Book Review: Unstoppable (2014)

The emerging left-right alliance to dismantle the corporate state
by Ralph Nader

UnstoppableMaybe 10 years ago one of my techwriting coworkers suggested that a good idea would be to combine several of the third parties into one political entity… that would give common sense a half-decent chance of prevailing at election time. I thought he was on to something. And still do. Aside from the mechanical problems of getting all  the decent alternative parties together—from the leadership on down, satisfying the intellectual idealists that the platforms can be somehow compromised and melded—you’re going to have to have candidates. Which basically kills the concept. No way the Greens, the Libertarians, the Constitutionalists, the Natural Law-ers, etc. are going to come together to pick a winner.

On the other hand, it’s not hard to conceive that alternative-party candidates, or even anti-establishment forces in the two ossified dinosaur parties, agree to a general statement of principles or political program that might look like the following:

  1. Obey and uphold the Constitution.
  2. Transition any decent unconstitutional program to the private sector humanely.

Funny, that’s about all you need to have in your political program. We’ve discovered some key liberating ideas that aren’t covered by mere adherence to the Constitution—such as the true nature of the federal ‘income’ tax code, per Hendrickson—but not many. Just get out a copy of the Constitution and read it. [By the way, at the time of its signing the Constitution was intended by the founders to be read by literally everyone.] Pay close attention to the 9th Amendment, which says “just because we didn’t specifically list your freedoms here doesn’t mean you don’t have them,” and the 10th Amendment, which says, “unless a federal government power is specifically enumerated here, the federal government does NOT have that power.”  Period.

Oh, because the issue is so pressing and universal (and because the Constitution really says nothing about them), here is one more key plank:

  1. Corporations are not people and have no rights or legal standing under the Constitution.

All common sense human beings agree with those three planks .AND. if implemented, the political establishment of both dinosaur parties—all the way up to the puppetmasters and the banksters calling the shots—will melt like the Wicked Witch of the West when we throw the cold water of popular consent (or deconsent) over them.

Nader, who many would assert comes from the left—he got going by proposing mandatory standards for automotive safety—nonetheless has several deep libertarian sentiments… particularly when it comes to reining in government abuse of citizens on behalf of the corporate interests. His book is a compendium of rather detailed cases where left-leaning and right-leaning persons did, in fact, cooperate to stop a government-corporate crime.

[For example, the Clinch River Breeder Reactor in Tennessee was a government nightmare boondoggle that got stopped by a popular coalition defeating furious lobbying of the corporate-government dirty nuke lobby. The decisive end was October 26, 1983, with a Senate vote 56-40. He cites many others, refreshing our memories on the details and how the people can arrest the corrupt power.]

Per the book jacket: “Large segments from the progressive, conservative, and libertarian political camps find themselves aligned in opposition to the destruction of civil liberties, the economically draining corporate welfare state, the relentless perpetuation of America’s wars, sovereignty-shredding trade agreements, and the unpunished crimes of Wall Street against Main Street. Nader shows how Left-Right coalitions can prevail over the corporate state and crony capitalism.”

He discusses practical steps to move forward toward ‘convergent action.’ At the beginning of Chapter 4 Nader lists 25 planks of his convergence model, several of the explicitly libertarian ones I’ll set forth here:

  • Further direct democracy—initiative, referendum, and recall for starters.
  • Push community self-reliance.
  • Defend and extend civil liberties.
  • Enhance civic skills and experience for students.
  • End unconstitutional wars and enforce Article I, section 8, of the Constitution, which includes the exclusive congressional authority to declare war.
  • Revise trade agreements to protect US sovereignty, and resume full congressional deliberations, ending fast track.
  • End corporate personhood.
  • Oppose the patenting of life forms, including human genes.
  • End the War on Drugs.

Sorry, Ralph, the plank on keeping the minimum wage pegged to inflation doesn’t put lipstick on that pig. [It’s clear Mr. Nader hasn’t changed his spots too much. But most of the vague or government-tolerant positions are minimally damaging.] He spends a good share of the remainder of the book on expanding on each point of convergence.

A welcome addition to the literature of practical politics.

On the other hand, I get this sinking feeling that the moderate measures Ralph is proposing are too little, too late. The approach I prefer is more radical and extensive, and I have a start on that with my Toto Worldwide Foundation defined here. Unfortunately, Toto is also a bit slow considering the immensity of the Threat Matrix. So in light of that and because of some thinking I’ve been doing lately on the potential of, let’s just call it, a Snowden-Manning cultural ‘phenomenon,’ I think I have a wild thought that can bear fruit very quickly. And I’m writing a draft column on the idea that appears here.

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