Occupy Wall Street
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.
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.