woensdag, augustus 11, 2004


Over at 'If There Is Hope...' [which, despite being a quote coming from the august Frederick Douglass in 1849, is yet another example of the sad demise of the subjunctive in English], there's been a bit of argy-bargy between me and Doug about Naomi Klein's column. He argues, if I can condense the conversation, that as an Anybody But Bush convert, Klein is wrong for the usual reasons that Anybody But Bush voters are wrong. I would argue, and indeed did, that Klein is not actually a genuine ABB (it's a moot point to a degree in any case as she is Canadian, as are Doug and I), but is simply making the point that once Kerry is elected, ABB progressives and, furthermore, rather large swathes of previously apoliltical but now vehemently anti-war Americans, will break away from the Democrats as a solution.

Doug writes:

"But a greater danger lurks in her conclusions. If Kerry is elected, and history unfolds as Klein predicts, then the millions currently mobilized against Bush will become disillusioned with the two party system. While many may then shift to the left, it is also likely that the current state of politicization will collapse into demoralization."

Firstly, Kerry is going to be elected. If he isn't, it's going to be Bush. Nader is simply not. Were I an American I would be both voting and campaigning for Nader, but with the aim of trying to maximise the vote and to use the electoral period to talk to people about more progressive, even socialist politics, with the realistic goal of using the period to expand the possibility of there being a viable third-party option some time soon, and opening the space for a genuinely radical politic, viewing the elections not a goal in themselves, but as a vehicle for expanding the field for socialism. I would not be campaigning for Nader actually believing that Nader can win. Nader himself does not expect to win, so I hope that Doug doesn't have illusions that he has a shot. He will be very disappointed.

Please do not get me wrong - and I hate using such a pedestrian turn of phrase, but I fear that people already have done so - I am not advocating a vote for Kerry.

So for Doug to suggest that 'if Kerry wins', millions will be demoralised misses the proverbial aquatic device. Of course they will. That is the natural effect of an anti-war public voting for a candidate who is not really anti-war. That can turn to apathy and inactivity (but as the war worsens and more body bags come home, I doubt this) or it can reinvigorate the anti-war/global justice movement but without illusions in the Democratic party, vastly expanding the prospects for the left.

The equation is simply this: Vote Nader, but, as Nader will not win, which is better, for Kerry or Bush to win? A Bush win will keep the progressives under the Democratic spell, but a Democratic win will cause progressives to break with the Democrats. Plainly a Kerry victory is to be preferred.

As Doug is not arguing that a Bush win would be better for the left [as some 'hungry-belly-theory-of-revolution' ultra-lefts do], I am missing why, other than that she did not call for a vote for Nader (which indeed was a problem), he still has an issue with the Klein article.

It seems elementary to me that the maximal vote for Nader and a Kerry win is the best possible outcome, not because Kerry will end the war, but because he won't.