On the Occupy movements
Recently, protests have broken out in many parts of the United States. The biggest of these is the Occupy Wall Street protest. These protests have been getting media attention recently. There is much hype right now claiming that these events are the beginning of an American revolution. It is important to understand the nature of these events. It is important not to be confused by liberal movementarianism. It is important to see through the hype.
1. Diversity of forces. These protests are diverse, but the overall movement is social imperialist and American populist. Like other high-profile protests, these events have a range of forces involved. While there are forces professing to be communist and anti-imperialist among the protesters, these forces do not represent the majority of the protesters by any means. Alex Jones-inspired, rightwing, crackpot populist groups have exerted influence in some places. The protesters also contain more traditionally Democratic Party forces calling themselves the “New American Dream Movement.” The demands are also diverse. While a tiny minority of people are trying to raise awareness about imperialism and its human toll, the dominant rhetoric of the protesters is economic populism and American patriotism. One of the demands is for a “left” version of the Tea Party in order to “take back the Democratic Party.” Typical social democratic and Democratic Party demands for an increased social safety net are also heard. There have been sometimes well-received open calls to reach out to White supremacists, Nazis, the police and military. In some places, despite police brutality against some of the protesters, there is pro-police and pro-military rhetoric, this has obviously kept many non-Whites and youth away. The overall social-fascist and social-imperialist thrust has meant that many national liberation forces and non-Whites are boycotting the protests or keeping them at arm’s length. Many are looking at Occupy movement with skepticism at present. “Occupy Wall Street? Wall Street is already occupied [by the United States]” is often heard.
2. Conspiracy over class? The narrative of the protests is “the people versus the banksters.” The protests claim to pit the “99% percent against the 1%.” This orientation is reflective of the general outlook of many engaged in the protests. They do not see social forces, they see cabals of elites and “banksters” as the main enemy, not the First World, not the global bourgeoisie. On the whole, they do not see capitalism as the enemy. Rather, they see the enemy as a largely invisible and mysterious elite. The main outlook is not even the typical First Worldist outlook of the vanilla revisionists. Such a narrow conception of the enemy makes the question of friends and enemies almost meaningless even within a First Worldist context. It allows for gross opportunism by almost all First Worldist forces.
3. Fan the flames… of what? for what? Movementarianism of a sort predominates within the so-called “far left.” Within the “far left” of American populism, a kind of movementarianism predominates that does not distinguish between social-imperialist struggles and anti-imperialist ones. There is an uncritical “support everything” mentality. Among the vanilla revisionists, there was a method of organizing that said the job of revolutionaries was to seek out the prairie fires that break out and then fan their flames. The question that has to be asked here is “Fanning the flames… of what? for what?” Politicizing a reactionary social base along economic-nationalist lines is not progressive. This kind of movementarianism is the dominant practice within the political space of the vanilla revisionists, the far left of the Democratic Party and non-profits. This includes the revisionists who will talk of socialism, communism, and even people’s war, and anti-imperialism, while at the same time fanning all the First World economic nationalism that is serves as the ideological justification for imperialism. On the one hand, they tell people that they deserve their First World way of life — which is based on exploitation and is unsustainable. On the other, they say they support — usually through empty solidarity rhetoric or self-serving revolutionary tourism — those who fight what makes that very First World lifestyle possible, those who fight imperialism against the Third World. When “far-left” First Worldist sects can’t deliver, as they never can, their audience turns toward the next best thing, the Democratic Party or they seek answers in more overtly fascist formations. If you make the key issue an increase in standard of living, what happens when anti-imperialism and First Worldist so-called “communism” doesn’t deliver for First World peoples (as it won’t)? Then they turn to the system, to imperialism and capitalism, which does deliver — at least most of the time at present. Without clear and consistent politics opposing social imperialism, opposing First Worldism, Americans, unless they get stuck in a cult, will always turn back to the Democratic Party because the Democratic Party can deliver to an extent or they will turn to overtly fascist formations.
4. No leaders, no New Power. Even if the government could be toppled, at present, this would result only in cosmetic changes because New Power does not exist in a serious way yet. Leadership does not exist. Without New Power, without leadership, there is no revolution. There are not the independent institutions required to fill the vacuum if the old state falls. People who are new to activism tend to overestimate the importance of street demonstrations. Look at Egypt. Street protests allowed a regime to reinvent itself. The most important revolutionary work is not protesting. Protesting, in the United States, is a kind of street theater.
5. Rise of overt, militant fascism? With the recent economic downturn, contradictions within American society have heightened, contradictions within the global bourgeoisie have heightened. These contradictions are still non-antagonistic. However, not by a far stretch, is the relationship between the bottom 99% and the top 1% antagonistic in the First World. They will find resolution within the system in the near future. The overall situation is still one where there is more unity than disunity among the American population as a whole. This is due to the high standard of living made possible through global capitalism-imperialism. We should not overestimate the potential rise of overt, militant fascism at the moment in the United States. In poorer parts of the First World, the potential for the rise of overt, militant fascism is greater.
6. Proletariat? You can’t have a proletarian, socialist, communist revolution without a proletariat. There simply is no significant mass base of communist revolution in the First World. Expecting the populations of the United States to rise up and establish socialism or communism is ridiculous at the moment. We cannot con our way to communism by simply infiltrating movements made up of social forces that oppose us. We cannot simply intrigue our way to power. Although we can use every tool in the toolbox, including conspiring and intrigue, we need to understand that global people’s war and the New Power of the Proletariat is the main vehicle to power.
7. Gather the anomalies. Even though these protests are in themselves not progressive, it is likely that they will contain a small minority of people who can be won to Leading Light Communism or anti-imperialist positions. Put the Leading Light Communist vision front and center. In other words, find those individuals who reject the entire First World way of life. Reject economism. Reject First Worldism. Reject First Worldist so-called feminism. Appeal to the head and heart. Appeal to intelligence and altruism. Look for the most intelligent, the most militant, the most caring. Look for those people who want a whole new world. Equality. Altruism. Sustainability. Empathy.
8. Think big. It is not enough to oppose merely 1%, we must oppose the whole First World. This is not a movement we can lead at present. Its programme, although unarticulated, is too reactionary and First Worldist. This does not mean we should not try to influence people at the protests, especially on the edges. We should criticize First Worldism, economism, White chauvinism, etc. We should influence as many people as possible. We should organize as many as possible under our leadership to oppose the First World and to support Leading Light Communism. We should bring as many as possible in to our fold. If somehow this were transformed into a movement to eliminate the whole First World and establish global equality, we could lead it.
9. Learning moment. For some this will be a big learning moment. We should use the shortcomings of this movement and its inevitable failure (as a revolutionary movement) as a teaching moment. We should point out the problems of demanding a communist world while at the same time advocating First Worldism. The Occupy movement will fizzle or go into the Democratic Party. Seize this opportunity to teach. We are growing. We are on fire even though the economic crisis has put some life into the corpse of First Worldism. We have won ideologically. All they have left is huff and puff, just lies, just arrogance.
10. Stay on course. We have the science, the organization, the leadership to initiate the next great wave.