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Ralph Nader on Democracy Now: “Nonfiction prevents you from imagining”

Ralph Nader on Democracy Now: “Nonfiction prevents you from imagining”

September 22, 2009

From Ralph Nader’s interview with Democracy Now!, on the topic of healthcare, G20, Barack Obama and the just-published “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!”:

AMY GOODMAN: Your book, “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!”, it’s just out. Kind of fiction, not really nonfiction, you call it a practical utopia.

RALPH NADER: When you read this book, you’ll not only get a lift in terms of the feasibility of change, if we only change the predicates and stop trying to go after trillion-dollar industries with a few million dollars of citizen group budgets, and you not only get a lift, but you can see, step by step, the strategy, the tactics—how they set up a People’s Chamber of Commerce with tens of thousands of progressive small businesses around the country; how they set up a sub-economy, where they bought all kinds of businesses and got inside the corporate beast, because they own these companies; how they developed mass media; how they got people’s attention through the use of, for example, this parrot, Patriotic Polly, which got on TV early in 2000 and got millions of emails when it kept saying, “Get up! Don’t let America down! Get up! Don’t let America down!”

You know, in the early part of the twentieth century, Amy, and the latter part of the nineteenth, there were practical utopias, or there were just plain utopias, like Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, that really infused and raised the horizons of the progressive movement and people like Eugene Debs. In fact, that book sold a million copies, Looking Backward. We’ve stopped doing that in the last two generations. Our imaginations have been stifled by the grim reality of concentrated corporate power.

But when you see how these Meliorists, which is what these seventeen super-rich elderly progressive Americans called themselves, when you see how Sol Price, who started the Price Club, took on Wal-Mart to unionize Wal-Mart, you will see what happens when there’s smarts, determination and adequate money to take on a behemoth like Wal-Mart. You’ll also see how entrenched right-wing politicians, when they’re surrounded with mass movements back in their congressional district, and they’re basically confronted with ultimatum in this climactic scene in Congress at the end of the book, how they react.

And it’s important, I think, for all of us to stop just documenting and documenting and diagnosing and proposing these things, when there’s no power behind, there’s no juggernaut, there’s no pressure to organize the mass of the citizenry in the directions that really reflects their public sentiment, to use Abraham Lincoln’s phrase.

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, why fiction?

RALPH NADER: Because nonfiction prevents you from imagining.

“Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!” is available from Seven Stories Press.

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