Indefatigable Activist Ralph Nader Drives Occupy Message into Portland

Photo by Paul

By Christina Schüll and Paul Cone

Tireless citizen activist Ralph Nader spoke Monday night, April 9, to an overflowing crowd in the Agnes Flanagan Chapel at Lewis and Clark College, as part of their 50th International Affairs Symposium. Nader followed Jamie Fly, who served in George W. Bush’s National Security Council, and is now the executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative.  Fly and Nader took the stage individually for about 30 minutes each, and then debated one another on the topic of “The Future of Military Force in International Peace and Security”.

Fly argued familiar right-wing military industrial complex talking points, such as “the U.S. military can be a source for good in the world” and “defense spending is not driving our debt — it’s entitlements”.

Ralph Nader. Photo by Paul.

Nader, who has been battling corporate control of government for over 40 years, rebutted Fly, referencing themes of corporate influence over the government and military. Using a number familiar to Occupiers, Nader noted, “99 percent of the money spent for dealing with conflict is spent on the military. Less than 1 percent is spent on other means.”  Speaking of corporations, he said, “They’re not trying to take over the U.S. government– they are the U.S. Government.”

Nader also appeared earlier in the day at Powell’s Books, where he read from his new book, “Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism“. Occupier and Portland mayoral candidate Cameron Whitten was among the large crowd that turned out for Nader. “A lot of things he’s been saying are the things Occupy is frustrated about,” Whitten said.  “I believe that he has really set a standard for a mission that we can go for.”

The symposium continues at Lewis and Clark through Wednesday. Tuesday, April 10, at 3:30 pm offers “The Implications of Free and Fair Trade for Global Development”, followed at 7:30 pm by “The Utility of Violence in Social Movements” such as Occupy and the Arab Spring, asking the question, “Is the use of violence critical to their success?  Or is nonviolence a vital key to maintaining legitimacy and enacting meaningful change?”

Wednesday, April 11, at 3:30 pm spotlights “Youthful Excess: Is There Danger in Demographic Divides?”. The event bows at 7:30 pm with “Global Warning: Forecasts for Diplomacy in the Wake of Natural Disasters”.

All sessions are free and open to the public.


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