WORKERSJoint statement of Workers World Party and Workers World Editorial Staff.Our movement is under attack. We must mobilize to defend it.
The Occupy Wall Street movement seemed to spring up from nowhere. Its program was unclear. But its very existence was a thorn in the side of world capitalism, angering the super-rich on their own turf, and making OWS a pole of attraction for the other 99 percent. Starting Nov. 11, local governments in Oakland, Calif.; Chapel Hill, N.C.; Portland, Ore.; Denver and other cities had their cops clear the encampments. Then billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg struck at the movement’s heart at Zuccotti Park near Wall Street itself. Hundreds were arrested as cops tore apart the park after 1 a.m. on Nov. 15 and trashed the tents, books and belongings of the campers/protesters. And the courts have ruled against Occupy Wall Street, blocking the right of the protesters to set up tents, proving once again that the courts work hand-in-hand with the police and super-rich politicians like Bloomberg.
The simultaneous moves to break up encampments in a half dozen major cities show that those who rule the U.S. want to crush hope while it’s still young.
But our movement is regrouping. Hundreds of OWS activists were back in Zuccotti Park by the evening of Nov. 15.
Then in two days, on Nov. 17, we in WWP will be joining students and workers from various universities and unions in New York who are gathering downtown in what will undoubtedly be another moment of truth for our movement. It is urgent that tens of thousands show Bloomberg and company that when they use cops and clubs, even more of the millions of OWS sympathizers join the active resistance.
The mostly young people who gathered in Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17 created something new and fresh, an uncanny form of resistance. At last. Resistance to 30 years of unrelenting class war. A one-sided war waged by the very rich against working people, unemployed and poor, and especially against people of color, who still face racism and historical discrimination as well as exploitation.
Unionists, politically left people, anti-war activists began to visit the encampments. Many joined in or found ways to show support. If you had been looking for a fightback — here it was. And when Bloomberg first unleashed his cops on Brooklyn Bridge, arresting 700 people, and OWS came back strong, those looking said to themselves: “It’s finally happening.”
OWS spread to a thousand cities and towns. Hundreds of encampments were set up. “Mic checks” and general assemblies became part of popular culture. OWS opened up a space for struggle.
Everyone — from a foreclosed homeowner to neighborhood youths protesting “stop and frisk,” to anarchists waving a black flag, to immigrants fighting for papers, to unionists tired of shrinking membership, to Marxists agitating for the end of capitalism — can come together in this embryonic united front and fight the 1 percent who rule us all.
OWS opened not only a physical space, but an area of political thought away from the frozen, anti-working class debate among the Democratic and Republican Party professionals and the Tea Party ideologues, all pro-capitalist and one more reactionary than the other. Even the electoral arena showed the changing mood, with defeats handed to the right-wing in Ohio, Mississippi and Arizona.
There were other steps forward. Occupy Atlanta renamed its space “Troy Davis Park” after the recent innocent victim of the death penalty in Georgia. Occupy Oakland named theirs after Oscar Grant, the Black youth killed by a transit cop in 2009. Our movement was beginning to orient more toward the most oppressed sectors of the population, and was stronger for it.
Then there was Oakland’s general strike on Nov. 2, which responded to police violence by shutting down the port for a day. How important to underline the central role of the exploited working class in capitalist society.
Now the focus is back on Wall Street itself and the new brutal attack on OWS. There are tens of millions here who want this movement to grow, because they know in their bones that the old capitalist society is trapped in a dead end and that we must begin to fight our way out.
For us Marxists, the way out is the struggle for socialism. We’re ready to debate that question at any OWS encampment. But on Nov. 17, let’s all get out in the streets and defend our movement. Defend Occupy Wall Street!