[Marxism] Reply to Ted Glick

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Apr 1 08:02:10 MST 2004

Ted Glick, a long-time leftist in the USA and erstwhile Green candidate 
for the Senate from the state of New Jersey, has written a series of 
attacks on a 2004 presidential bid by Ralph Nader. A google search on 
"Ted Glick" and Nader turned up "Don't Run Like This, Ralph" and "Eight 
Questions for Ralph Nader" and other such gems. The latest to show up on 
my radar screen was a Znet item that appeared on March 30. Titled "2004 
and the Left", it amounts to a recitation of all the arguments that have 
been mounted against Ralph Nader running in what Connecticut Green John 
Halle called "the establishment progressive media" on LBO-Talk. 

It is what Nader himself described as a "liberal virus" in an interview 
with the NY Times on March 31:

 >>Ralph Nader knows all the arguments against him. He can recite, word 
for importuning word, the letters from old friends urging him not to run 
for president -- "all individually written, all stunningly similar" -- 
and he does so with the theatrical relish of a man whose public life has 
been one long, unyielding argument with the world.

"Here's how it started," he said, his soft voice taking on mock 
oratorical tones over dinner with a group of aides in Charlotte, N.C., 
last week: "For years, I've thought of you as one of our heroes." He 
rolled his eyes. "The achievements you've attained are monumental, in 
consumer, environmental, etc., etc." He paused for effect. "But this 
time, I must express my profound disappointment at indications that you 
are going to run."

"And the more I got of these," Mr. Nader said, "the more I realized that 
we are confronting a virus, a liberal virus. And the characteristic of a 
virus is when it takes hold of the individual, it's the same virus, 
individual letters all written in uncannily the same sequence. Here's 
another characteristic of the virus: Not one I can recall ever said, 
'What are your arguments for running?'"<<

Although Glick doesn't position himself as an ABB type exactly, he 
certainly is willing to serve as their attorney. Mostly his article 
seems anxious to demonstrate that George W. Bush is the Greater Evil and 
to belittle anybody who doesn't see things that way.

He was "surprised" to hear Peter Camejo saying at a NYC meeting on March 
28th that "Kerry will be able to do what Bush wants to do better." Since 
I don't have Camejo's full text in front of me, it is difficult to 
figure out what he was really trying to say. I do know that Camejo could 
hardly have been accused of failing to distinguish between Democrats and 
Republicans since he was highly deferential to Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante 
in the recent recall election in California--so much so that his 
ultraleft critics viewed him as selling out to the Democrats. My guess 
is that Camejo was saying that there will be no Congressional opposition 
to Kerry following through on his promise to double the number of troops 
in Iraq if elected President, but who knows without the proper 

Glick is basically mounting a false polemic. He characterizes radicals 
in the Debs and Malcolm X tradition as having the same outlook as 
expressed in George Wallace's pithy observation that "there's not a 
dime's worth of difference between the two parties". In reality, this is 
not our view at all. If there were not substantive differences between 
the two parties, the system would collapse. For example, if at the next 
convention the Democrats announced that they were adopting a program of 
opposition to abortion rights and affirmative action, etc., the Green 
Party would begin to grow like wildfire. The only that the Democrats can 
retain the allegiance of leftwing activists who identify with the Nation 
Magazine or who operate in the Committees of Correspondence milieu is by 
taking such better positions (just as long as they don't seriously 
attack corporate profits). With the support of the leftwing, the 
Democrats are in a better position to assist the Republicans in their 
reactionary attacks as well as coming up with their own initiatives such 
as abolishing aid to dependent children or bombing Yugoslavia for 76 
days straight.

Glick urges the left to be mindful of the needs of our friends in the 
Democratic Party: "We need to maintain our connections with those with 
whom we share generally similar positions on the issues (as in the 
Kucinich and Sharpton campaigns). Over time, if we do our first two 
tasks well, there will be an increasing number of Democrats who become 
former Democrats as they come over to our side." In other words, if we 
play nice with them, they will play nice with us.

This is not a Democratic Party that I am very familiar with. Even after 
Matt Gonzalez endorsed Dennis Kucinich for President (a mistake in my 
opinion), the Democrats ganged up on Gonzalez in bare-knuckles fashion. 
Viewing a Gonzalez victory as a potential blow to the class interests of 
real estate developers, investors and law firms in San Francisco, they 
brought in Bill Clinton and Al Gore to rally support for Gavin Newsom 
who supported Bush in 2000. This is not to speak of all the DP efforts 
to put obstacles in the path of the Green Party getting on the ballot in 
local races around the country.

Finally, Glick urges the left to rally around the presidential bid of 
Green Party leader David Cobb who promises a "strategic states" 
campaign. This is a promise that the Greens will not be on the ballot in 
hotly contested states, where votes for a Green might work against a 
Kerry victory. This promise is meant to assuage all the angry Democrats 
who blamed Nader for Bush's victory in 2000. Of course, they fail to 
acknowledge the real problem, which was the lackluster, centrist 
campaign of Al Gore, now being repeated by John Kerry. Kerry has just 
announced that Roger Altman and Gene Sperling, two Clintonistas, will be 
responsible for formulating his economic policy, which will include 
corporate tax cuts as a centerpiece. He has also been curiously quiet on 
Richard Clarke's revelations. In 2000, if Gore had simply won in his 
home state of Tennessee and in Arkansas, the home state of Bill Clinton, 
he would have been elected president. The blame, to paraphrase William 
Shakespeare, is not in Ralph Nader but in themselves.

Right now, the Green Party future is questionable. As long as the 
majority of the party continues to see itself as on the side of the 
Democrats against the Republicans, and making decisions about where and 
when to run candidates on that basis, it has no future. The history of 
American politics is strewn with the wreckage of 3rd parties that took 
that tack.

The fundamental problem of the Green Party is *class*. With so many of 
its members and leaders ensconced in middle class professions, 
shopkeeping, nonprofits, etc., it will be susceptible to the mood swings 
of brethren Democrats in that same social milieu of NPR listeners, 
Sierra Club donators and Ben and Jerry's eaters. Sooner or later, the 
working class in the USA will be impelled to forge its own electoral 
instrument as well as its own forms of non-electoral struggle. When that 
day arrives, the last thing they will have on their mind is mollifying 
the Democratic Party.


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