Occupy 4 Jobs comes at a different time and in a different context than previous coalitions/united front groups. "Occupy" as a word has a new and militant connotation for the activities of the oppressed, not just the oppressor. While WWP activists have for decades operated on a "68er" platform [coalitions > marches > teach-ins > campus activism > coalitions > marches], the #occupy movement took that normally long-term and behind-the-scenes process and planted it at the site of contestation. No more church basements or outre coffee shops for semi-public or public coalition and march planning meetings. The entire operation would be conducted in the open on the court house or city hall or stock exchange grounds.
In such a world, how does a Marxist-Leninist party that has christened its work "Occupy 4 Jobs" find its way? What map readings and proposed courses do they propose in the new political landscape inaugurated by #occupy?
It strikes me that Occupy 4 Jobs has a decidedly pre-#occupy look to it. Go to their website, and there is precious little talk about actual occupation; instead, we are greeted with the art for a march on January 16, 2012 at New York City's Union Square: Make King Day Occupy 4 Jobs Day
This is a far cry from OWS. But it is more than that. It is an organizational reversion: using the term "occupy" as a tag on the same types of events that WWP activists have launched for years. A cynic would say this is opportunist pandering or - just as bad - tailism.
In January 2011 the WWP united front group Bail Out the People Movement had a MLK Day march. Marches were organized for jobs around MLK Day in 2009 and 2010, as well.
The "Occupy 4 Jobs" project is problematic. To begin with, as a communist, I want to know whether this is a strategic program for party-building, or a replacement for party-building by a group succumbing to movementarianism. Second, I want to know whether there will be actual occupations of capitalist property, and if the occupiers are committed to their occupations until they are hired.
Are we talking about occupying state and federal employment offices? Or are we talking about occupying employers who refuse to hire more workers?
Will we occupy closed stores and factories and re-open and run them?
Reading the Occupy 4 Jobs Call, it strikes me that O4J wants to be all things to all people, and so runs the risk of amounting to nothing. How many times have a handful of activists exhausted themselves on a project or campaign that sought to capture the temper of the times, only to realize too late that their plans were ill-conceived and their priorities, while echoing the excitement of the moment, misplaced.
In essence: Of what is Occupy 4 Jobs the name?
The communist movement today is smaller, weaker, and more marginalized than ever. The #occupy movement, for instance, is not a communist project. For good or ill, it is the product of petty bourgeois radicalism: a semi-anarchist initiative living and expanding within the political zone we dominated in capitalist society for nearly a century.
A few radical scholar activists have started seriously discussing communism, but does this freshening breeze predict future storms, or extirpation?
Occupy 4 Jobs will eventually find itself in counterposition to #occupy, whatever form it takes as the winter months go by. The idea that O4J can become a more Black and more proletarian #occupy, and represent something more real or authentic in this crisis-ridden society, is a daydream. Communists long ago debated the counterposed strategies of "dual unions" vs. "boring from within." Today we must honestly say there is not the mass motion to accommodate dual structures or organizations. We must work within existing and spontaneous structures as they develop and live, and bend every effort to allow more Black and proletarian elements room within them. Occupy 4 Jobs and #occupy are not two superpowers establishing detente or a treaty of mutual aid. They are in contradiction, and since O4J's artificiality and forced character is clear for all to see, it is better for the group to dissolve itself now into the real occupy movement. Whatever work communists do today, better to do it in the living environment that exists, and not in a hobbyists' Potemkin village.