Green/Nader economic policies are not progressive

Dayne Goodwin dayneg at
Mon Oct 30 09:17:00 MST 2000

On Sun, 29 Oct 2000, Brian James wrote:

> I am disappointed by the discussion concerning Ralph Nader and whether
> Marxists should support him. So he's better than Bush or Gore; then hold
> your nose and vote for him. But what would Marx have to say about the
> economic policies of the party he represents? Isn't his petti-bourgeois,
> family-farm based model of democratic capitalism a throw-back to the
> outmoded idealism of the eighteenth century bourgeois revolutions? Are
> Marxists supporters of Jeffersonian idealism? Are Marxists
> sans-coulottes?
> Just a quick review of any of the US Green Party's platforms (they have
> more than one!) should be enough to show how out to lunch this movement
> really is (

DG:     Yes there are several "Green" platforms.  "The Greens" in the U.S.
is a heterogeneous movement with two main factions, the Association of
State Green Parties (ASGP) which is more pragmatic and electorally
oriented IMO, and the Greens/Green Party USA (GPUSA) which is more
grass-roots and mass-action oriented IMO.  There are more political
tendencies within and around these two main factions.  My impression is
that the bulk of the socialist Greens are in the GPUSA.
        The web site you refer to is GPUSA's site.  Their platform is the
first one listed on their home page.  In case you didn't notice it in your
quick look I have just separately posted several points from the "Economic
Democracy" section of the GPUSA platform.
        Both major factions participated in the Green Convention in Denver
last June where Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke were nominated for President
and Vice President of the U.S. on a united Green Party ticket.  That
convention process included negotiating a new platform between the two
factions for the Nader/LaDuke presidential campaign.  This platform is the
next one listed on the GPUSA home page.
        One of the invited speakers at the Denver Green convention was
Tony Mazzochi, a central leader of the Labor Party in the U.S.  Mazzochi
is a life-long labor activist, a long-time leader within the Oil, Chemical
and Atomic Workers union which has now merged with the Paperworkers union
to become the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy workers union
(PACE).  Mazzochi and Nader have been allies for more than thirty years,
fighting for and winning some important working class reforms, i.e. the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Nader is a founding member
of the Labor Party and was a prominent speaker at the founding convention
of the Labor Party in 1996 and at the one subsequent constitutional
convention in 1998.
        I understand that toward the end of his Denver talk, Mazzochi
recommended the Labor Party's working class reform program to the Greens
and the Greens moved and accepted it as part of their program.  Whatever
else can be said about the Greens' program(s), they are certainly
        In terms of the Nader/LaDuke campaign, discussion of these
platforms is a bit academic.  As you probably noted, the third platform on
the GPUSA home page, is Winona LaDuke's own program from her native
American woman's perspective.  Both LaDuke and Nader are sort of
celebrity, guest figures accepting the Greens' invitation to be their
        Nader says his primary goal is to build an ongoing social movement
that continues to grow after the November 7 election.  He constantly
refers to the examples of the abolitionist movement, the populist
movement, the industrial union movement and the civil rights movement.
As Juan F. pointed out, Nader's immediate goal is to win the 5% or more of
the vote that would give the Green Party public funding and the
opportunity for ongoing institutional legitimacy as a third party.
        I know that Nader claims to support the Green convention platform
but my impression is that Nader is not actually responsible to, or under
the disclipline of, the Greens or any political organization or movement.
I think there is a genuine convergence of concerns, perspectives and
commitment between Nader and the Greens, but Nader ultimately makes his
own judgment about how he conducts his campaign.  To find out the
political issues Nader is putting forward it is probably more useful to go
to his campaign website <>.  From a Marxist perspective,
this is a weakness of the Green/Nader campaign; one that hasn't been
commented on in this discussion.
        The weakness that has been commented on is the preponderantly
middle class origins, composition and perspectives of the Greens.  This is
old news, both in terms of the Greens and in terms of the historical
preponderance of middle class intellectuals and activists in initiating
and leading movements for reform and revolution.
        Probably more so than most Greens, Nader himself has a long
history of working together with labor unions.  Nader has won respect from
working class activists and earned widespread hatred from capitalists.

[continuing the rest of Brian's post]
>       They, like their UK and Canadian
> counterparts, propose to save the environment and create employment by
> making farm and industrial production more labour-intensive and
> therefore more expensive. No mention is made of the fact that such
> labour will have to be low paying while at the same time commodity
> prices (i.e. food) would drastically rise. And if that's not enough to
> transform the working class into landless peasants and slave labourers,
> there will be Green taxes to ensure that only the rich can afford to be
> producers (and consumers of luxuries) in the economy. Furthermore, they
> propose to deal with the inequalities generated by the capitalist mode
> of production through welfare state correctives, without saying where
> the tax base for such largesse would come from in a stifled,
> decentralised, low-growth economy? Is this a progressive, or even
> rational, economic plan?
> The working class does not have to be told how antithetical to their
> interests the Greens are, which is why they don't and never will support
> them. Marxists should be dealing with that!
> Brian James

DG:     This is somewhat dramatic exaggeration, Brian.  I also just posted
the resolution of the United Electrical workers union endorsing Nader's
candidacy.  Although it doesn't discuss economic theory and doctrine it
does recount the concrete political issues where the union members find
Nader on their side in the class struggle.
        see ya', Dayne

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