Notes on the Occupy movement
There are particular moments in history during which some events not so typical on its own hide through their folds explosive capabilities that only later turn out for what they really are.
One of these was the demonstration that took place in Saint Petersburg on Sunday, January 22nd, 1905, when thousands of workers, lined up behind ikons, bore a peaceble plea to the zar, Nicholas the 2nd. Noboby could imagine that behind those ikons was the ominous shadow of the revolution moving forward from the West to the East, and that would produce in a dozen years the seizure of power by the Russian working class.
The historical trend can't be very different when drives people and institutions into an unavoidable and unconscious breaking off with an entire era.
If we said that behind the Occupy movement – born in Zuccotti Park seven months ago - moves no less then the world revolution unbeknown to every single occupier, we would probably arouse belly laughs among our local movement of political opposition, being so over balanced to the ideological aspect and unaware about the practical outcomes that the real movement is getting. It is to remark that the same statement would be less baffling within the same American movement: "the only solution is WorldRevolution" (occupywallst.org home page).
The revolution doesn't pick and array its militants on the basis of what they say or think they're doing, rather on what they concretely do being forced to. Somehow we've got to overcome decades of labour peace, parlamentary chatters, democratic mystification and class collaboration. We need ideological remains of past eras to be swept away; we need to dissolve as soon as possible this lead blanket looking like a bad dream covering new future perspectives. Occupiers have already taken giant steps by which they show to the world how to break old organizational schemes adopting leaderless organizations, i.e. without any power structure or chief.
It's natural how the need to go beyond the existence appears so indirect and fuzzy being the social background so corrupt and far from political models and expectations we get used to. Such a setting would inevitably lead history to pass through secondary means, the less ideological as possible, using all the best it can find within its reach. And that's exactly what happens when networking models with blurry edges turn themselves into valid tools for class struggle.
We do not expect theory to merge with practice immediately. Words and deeds cannot match yet within the Old World until a solid and lasting anticapitalistic environment is set, as the Trade Union headquarters and working class organizations were being at the beginning of the 20th century: if the background of the middle-class breeds individualism, competition and selfishness, then we shall do anything to subvert this wicked society, giving life to those communities bound to occupy the whole of that, and burning all the boats to non-socialist background. We need to look at this growing environment, besides the ideological proclamations by those who are part of that. We need to pay close attention to the pression this community is putting on the weak spots of capitalism.
Only few months are gone from riots in Tunisia and from the first general strike in Oakland. Events are blistering pace, such as the breakdown of Arab regimes, or coordinated riots in dozens countries. The reasons for social breakdown are to be found among the evil effects of a system that is collapsing on itself. That's the reason why the whole of this movement is expressing a persuasiveness never the previous ones have ever had.
After a few months, the mass of people from Egypt get back to occupy the same places where the riots started, clashing more powerfully against those first taken as allies. Permanent square occupations, frequent assemblies and fightings against state deployment bring along into the movement rules of organizing that feed wealth of experience open to everyone in real time. Internet is a crucial tool for coordination. It is worth pointing out a letter by "Comrades from Cairo", published in The Guardian on 25th October, 2011: "To all those across the world currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. (…). Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call "the Arab spring" has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years-long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a system that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants (…). An entire generation across the globe has grown up realising, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. (…). The current crisis in America and western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well. (…). So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new. (…). And so the occupations must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform (...). Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious."
We shall not be surprised if a part of the Occupy movement has exalted the value of nonviolence, because the reality is driving this pointless pacifism to be overcome, being the American society extremely repressive. Up to now there have been thousands of arrests, and the movement has denounced that the American police is using military techniques as to stop protests before they could start. Such a scenario seems to remind the efforts against revolts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The call for the general strike on 12th December, 2011, which has involved the ports of the West Coast of the USA, was a crucial step able to make the struggle more radical. Indeed the mobilization has started not to claim anything, rather than in reprisal against the system of "the 1% who keeps on firing, starving and not respecting workers' life acting in a anti-human way". This includes the call for a Global General Strike on May 1st: "The corporate media claims that Occupy's strength is waning, but they are merely in denial. During the coldest months of this year, the United States has already seen more revolutionary momentum than it has in decades. This winter, we refocused our energies on fostering ties with local communities, saving homes from corrupt banks (…) building and expanding our horizontal infrastructure. This Global Spring, we will take the streets again". Calling for general national strike in the USA is illegal, federal anti-strike law were set in 1947, and companies are allowed to replace either temporary or permanently workers who downed tools. Despite that, we'll have "No Work, No School, No Housework, No Shopping, No Banking". Appealing for 99% against the 1% may seem a wavering wording, but it's going to be a powerful antidote able to counter the ideological influence exercised by the ruling class. Not to mention that this call well fits to a society where the reformism doesn't work anymore with nothing left to share out.
So welcome to May 1st, International Day for Workers, memories of the massacre that took place in Haymarket, Chicago, in 1886, when police was once again defending the interests of the 1% by attacking and killing those workers who had joined the strike to obtain a working time reduction. Contrary to what politicians tell, class struggle is still alive during the 21st century, and still hitting workers, employed or not.
"Instead of finding common ground with monsters, it's time we fight them" (Occupy Oakland)
Ch86 - April 2012