This weekend saw London join other parts of the world in occupying a major financial district of teh capital in protest to a growing feeling of injustice in the system we live under. I thought i'd just lay down a few of my own thoughts and feelings on it all as it appears to be a interesting developing movement. If you can call it a moveemnt i'm not sure.
It seems to have been something born out of the Arab spring the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions where major squares in towns and cities were occupied and this gained big support. The big bit that many comrades out there are forgetting mainly due to the bourgeois medias attempt at trying to portray working class movements but not fully understanding it is that these revoulutions would not have been possible if it wasnt for large scale general strikes crippling major parts of the state to help remove these vicious brutal dictators. It was not as many seem to believe the result of sitting in town squares for ages lead to the falling of these regimes at all. This common misconception has spread to places like Spain and America where the feeling is if we occupy a place long enough change will happen.
It will not on its own i'm afraid. I dont mean to be cynical but the lack of any structure to this movement can also be its downfall aswell as its advantage.
Much of the media - the bourgeois media has ignored these protests up to now but due to the size of some of these occupations have been forced to cover them now. The conclusions many in the media have drawn are interesting. Making out that these protests are against so called corporate greed like it is in any sort of doubt at all.
Also many protesters and commentators alike seem to be loathed to say this is about capitalism. Saying it is about corporate greed is great but why are they so afraid to call it what it is, capitalism i wonder.
Whilst many trade unionists observe this movement growing it will be interesting how the wider working class react to this. So far the protests seem to be a wide range of protesters. Students, graduates, left wing activists the usual sorts you may think. But also some ordinary people have come out too. In america some of the trade unions have linked up with these occupations and offered solidarity. But if the same thing will happen in this country it is unclear as yet.
The success of these occupations will be judged on how well it can link up the struggles of workers those who are facing the cuts and pay cuts right now. Will they look to join with the public sector strikes on 30th of November ?
It is key to it spreading and growing if they link up the struggles to a wider movement of the whole class. One of the slogans popularised in America has been " we are the 99%" which is a clever slogan but i somewhat doubt these 1000 or so speak for the 99% the so called 99% is made up of lots of different parts of the working class and all have their own struggles day to day. The importance to relate to them all to form a clear list of demands will be key to this progressing into anything long lasting and meaningful.
Many who have fell out of love with mainstream politics which i can fully understand and sympathise with have claimed this is a fully autonomous movement with no leaders and this is encouraging more in. But this tactic made popular by the likes of UK uncut has its limitations. When decision making comes and decisions need to be made to root the movement in the working class quite often no one is held to account leaving the movement to stray in all sorts of directions. This can be an disadvantage if the wrong sorts of tactics and ideas are put forward. All ideas are good to hear but due to the lack of democracy and leadership this could fizzle out if not given a solid foundation in the struggles of ordinary working people.
The occupations which are in their 3rd or 4th week in Wall Street in America now have been analysed by socialist alternative our part in America part of the CWI here is a analysis they have made of the occupations and the directions so far.
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.
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.
Committee for a Workers' International
Just a few initial thoughts i'm sure i'll be revisiting this growing idea and movement in the coming weeks and months as we move towards november the 30th where we ccould possibly see the biggest number of workers out on strike since the first day of the 1926 general strike. That to me will be far more key to winning the battles against the cuts and uniting the struggles in a organised way.