Ralph the Small

Ralph Nader, for whom I voted three times, continues to shrink before the issues of the epoch.

Today, he’s on Counterpunch offering his always over-rated strategic counsel to the embattled UAW, which looks like it is going to waste much or all of its $800,000,000 strike fund trying to organize more automobile factories, hoping to revive the glory days of $50,000-plus-bennies.

Ralph seems skeptical of the idea, but dig his proposed alternative: “to set up a small ten person advocacy group in Washington, D.C. to prod OSHA on worker health and safety.”  Wow!  That’ll do the job, won’t it?

Alas, peak oil dictates that the automobile industry is a dying industry, and automotive capitalists are simply not going to cede much, if any, ground back to the UAW.  And, even if this weren’t true, to revive oneself within this industry would be to revive oneself within a rapidly burning house.  So, organizing new car factories or lobbying to resuscitate OSHA are rather silly notions, if they do not come as part of a push to get much larger, soon to be decisive needs onto the agenda of at least what remains of the labor movement.

Hence, the UAW ought to be re-making itself into what it was in the 1930s, namely, the spearhead of a genuinely new day for American labor.  It could do this by demanding an end to the AFL-CIO’s craven cooperation with the bought-and-sold Democratic Party, loudly and proudly calling on the public to start rebuilding our towns and cities around sustainable union-made transportation infrastructures, and saving its strike funds for a general sit-down strike to promote these ends, if not to start opening factories to make 21st-century trains and other urban reconstruction accoutrements.

It ought, meanwhile, to leave quixotic, inadequate, small-reformist, the-billionaires-will-save-us old Ralph to fiddle by himself.