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Saturday, 8 October 2011

Occupy Wall Street: how can we take the struggle forward ?

All around the world attention has been drawn to the occupation of Wall Street. The protests have captured the imagination of thousands and inspired new occupations which are spreading across the U.S.

The police crackdown in New York, intended to intimidate this movement, completely failed to break our spirit. Now we are more determined than ever to fight. Inspired by the revolutionary upheavals in Egypt and across North Africa, as well as the mass youth occupations in Spain and Greece, protestors have taken to the streets of New York and cities across the U.S. to stand up to the domination of Wall Street and Big Business over our lives.



Below the surface there is deep anger in U.S. society which only seemed to be getting a twisted expression in the right-wing lunatics of the Tea Party. But the mass movement in Wisconsin this spring, and now the occupation of Wall Street provide a glimpse of the enormous potential to turn that anger into a progressive social movement.

How can we take the struggle forward?
Many are occupying to “liberate space” in order to build a new, more equal and just community, hoping it will inspire others to follow. While the Wall Street occupation is an example of a community based on democracy, cooperation and solidarity, unfortunately the occupation alone will not be enough to build a mass movement capable of changing society.

Many have alluded to Egypt saying that a growing occupation with one basic demand is how the dictator was overthrown. But in fact, the situation was more complicated than that. In the week before Egypt’s dictator Mubarak was ousted, the working class entered the scene with decisive strike action paralyzing key parts of the economy.



The occupations in Spain and Greece have been much bigger than Wall Street, but they too need the more powerful forces of the working class to move into action in order to win. In Wisconsin, a huge occupation of the Capitol lasted for over 3 weeks and was at the center of mass demonstrations of the workers and youth. They could have won if that movement had moved toward a general strike of public sector workers to shut the state economy down.

Instead the Wisconsin battle was consciously derailed by the Democratic Party and the top union leadership by diverting the mass movement into a campaign to recall the Republicans from power in order to elect Democrats in their place. However, the Democrats, like the Republicans, are a party of Wall Street and Big Business, and they offer no solutions. We need an independent struggle which seeks to draw in the widest layers of workers and youth. United we have the power to withdraw our labor, stop “business as usual,” and hit the banks, corporations and ruling elite where it counts.

We need to build up the confidence to take such bold measures. That’s why Occupy Wall Street needs to call for mass demonstrations around key demands that address the burning issues that working people and youth face like jobs, education, healthcare and so on.

System Change
Not only the economy but society as a whole is in a deep crisis. Global capitalism is a failed system that cannot overcome the problems of growing inequality, poverty, mass unemployment, environmental destruction, and war which it creates. The movement has to challenge Wall Street and both parties of big business. We must stand up to their policies where they try to solve their economic crisis on our backs in order to maintain a system which only benefits the elite in the first place.



But we must also provide a clear alternative. We need to fundamentally transform society to one not based on profit but instead on meeting everyone’s basic human needs. The only real alternative to corporate greed and capitalism is democratic socialism where the economy, workplaces, and society as a whole is democratically run by and for the vast majority of people.

Join Socialist Alternative! We Say:
•Spread the occupations across the U.S. and into schools and communities. For systematic, mass campaigning to mobilize the widest layer of workers, young people and labor unions into struggle.
•Organize weekend mass demonstrations that call for: No cuts to social services, A massive jobs creation program, Major tax hikes on the super-rich and big business, End the wars, Slash the military budget, and Defend union and democratic rights.
•Build up to the November 16-23 National Week of Action to combat the Congressional Super Committee plan for $1.5 trillion in cuts to social services. We demand jobs not cuts!
•Prepare to run independent anti-corporate, working-class candidates in 2012 to challenge the policies of the two parties of Wall Street as a first step towards forming a new party of the 99%, a mass workers’ party.
•End the dictatorship of Wall Street! Bring the big banks that dominate the U.S. economy into public ownership and run them under the democratic management of elected representatives of their workers and the public. Compensation to be paid on the basis of proven need to small investors, not millionaires.
•Build the movement to replace the rotten system of capitalism with democratic socialism and create a new society based on human need.

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