Fight corporate rule with working-class power
As the Occupy Wall Street spirit of rebellion spreads from NY to LA and around the globe, Establishment politicians are looking for ways to turn the growing movement into “the Tea Party of the liberals.” But what is happening in Liberty Square can be a far more powerful and fundamental force to remake society. Don’t let Occupy Wall Street be co-opted!
Who are the 1% that we’re up against?
Our enemy is not just the obscenely rich of Wall Street and 5th Avenue, but a capitalist system that is in crisis. Some argue that the problem is “unfettered” capitalism, or a lack of regulation. Capitalism is based on a vicious cycle of competition to produce more and more goods and control markets, inevitably resulting in overproduction and huge international monopolies. Economic meltdowns are hard-wired into the system itself.
Labor productivity in the U.S. is higher than ever, yet workers’ standard of living has plummeted. We are now witnessing the largest transfer of wealth in history—from the working class to the ruling class. But this is also capitalism’s endgame because consumers can no longer afford the products that fuel corporate profits. No amount of market reforms, “entrepreneurial spirit,” or “Buy American” campaigns can end the downward spiral.
Who are the 99%?
The majority of this 99% are workers, but it includes small-and medium-sized business owners as well as people who have been forced to the very fringes of society. However, the real power hitters are the workers, not only because of our overwhelming numbers but because we are the ones who actually produce all the wealth and keep society running. We process every bank transaction, transport people and goods, design software, and build homes and airplanes. We pick the fruit, install the cables, tend the sick, and teach the children.
Workers have the power to shut down business- as-usual. The O.W.S. movement can be a catalyst, but until we as workers exercise our power—the general strike being our strongest weapon—the politicians (and the corporations that put them in office) won’t give an inch. We have to hit them where it hurts, in their pocketbook.
And we do that by shutting down our workplaces, stores, offices, and subways.
Ultimately, to win the demands raised at Liberty Plaza will take systemic change. We deserve a society that prioritizes people’s needs; a society in which those who do the work can democratically decide what they produce and how goods and services should be distributed. This is the premise of socialism—to cut out the profiteers and middlemen and put the economic and political power into workers’ hands.
Expand the Occupy Wall Street movement into a
broader United Front
The nationwide occupations are a wake-up call and they have the potential to galvanize a broader fightback. But a “leaderless” movement with no clear program will be easily diverted by Democrats and groups like MoveOn.org that exist to channel movement energy into another round of election- year campaigning for the Democratic Party which promises peace, jobs, and equality, but delivers the opposite. A movement that doesn’t have leadership directly opposed to the system will be co-opted by it.
It’s time for our own party—a fighting, independent political alternative. We need a Labor Party, a third party with a working-class platform that defends working and poor people facing attacks under capitalism. The Democrats and Republicans have played good cop, bad cop with us for too long. President Obama’s phony jobs program is the latest attempt to rustle up our support for a bill that amounts to just another “stimulus” package for private employers, funded with money diverted from Medicare and Social Security. Labor, women, communities of color, the elderly, queers, and young people voted for “change” in 2008, but Big Business is still running the show.
A cohesive working-class movement also needs the voices and leadership of those hardest hit by the recession. Today, on average, for every dollar in a white household, a Black family has a nickel. Latino workers saw 600,000 jobs vanish. Employment of immigrant men dropped by a third from 2007 to 2010. Asian Americans lost a quarter million jobs and Native Americans suffer the highest unemployment of all.
Women overall suffer more under the crisis—the poverty rate for single moms has risen to 40.7 percent since 2008. As a result, one in five children now live in poverty.
Those bearing the brunt of this disaster are also the fiercest fighters. It’s no accident that labor activism has been strongest in public sector and service jobs where women, people of color, and queer workers predominate.
The seeds of a United Front—which would enable socialists, liberals, disaffected Democrats, and anarchists to share and debate ideas, but march as one—are budding in the Occupy Wall Street movement. With working-class leadership, a United Front could mobilize students, unionists, people of color, immigrants, veterans, feminists, unemployed workers, and retirees around concrete demands such as:
• Nationalize the banks under workers' control. Open the books of all banks and corporations to public scrutiny.
• Cancel the debts on student loans, on the mortgages of devalued homes, on foreclosures—and the debts of entire countries impoverished by “Free Trade” austerity measures.
• Establish a national public works jobs program at union wages; revive affirmative action plans in hiring and education; reduce unemployment and spread the jobs around by cutting the work week to 30 hours—at 40 hours pay.
• Tax the rich and corporations to restore social services for those hardest hit by the economic crisis. Fully fund quality childcare, healthcare and education. No cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and reproductive services.
• Defend civil liberties. End police state tactics in communities of color and against immigrants, strikers and those protesting war and Wall Street crimes.
• End U.S. wars and occupations and redirect military spending for jobs and human needs.
Visit our storefront:
Freedom Hall, 113 W. 128 St, NY, NY 10027
To see more photos of this growing movement, go here.
For a downloadable copy of this statement, go here. [PDF, 22 kB]
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