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News ::
An anarchist, but I'll vote "for" Nader
20 Sep 2000
Why it makes sense, even for committed anarchists, to vote the Ralph Nader/Winona LaDuke ticket
During the VietNam War, when I saw Lyndon Johnson "debating" Barry Goldwater, I decided not to vote. Goldwater, an "honest" reactionary, said he'd "bomb them back to the Stone Age", and Johnson was obviously a damn liar. Since then, when I didn't vote only because I was disgusted, I've become a principled non-believer in so-called representative democracy. I usually express my belief in the illegitimacy of this once-every-four-years farce by not voting. And I generally believe the anarchist slogan, "If you could change things by voting, it would have been made illegal."

So why is the Nader campaign different? Nader is an unregenerate, committed capitalist ideologue. He is honest, smart, incisive, and principled. He truly believes it is possible to have a decent social order within the framework of global capitalism. He is wrong, but wants to try to move the U.S. in that direction. Down with transnational corporate control! Down with corruption! Down with corporate subsidies! Down with discrimination! With racism! And so on, the whole wonderful liberal litany.

We easily recall that Nelson Mandela also was a dedicated and honest believer, as were Manley in Jamaica, Arbenz in Guatemala, Salvador Allende in Chile, Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti, Julius Nyerere in Tanzania, and others, the intent of each to better the lot of the poor in his society, a goal thwarted in each country by the forces of global capitalism.

Voting, at this historical moment, is, I believe, important because it can help to further galvanize in our country what the Mexicans call The Civil Society, that is, the non-governmental, non-corporate sector of society. We can make the world a better place, but only from the bottom up, not from the top down. Even if the Green Party could be elected to national leadership, wedded, as it appears to be, to the ideology of the economic/social system of capitalism, it could seek only reforms, not fundamental changes. Desirable, small but temporary gains, yes, but throttled at almost every turn by what Emanuel Wallerstein calls Historical Capitalism. Instead of taking the bull by the horns, the Greens, with Nader out front, are seeking to grab it by the ass.

I was moved to give up my "principled" position of refusing to vote because of the dramatic results of the Mexican election(s), the Federal election and the Chiapas State election. President-elect Vincente Fox of the right-wing PAN (National Action Party) is not only committed to capitalist ideology; he's a big capitalist himself, high up in the "CocaColonización" of Mexico. But what is significant, may be significant about his victory is the majority-hoped-for dissolution of the PRI's (Institutional Revolutionary Party's) long-standing near-dictatorial control of Mexican society. Whether this will be realized depends not on Fox's ability to change Mexico, but on the continued growth and vitality of the grassroots Mexican Civil Society, and on its radicalization. Now, like all liberal movements, it is demanding the impossible, changes that are impossible from the perspective of the still-dominant forces of capitalism. Like Fox, Nader offers the hope of breaking one-party rule, and that, I hope, will stir enough Americans into action, real grass-roots action, to make voting for the Greens worthwhile. So, what the hell, I'll give it a try.

With no apologies, George
See also:
http://omega.cc.umb.edu/~salzman
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Give Us A Break
21 Sep 2000

Dear Reader: This and similar postings have been spread over the IMC Network since at least June. They are a cynical attempt to convince you that Ralph Nader represents anarchist values --which he doesn't. They may as read "Anarchists for Bush/Gore" for all their worth


To Nader Staffer behind this: Nice try, but it's not going to work!

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
21 Sep 2000
Wait a minute. Ralph Nader and the green party do represent decentralized localized representatve economy and governance. Furthermore they represent not "campaign finance reform", but challenges our election process: corporate free elections, none of the above vote, election day registration, free air time, instant runoff voting, open debates, etc. The green party and Nader support dramatic restructuring of the tax code.

To compare a vote for Nader as a vote for Bush/Gore is ridiculous.

We all should be looking for avenues to bring democracy forward. Nader's campaign represents one of these avenues. Likelyhood that Nader will be elected, slim to none. 5% will get matching funds for future elections. A third candidate is better than not. Nader represents the least corporate most democratic voice today.

The way to keep building momentum and support the progressive movement in this country today is to support Nader. It is also to challenge him and his supporters to go further.

Progressives need to build relationships outside of white privelage.
votenader.org for more info
21 Sep 2000
many nader supporter and critics are not educated on naders actual stands on issues

votenader.org and access the links

or plug in nader or winona laduke into search engines
Long Range Planning
21 Sep 2000
Of course Nader isn't supporting anarchist values. He is not an anarchist. However. As anarchists, how are we trying to achieve our goals. Do we have goals? It would be great if tomorrow the entire system blew up, broke down or imploded or whatever, but the fact is that it isn't going to. There is not going to be a revolution tomorrow, this week or probably this year. It is more likely that a comet will hit the earth than the people of america will fight for their freedom. This is because people think they are free. This is because people are not mobilized. They are not mobilized because they are both uninformed and apathetic. They are also unmobilized because they feel that they are in no position of power to create change. People have to be baby stepped. Nader represents thoses baby steps. Many people respect him because of his record in challenging corporate hegemonies and supporting democracy (in general, left loossely defined here). It is more likely that we as anarchists will acheive our goal if we at least don't disparage someone who could possibly help to move the american public closer to the ideas of true freedom. Of all the political leaders in the foreground today, Nader is the best hope any of us has at this point in time. I am an anarchist. And I am sick to death of the failure of the anarchist movement to put forth a clear vision of the future that reflects an appreciation of the way in which to achieve that future. There are realities to deal with here. In sum, waiting for Utopia is bullshit. And back to Nader. He doesn't say 100% what I believe in, but hey it's not about ME. It's about a movement. Stop being so narcissistic and think about how to get where you want to go.
Anarchists for Nader?
26 Sep 2000
As a revolutionary anarchist, I would never cast my vote to any representative of the State, no matter how progressive their politics may seem on the surface. I cannot in any way support George Salzman's decision to openly urge other anarchists to follow his lead and support Ralph Nader for president. However, since I consider George a dedicated anarchist and a good friend, I will confirm that he is indeed who he says he is, and not some Green Party activist exploiting anarchist influence within the anti-globalization movement in an effort to support Nader.

Unfortunately, we have been in a period of reaction for so long, even the liberals and opportunists look radical at this point... Regardless of the rhetoric, Nader is and always will be a capitalist who has no intention of rocking the boat of class relations. He is a millionaire and a union buster, and, much like Al Gore, he holds considerable stock within Fidelty Investments (Fidelity Magellan), the investment corporation targetted for it's investments within Occidental Petroleum.

As the age-old saying goes, "whoever you vote for, government wins". Something for any anarchist to remember before casting a ballot (even a protest ballot) this November.

To quote the once famous, but now long forgotten Italian anarchist Luigi Galleni (who lived in the Boston area for an extended period of his life):

"The anarchists' electoral abstentionism implies not only a conception that is opposed to the principle of representation (which is totally rejected by anarchism), it implies above all an absolute lack of confidence in the State. And this distrust, which is instinctive in the working masses, is for the anarchists the result of their historical experience with the State and its function, which has, at all times and in all places, resulted in a selfish and exclusive protection of the ruling classes and their privileges. [Anarchist abstentionism] strips the State of the constitutional fraud with which it presents itself to the gullible as the true representative of the whole nation, and, in so doing, exposes its essential character as representative, procurer, and protector of the ruling classes."

--MaRK (Sabate Anarchist Group)
Response to some comments
02 Oct 2000
This responds to a comment by Mark Lasky on Sept 26th, and one by Vindaloo Pete on Sept 21st.

Dear Mark,

I appreciate, but disagree with, your principled rejection of my decision to vote "for" Nader. Like you, I consider myself a revolutionary anarchist, specifically of the Kropotkin school. In my view, it will remain impossible to make a better world until hundreds of millions of the world's people understand in more than an intuitive way why the global social order that dominates all our lives is so terrifyingly destructive, and they become determined to replace global capitalism with a non-hierarchical social structure based not on coercive power but on love and mutual aid as a natural, healthy and humane way for humans to live with dignity and in peace.

My reason for voting "for" the Nader/LaDuke ticket is, as explained, unrelated to their "positions." I do not regard their politics "progressive", "liberal", or "opportunistic". They do not look "radical" to me. I did know that Nader is a millionaire and that in one instance, that of the staff of The Multinational Monitor, he was opposed to unionization. I did not know, but am not surprised to learn of his stock in Fidelity Investments.

As for your statement, "Nader is and always will be a capitalist who has no intention of rocking the boat of class relations", it is conceivable (though unlikely) that his views will change in the future, but I'm not hopeful, nor holding my breath. I stated explicitly, "Nader is an unregenerate, committed capitalist ideologue." And later, "Yes, he is very likely authoritarian, and perhaps arrogant to boot. And probably anti-union when a particular union challenges his power, as the article reported. And he's clearly not a radical thinker…" And later, "Nader thinks power is the name of the game." So, I don't believe I'm under illusions of "what a 'great candidate' or potential 'great leader' he is!"

Only by comparison to the two schmucks the corporations are offering as "our" choices does the Nader/LaDuke ticket look so good, which is why so many liberals, progressives, and even the United Electrical, Radio, & Machine Workers of America (UE), a really good union, are supporting it. My reason is different: As I said, "Nader the person is not 'the issue'." I acknowledged my belief that "He is honest, smart, incisive, and principled. He truly believes it is possible to have a decent social order within the framework of global capitalism. He is wrong, but wants to try to move the U.S. in that direction." And, I credited him with being a "muddled honest liberal who really wants to make the world, or at least the U.S., better. His entire frame of reference, like that of so many of us, is in terms of power." Here we may disagree. Perhaps you would not credit him with any positive qualities. I am willing to do so, although it is not relevant to my decision.

I think it is more important for us to try to get our ideas into active consideration by millions of people in the U.S. than it is to stick to an unquestioned belief -- almost like a dogma -- in the futility of voting under any and all circumstances. We ought not be contemptuous of liberals, other radicals, or even of conservatives, many of whom are good, decent, honest people who really want to make the world better, but don't know how to go about it, and think voting is the about the only constructive thing they can do. "Greens" should be seen in that light too, I think, not as dupes of the system. Of course within their ranks are crass opportunists, I'm sure. But that ought not dissuade us from trying to open a dialogue.

Finally, you quote Luigi Galleani, who if I recall correctly, headed up the defense committee, largely centered in Boston's old North End, to try to prevent the murder, by the so-called Commonwealth (What a misnomer!) of Massachusetts, of those two great Italian people, Bartolomeo Vanizetti and Nicolo Sacco, immigrant anarchists deeply despised by the ruling "blue-bloods." I hate the state with all the passion imaginable. I understand the nation-state to be part and parcel of the "advanced" stage of what Emmanuel Wallerstein calls Historical Capitalism, the major instrument of international terror abroad in the world today. But that is not inconsistent with my voting against the growing corporate domination of the world, and encouraging the growth in the U.S. of a powerful movement of Civil Society. Galleani notwithstanding, I am in no way acting to legitimate the state. We disagree only on what is best to do, or not do, in this instance, and that is a matter of judgement.
In solidarity,
George

Dear Vindaloo Pete,

I suggest you read both of my statements on the Nader/LaDuke campaign. The first statement, posted above, was delayed because of difficulties the site was experiencing at that time. Then, on Sept 26th, I posted a second statement together with the first. Your comments in "Give Us a Break" indicate that you do not understand my position. After reading them, and my response above to Mark Lasky, you will see that your concluding comment, "To Nader Staffer behind this: Nice try, but it's not going to work!" is not worthy of a response. Moreover, to straighten you out a bit more, I recommend you look at my website.

Sincerely yours,
George Salzman

See also:
http://omega.cc.umb.edu/~salzman