[Marxism] RE: Can Nader Afford to Win?

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Tue May 11 19:30:02 MDT 2004

Hi Tony,

I couldn't sleep so here goes. Yep, that's another way of looking at it. It
was only a kind of "devil's advocate" approach. But my hunch is that
actually a lot of Americans will vote in these elections, and that the voter
turnout will be somewhat higher than last time. That's because quite a lot
of Americans are getting personally concerned about how things are going. As
far as I understand it, you have a dozen or so marginal electorates in the
US which are critical to the outcome of the election, but I am not an expert
on the political arithmetic of it (I don't have an empirically grounded
forecasting model or anything like that, it's just my impressionism). I
wouldn't underestimate the effect of a change of president though, because
it involves a change in personnel at the apex of governmental power. I've
personally never liked getting involved in "lesser evil" arguments, I think
the important thing is always for the Left and the libertarians to make
their own alternatives known, to get a hearing for their ideas, and if
anything win more support, at a time that people are more interested in
politics than they otherwise would be.

We could go over the pro's and con's of Ralph Nader, but what I personally
admire about him is that he's actually constructive, he actually built
things, formed new organisations, got people to co-operate to do things to
improve life for ordinary folks. That's real leadership, there's stuff to be
learnt from there. I'm not looking at him from the point of view of putting
him in some category, but rather from the point of view of what he does
successfully that we could learn from. I can learn from my own experience,
or I can learn from other people's experience, but if I am going to learn
from other people's experience, it's best to concentrate on what it is, that
they actually do succeed at.

The current era still seems to remain a difficult time for (mass) political
activity, because of (1) the extent of depoliticisation in the last decade
or more, i.e. lack of belief in the ability of politics to change or achieve
very much, the lack of attraction of working in politics (lot of cynicism
which affects us all), and the relative exhaustion of political institutions
created by previous generations (2) the idea that through individual action
and networks you can get all you want, without any involvement in politics
or taking on responsibility for anything more than strenghtening your own
life, (3) a lack of clear goals or vistas that are perceived as credible or
inspiring, and the frequent pursuit of a "negatively defined politics" (4)
the difficulties of forming stable alliances or groups that actually work
together, (5) the fact that the political situation is so changeable, it can
change so quickly, (6) the difficulty individual politicians have of
cognitively staying on top of everything that is happening in an
Internetised, mobile phonised world - very profound changes in people's
psyche seem to be occurring, but it's difficult to keep track of what they
are, (7) the alteration of the very meaning of political work, the
opaqueness of it. All considered, you almost end up thinking, well, I've got
to admire all those people who take on heavy political responsibilities and
slog it out, despite an electorate that is very difficult to please or unite
around anything much. I say "almost", because often politics these days also
looks like squaring a circle, i.e. you get inane formula's and mumbo-jumbo,
because political people have to reconcile numerous different political
agenda's in one symbolism or one statement - in a way which cannot really be
done consistently. People try to find a consistency in it, but there doesn't
seem to be much, or none at all.

Just now I have to solve a few simple problems for myself and I feel like
lead, and I think hell if I cannot even do this what the hell can I do ?
I've got to turn a switch in my own brain, never mind everything happening
out there I could be thinking about. By the time you're becoming more and
more reactive to what's happening outside rather than feeling in the
driver's seat of what's happening to you, then you've got to do something
because that's a spiritual problem. I won't bother you with my personal
nightmares, except to say I've got to repair a few things. Say no more... A
good book for leisure reading: Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of
the Universe.



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