The Immediate Tasks of Occupy (October 2011)

This original article by Toilers’ Struggle’s author is being republished as part of the reorganization process. 

It’s October 2011, and the far-reaching effects of the Arab Spring have proven themselves still full of vitality and remain permeable as popular protests against worsening poverty, joblessness, and the erosion of democratic rights – along with the glaring increases in social inequality they have each brought in their wake – have returned to the USA nearly 8 months after Madison, Wisconsin rocked both the nation and the political elites responsible for bringing on the offensive of the capitalist class.

Emboldened and inspired by the popular revolutions, uprisings, and mass demonstrations in Egypt, across the Middle East and North Africa, and in parts of Europe – Spain, in particular – thousands upon thousands of American youth and students have attempted to assimilate the tenacity, energy, and conviction of the latter’s direct actions and slogans in the prosecution of the struggle for “real democracy” and economic justice.

From coast to coast, from the largest cities to the smallest towns, the United States is witnessing the emergence of a wave of protests that all started after a few dozen activists descended upon Wall St. armed with the basic premise that it should be occupied and shut down in retaliation for its crimes committed along with the government’s complicity in the form of deregulation and bailouts.

Occupy Wall St. and the rallies held in solidarity with it have become a virtual phenomenon, one gathering more and more supporters and participants with every passing day. The actions have captivated people from a multitude of social backgrounds and classes (including trade-unionists), inciting eagerness to learn what all the excitement and commotion is about, and to both voice and demonstrate their indignation at the political and economic circumstances that directly confront them.

Yet despite the so far energetic and inspirational character of the demonstrations, they suffer overall from the inability to come up with demands that go beyond reforms to financial practices on Wall St. and address the needs of the unemployed, the millions without healthcare, attacks on public education, the exorbitant costs of tuition for higher-education, the dismantling of the Welfare state, etc.

To grow the movement substantially, to incorporate those workers and youth who cannot take off from work or ditch school for an extended period of time to participate in indefinite protests, the movement as it currently exists has to make links with and attempt to assist such layers and segments of the population to bring the struggle into their orbit – into their places of work and education: one that can harness the incredible power they hold there.

By doing so, by shutting down the profit system at its source with workplace actions– and by extension, Wall St. – we can force the government to recognize and implement all of our demands. Patient work and explanation among the masses of workers and youth will be necessary to convince them of the viability of such actions and our struggle. But, nevertheless, the Occupation Movement must transcend its own inherent limitations (isolated occupations in public places and squares) and become a movement of the working millions mobilized directly and immediately against capitalism without making any distinction between “good” and “bad” bankers and bosses if it is to be ultimately successful.

This would seem to suggest that the entire struggle for the slogan of “real democracy” needs precise clarification – especially since the United States, unlike in Mubarak’s Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, etc, has a parliamentary-democratic system already in place.

However, failure to account for the class character of America’s political system and which class it directly serves, leaving things at “democracy” in the abstract or without raising the question of “democracy for whom,” can lead up a blind alley – just as it did previously in Spain.

A class-political analysis and critique of the American government is needed if we are to elaborate, win, and build the form of democracy necessary to break the stranglehold the bankers, financiers, and rich capitalists currently have on us. But before we can even think of achieving this, the movement needs to develop and elaborate a program of direct action on the basis of directly naming capitalism as the main enemy and the immediate target of our protests and demands. Doing so could be instrumental and drawing hundreds of thousands more workers and youth around a new, exciting project and struggle. It could allow for the emergence of a new, healthy discussion and argument of the necessity of building socialism as the only alternative to capitalism in crisis and to win ever more workers and youth to such a perspective.

October 11, 2011

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