our entire industrial procedure must be
> overhauled world-wide.
> We must convert our entire mode of production.
> That is:  We need a revolution.  For our own good.
> How?  Sooner or later you must confront that Marxist category of class.
>
> Yours,
> Chris Brady
>





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