Interesting exchange among Carrol, Jeff and Don. I found Don's comments about
"big capitalists" - "small capitalists" of particular interest because as a
member of the local Labor Party chapter, I've been thinking a lot about the rich
movement-growth potential involved in bringing a small-business perspective into
the anti-globalization/ pro-democracy movement. There is a difference between
doing this in a purely coalition-building way [and I think Nader falls into this
trap pretty much], however, and doing it in a way that appreciates that ultimate
it is the imperatives of capitalism that need to be turned around & transformed.
Most particularly, (1) one must realize that in many cases small-businesses
historically have been less labor-friendly than the larger corporations where,
because of numbers, etc., unions have played a larger role. This may be turning
around, though, with the global 'race-to-the-bottom;' and (2) one must appreciate
that built into small-scale capitalism are the imperatives of growth (grow or
die), capital accumulation, labor exploitation, etc. I.e., the "seeds" of
corporate & transnational capitalism are there from the outset.
Appreciating this, and not losing sight of structural reforms that can begin to
address & transform these imperatives, I still think the small-business community
(especially the retail sector) is potentially a vital part of a coalition against
global capitalism. Largely because (1) as Don says, the independent bookstores
(add: hardware stores, grocery stores, drugstores, sporting goods stores,
radio-tv stores, etc. etc.) know only too well the score with globalization: they
are finding it increasingly impossible to stay in business. I think it's fair to
say, generalizing from some studies done on WalMart, that these businesses are
also better for the local economy --with more stable, long-term employment
opportunities, more opportunities to 'rise' to positions of responsibility,
better pay & benefits (not sure how pervasive this is); and they're more
labor-intensive (i.e., in the aggregate are better for local employment); and (2)
small-businesses are at least potentially better "community" institutions --i.e.,
their employees usually know the business, what they sell, etc. far better;
customers get to know the owners/employees at a more personal level, etc.;
relations between the business and either community groups and/or workers can be
worked out on a more face-to-face level, etc.; and (3) small-business is a key
part of the classic ideology of American democracy & entrepreneurship; this has
advantages in a movement trying to "enter the debate" and transform that
Interested in what others think.
On a related note, this in from the Nation's web site, re. the Nader nomination &
Many of these issues are addressed by William Greider in the current
issue of The Nation. Available at http://www.thenation.com, Greider's
essay launches a series of commentaries about presidential politics with
a look at how third-party presidential candidates can move national
politics in new and improved directions.
Traveling by rental car, Nader is running an ambitious grassroots
campaign coast to coast. Ruth Conniff went on the road with the campaign
and reports on how voter disaffection may help him break out beyond the
Green Party core, finding support among a wider swath of the electorate.
Her report is also currently available at http://www.thenation.com.
Another emerging newsmaker from Election 2000 is Al Gore's new campaign
chief, William Daley. Veteran investigative reporter Doug Ireland
examined the record of this archetypal Beltway lobbyist for The Nation
in early 1997, soon after Daley's appointment as Secretary of Commerce.
We've dipped into our archives and made this report available online at
http://www.thenation.com/print/daley. So, please check it out and get
the goods on the man Al Gore has entrusted with his campaign. Again, you
can find this exclusive report at http://www.thenation.com/print/daley.
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