What next for the Occupy Movement?
Thursday, 08 December 2011 01:50

Let’s build the Occupy movement with a working class perspective! The strength and limitations of the 99% rhetoric.

The Occupy movement has helped shift the political discussion and reminded us all that there are actually 2 Americas: one for the top 1% of our society, who makes all the decisions and accrues all the benefits, and the other 99% (the rest of us) who pay the price of their largess in the form of low wages, cuts to social services and health care. Many working people believe in the myth of the “middle class”, that is to say, those that are able to mira­culously escape class struggle and the conditions of ex­ploitation. The current crisis shows that the middle class shares its fate with the rest of the working class.

The 99% rhetoric has been successful in potentially uniting the vast working class that is divided across racial and gender lines, but also across different professions-with different salaries, levels of organization, and of cour­se, different levels of consciousness. If we are the 99% (and we are!) does that 99% include immigrants who do not have documentation? Does the 99% include Muslims and Arabs? Does the 99% include the LGBT communi­ty? Does the 99% include our working class brothers and sisters locked away in America’s vast prison system? The Marxists’ answer is an unequivocal “Yes!” and unless the Occupy movement is clear on these questions, the 1% we oppose will always be able to divide us and keep us from building a movement united to defend our interests.

The Occupy movement has the potential to go beyond the traditional liberal rhetoric that focuses only on “the negative effects of Prop. 13” and on inequality of income and distribution of wealth (i.e. spreading the rhetoric of “fair share”). It can address the real core issue: how value gets generated under capitalism and who keeps it. This is not just a crisis of “bad management” or “irres­ponsible businessmen and politicians”, nor is it a crisis confined to the financial sphere and the banks.

Capitalism is not a “zero-sum” game. There is not a fix amount of wealth out there to be distributed, there is a relation of production, that under capitalism, condemns the working class to sell its labor power for an hourly rate to survive, and allows the capitalist class to keep the wealth created by the work of the 99%.

The liberal rhetoric does everything to avoid getting at the core class contradictions inherent to capitalism-that is to say to mention exploitation and oppression as evils of the system we need to eradicate.

In fact, the system cannot be simply “fixed”, be­cause it is not just about reshuffling the wealth around, it is about challenging the relations of production and of political power. Capitalism is a system of production for profit, it is a system that puts profit before people. This is the real engine of the system and there lies its major contradiction.

The Occupy movement will soon be confronted with that same contradiction: the fact that the 99% creates the wealth the 1% has. The reality is that some who belong to the 99% represent the interest of the 1% (like the police, the judges, the senior managers etc), so the class interest of the 99% needs to be clarified and made public as soon as possible- for example, through clear demands that challenge the profits and power of the 1% and the politicians that rule for them.

Capitalism and its crises cannot be fixed. On the one hand, economic crises are not an accident; they are embedded in the functioning of the capitalist system in the race of the 1% for increased profits. On the other hand, “fixing” the problems means different things for different sectors of society as long as the current class contradictions continue to be reprodu­ced. The only way of “fixing” the system for the 99% is to dismantle capitalism and overcome it with ano­ther system of production- one to fit our needs, that is not for profit, and that will have new social relations among human beings: a new and democratic form of socialism!

Our solutions to fight back the crisis:

·Nationalization under public oversight of all banks and corporations that  received public money;

·Expropriation of all foreclosed homes that now belong to the banks for public housing use;

·Prohibition of making layoffs for the companies earning profits;

·A real federal plan of public works to combat unemployment and rebuild  infrastructure;

·A Free and universal single-payer health-care system for all;

·End to all wars abroad to refund and expand public services;

·Equal rights for all the oppressed sectors of the 99%: full citizenship; for immigrant workers, equal rights for for the  LGBTQ community.


Related articles: 

- They got bailed out, we got sold out:

- The "arguments" and strategy of the 1%

- The growth of the Occupy movement in California:

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