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Ralph Nader takes on Ayn Rand, applaudes the rich

September 18, 2009
Ralph Nader, novelist

Ralph Nader, novelist

Ralph Nader, who will be at the Miami Book Fair in November, has turned to fiction to promote his latest ideas. His novel, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, aims to do for liberalism what Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged did for conservatism: provide an enduring philosophical blueprint.

In the process, as Hillel Italie reports for the Associated Press, Nader “is saying nice things about the kind of folks you’d expect him to despise.”

“Never in America have there been more super-rich people with relatively enlightened views,” Nader told the AP in an interview at the speaks at the offices of Public Citizen, the progressive research and advocacy group he founded nearly 40 years ago.

“Not all the super-rich are craven greedhounds, dominators and bullies. Some of them take on their counterpart greedhounds, dominators and bullies.”

And at least one conservative thinker is saying nice things in return. Tom Peters, the famous business writer and management consultant, says: “Ralph Nader turning to the ‘super-rich’for salvation? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes,’ and Mr. Nader has produced a wonderful piece of fiction that I’d love to see become non-fiction!”

Due out from Seven Stories Press on Sept. 22, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! speculates what might happen if a cadre of uber-wealthy liberal financiers and industrialists focused on using their power exclusively to promote causes like unionization, reforming government to better serve average citizens, galvanizing a movement for clean energy, and, as Seven Stories’ PR has it, taking on the “corporate goliaths and Congress to provide the necessities of life and advance the solutions so long left on the shelf by an avaricious oligarchy.”

According to The Independent Political Report, Nader has said he views Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! as the answer to Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, in which a charismatic figure named John Galt organizes a strike by capitalists and industrial leaders against a socialist state. Rand’s extreme free-market fundamentalism remains influential, and not only with impressionable young people. Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve chairman, is a well-known disciple.

Nader’s book is getting rave advance word from such usual progressive and/or liberal suspects as Warren Beatty, Patti Smith, Cornell West and Lewis Lapham, the former editor at Harper’s magazine, who compares it favorably to Tom Paine‘s classic Common Sense and says “it’s a joy to read.”

Not every early reader has been so kind. Newsweek — isn’t that a liberal tool of the MSM? — headlined its review “Unsafe at Any Read.” Reviewer Seth Colter Walls says Nader lacks an essential ingredient of Rand’s success: he has no feel for romance.

Regardless of how the book fares with other reviewers, it would be a mistake to miss an opportunity to hear Nader speak, whether in Miami or anywhere else.

I chanced to hear Nader at a 2000 campaign rally in Denver in 2000 — you may remember he was running for president against Al Gore and George W. Bush. He didn’t sway me to vote for him, but I was amazed to find Nader to be a mesmerizing and persuasive speaker.

Whether or not he delivers on the page, Ralph Nader certainly gives entertainment value at the podium.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 18, 2009 12:13 pm

    Ralph, Ralph. Truth is, he is one of the most amazing people to come along. He speaks of the truth on the ground. He talks about the 2 parties with facts. He lets you know what is really happening. How he actually moves that along is another subject in it self. I have seen him able to help and given a seat at the table. Then he walks away and says not enough. Then he and his voters have nothing. It has surprised his best friends and political supporters. It actually makes sense only if you do not want to accomplish your goals. A very bright man at one time.

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