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From: janet@wwpublish.com
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 22:43:35 -0400
Subject: [WW] Contradictions of the Nader Program, Part 3
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Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Oct. 26, 2000
issue of Workers World newspaper

Contradictions of the Nader Program

By Fred Goldstein, in Workers World,
26 October 2000

The tremendously enthusiastic, sold-out rally of 15,000 held in Madison Square Garden on Oct. 13 for the Ralph Nader/ Winona LaDuke election campaign revealed many of the contradictions of this dynamic and growing movement.

Nader and speakers who preceded him received ovation after ovation from an overwhelmingly youthful, white student crowd for their challenges to corporate domination and arrogance.

The crowd cheered when called upon by Nader to identify themselves with the pre-Civil War abolitionists in Mississippi who stood alone; with the suffragettes who were beaten and jailed fighting for women's right to vote; with the workers who battled the corporations in the era before unemployment insurance or pensions or any workers' rights; with the five civil-rights workers whose sit-in at a segregated lunch counter led to overturning "separate but equal" racist doctrine; and with the Populist movement of poor farmers who battled the corporations in the 19th century.

"Think of the courage, think of the determination, think of how badly they wanted justice-and take motivation from it," Nader told the audience.

Former talk show host Phil Donahue spoke about the concentration of power in the corporate media. He gave examples of how the Chicago Tribune owns the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times owns the Boston Globe. "They are not likely to be very critical of giant corporate mergers," said Donahue.


The question of democratic rights and corporate domination was made very concrete for this campaign. First Nader was excluded from the presidential debates, despite his obvious mass support. Then he was excluded by security from entering the auditorium at the University of Massachusetts to attend the first George W. Bush-Al Gore debate on Oct. 3, even though he had a ticket. Nader has instituted a lawsuit against the debate commission.

Radical filmmaker Michael Moore quoted Bush as boasting that he can name all 55 members of his fraternity at Yale. Moore drew a big hand when he said that had he been at the presidential debate, he would have demanded to know if Bush "could remember the names of the people he has executed since he has been in office, many of them innocent and all poor."

Actor/comedian Bill Murray drew applause when he told the crowd that "it was a group about this size that began the movement that stopped the war in Vietnam." Mark Dunau, the Green Party New York Senate candidate, said that drug laws were racial profiling. Troy Duster, professor of sociology at New York University, the only Black speaker on the program, urged Black people not to vote for Gore.

Nader denounced the "$200 billion in corporate welfare stolen from the taxpayers." He pointed out the growth of homelessness and said that the biggest public housing program in the U.S. was the "program to build corporate prisons." Each time he accused the corporations of "hijacking democracy," of "corporate crime" and of being an arrogant "plutocracy and oligarchy" that has made the two parties into creatures of corporate corruption, the crowd applauded.

The more militant and challenging the tone, the greater the applause.

He ended with a strong call to build a lasting progressive movement, appealing to the crowd on the basis of personal commitment to idealism and rejecting compromise with the evil, lesser or greater, represented by the two major parties.


The Madison Square Garden rally was the latest in a series of "Super Rallies" that are drawing the largest crowds of any candidates in the presidential campaign, including 12,000 in Minneapolis, 10,000 in Seattle and Portland, Ore., 12,000 in Boston and 9,500 in Chicago.

These rallies, as well as the many smaller events of the Nader/LaDuke campaign, are giving tens of thousands of people, mostly white youths just coming into the political movement, a chance to break politically with the two ruling- class parties on a progressive basis.

It is a sign of great hope that, following the Seattle anti- globalization movement, so many youths are ready to turn their attention to the problems of the masses at home and the arrogance of the corporations right here. This development is part of a fresh wind blowing on the landscape of U.S. politics. But in order to retain its progressive character, this movement must return to the streets and link up with the struggle against racism, national oppression, and the oppression of women and lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.

It will take a great deal of education and wider and deeper political experience for the new generation of activists to grasp the enormous contradictions in the Nader campaign.


For example, while Nader was speaking to youths in the Garden about corporate attempts to dominate the globe, heroic Palestinian youths in the tens of thousands were in the streets from Gaza to Hebron to Ramallah facing the U.S.- backed Israeli military with stones and gasoline bombs. Close to a hundred had been killed and thousands wounded.

They were fighting for their right to a homeland and a state. This has been denied the Palestinians since 1948, when they were expelled from their homes en masse by the Israeli military and paramilitary forces. Israel is the military outpost of U.S. imperialism and the oil companies, the very monopolies that Nader campaigns against.

Just two weeks before the rally, the U.S. and NATO followed up their air war against Yugoslavia with a campaign of bribery and corruption of the election, pouring in hundreds of millions of dollars to openly engineer a political counter-revolution. This is similar to corporate corruption of political parties in the U.S., except it destroyed the sovereignty of a whole country.

It was done to clear the road for privatization and the process of "globalization" of that country, so the transnationals can buy up its assets and subject the population to the very corporate domination that the Nader campaign denounces.

In Colombia, the U.S. is financing a war against a popular guerrilla insurgency seeking to oust a corrupt and dictatorial death-squad regime of the type Nader says the U.S. should oppose.

In Puerto Rico, the Pentagon is locked in struggle with the people over its brutal occupation of the island of Vieques.

Not one of these current struggles was mentioned at the Garden rally, the rally at the Fleet Center in Boston or the Nader Web site.

According to Edward Said, writing in the Al-Ahram Weekly of Aug 24-30, Nader gave an interview to CNN in which he said he would end military aid to Israel and end the sanctions on Iraq. If this is accurate, then the failure to mention it in mass meetings of activists is even more problematical. It is a subordination of principle to narrow pragmatism, which leaves the movement unprepared and disoriented in times of crisis and gives the ruling-class media a clear political field to whip up anti-Arab sentiment.

It is utterly inconceivable that a progressive movement against big business can be built in this country without taking the international situation into consideration.


The U.S. ruling class is an imperialist ruling class. Everything it does abroad affects the fate of the workers and oppressed at home. The working class is a global class. What happens to the workers and oppressed in Colombia or Palestine or Puerto Rico or Europe affects the working class at home.

If the corporations get the upper hand in Mexico, they can impose NAFTA on the Mexican workers, super-exploit them, and undermine the workers' standard of living here. The same goes for Colombia, Puerto Rico or any other country. If the U.S. government can dismember Indonesia and deepen the corporate stranglehold on its resources and labor, then big business grows stronger at home.

If the U.S. were to overthrow Chinese socialism and put one fifth of the globe back under colonial domination, it would be the gravest setback to the working class--not only in the United States, but all over the world.

The Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA have a presence all over the world. The U.S. intervenes in the politics of every country. It is all done to strengthen and extend the empire of U.S. finance capital.

No progressive movement in the U.S. can get very far without thoroughly arming itself against big-power chauvinism and the permanent tendency to war and interventionism inherent in monopoly capitalism. It is an axiom of Marxism that you can only understand the situation at home by understanding the international situation.


There is another glaring contradiction in the Nader presentation, which will emerge more clearly after the election is over. All the movements that he urges the audience to emulate--the abolitionists, the suffragettes, the labor movement, the civil-rights movement--accomplished their aims not by elections, not by lobbying, not by regulatory changes, but by mass mobilization and struggle.

Election after election came and went, but nothing less than a civil war freed the slaves. Mass demonstrations, rallies and arrests won women's suffrage. Open class warfare, factory seizures, sit-down strikes, battles with police and scabs, and open defiance of courts and the capitalist government brought about the industrial organization of labor. Massive sit-ins and confrontations with racist police plus rebellions in the oppressed communities brought about civil rights and affirmative action. Militant mass struggle undermined the U.S. government's effort to conquer Vietnam and helped bring the war to an end.

Of course, Nader has an illustrious progressive record of legislative and regulatory accomplishments defending the people against corporate rip-offs and environmental destruction. He has fought against unsafe automobiles, nuclear hazards, brown lung in the mines, corporate tax rip- offs, industrial pollution and many other outrages of big business.

His background has prepared him well for this, but not for opening up the kind of furious mass struggle that it will take to push the corporations back, let alone get rid of them.


His basic political contradiction is that he is against all the abuses of capitalism--but for capitalism. This is an insoluble contradiction. Nader regards the complete reign of the corporations over politics, economics and social life as a matter of false government policy, rather than as an inevitable outgrowth of a centuries-old predatory social and economic system. The movement will eventually have to transcend the barrier of capitalist property.

Nader is an able advocate in exposing the details of corporate abuse. But he cannot go the final and absolutely necessary step of pinpointing the fundamental abuse upon which all others rest: capitalist exploitation of labor and the private appropriation by a class of property owners of the wealth of society. Running society on the basis of the profit motive and class oppression is the basic crime.

The new emerging movement gives great hope for future struggles. But those attending Nader rallies today will soon have to deal with how to accomplish the ultimate goal of "transferring power from the corporations back to the people," as Nader puts it. Only a revolutionary Marxist analysis can pave the way theoretically. Only the revolutionary class struggle can accomplish it, under the leadership of a disciplined working-class party.

Nader has rightfully said that what is needed is a "complete reorientation of policy which regards the 6 billion people on the planet as important and not global corporations." But this is only possible by liquidating the private ownership of the global means of production and running this vast productive enterprise on a socialist, collective basis, free of bosses, for human need and not for profit.

(Copyleft Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: ww@workers.org. For subscription info send message to: info@workers.org. Web: http://www.workers.org)

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