14 October 2011

Occupation watch: Beware the reformist usurpers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—Beneath the criticism that the Occupation movement lacks a clear agenda is the curious assumption that this spontaneous movement is deficient for not acting like an organized movement, which is lot like castigating a horse for not behaving like a cow.

Would the same critics assess an organized movement on how well it conformed to the behavior of a spontaneous movement? Well, they might, especially if their primary goal is simply some line of argument to rationalize their opposition.

This nascent movement is developing its goals and objectives, very democratically from all reports, and I hope they will articulate a resolute commitment to dismantling plutocratic rule and developing an economy that first serves the common good. Goals of that order will require a strategic focus outside two-party electoral politics. The right to vote is one of the west’s greatest contributions to democratic political participation, but electoral politics in the United States, especially at the federal level, is at this moment in time hopelessly subservient to the interests of the plundering classes. It doesn’t have to be that way, it shouldn’t be that way, but it is, and few would disagree, so it seems counterproductive, maybe even stupid, and perhaps even suicidal to suddenly believe it will function any differently now.

In the meantime, the forces of capital, the politicians they support, and the pundits they favor will ramp up their attacks, which are likely to become bloodier and more pervasive, almost certainly involving citizen surveillance authorized by the Patriot Act and other legislation that were sold to the American public as a protection against terrorism. Their opposition is guaranteed, we are, after all, each other’s sworn enemy

However, a bigger, more insidious threat is posed by the mainstream liberal usurpers, who are salivating at the prospect of harnessing the movement’s anger and energy into support for Democratic candidates and toothless legislative reforms. MoveOn, the liberal policy advocacy and electoral action group, is already attempting to do this by helping to organize bank protests on Saturday, including one starting at noon the Wells Fargo bank at Richmond and Central in Albuquerque.

The movement should be willing to build a popular front with any organization that shares its outrage, ideals and emerging political agenda. However, there should be no illusion about the intentions of the mainstream reformers, who will seek to redirect this grassroots explosion of democratic desire toward another delusional attempt to reform a corrupt political infrastructure. If the Occupation movement is to make a lasting contribution to greater social equality, then it must develop bold, creative approaches that go beyond cosmetic reforms and build new, genuinely democratic structures.

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