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OWS and the ongoing struggle against capitalism

Published Nov 16, 2011 9:58 PM

Chanting ‘Another world is possible, we are unstoppable,’ protesters march to Zuccotti Park, Nov. 15.
WW photo: Mary Owen

The next time you hear about how terrible things were or are in some socialist country, think about the war being spread right now in the media against the Occupy movement.

Police have cleared out encampments in Denver, Oakland, New York, Salt Lake City — and are threatening to clear out Occupy encampments across the country, citing their concerns for sanitary conditions or the potential for violence.

On Nov. 10, in the vicinity of Occupy Oakland, a man was fatally shot. The coverage of the Oakland shooting by the San Jose Mercury News on Nov. 11 stated: “This is the first slaying near the camp, but there have been fights, reports of sexual assaults, rat infestations and other unsafe and unhealthy conditions at the site.”

All the problems listed here pervade other sectors of society — especially sexual assaults, which are usually ignored or made to seem like the victim’s fault.

This spring two New York cops were cleared of sexual assault charges even after being caught on tape visiting the woman’s apartment repeatedly during the same night and explaining away their behavior with the most difficult-to-believe stories.

At that point there was no hue and cry in the media to shut down the NYPD. Given its daily crimes — of stop-and-frisk, wholesale occupation of poor communities, the assassinations of mostly Black people, the violent attacks on OWS and other protesters — that would have been a righteous call.

The movement spawned by OWS is growing more political, taking on everything from union-busting to foreclosures. That is why the media, politicians and police are threatening OWS. It has nothing to do with any problems, some of which might be very real, that exist in the Occupy encampments.

Whatever problems the Occupy movement has, its existence — which by defying private property has given birth to a fighting people’s movement — represents a step forward for the fight for justice.

Example of socialist countries

With minor modifications, that same sentence could be applied to the countries that had socialist revolutions. Their achievement — societies where finance capital could not call the shots — was a progressive advance for humanity.

From the Soviet Union to Cuba to China, socialist revolutions were heroic struggles waged by millions of workers who overturned capitalism and established states that put their needs first.

But these countries were under attack from day one. The Soviet Union was invaded by 14 imperialist countries in the first two years of its existence. Tiny Cuba to this day is under the U.S. blockade established in 1962, which prevents companies from trading with the island, depriving it of medical supplies and food.

Just as important as the military war against these countries has been the political and ideological war. In order to tear these countries down — which it did in many cases — the centers of imperialism lie, slander and from every angle try to invalidate societies that established health care, jobs and education as the people’s rights.

Despite their accomplishments, some socialist countries had or still have real problems. But to see those problems as emanating from socialism itself, or to take those problems out of the context of the difficult struggle against capitalism, is to be taken in by those who want to tear down workers’ achievements — like the New York Post, whose front page attacks OWS for being unsanitary, but doesn’t attack the NYPD for seizing the encampment’s generators.

It also doesn’t report how OWS protesters coped with the lack of power by using bicycle-powered electricity. This brings to mind Cuba importing thousands of bicycles from China in the early nineties, after the dismantling of the USSR combined with the blockade left Cuba without fuel for vehicles.

The attack on the Occupy movement is being waged by the same forces of finance capital that want to defeat the revolution in Cuba. And their headquarters are on Wall Street.