Green/Nader economic policies are not progressive

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Wed Nov 1 00:29:51 MST 2000


>Brian James wrote:
>>   But don't expect workers
>>  to get what they want through the Green Party of the USA or anywhere else!
>Marxists can't talk to each other without taking some things for granted. This
>is as silly as arguing heatedly that rain wets one. Of course workers won't
>"get what they want through the Green Party," but no one on this list would
>claim that. The question about Nader and the Green Party is not whether they
>are a socialist force or not. Of course they are not. The question is whether
>under current concrete conditions (when there is neither a marxist party or
>even a bourgeois labor party) marxists by joining the Green campaign can
>advance the level of popular struggle, make useful links with other
>progressives, gain a higher public visibility for progressive ideas, damage
>the Democratic Party (the main bulwark of reaction in the U.S.), and in
>general place themselves in a more favorable position for future political
>work. *None* of those questions can be answered by tautological and puerile
>blather about the (obvious) weaknesses of the Green Party nor of Nader.

In my department's internal e-list, there is a furious debate between
Dem & Green supporters going on now.  Liberals here are going
apoplectic, and no wonder:

At 12:22 AM -0500 11/1/00, Chris Kromm wrote:
>From: "Chris Kromm" <ckromm at>
>To: <lbo-talk at>
>Subject: Ralph the Leninist
>Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2000 00:22:44 -0500
>[The piece raises two questions: 1) Is this really Ralph's strategy? and 2)
>Is it correct?]
>>From Slate
>Ralph the Leninist
>By Jacob Weisberg
>Posted Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2000, at 5:13 p.m. PT
>Over the past 10 days, liberals have been voicing shock and dismay at the
>imminent prospect of their old hero, Ralph Nader, intentionally throwing the
>election to George W. Bush. A first, eloquent protest came 10 days ago from
>a group of a dozen former "Nader's Raiders," who asserted that their former
>mentor had broken a promise not to campaign in states where he could hurt
>Gore and begged him to reconsider doing so. Others, including Newsweek
>columnist Jonathan Alter have expressed a similar sense of disappointment
>and betrayal.
>Nader's response to all this heartfelt hand-wringing has been to scoff and
>sneer. On Good Morning America, he referred contemptuously to his old
>disciples as "frightened liberals." The Green Party nominee is spending the
>final week of the campaign stumping in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin,
>Oregon, and Washington--the very states where a strong showing stands to
>hurt Gore the most. Nader has said he wants to maximize his vote in every
>state in hopes of attaining the 5 percent of the vote that will qualify the
>Green Party for $12 million in federal matching funds in 2004. Speaking to
>foreign journalists in Washington yesterday, he explicitly rejected Internet
>vote-swapping schemes that could help him reach this qualifying threshold
>without the side effect of electing Bush president. In various other TV
>appearances, Nader has stated bluntly that he couldn't care less who wins.
>This depraved indifference to Republican rule has made Nader's old liberal
>friends even more furious. A bunch of intellectuals organized by Sean
>Wilentz and Todd Gitlin are circulating a much nastier open letter,
>denouncing Nader's "wrecking-ball campaign--one that betrays the very
>liberal and progressive values it claims to uphold." But really, the
>question shouldn't be the one liberals seem to be asking about why Nader is
>doing what he's doing. The question should be why anyone is surprised. For
>some time now, Nader has made it perfectly clear that his campaign isn't
>about trying to pull the Democrats back to the left. Rather, his strategy is
>the Leninist one of "heightening the contradictions." It's not just that
>Nader is willing to take a chance of being personally responsible for
>electing Bush. It's that he's actively trying to elect Bush because he
>thinks that social conditions in American need to get worse before they can
>Nader often makes this "the worse, the better" point on the stump in
>relation to Republicans and the environment. He says that Reagan-era
>Interior Secretary James Watt was useful because he was a "provocateur" for
>change, noting that Watt spurred a massive boost in the Sierra Club's
>membership. More recently, Nader applied the same logic to Bush himself.
>Here's the Los Angeles Times' account of a speech Nader gave at Chapman
>University in Orange, Calif., last week: "After lambasting Gore as part of a
>do-nothing Clinton administration, Nader said, 'If it were a choice between
>a provocateur and an anesthetizer, I'd rather have a provocateur. It would
>mobilize us.' "
>Lest this be remark be considered an aberration, Nader has said similar
>things before. "When [the Democrats] lose, they say it's because they are
>not appealing to the Republican voters," Nader told an audience in Madison,
>Wis., a few months ago, according to a story in The Nation. "We want them to
>say they lost because a progressive movement took away votes." That might
>make it sound like Nader's goal is to defeat Gore in order to shift the
>Democratic Party to the left. But in a more recent interview with David
>Moberg in the socialist paper In These Times, Nader made it clear that his
>real mission is to destroy and then replace the Democratic Party altogether.
>According to Moberg, Nader talked "about leading the Greens into a 'death
>struggle' with the Democratic Party to determine which will be the majority
>party." Nader further and shockingly explained that he hopes in the future
>to run Green Party candidates around the county, including against such
>progressive Democrats as Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, Russ Feingold of
>Wisconsin, and Rep. Henry Waxman of California. "I hate to use military
>analogies," Nader said, "but this is war on the two parties."
>Hitler analogies always lead to trouble, but the one here is irresistible,
>since Nader is actually making the argument of the German Communist Party
>circa 1932, which helped bring the Nazis to power. I'm not comparing the
>Republicans to fascists, or the Greens to Stalinists for that matter. But
>Nader and his supporters are emulating a disturbing, familiar pattern of
>sectarian idiocy. You hear these echoes whenever Nader criticizes Bush
>half-heartedly then becomes enthusiastic and animated blasting the Green
>version of the "social fascists"--Bill Clinton, Gore, and moderate
>environmentalists. It's clear that the people he really despises are those
>who half agree with him. To Nader, it is liberal meliorists, not right-wing
>conservatives, who are the true enemies of his effort to build a "genuine"
>progressive movement. He does have a preference between Republicans and
>Democrats, and it's for the party that he thinks will inflict maximum damage
>on the environment, civil rights, labor rights, and so on. By assisting his
>class enemy, Nader thinks he can help the wool from the eyes of a sheeplike
>If Nader's goal were actually progressive reform--a ban on soft money, a
>higher minimum wage, health-care coverage for some of the uninsured, a
>global warming treaty--it would be possible to say that his strategy was
>breathtakingly stupid. But Nader's goal is not progressive reform; it's a
>transformation in human consciousness. His Green Party will not flourish
>under Democratic presidents who lull the country into a sense of complacency
>by making things moderately better. If it is to thrive, it needs villainous,
>right-wing Republicans who will make thing worse. Like Pat Buchanan, Nader
>understands that his movement thrives on misery. But the comparison is
>actually unfair to Buchanan (words I never thought I'd write), because
>Buchanan doesn't work to create more misery for the sake of making his
>movement grow the way Nader does. From a strictly self-interested point of
>view, Nader's stance is the more rational one.
>So Gore supporters might as well quit warning the Green candidate that he's
>going to put George Bush in White House. Ralph Nader is a very intelligent
>man who knows exactly what's he doing. And they only seem to be encouraging

More information about the Marxism mailing list