Nader Speaks on Fiction Foray

Ralph Nader, the left-wing activist and frequent presidential contender, promoted his new book—“‘Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!’”—to an audience of mostly Harvard Law School students last Friday at HLS, his alma mater.

A prolific author of non-fiction works such as “Unsafe at Any Speed,” Nader attempts the genre of fiction for the first time in “‘Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!’” which was released in September.

The aim of the book—which Nader describes as being “practical utopian fiction” rather than a novel—is to describe a future that he sees as both bright and possible.

“I decided to write fiction because if I wrote it as non-fiction no one would believe me,” he said.

Nader’s protagonist is famed investor Warren E. Buffet. The plot describes the imaginary efforts of Buffet and a small coterie of other real-life elites to “take on the corporate goliaths” and “redirect the country toward long overdue changes,” Nader wrote in a recent piece on


But Nader’s speech was not only a promotion for his new book. He used “‘Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!’” as both a call to today’s law students and as a means of discussing some of the larger leftist ideas with which he has long been associated.

While reminiscing about his own experience at the Law School—from which he graduated in 1958—Nader rejected what he called a commercial bias in the curriculum, which he connected with the recent bailouts on Wall Street.

“The law is being evaded, circumvented, destroyed, and mocked,” he said. “What’s your indignation level? We’re not dealing with trivia here—we’re dealing with our country.”

Nader’s remarks also criticized the “high-risk” investment policies pursued by former University President Lawrence H. Summers and what he described as the silence from law schools nationwide during the Bush Administration’s military actions.

“Where were the law schools? Where were the deans?” Nader asked. “We’re seeing a very serious decay of our legal system.”

Many of the attendees nodded in response to Nader’s remarks throughout the event.

“I think Ralph Nader is an American hero, and I think it was really powerful for him to put in perspective how the status quo when he was here was taken as the way things should be,” said Craig S. Altemose, a third-year law student at HLS and a joint degree candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Asked whether he will read Nader’s new book, Altemose was unsure.

“Eventually, perhaps,” he said. “I don’t get to read too often these days.”

—Staff writer James K. McAuley can be reached at