> It's great that Nader saved lots of lives. There's a lot to admire
> about the guy, and I even voted for him in '96. But he doesn't really
> have a political economy to speak of. He's got a rhetoric of
> corporate malfeasance, a rhetoric of monopoly, a rhetoric of state
> abuse, but no analysis of the normal operations of capitalism. He's
> given to romantic dreams about the beauties of competition, which,
> along with his other beloved instrument, litigation, is corrosively
My argument was not so much that "It's great that Nader saved lots of lives." (Though I'm not so cynical as to poo-poo this achievement. Can you think of anyone else in public life who can make this claim?) Rather, the argument is that this achievement gives Nader a basic positive level of credibility and public stature which can make him a potentially viable candidate and extremely threatening to entreched capital. One indication:
in '96 when I got a nice 8-month temp assignment
> with a group called Contributions Watch. They claimed to be a independent
> campaign watchdog group. CW was actually a front group run by a bunch of
> Burson-Marsteller PR flacks digging up dirt on trial lawyers and public
> interest groups. Philip Morris secretly funded the entire outfit.
Another indication was Nader's exclusion from the debates by the "bi-partisan commission" headed by democratic hack Paul Kirk (digression: he used to beat me up for being a "Kike" and "Christ Killer" in Newton, MA circa 1966). Possibly its wishful thinking on my part, but I think Nader would have wiped the floor with Clinton and Dole. They knew it and played whatever sleazy games were necessary to keep him out.
I have no doubt that Joel Kovel will receive similar treatment should he manage to get on the map. The point is that Nader is already there, which is why there is a decades long smear campaign against him.
Its important to keep the smear campaign in mind when one attacks him. This is not a reason to ignore his weaknesses. I agree with Doug that his economic perspective is largely reformist, and (worse) possibly even easily co-optable should he manage to make inroads. But these weaknesses should be kept in perspective and balanced against the possibility that capitalism might be forced to sell Nader just enough rope for him to issue a serious challenge.