Today sees the publication of Ralph Nader's utopian future/alternate history, Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us! The 736-page epic ends with third parties winning elections, corporations being neutered, and America being saved. Oh, and Yoko Ono creates a mind-expanding logo.
According to the New Yorker, Nader includes several real people in the novel, including Warren Buffett, Barry Diller, and Ted Turner, and he telephoned them up to let them know that they were in the book. Nader felt sensitized to this issue, because he's been featured as a character in other people's novels, including Greg Bear's Eon, which the New Yorker says
portrays Nader as "a saintly figure, a hero in a wasteland," whose followers win landslide elections in North America and Western Europe (in 2011) and bring down the Soviet Union (in 2012). "You see, that's science-fiction utopia," Nader said. "Nobody can give that any credibility."
Some people, including one famous billionaire, were a bit "snippy" about being included in Nader's book. But Yoko Ono and Warren Beatty were thrilled:
Yoko Ono, who in the book invents a logo called Seventh-Generation Eye that causes millions of people suddenly to shed their political apathy, sent Nader a brief reply. ("I think it is so sweet of you to write a book about somebody who resembles me. I don't mind at all, of course. Does she look like a tiny dragon?") Warren Beatty, whom Nader envisions running for governor against Arnold Schwarzenegger, and winning, with sixty-three per cent of the vote, blurbed the book. Nader, he wrote, was showing the world "how good he thinks things could be."
So just how weird is this novel? Here's how the San Francisco Chronicle describes the plot:
The story begins in 2005, not long after Hurricane Katrina. A secret gathering is convened by Buffett at a Maui mountain retreat, where 17 very wealthy people agree to take back the country they think has been betrayed.
They give speeches, write books, organize community action groups. They infiltrate corporate boards of directors, stage demonstrations for the environment and better wages. They start a People's Chamber of Commerce, advocate changing the national anthem to "America the Beautiful" and dream up a politicized parrot, "Patriotic Polly," that becomes a media folk hero.
"Fiction is a way to liberate the imagination," Nader says, "to see what could happen if 17 billionaires and super-rich people really put their minds to it, along with a parrot, and took on the existing business power bloc and the politicians in Washington who serve (it)."
The super-rich name themselves "Meliorists," believers that people can make the world better. They persuade the elusive Warren Beatty to run against Arnold Schwarzenegger for California governor. They conspire to force Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to allow its workers to unionize. They push for universal health care. They start a new political party, dedicated to publicly financed elections. They are so quick, and clever, their foes can't catch up.