NEW YORK CITY, October 2 — Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has spread to more than 20 U.S. cities, from Philadelphia and Dallas to Seattle and Los Angeles. It adds a significant marker to the growing list of places where the working class is fighting back against the horrors of capitalism. In an era commonly defined by the lack of militant class struggle, recent events in the U.S., Greece, Egypt, Spain, England, Syria, Israel/Palestine and Pakistan are to be celebrated.
But as we celebrate we should be clear: The ideas behind these struggles are overwhelmingly reformist. Most of the participants are fighting to maintain capitalism in one form or another, with disastrous results for the workers in these places. Without communist ideas in the lead, the battles, won or lost, will pave the road back to capitalist oppression.
The ruling class continues to provide opportunities for us to bring communist ideas to the forefront. In New York, the ruling class pulled back the mask of “democracy” yesterday when more than 700 OWS protestors were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. After having been lured onto the bridge by the cops, the protestors were surrounded with netting and taken away on city buses, over the protests of union drivers.
More than two weeks in, OWS has survived nearly a thousand arrests. It has captured the imagination of both workers and students. Watching more than a hundred transit workers march into Zuccotti Park near Wall Street was inspiring.
Police Action Backfires
The NYPD has been trapping and arresting hundreds at a time in order to identify as many dissenters as they can. The KKKops meant to intimidate the protestors, but the police action may have backfired. Most of the youth seem even angrier and more committed to build their movement. Today, protesters were back at Zuccotti Park in full force.
There are many good things about the ongoing OWS struggle. It includes a growing number of young people, workers (employed and unemployed) and students. For many, this is their first taste of fighting back. They show some understanding of why the ruling class needs racism, sexism and wars for oil. Many of these protesters will be faced with a future draft and a decision either to fight in these wars or to resist them. Some are discussing the role of imperialism. The most prevalent chant is “We are the 99%,” making clear the opposition between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of us.
But there are a number of critical weaknesses that reflect OWS’s lack of communist leadership. The movement lacks black and Latino participation. Amid the push for “fairness,” many fail to understand that capitalism cannot possibly be fair. Inequality is essential to the bosses’ system.
Racism Fundamental to Capitalism
The rule of the capitalist class rests firmly on a foundation of racism. All around the world, the bosses make super-profits from the exploitation of sections of the working class, usually defined by race, ethnicity or religion. In the U.S. this primarily means black and Latino workers. The bosses also rely on racism to divide workers and weaken class struggle. Although the OWS movement claims to be a revolution, it has yet to enlist the most oppressed and exploited sections of the working class. Party members have been raising these and other communist ideas at the OWS protests.
There is a long way to go. A recently released statement from the protest organizers says nothing about capitalism or imperialism. The document urges workers to exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone. This is not a political strategy to end the suffering of the worldís working class.
PLP’ers and friends must inject communist ideas into OWS and explain how the police serve the rulers under capitalism. We must show the absolute need to fight to destroy the profit system and to produce for workers’ needs, instead. In the heat of struggle, these ideas will move us one day closer to revolution.
THE WORKING CLASS HAS A WORLD TO WIN!