Demand the Impossible: Occupy Everything

By: by: Dr. Al  Soci

TIME MAGAZINE poll indicates that roughly 167 million US citizens view favorably the OCCUPY WALL STREET (OWS) movement.  The number is remarkable given the mostly negative corporate-media coverage of OWS.  As the movement grows it will garner more support because the key problems it is addressing: economic inequality; an absence of meaningful democracy; climate change and related ecological disasters; joblessness; poverty; militarism; and power concentrated in corporations and finance capital, will intensify. Support for a movement challenging “the unelected dictatorship of money,” (Herman) i.e. corporate/finance control over all corners of life (and death), is not surprising.  More than 80% of US citizens believe the country is “run by a few big interests,” 86% think “Wall Street…has too much influence in Washington,” and 79% believe “the gap between rich and poor […is] too large.” 

   Public outrage increases daily:  children living in “official” poverty (always an underestimate) approaches 25% (with 44 million people living in “official” poverty – real poverty may be twice as high); the bottom 40% of the population controls only 0.3% of wealth (basically nothing); the top 10% own 90 percent of American stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and nearly 80% of non-home real estate; the top 1% control 43% of the nation’s financial net-worth (the top 1% possesses more net worth than the bottom 90%), while the richest 400 people increased their individual average worth from “only” $660 million twenty years ago to $2.8 billion today.  There is class war in the US.  It is carried out by a tiny elite ownership-class minority against the vast majority, hence OWS slogan: “We are the 99%” and “we are rising up.”Inequality and poverty matter. Inequality of wealth means inequality of power.  Those with economic power own and control not only the material and ideological means of production, but also the political system (hence, the near absence of meaningful forms of democracy – a problem being addressed head-on by the participatory democratic commitments of OWS), while having power to shape social and cultural environments to serve and service their anti-democratic minority interests. Poverty matters because it sickens, weakens, wastes and destroys lives and futures.  Poverty, in the face of ostentatious opulence, also adds insult to injury.  Such social arrangements are detestable.The power of corporations and finance capital “has reached the point that both political organizations…are far to the right of the population on the major issues under debate” (Chomsky).  The majority of the US population is quite progressive, in contrast to imposed regressive elite policies. Most US citizens, in line with OWS, support job creation over deficit reduction, more spending on education and other social programs and less on militarism, more taxes on the wealthy, and an expansion of social protections.  Furthermore, they see poverty and the related wealth inequality as the nation’s leading moral crisis, want corporate influence minimized in (or removed from) politics, want Social Security and Medicare benefits protected and expanded, support collective bargaining rights for unions, and oppose criminal wars, etc.

  Given the connections between wealth, inequality, poverty, the progressive nature of the US population, and real and intensifying threats to the future young people are now recognizing, it is not surprising there is an emerging and growing popular anti-capitalist grassroots movement in the US, and across the world, struggling to address and eventually overcome concentrated wealth and power. The OWS Movement recently intoned: “We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies…We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments.”  A list of grievances is then shared (including): 

“They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process….”

“They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.”

“They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.”

“They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.”

“They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ health care and pay.”

“They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.”

“They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through control of the media.”

“They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.”

 The OWS movement is clear.  The struggle is against the entire “of, by and for” the rich system (the 1%), capital.  Furthermore, they understand well that the primary role of both the Democratic and Republican parties is to serve and service the interests of corporations and finance capital.  As Paul Street writes “[they] are front folks for the moneyed class.” US       citizens are becoming increasingly aware that substantive progressive transformations of the sort needed to save the future are largely impossible through the election spectacles sponsored by corporate and finance capital.  There, “Hope” and “Change” really means “Servitude to Power” and “Continuity.”

The OWS movement is teaching that progressive transformations arise from ever growing, more inclusive, better informed, more involved bottom-up meaningfully democratic peoples’ struggles that attack theeconomic roots of human, ecological, social and political exploitation and destruction.  OCCUPY!

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