Check out the KKE video on the general strike in Greece last week:
Check out this link for info about the Occupy Oakland effort
October 11, 20111
Erica Smiley, new contributing editor wth Organizing Upgrade, interviewed Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action Field Director, to get her opinion on how labor and other mass organizations should strategically relate to Occupy Wall Street. Peace Action is the largest grassroots peace organization in the US. Judith is currently helping to coordinate the activities of the New Priorities Network, a newly organized national network of community, labor, faith and peace groups who are working to reduce military spending to fund human needs programs. She is a member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.
Given your existing efforts to make Wall Street pay, how do you think the Occupy Wall Street developments open the door on sharper demands or more focused strategy, if it does at all?
At the October 5 labor demonstration on Wall Street, a labor leader said , “We have found each other.” A new kind of 21st century solidarity is being born. It began in Tahrir Square, spread to WI and Ohio and continues now on Wall Street and in over 900 cities and towns. The era of single issue organizing is beginning to end. The occupations are drawing movements together in solidarity that are not always willing to stand together without a lot of negotiations and pre-planning.
Although the search for strategic allies has always been a part of an effective organizing strategy, what is new is that we must connect with spontaneous actions. We have to be able to meld what we have been organizing to the spontaneous rejection of the status quo and strengthen our organizing with solidarity. Solidarity is as old as dirt. But lifting up and supporting the spontaneous actions by others not a part of the movement we, as organizers have been building, is not.
It is a recognition that we cannot win without responding to new movements, especially when those actions are pointing to the systemic nature of the crisis problems we face.
There has been a lot of commentary either critiquing or defending Occupy Wall Street, when what we really need are thoughts on strategy. It is clear that this is a movement moment. Based on that understanding, how should mass organizations relate to Occupy Wall Street?
It’s an “ah-ha” movement moment or a “magic” movement moment not of our own making. For some of us and our movements, it may have come as a total surprise that people were ready to take direct action against the “the system” in a way that leaps beyond what we have organized so far. That is the new kind of solidarity we have to step up to organize, “finding each other”, going beyond our organizing single-issue silos.
We must find every possible way to support Occupy Wall Street. For those of us who work with the movements that have a history of an organizing culture and struggle, we need to utilize the infrastructure of our movements to mobilize and popularize the significance of the occupations.
We have to encourage our movements to participate in the grand, widespread debate about the significance of the occupations. We need to affirm that together we, the people, can find a way out of the crisis we are in.
We need to find political ways to support the indignation that is at the heart of the occupations. It means helping our movements to be represented and it also means looking further down the road to build the political power that comes from challenging “the system.”
Every time the labor movement joins in solidarity and speaks out in defense of the occupations it ups the ante in the ongoing political struggles because it links labor’s organizing to the outrage against “the system.” When the peace movement stands with the occupations it links the militarization of the federal budget to the anger against “the system.” Unless we have the long view and understand that linking our ongoing organizing to the peaceful, spontaneous outrage the occupations symbolize, we will miss the opportunity to strengthen the grassroots, rank and file understanding of what we are really up against.
How should mass organizations maximize the current political opportunity to make some clear gains in their existing fights to make Wall Street pay, whether through divestment, taxes, demilitarize the economy or other means?
Peace Action is working with others to build the New Priorities Network (NPN), which bringing together racial and economic justice groups, peace and faith and labor to change federal spending priorities. It’s abundantly clear that 58% of yearly federal discretionary spending going to the Pentagon war reflects wrong priorities.
What Occupy Wall Street highlights is that there needs to be strategic relationships between racial and economic justice groups, labor and the peace movement. The solutions are clear, and in the minds of many, the causes of the economic crisis are as well. Poll after poll shows that people believe that the tax cuts for the rich and the corporations and the costs of the wars have driven up the budget deficit. And they are right.
It is not a deficit crisis, it is a revenue crisis. The money has been going to the wrong people and places. Look at the Congressional Super Committee; they are working on over 1 trillion dollars in federal budget cuts. The fact is all they need to do to deal with the budget deficit is end the wars and begin to cut the 58% of discretionary spending that goes to the Pentagon, a budget that has doubled in the last 10 years while only 2% of spending goes to education, 3% to transportation…single-digits to basic needs. So NPN is developing strategic relationships to build a long-term movement. It’s taken years for the military industrial complex to get control of 58% federal discretionary budget. So we need a long-term movement to loosen its grip on it.
The Wall Street occupation is a shot of adrenaline which will energize this strategic alliance/relationship building—building the confidence at the grassroots and at the national level. We’re talking about taking on Wall Street, the banks, this huge military industry that has for decades controlled political decision-making and spending. It re-invigorates the political struggle—stirring up this huge public debate in communities and in the movement about society wide solutions, not simply what the problems are.
We have to ride this wave into the 2012 elections and leverage a highly politicized and educated electorate in defeating the rightwing agenda. We have to organize it into a political movement that “occupies” the ballot box on Election Day. Occupy Wall Street, planned or not, is providing the popular education that can help organize a very politicized electorate to defeat the Right in the elections.
Now, we have a “which side are you on” scenario—including among local electeds like in LA and NYC where city council-members who are taking a stand in support of Occupy Wall Street. We need more of that—local electeds weighing in on national issues and the decisions made on the national level. The occupations are a social movement, not a political movement. Our job is to provide a bridge to take what this social movement has stirred up into the political arena.
We have to continue supporting the occupations, the debates happening in the public arena, but we also have to play our own role as organized movements. We have to play the larger political role to drive home the issues/demands that are compelling people to occupy downtown locations all around the country. Our role, the role of the organized movements, is to amplify the politics of the moment.
Are there any flags that we should be aware of in engaging Occupy Wall Street moving forward?
This is a social movement that has been in the making for some time now—people who are concerned about the environment, who reject the status quo, the 99% who understand that the system is not working for them. It is a rebellion against a system that is dysfunctional and broken. The energetic support that the organized movements are giving is essential. But it would be a mistake to try to replace the role that organized labor and the economic and racial justice movements has played over the years, with the tactic of the Wall Street occupation.
Nonviolent direct action is one tool we have, and we have many others. They’re all important in the fight for justice. We should join the Occupy Wall Street movement because it puts “wind in our sails” as we continue to organize for jobs, prevent cuts to the social safety net and compel Congress to cut military spending and end the wars. But we still have to do the work in compelling Congressional action, preparing for the 2012 elections. We should be in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, but we can’t stop doing what we’ve been doing to defend our communities or in the political arena.
Do you have anything else you want to add?
In Seattle during the WTO in 1999, we had labor and environmentalists and anti-war and land movement , all the justice movements marching together. And there was the beginning of a grassroots movement to change the culture, the politics of global capitalism. Then 9/11 happened and derailed the movement and all that unity. The movements were fractured and people were afraid to protest. Protesting was unpatriotic to some. Under the Bush Administration the anti-war movement galvanized the movements for peace AND justice, and the unity we had then has come around full-circle. The movements are stronger now because we are in a worse mess. Now, the majority of people in the country understand that the rich and corporations should pay their fair share, and we need to bring the tax dollars home from the wars and reduce military spending.
We have to build a ” Move-the-Money” movement that is as social as it is political, and Occupy Wall Street is reminding us that the social aspect of political organizing is critical. It’s about modeling new behavior and developing new relationships with the people who are suffering from the problems of “ the system.” They’re trying to create a society in a microcosm. Given this, the organized movements have to wage a fight to change the political system in the macro. We need a solidarity economy that works for the people not the banks, corporations and the rich. Power to the peaceful!
The “heart” of the 2nd day of the enormous 48 hr strike mobilization was beating in the central square of the Greek capital, Syntagma Square, where the All-workers Militant Front (PAME) organized a huge rally-encirclement of the Greek Parliament . And the second day greatly surpassed the precedents of the previous strikes. The volume and militancy constituted a worthy continuation of the 1st day of the 48 hr strike. At the same time inside the Parliament, after the request of the KKE, a roll call vote was held on the articles of the government’s draft law, through which the new anti-worker measures will be implemented.
It should be noted that the attempts of provocateur mechanisms, with the toleration of the police, to strike at the edges of the people’s rally received a combative and organized response from the well-organized protection of PAME which drove back the hooded provocateurs. It is indicative that demonstrators of PAME received murderous attacks, with one demonstrator seriously injured by the attack of the anarcho-fascists. The well-organized protection of PAME effectively repelled the provocateurs and gave a combative answer to the efforts of the mechanisms of the bourgeois class to disperse the rally.
It should be noted that on Wednesday (19/10) on the 1st day of the strike the government with the majority of 154 MPs which it possesses initially passed the draft law in principle. At the same time hundreds of thousands of people(120,000 according to the police who attempted to downplay the participation) were demonstrating outside the parliament, with the forces of the class-oriented trade unions, which are rallied in PAME having, which was generally admitted even by the bourgeois media, the upper hand in terms of mass participation and militancy of the demonstrators who filled the centre of Athens, in comparison with the forces mobilised by the leaderships of the compromised trade union confederations of GSEE and ADEDY. There was a similar situation in the 70 cities throughout the country, where the forces of PAME mobilised tens of thousands of workers and carried out huge demonstrations and occupations of public buildings.
The Executive Secretariat of PAME saluted “the millions of workers, everywhere, in the private and public sector who participated in the strike, overcoming threats, blackmail, intimidation by employers and government.”
Of course, certain Greek and foreign media, seeking to hide the size of the popular anger, focused on the provocateur activity of small groups- in Greece it is well known that these groups are in excellent cooperation with the security services with the aim of dispersing the mass mobilizations. But their plans did not succeed! The protection forces of PAME once again safeguarded the mass protest of thousands of strikers and only when PAME’s demonstrators left the street in front of the Parliament did the incidents occur, on which some of the media misleadingly focused.
Also on the second day of the strike, the forces of PAME sent a message for an overall conflict with the policy of the government, the EU, the IMF. Together with the forces of the trade unions and the federations which rally in PAME, there was a large participation of students, the next generation of the working class, who demonstrated under the banners of the Students’ Front of Struggle (MAS), the Athens Coordinating Committee of the School students as well as of the self-employed and women with the banners of the Nationwide Antimonopoly Rally of the Self-employed and the small Tradesman (PASEVE) and The Greek Women’s Federation (OGE).
These forces demonstrated the opposition of the working people, the youth and the popular strata to the adoption of the new anti-people measures. They declared the opposition of the people to the new sacrifices for the plutocracy that the social democrat government calls for. They demanded: “down with the government and the parties of capital”, “disengagement from the EU-Working class-People’s power”.
The General Secretary of the CC of the KKE, Aleka Papariga, stated from the strike rally outside of the parliament: “the struggle doesn’t stop today, it is being continued. This torrent must be more turbulent, more radical, more subversive. It can sweep everything away under one condition: that they won’t steal the victory in the nick of time as has happened many times before and a big part of the people is finally trapped in illusions.
China.org.cn, Oct. 18, 2011
The international occupation of squares will define the history of 2011. First those that burst out in the Arab Spring to bring down long-standing dictatorships and then those that developed in Spain and the United States, which touched off a wave of sympathy protests around the world.
The protests in the United States have finally given voice to the generalized discontent against corporate and banking excess. They have exposed the embedded relationship between economic and political power; long-established connections within the state and civil society, that bind layer upon layer of power and exploitation together. Now that the economic reproduction of the system has broken down, these relations are revealed as systemic corruption and nepotism, all concealed beneath a thin veneer of democratic procedures.
The brutality of the free market is accepted when significant layers of the working class feel that their interests are at one with those of their superiors. These circumstances of organic reproduction of the capitalist social system are rooted in economic development and improving opportunities and conditions. The American Dream required many small examples of “pauper to president” style advancement, to anchor itself in popular consciousness and become a material force.
The American Dream, like all dreams, according to Sigmund Freud, was a symbolic representation of unresolved conflicts. Conflicts caused by unspoken experiences and traumas, and which expose the sham illusion of the unity of all classes in the nation. Moments of exorcism of such ghosts are always traumatic and explosive, as one form of dream disappears and anger about this loss of innocence finds expression.
The questions asked lead to dark places. The disfigurement of more than 30,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq, the death of more than 4,000 was this all simply serving the interests and agenda of the rich and powerful and not those of the people? Were any wars in the 20th century serving the people? Were the banks and major corporations once upon a time serving the people? Or were they always profit-seeking exploiters manipulating the masses, using the theater of democratic procedure as a cover?
The U.S. protests gain their vitality from the lack of an encrusted labor bureaucracy. In Europe, for over a hundred years, social democratic reform acted as a buffer to capture the anger of the working classes and channel it into reformist demands for welfare rights and democratic improvements within capitalism. But such demands were muted in the U.S. political mainstream because of, firstly, its imperial ascendancy and virulent anti-communism after World War II, and secondly, its capacity to develop the economy at a rate capable of absorbing internal discontent.
The epoch of U.S. global economic dominance appears to be coming to an end, its internal balance of class forces is unstable and being questioned. Pressure to provide reforms for the masses instead of bailouts for the super rich will become overwhelming. This in turn will shatter the political balance of power, thrusting the working classes and the poor into a decisive position within U.S. politics. The idea of a mass party of the working class if scattered in the winds from the occupation movement will certainly fall on fertile ground.
In Europe, the reformists are embedded to capitalist power relations and so offer no proposals and make no attempt to capitalize on the crisis. Instead of standing at the head of social unrest, they tail-end it waiting for their chance to show their loyalty to the existing order by condemning violence and calling for dialogue. A radical rebirth of the workers’ movement is likely to spring forth over the many months and years of bitter struggle that lie ahead.
It appears that the tide of public opinion in the West is shifting inexorably against the existing structure of wealth and power.
A world in which a few hundred billionaires own more personal wealth than half the population of the world is no longer considered tolerable. As waves of social discontent bring ever-larger layers of the working classes and the middle classes into activity, the central demands for economic transformation will come to focus on public ownership and democratic control of the banks and the commanding heights of the economy.
The author is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:
Athens, October 18, 2011
The World Federation of Trade Unions WFTU wholeheartedly welcomes Occupy Wall Street protestors against finance capital and the corporate powers that have overtaken your country and indeed the world.
The WFTU supports you in your condemnation of corporations that extract wealth from the people and the Earth, that place profit over people and that use their economic power to overturn democratic institutions.
The WFTU welcomes your mass demonstrations that focus on Wall Street and the corporations as the powers behind the foreclosures on homes, the massive unemployment, and the increasing enrichment of the top 1% to the detriment of the rest of the people. We join you in the fight against the degradation of the environment and against the attacks on education and health care. We applaud your efforts to protect the right of workers to form unions and bargain collectively. We, too, condemn the production of weapons of mass destruction for profit.
The WFTUs stands with you in your efforts to organize a fight back that challenges the corporate control of resources and institutions so that the people of your country can build a future that fulfills human needs and aspirations.
Official Statement from Occupy Wall Street
Forwarded by Estelle Jelinek
This statement was voted on and approved by the general assembly of protesters at Liberty Square: Declaration of the
Occupation of New York City
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together.
We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!
*These grievances are not all-inclusive.