Youth in the U.S. are totally justified in hating the 1%. This small elite of ultra-wealthy people has left us with barely any future to look forward to.
The 1% is the capitalist class. They own the big banks, factories, industries, oil wells, big-box stores and “commanding heights” of the economy. They own the world, and the rest of humanity can only live by selling our labor to them. The wages we get in exchange are practically nothing. The working class — the 99% — has created the wealth of the entire world, yet the 1% gets to own it.
Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy movement are a glorious development. It is the “generation without a future” pouring into the streets and fighting back. “It’s like a neon sign has been put up in the sky announcing ‘Rise up! Rise up!’ ” said Larry Holmes, Workers World Party’s First Secretary. As a generation, many of us are rising up.
We may not be able to find a decent paying job with benefits. We may be in debt for decades trying to pay for our education. We may not be able to look forward to any economic comfort or the so-called “American Dream.” But we can certainly fight back against these conditions!
We can take over public space! We can seize bank lobbies! We can construct barricades! We can defy police orders! We can create chaos and unrest in response to the tyranny of the rich!
We are a new movement of militant young radicals, and as our movement deepens and grows, what we need more than anything else is to make allies. We cannot stand alone against the 1%.
The 1% has made enemies all over the globe. In Paraguay they just carried out a coup and overthrew a popular government. The 1% bombed and destroyed Libya, leaving it in ruins and killing thousands because Libyans dared to keep the oil profits for themselves, and not hand them over to Wall Street. With their guns pointed at Syria and Iran, they are threatening a wider and bigger war in the Middle East. The 1% and its Pentagon are locked and loaded, ready to spill the blood of anyone who defies them.
The same New York Police Department thugs of the 1% that clubbed heads in Zuccotti Park are stopping and frisking people of color every day. They are also targeting lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people. There is a crisis of police terror around the country, as cops murder innocent Black and Latino/a people with a free hand, often facing no penalty. There are more than 2 million people in prison in this “free” country, and more prisons are being built all the time. Children of six or seven are being dragged out of school in handcuffs. A racist thug killed Trayvon Martin, and almost got away with it.
When people of color resist police terror, they are fighting against the 1%. When people in Libya resist NATO occupiers, they are fighting the 1%. When immigrants resist vigilante terrorism and repressive laws in Arizona and elsewhere, they are fighting the 1%.
Capitalist class versus working class
These are not simply struggles of wrong against right. They are struggles of class against class.
The rule of the 1% is a built-in feature of the economic system of capitalism. Capitalism in its highest stage, where the wealthy bankers in a few countries dominate and repress working people the world over, is called imperialism. That’s where we’re at now.
Racism, anti-immigrant bigotry, police brutality, anti-LGBTQ oppression, sexism and the oppression of women, the marginalization of disabled people, the continued drive toward war and destruction, unemployment, mass poverty — all these things flow from this system of capitalism/imperialism. This global system is in an economic meltdown, and all over the globe people are feeling its desperation and viciousness.
If OWS is going to grow stronger and more powerful, we have no choice but to join with all the forces involved in this worldwide struggle. Only with millions on our side, from every walk of life, can we truly move toward bringing capitalism/imperialism to its knees.
Can you imagine how the world could look if we actually defeat the 1%? We would hold all the productive power and wealth in common so we could plan the economy in order to eradicate poverty, homelessness, unemployment and all other profit-borne horrors. We could clean up the environment and make sure the earth’s resources are sustainable for future generations. We could work toward liquidating all oppression and discrimination and building true equality.
But we can’t do it alone! Sam Marcy, the founder of Workers World Party, called this all-encompassing struggle the “Global Class War.” And it is a war. The 1% has made a mess of the world, but they have no intention of handing it over to the rest of us without a fierce fight.
Youth in Syria, Iran, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Belarus and Venezuela are fighting to keep the 1% out of their homelands. Palestinians are resisting Zionist occupation. Prisoners are fighting back, demanding an end to tortuous conditions. Workers are fighting to protect their unions.
The battle lines are clearly drawn. Now, as this battle rages, the OWS movement must clearly answer: “Which side are we on?” and “Are we ready to fight until victory?”