Chris Hedges | Days of Revolt: The Corporate Coup d’etat with Ralph Nader

Chris Hedges and Ralph Nader trace the advancement of corporate control in the US political system in this episode of teleSUR’s Days of Revolt.

The Real News Network  November 3, 2015

Ralph Nader was named by The Atlantic as one of the hundred most influential figures in American history, and by Time and Life magazines as one of the most influential Americans of the twentieth century. Ralph Nader has helped us drive safer cars, eat healthier food, breathe better air, drink cleaner water and work in safer environments for more than four decades.

The crusading attorney first made headlines in 1965 with his book Unsafe at Any Speed, a scathing indictment that lambasted the auto industry for producing unsafe vehicles. The book led to Congressional hearings and automobile safety laws passed in 1966, including the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. He was instrumental in the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Many lives have been saved by Nader’s involvement in the recall of millions of unsafe consumer products, including defective motor vehicles and in the protection of laborers and the environment. By starting dozens of citizen groups, Ralph Nader has created an atmosphere of corporate and governmental accountability.

Days of Revolt: The Corporate Coup d'etat with Ralph Nader

CHRIS HEDGES, HOST, DAYS OF REVOLT: Hi. I’m Chris Hedges. Welcome to Days of Revolt.We’re filming this segment, one of two segments, in Washington with author, former presidential candidate, consumer advocate, lawyer Ralph Nader. His two latest books: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State–or Unstoppable–and then Return to Sender: Unanswered Letters to the President 2001-2015.In this first segment, we’re going to talk about the corporate coup d’état which took place, when it took place, how it was orchestrated. And it was largely an attempt by corporate power to respond to the very effective mobilizing that Ralph had done in Washington on behalf of the citizenry and advocacy groups to protect workers’ rights, to promote clean water, clean air, OSHA.So let’s begin with this. Lewis Powell, who was the general counsel to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and would later be appointed to the Supreme Court, wrote a memo in August 1971 that expressed corporate concern over Nader’s work. Quote:

“Perhaps the single most effective antagonist of American business is Ralph Nader, who–thanks largely to the media–has become a legend in his own time and an idol of millions of Americans.”

Powell goes on to recommend, quote:

“There should be no hesitation to attack the Naders, the Marcuses and others who openly seek destruction of the system. There should not be the slightest hesitation to press vigorously in all political arenas for support of the enterprise system. Nor should there be reluctance to penalize politically those who oppose it.”

Nineteen seventy-one the Powell Memo goes into force. And what begins to unravel?

RALPH NADER: Well, the Powell Memorandum was a combination of illusion and paranoia. He says it was an attack on the economic system in America. Basically, his memorandum laid out a strategy to attack democracy in America. And he basically said to the business community, you’ve got to hire a lot more lobbyists swarming over Congress, you’ve got to pour a lot more money into their campaigns, both parties’, Republican and Democrat. You’ve got to get out on the campuses and get right-wing speakers to combat progressive speakers. He had the whole 180 degrees.

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