Nader and the Greens

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Oct 30 09:46:59 MST 2000

(The Marxism list has a number of high profile lurkers besides Paul Buhle.
Among them is Slavoj Zizek, who has been quarrelling with me offline for
the past week or so about the relevance of the bidet  to the
"transformation problem". I won't try to summarize his arguments, but will
only state my own position: there is no connection between bidets and the
labor theory of value, etc. A much more relevant lurker is Howie Hawkins,
who along with Joel Kovel can be regarded as the foremost theoretician of
the socialist wing of the American Green movement. Here is an exchange
between Howie and Jay Moore that took place a while back.)

At 12:37 PM 09/02/2000 -0400, Jay Moore wrote:
> FYI.  Here is an article on the U.S. Greens from the World Socialists.  ...
> You still have some leftists among the Greens, like Joel Kovel
> and Howie Hawkins (both of whom I know).  But as far as I can tell -- I left
> direct contact with the scene some time ago -- they are pretty much lone
> voices crying in the wilderness. ... I think Green politics
> today are pretty pathetic and are characterized pretty accurately, if a bit
> dogmatically, by the WSWS article below.
> Jay
> <>
> **********
> Extolling the politics of expediency: an interview with US Green Party
> leaders
> By Jerry White
> World Socialist Web Site
> 2 September 2000

Jay, you left the Greens too early. The New Agers are gone and now its the
inevitable fundi/realo, radical/liberal debate that every electoral party of
the left faces.

Don't confuse the views of a couple of leaders of the Association of State
Green Parties (ASGP) with where the base of the Green Party movement is at. If
the responses of the delegates at the convention to speeches by me, Joel
and Manning Marable, compared to speakers from the moderate wing, are any
indication, the base is way to the left of the current ASGP leadership, which
is not very popular b ut bureaucratically entrenched at this point because the
base is not well-organized and dispersed across a big country. Jerry White
interviewed me at the convention, too, but it seems I didn't fit into the mold
he has for the Green Party.

In my experience, the base of the Greens has more working class members than
most socialist groups in the US, which tend to have more people from the
universities. The Geens certainly don't have a shared perspective on class,
ironically one of Nader's positive contributions has been to more effectively
bring class issues into the Greens than the Left Greens were ever able to do.

Where the Greens in the US go politically is up for grabs. And given the
decentralized political structure of the US electoral regulations, with state
and county party committees with substantial autonomy on nominations, the
Greens are going to be diverse -- radical in some places and liberal in

As long as the Greens are independent of corporate funding and the two
corporate parties, there is a certain logic to their confrontation with the
corporate parties that leads toward radicalization. Because the Green Party is
spoiling the two-party game, it will be treated badly by the corporate
the courts, and the legislatures in terms of access to ballot lines, debates,
fair media coverage, etc. Opportunists in the Greens are not going to last
if getting into office is really what they are about. They will become
Democrats, as many ex-Green politicians have already done.

Now is the time for the US left to come into the Green Party. After the 2000
election, the Greens will be ballot qualified in 30-40 states and looking for
candidates to run at every level. They will be debating what the program
be. Are ecological sustainability, social justice, peace, and democracy
compatible with capitalism? That's what the Greens are debating and socialists
should be part of that discussion.

--Howie Hawkins

Louis Proyect
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