Occupy Wall Street has given U.S. capitalists high hopes that clash with the egalitarian goals of the movement's rank and file. The bosses dream most fondly of enlisting OWS in re-electing war-maker Obama, who just upped the likelihood of a new major war by killing twenty-five Pakistani soldiers and opening a U.S. Marine base in Australia, opposite archrival China.
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), U.S. imperialism's top think tank, gushes that the occupiers "could emerge as a battle-hardened cadre of skilled organizers well-positioned to influence the issues at stake in the 2012 elections" (CFR website, 11/11/11). The CFR thinks that OWS can help sell Obama's push to tax the rich to pay for global war readiness, in the guise of "fairness" and job creation: "Increasing taxes on capital gains and closing corporate tax loopholes would allow renewed investments in critical public goods like roads and railways."
This plan dovetails with the U.S. Army War College's calls for renewing "infrastructure required to effectively project our military forces overseas" (USAWC report, 3/15/06). But many in OWS see through the voting booth farce. At the New York City camp near Wall Street, the idea of voting was highly unpopular. Some protesters sat on voter registration tables set up by Democratic Party flunkies and refused to register.
Bosses Misguide Workers with '99%' Politics
Savvier ruling-class strategists, however, understand that the success of OWS reflects the growing alienation of Obama's base due to widening Middle East wars and a flagging U.S. economy. In the liberal, imperialist, Rockefeller-bankrolled Nation magazine (12/12/11), William Greider wrote, "Many of the young people and minorities who campaigned and voted for [Obama] in 2008 might drift away to Occupy's direct action... [and] may just skip voting in 2012."
On the other hand, Greider sees how his imperialist masters could benefit from the lack of revolutionary, communist leadership within OWS: "Yet this new force can ultimately help Obama if he responds to its message. Led by the young, the movement is aligning with the reviving militancy of labor and other progressive constituencies. The spirit is open-armed and patriotic, not negative and divisive.... [T]his movement is not about electoral politics — not yet, anyway. It is about saving the country."
"Country-saving" boils down to promoting workers' patriotic loyalty to "their" nation, which is controlled top to bottom by the bosses. This translates to all-class unity to support the bosses' imperialist oil wars abroad, and domestic fascism to guarantee control of the working class in the U.S. The chief goal of legislation like the Patriot Act is to intimidate the working class and to cut wages, pensions, Social Security, Medicare and other social services without resistance.
Nicolaus Mills, a Sarah Lawrence professor funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, likened OWS activism to the "youth-inspiring" president who helped launch U.S. genocide in Vietnam. She asserted, "In his Inaugural Address, President John F. Kennedy declared that the torch had been passed to a new generation. A year later, in its Port Huron Statement of 1962, the group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), took Kennedy's generational declaration a step further, insisting that the time had come for America to make a new commitment to social justice. For SDS, an organization dominated by college and graduate students, participatory democracy was a version of Occupy Wall Street's horizontal democracy" (CNN, 10/26/11).
In the 1960s, our Party worked mightily within SDS to expose and attack its class-denying, nationalist politics, and to advance the internationalist idea of anti-racist, anti-imperialist, working-class communist revolution. We forged an anti-racist worker-student caucus that exposed the deadly error of uniting with the liberal Democrats' stand for "negotiations" with the Vietnamese. We stated that there was nothing to negotiate. With U.S imperialism invading Southeast Asia and slaughtering millions, our demand, in the interest of the international working class, was simple: "Get out!" PLP raised this slogan within the SDS and in the shops and unions until it became a nation-wide call.
Today we must combat OWS's misleading 99% formulation (see article, page 8). It denies the Marxist understanding of a working class in a life-and-death struggle with capitalists, and suggests that a wealthy 1% of an otherwise undifferentiated "us" are bad but reformable.
This disguises the class nature of capitalist society. We can't afford to ignore that the 1%, the wealthy, use their lackeys to enforce their profit system: the cops and the courts, national and local politicians, military officers, foremen and supervisors, principals and school superintendents. If they are part of the 99%, we have traitors in our midst.
Oakland Union Hacks Stifle Heroic Workers' Rebellion
While the OWS movement has for the most part followed liberal Democratic politics of "tax the rich, tighten financial regulations and reform the system," some exceptions stand out. While New York demonstrators have kept mainly to public places, for example, activists in Oakland shut down its port and several banks for several hours on November 2. In Occupy Los Angeles, PL'ers led an anti-racist, anti-sexist march to the police station, protesting the cops' brutal attacks on black and Latino workers and youth.
But union hacks are effectively pulling the plug on local Occupy activists' demands for a West Coast dock strike on December 12. Disgracing many decades of communist-inspired militancy, which once organized and led the longshoremen's union in a general strike that won a 30-hour week, these class traitors said, "To be clear, the ILWU, the Coast Longshore Division and Local 21 are not coordinating independently or in conjunction with any self-proclaimed organization or group to shut down any port or terminal…." (Journal of Commerce, 11/23/11). West Coast ports represent a vital interest for the ruling class because they underpin potential U.S. war efforts against China.
Clinton's Labor Secretary Robert Reich, commenting on the economic causes of OWS, foresees a fascist political outcome, a new millennium of class collaboration:
Rather than ushering in an era of political paralysis, the Great Depression of the 1930s changed American politics altogether — realigning the major parties, creating new coalitions, and yielding new solutions. Prolonged economic distress of a decade or more could have the same effect this time around. (NY Times, 11/24/11).
Reich Omits the Suffering and Struggles of the Working Class
Reich goes on to mention three decades of U.S. prosperity following World War II, though he fails to elaborate on how that war is now the model for the next big "new solution." He conveniently forgets the more than 20 million working-class war dead since World War II. He dismisses the millions more who will be the victims of World War III, the inevitable future of inter-imperialist rivalry.
Likewise, Reich ignores the recurring recessions under capitalism that throw millions of workers on the street; the massive big-city rebellions led by black workers in response to racist unemployment and police brutality; the huge strikes by steel, electrical, auto, postal, transit and shipbuilding workers, all of whom missed out on "decades of U.S. prosperity."
Such are the "shared fruits of growth," in Reich's phrase, that the class-collaborationist misleaders of OWS promise under capitalism.