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Occupy Wall Street

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Image from Lenin's Tomb

While I have a lot to write on about the Occupy Wall Street actions that have been going on all over the United States I will leave it to the venerable blogger Richard Seymour as he more or less puts the whole thing into perspective.  One thing I will be watching out for is how the emerging leading sections of Occupy Wall Street treat the question of monopoly capitalism as being tied to US imperialism and how to focus on taking the system of US imperialism down instead of solely focusing on financial institutions.

Richard blogs:

Where does Occupy Wall Street fit into this?  It is not my objective to pigeon-hole it as either a revolutionary or reformist strategy – it is neither, in fact.  To put it in what will sound like uncharitable terms, it is baby-steps, the experimental form of a movement in its infancy, not yet sufficiently developed theoretically or politically to be anything else.  There is a sort of loose autonomism informing its tactics, while its focus on participatory democracy is redolent of the SDS wing and the Sixties ‘New Left’, but it is not yet definite enough to be reducible to any dominant strategy or perspective.  It is, however, potentially the nucleus of a mass movement, and how it relates to the problems addressed by both reformists and revolutionaries now will make all the difference in the future.  At a certain point, the severity of the state’s response to it will force a theoretical and political clarification on its (official or unofficial) leadership.  Recall how the high watermark of Sixties radicalism in 1968 was also the moment at which the state got serious in its repression.  This was the year in which the term “police riot” was invented to describe Chicago cops’ response to protesters outside the Democratic convention, where police mercilessly assaulted protesters and bystanders alike, while students chanted “The whole world is watching”.  This was the year in which the FBI murdered several black leaders.  It was in the years that followed that the movement was forced to crystalise politically, to become a much more grim undertaking – though with the unfortunate drawback that many of the leaders were drawn into the most ultra-Stalinist politics while others simply took their ‘community organising’ schtick into the Democratic fold.  So, I would say that if a mass movement emerges from this, the early orientation of Wall Street occupiers to the major strategic questions will make a big difference.

  1. Saturday, October 15, 2011 12:50 pm

    Occupy Wall Street has so far been successful in enlisting the support of a number of leftish celebrities, prominent unions, and young activists, and has received a lot of media coverage. The protestors have successfully stood their ground against Bloomberg’s attempt to evict them.

    But this victory can by no means considered final. Rather, it tasks us with the question: “Where do we go from here?”

    If this successful moment of resistance against the coercion of the State is to signal a turning-point for this movement, it must now address the more serious political problems that confront it. It is crucial that the participants in these demonstrations ask themselves where they stand in history, and more adequately conceptualize the problem of capitalist society.

    Though Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy [insert location here] in general still contains many problematic aspects, it nevertheless presents an opportunity for the Left to engage with some of the nascent anti-capitalist sentiment taking shape there. To this point, most of the protests have only expressed a sort of intuitive discontent with the status quo. In order to get a better sense of what they are up against, they must develop a more adequate understanding of the prevailing social order. Hopefully, the demonstrations will lead to a general radicalization of the participants’ politics, and a commitment to the longer-term project of social emancipation.

    To this end, I have written up a rather pointed Marxist analysis of the OWS movement so far that you might find interesting:

    “Reflections on Occupy Wall Street: What it Represents, Its Prospects, and Its Deficiencies

  2. Nalliah Thayabharan permalink
    Friday, October 28, 2011 7:06 pm

    We essentially have had modern-day bank robbers — except that they wore gray suits and not masks — and there’s been no accountability for it Every day we see energy speculators, war profiteers, managed health-care providers, media propagandists, and/or financiers of Wall Street given some unfair advantage over the average consumers and taxpayers, and the cumulative effect of the American people watching selfishness prevail over the public interest has been an undermining of the public’s trust in government. There’s no question the system is rigged against the little guy. The Wall Street interests have a lot more information. They jerry-rig the system so that they always win. Oligarchy is political power based on economic power. And it’s the rise of the Wall Street in economic terms, that it’d turn into political power. And Wall Street then feed that back into more deregulation, more opportunities to go out and take reckless risks and– and capture huge amounts of money. The American democracy was not given to us on a platter. It is not ours for all time, irrespective of our efforts. Either people organize and they find political leadership to take this on, or we are going to be in big trouble. That’s absolutely the heart of the problem. I would also say and tell you, and emphasize, these Wall Street people will not come out and debate with us. The heads of Wall Street or their representatives, they will not come out. They’re afraid. They don’t have the substance. They don’t have the arguments. We have the evidence. They have the lobbyists. And that’s all they have. Wall Street Corporations don’t make anything. They don’t produce anything. They gamble and bet and speculate. And when they lose vast sums they raid the U.S. Treasury so they can go back and do it again. Never mind that $50 trillion in global wealth was erased between September 2007 and March 2009, including $7 trillion in the U.S. stock market and $6 trillion in the housing market. Never mind that the total amount of retirement and household wealth trashed was $7.5 trillion or that we saw $2 trillion in 401(k)s and individual retirement accounts evaporate. Never mind the $1.9 trillion in traditional defined-benefit plans and the $2.6 trillion in nonpension assets that went up in smoke. Never mind the job losses, the foreclosures and the 35 percent jump in personal and small-business bankruptcies. There are bundles of new money, taken again from us, to make deals and hand out outrageous bonuses. And when these trillions run out they will come back for more until our currency becomes junk
    —Nalliah Thayabharan

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