Wednesday, October 5, 2011

All day, all week--occupy Wall Street!

Well, that didn't prove to be much of a hiatus. I'm back. I'll be back with book talk soon, as soon as I finish one of the books I'm currently reading, an important exposé of one wing of agribusiness. I couldn't wait till then, however, so I'm reviving Read Red after its brief subsidence to say: Hurray for Occupy Wall Street!

And for the many many other occupations that are springing up around the country.

I haven't gotten to spend much time at the occupation—I'll head there again today after work for the aftermath of the big labor solidarity march—but I've heard and read and seen enough to know that it is a Very Good Thing. Don't let anyone, fake left or unabashed right or phony neutral, tell you otherwise. Yes, the people taking part in this occupation have a range of political ideas, from liberal-reformist to libertarian to anarchist to socialist revolutionary.  So yes, there's no one unified program. Yes, some of them are inconsistent or confused. Yes, their various tactics run the gamut from inspired to not so much. None of this matters. What matters is that a group of young people are in motion in a protest that, whatever its contradictions, focuses on the symbol of the capitalist system of exploitation and oppression. Wall Street. And calls for a reversal of the robbery of the planet's wealth and resources.

It will be good to watch the occupation grow more multinational, although if you've been told it's overwhelmingly white you've been lied to as there are many people of color taking part; their numbers are growing and will continue to grow. It will be good to see its class character turn more proletarian, although if you've been told it's a bunch of privileged middle-class kids you've been lied to as there are many working-class students and unemployed people taking part; their numbers are growing and will continue to grow. It will be good to see the protesters continue claiming their right to take to the streets no matter how violently the NYPD attacks and brutalizes them, as it has several times now, with nearly a thousand arrests on record. It will also be good to watch support expand, as the cops' vicious maneuvers are exposed over and over despite the bourgeois media's best efforts to cover them up, a lá

The Times has been relentless in its campaign to ridicule, demean and belittle the Wall Street protesters. One of my favorite, most bizarre and laughably specious digs, made not only by the Times but by many other bourgeois sources, goes something like this. 'These protesters claim to be against Wall Street companies, against the system that manufactures goods for profit. And yet look at them using these very goods, look at them with their laptops and their smartphones, look at them utilizing the very high-tech goods made by the very companies they target as the enemy. Ha ha aren't these kids silly hypocrites.' Really, New York Times? Really, that's your case? That someone who doesn't like the capitalist mode of production ought not to own or use anything thus manufactured? Which is everything, every item of clothing, every toothbrush, sock, scissors, pen, every low-tech thing along with every high-tech gadget—every thing is a capitalist commodity, so I guess we're all supposed to go wander the streets naked and starving rather than handle any commodity produced by this vile system. You've got it backward, silly bourgeois stooges. We will, as someone you'll be hearing about a lot once said, use your very tools to dig your system's grave.

All of which we'll be talking about a lot this weekend at the Workers World Party national conference. Where I hope to see many participants from the Occupy Wall Street movement.