Revolution Online, October 10, 2011
The Defiance, Determination and Resistance of Occupy Wall Street
Revolution received the following correspondence:
October 10, 2011: Occupy Wall Street is a most welcome fresh wind of resistance blowing through New York and beyond. As of October 8, the Occupy Wall Street website reports that 1,000 cities in the U.S. will be involved by the end of the month along with hundreds more internationally.
In just three weeks, what began as the determined action of dozens who camped overnight a few blocks from the first Wall Street demonstration has grown to a powerful outpouring of many, many thousands, giving heart to millions more here and around the world.
The protests have tapped into a profound wellspring of widespread anger, alienation and disillusionment with the enormous and deepening inequities of American society. Students staring at the prospect of no jobs to pay off enormous college debt; teachers, public employees, laid-off workers, those who have lost homes and health care, and many others express a deep disquiet, a feeling that the future hangs in the balance, and it is up to us to bring about a different future. People are drawn into resisting the crimes of capitalism and they are drawn to an ethos of resistance in the encampments and the demonstrations that is compellingly opposed to today's frantic American ruthless, cut-throat economic and cultural wasteland. The comment of a Pennsylvania woman quoted in the Los Angeles Times captures the feeling of many: "I've been waiting for this to happen for years... Finally, an awakening!" A student who quit school to live in the NYC encampment said, "It's the movement I've waited all my life for."
In New York, thousands have defied police beatings and pepper spray and mass arrests, refusing to back down. And this has inspired and opened the way for many more to act. There is a very important and inspiring character to Occupy Wall Street: the fierce determination of a core of people who are willing to put a lot on the line to bring to the surface and resist the intolerable economic, political and social situation in U.S. society (and the world); and the continuing determination of the occupiers at the heart of a broader movement to not retreat in the face of threats, physical attack and attempts by powerful voices to marginalize and discredit them. All this has brought forward many thousands more to join and support this movement, and has lifted the hearts of millions more, giving a sense of new possibilities for how society and humanity can be.
This past week, on Wednesday, October 5, an enormous support demonstration of union members, church people and students marched for several hours through downtown New York City. Mainstream media reports said the crowd was 15,000-20,000. Over 1,000 students from the New School, New York University and other campuses walked out and marched raucously through the streets to join the massive march downtown. Every day, hundreds and thousands of people of all ages and walks of life, from youth from the oppressed communities to tourists from around the world to Wall Street entrepreneurs, come to observe, support and participate in the encampment. Prominent figures like Michael Moore, Cornel West, Susan Sarandon, Chris Hedges, Naomi Klein, Slavoj Žižek and many others have come out in support and to lend their voices to the debate and discussion of the world and how to go forward. People are traveling from around the country to join in.
The atmosphere in New York (and at encampments in other cities) is politically charged with mass debate over what is the problem and what is the solution. Is the problem corporate greed and the high-jacking of "our government" by the corporations, or is the problem the capitalist system? And what does that mean? Anti-capitalism and revolution are very much part of the political currency, with widely ranging views of just what are capitalism and revolution. Revolutionary communists are in the midst, and need to be much more working and struggling through the big questions with young people and others thinking and questioning in brand new directions, connecting people with the strategy and leadership, in Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party which he leads, for a re-envisioned, radically liberating revolution.
A cacophony of voices from various quarters of officialdom and the mainstream media whine that this movement has "no demands" and insist that a concrete policy platform be adopted by the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Obama and the New York Times in its October 9 editorial indicate a position among sections of the ruling class more concentrated in the Democratic Party of seeking to channel the broad discontent being expressed into a popular mandate for congressional action like Obama's jobs bill and other "policy measures"—in line with how this section of the ruling class sees maintaining and extending American capitalism-imperialism in this time of international economic crisis.
The "demand for demands" coming from ruling class voices and the mainstream media appear to be seeking the means, political will and rationale to make the occupations and the movement END—which could occur in various ways: whether through outright repression and physical attack, or through the suffocating embrace of powerful forces seeking to channel deep discontent back into the official arenas of political discourse—and ultimately into the electoral framework providing a popular mandate for the next commander in chief of U.S. imperialism.
Part of the power and great potential of this upsurge has been its disaffection with the official political framework. Many people are taking to the streets manifesting broad and deep disdain for a political system that they see as a vehicle for the interests of a powerful minority. This is, in fact, contributing to undermining the legitimacy of a system founded from its inception down to today on oppression and exploitation of people the world over. That this is connecting with and spurring on action among many, many more who are dissatisfied and looking for a way to fight back—is very threatening to the system.
The essential spirit—and the essential demand—of Occupy Wall Street is important and just and should be fought for and supported! That is: to stay, to manifest and to spread resistance to what these new resisters find deeply intolerable in America's destructive and oppressive capitalist way of life. The determination to stay and resist, and to expand the resistance, as long as intolerable horrors continue, should be embraced and deepened, as new challenges inevitably emerge. Any attempts to shut down, confine or physically attack the occupation and the demonstrations cannot be allowed to stand. And the challenges that would reduce the resistance to a political footnote on the official political machinery of American empire as it goes on chewing up lives and the earth need to be met as well—with insistent, determined and expanded mass political resistance.
The deep questioning, discussions and urgent debates at the occupation sites in New York and across the country; the hopeful explorations of real and radical solutions breaking through onto the normally suffocating American cultural and political terrain, at dinner tables, in workplaces, projects, schools—this all holds great promise.
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Revolution newspaper will continue to cover the occupation in New York City and the broader spreading movement, so keep checking back at revcom.us.
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