Occupy Wall Street: Tasks for the movement

Excerpted from a talk given by Workers World Party First Secretary Larry Holmes at the WWP National Conference in New York City, Oct. 8-9, 2011. Sept. 17 was the 12th anniversary of the start of Occupy Wall Street.

Occupy Wall Street, 2011.

Occupy Wall Street has opened up space. This development, mostly white now, is getting more multinational. It’s growing, and it is affecting oppressed sectors of our class. In the hundreds of cities that are now either engaged in or planning protests, many of these cities are predominantly African American.

The AFL-CIO endorsed it. Other state labor bodies are endorsing it. This is an instance where they should support and not take it over unless they are revolutionary militant trade unionists.

There is something very distinct about this occupation. It is not a demonstration against budget cuts. It is not targeting any mayor. It is not a demonstration defending pensions or Social Security or cuts in education.

It is a demonstration against Wall Street. What does Wall Street represent? Capitalism! It is, in an incipient form, a protest against capitalism. They saw that this crisis created an opportunity to have a political demonstration and a political movement.

Anybody who is a veteran of the revolutionary struggle in this country has had to ask themselves: Did we see this coming? Should we have seen this coming?

I think we should have seen it coming. The evidence was there: the growth of the movements in North Africa, especially Egypt, and how that spiraled into Europe. 

The world has changed. The scientific-technological revolution has changed how people relate to each other, and it has changed politics on a global basis. The world is smaller. Social relations are closer. Europe is not thousands of miles away; it is a click away on a computer. Athens is New Jersey. Spain is the next city. So is Egypt. It is not like it was, even a generation ago.

This is what all this technology has done. Even after the brutal exploitation and oppression, the silver lining is that a lot of what is happening has brought us together and given us new weapons to fight the class enemy.

A writer for Forbes magazine, not Workers World, not a left publication, said the London riots mean global class warfare. He knew something that maybe some of us did not know for whatever reason.

Then there is the radicalization of so many youth and others because capitalism is falling apart.

Students are moving because there is a vacuum. Not that all the unions were in retreat. Wisconsin was the beginning, especially the role that the youth played there.

Even good elements of the left — they weren’t looking for this. Hopefully, Occupy Wall Street is going to wake up the left.

The comrades who spoke before me pointed out the many contradictions in Occupy Wall Street. One really regrettable part of one of their documents is one of the reasons Black, Latine and Asian people are saying, “I don’t know about this.” They say in it that we’re all equal. Well, that is nice, but I am afraid it is not true.

No, sorry. Racism, sexism, anti-lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer bigotry, classism and all sorts of lesser inequalities mean we are not all equal. We need solidarity with those who don’t have equality to liberate them so that they will have equality.

But despite that and other contradictions, we have to support this movement, help it grow. We have to help it spread. We have to defend it against the state.

In this movement there will ultimately be a left, a right and a center. There will be those who will go into the Democratic Party, into some petty-bourgeois thing, and then there will be those who go to the class struggle, to an anti-imperialist perspective, to solidarity with the oppressed, to socialism — that’s the left. Our job is to strengthen that wing. We have to do more.

Some of us with our allies in New York are planning a counter G-20 Peoples Assembly on Saturday, Nov. 5, to counter the G-20 meeting being held in France. Europe is going through what Wall Street was going through in September 2008, except that whatever happens in Europe will affect the U.S. and the whole world. So we could have another Lehman moment. If you remember, that is when the whole capitalist financial system almost collapsed.

This meeting in France on the 3rd or 4th of November is going to be about political leaders, central bankers and other bankers trying to figure out how to bail out banks on the backs of the workers using more austerity, unemployment and depression conditions.

So this is a perfect time to have a counter to G-20, a Peoples Assembly. Occupy everywhere! Build socialism! Shutdown capitalism! Strengthen the revolution! It may be closer than you think.

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