Pollitt on Nader

Nathan Newman nathan at newman.org
Mon Oct 2 12:53:39 PDT 2000

----- Original Message ----- From: "John Halle" <john.halle at yale.edu> To: <lbo-talk at lists.panix.com>

>On the subject of "flaming" it was Nathan who referred to me as "full of
>shit." I referred to his "quasi-Stalinist worship of leadership and
>authority." The charge, which is, incidentally, by no means the same as
>the accusation of "Stalinism" is perhaps overly harsh. However, I see no
>reason to retract the substance of it as applied to him as well as well as
>to any number of functionaries working to achieve "access" within what we
>used to call "the establishment."

Yet you support for President a man who has spent decades training endless numbers of young activists in how to "access" that very establishment. Naderite groups are all about smart, progressive but very establishment access to legislators, the media and other organs of elite power. As someone who started his political career in a Naderite organization, the PIRGs, it was all about lobbying and mainstream access politics. And I exited the organization to the left as an anti-capitalist and rejecting political/lobbying means as the key to social change. That's why I became a union activist where workers can wield independent power without having to delegate their political power to elite professonal lawyers who lobby in the "public interest."

Third party politics for Nader is all about just strengthening his usual inside-the-beltway position with a bit of populist legitimacy. He has said as much. The idea that by supporting Nader you are somehow outside the establishment game is a delusion, a deluision which would be far less obnoxious if you did not use it as license to abuse other activists who disagree with it.

It is truly ironic that you accuse anyone of "worship of leadership" when the whole Nader campaign is about demanding that one leader, Nader, be recognized by the establishment, that it allow him into establishment debates, and so on. You respect the Greens precisely for its leadership The difference is that I respect the Democratic candidates not for their leadership - who I will happily dismiss as lesser-evil capitalists - but respect them for their consituent voters, who are far more diverse and working class than the elite Nader supporters.

And the Nader promoters have to take the elitist position that those voters are fools and dupes for supporting the Dems. It is that kind of elitism and Nader leadership worship that makes me dismiss most third party politics.

-- Nathan Newman

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