Saturday, October 15, 2011

Statement of the Socialist Equality Party on the Occasion of OccupyWallStreet and Global Demonstrations

The way forward in the fight against Wall Street
15 October 2011

The Occupy Wall Street movement has struck a powerful chord among millions of people throughout the United States and internationally. At the center of this growing movement, which has spread to hundreds of cities, is deep-rooted opposition to the immense social inequality that is the dominant feature of American and world society.

The top one percent—indeed, the top 0.1 percent—are responsible for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, which they have exploited to further enrich themselves. The richest 400 Americans control $1.53 trillion, while a record number of people in the US have been driven into poverty. The median income of Americans has fallen 10 percent since 2007, even as corporate profits and the bank accounts of the rich have soared. Young people face a future with no jobs, in which their education gets them nothing but tens of thousands of dollars of debt.

The protests in the US are part of an international movement against these intolerable conditions. The year began with the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and the outbreak of mass protests in Wisconsin. It has continued with convulsive struggles in Greece, Spain, Israel, Great Britain and other countries. This movement will expand and grow in the coming months.

The critical question is: What is the way forward? Here, the question of politics is central.

There are those who claim that the protest movement can be sustained only by excluding any discussion of politics, parties and programs. The demand for “no politics,” which makes an appeal to the desire among workers and young people for a united struggle, itself conceals a political agenda—that is, opposition to any fight against the corporate-controlled two-party system.

The Democratic Party and its main backers are descending on the Occupy movement. Their aim is to make sure that the protests do not lead to a broader struggle against the existing economic and political order. The AFL-CIO and other groups associated with the Democratic Party want to transform the anti-Wall Street protests into a harmless campaign for the reelection of President Obama, who for three years has faithfully carried out the dictates of the banks.

Politics is about the struggle between opposing classes and social interests. The program of the ruling class—bank bailouts, social austerity, war and the destruction of democratic rights—must be opposed with a political program based on the independent interests of the working class.

The rights of the working class

The Socialist Equality Party proposes that the working class adopt the concept that there exist social rights that are essential to life in a complex modern society and, therefore, inalienable and non-negotiable.

These rights include:

• The right to a job and a livable income

• The right to high-quality public education and health care, free of charge

• The right to housing and utilities

• The right to a secure retirement

• The right to a healthy environment and access to culture

The rights of the working class must be counterposed to the rights of the corporations, which are unconditionally defended by the two-party system—the “right” of corporations to destroy jobs and slash wages; the “right” of the banks to kick people out of their homes; the “right” of the political system to destroy social programs upon which millions of people depend.

For the expropriation of the banks and major corporations!

In its very name, the Occupy Wall Street movement expresses a basic understanding that all of the needs of the working class come into conflict with the dictatorship of the banks and financial institutions over economic and political life. These corporations control vast resources, the product of the collective labor of billions of people the world over.

To break the stranglehold of the corporate and financial elite over society and politics, the banks and major corporations must be placed under public ownership and operated under the democratic control of the working class. This will make available the resources for a multi-trillion-dollar public works program to ensure full employment, eliminate poverty and meet social needs in the US and internationally.

For social equality! Make the capitalists pay for the crisis!

The apologists for capitalism claim that inequality is not related to the economic crisis, as if the withdrawal of trillions of dollars from productive use has no economic impact. The insatiable drive of the financial aristocracy for more and more money has fueled one speculative binge after another and bankrupted the country. The same CEOs who say they have no money to pay decent wages and who carry out job cuts manage to pay themselves and their top executives millions or even tens of millions of dollars every year.

Working people must reject with contempt the claim that “there is no money” to meet basic social needs. Immediate measures must be taken to establish social equality, including reintroducing a progressive income tax and a 90 percent tax on all incomes over $500,000—the tax rate that existed in 1950—along with a wealth tax on multimillionaires and billionaires.

Unite the working class in the fight for socialism!

Capitalism has failed the working class of the United States and the entire world. The time has come for the working class to fight for a different approach to the economic organization of society. The only viable alternative to capitalism is socialism: the reorganization of economic life under the democratic control of the working class to serve social needs, not private profit.

The fight for equality is the fight for socialism. The socialist transformation of economic life cannot be achieved without a struggle. All history demonstrates that the rich never give up their power and privileges without a fight.

The great force for social change, for revolution, is the working class, which embraces the overwhelming majority of the population. The vast majority of the people—whether they work in factories and on construction sites, or in offices, medical centers, shopping malls, schools, university complexes or scientific laboratories; whether they drive trucks, buses or trains or fly commercial aircraft—live from paycheck to paycheck.

The occupation of Wall Street must be expanded to the occupation of the factories. Every workplace must become the center for mass resistance to the attack on the rights of working people.

To organize and unify these struggles and direct them against the capitalist system, a new party must be built. American politics is dominated by two capitalist parties which work to silence and repress any genuine expression of the interests of the vast majority of the people.

The Socialist Equality Party is spearheading the fight for the independent industrial and political mobilization of the working class in a struggle against the two-party capitalist system. We urge all workers and young people looking for a way to fight Wall Street to study our program, join the SEP and take up the fight for socialism.

Statement of the Socialist Equality Party

This statement is being distributed at Occupy Wall Street demonstrations being held in cities across the US on Saturday. It is available in PDF format. We urge our readers to download the statement and distribute it as widely as possible.

WSWS Editorial Board


Ché say:

To editorialize just a bit on this outstanding analysis of the problems we the People face on a global scale, it is, like most other gonzo Socialist (ie: Communist) statements, cast in absolutist terms, and that is a guaranteed FAIL in this movement. Asserting one Party predominance is a FAIL in this movement -- although many parties are jockeying for position in the movement now.

There is no absolute answer at this point in Teh Revolution; there is no one Party -- or perhaps there is no Party at all -- that has the absolute platform or solution.

At this point, Marxist analysis of the continuing economic crisis of capitalism is the most accurate and useful explanation of what has happened, what we're dealing with, and the social and economic justice issues we must deal with. The solutions, however, cannot reasonably be found in a single statement of demands or in a single party's platform or perspective. The economic crisis is global; Marx and contemporary Marxist economists and philosophers can tell us with extraordinary precision and insight what has gone wrong and why.

But I am convinced there is no single way out of this monstrous situation and condition, and that multiple paths must be explored. That's one reason why I have become such a supporter of the OccupyEverything Movement. Despite the infestations of Pauliacs and Zeitgeisters, despite the increasing efforts to subvert or take over the movement for the purposes of some special interest or political party, and despite all the efforts to crush the movement through increasingly bizarre and absurd police state repression, the resilience and determination of the Occupiers, the clear-headedness of most of the participants, and the open and democratic format of the Occupations themselves, give me the strongest hope for the Future.

Together the People will find a way forward that fosters courage, hope and determination and ultimately multiple solutions to the problems of social and economic justice that we have jointly identified.


  1. I always thought that Marx did much better as a genius critique of capitalism then as a man with a solution to it. He was a genius, but he wasn't a demigod or Hari Seldon, he could only talk about what he knew.

    On the other hand, at a very fundamental level there is eventually going to have to be a clawback of wealth from the 1% (or the .0001% or whatever small percent represent the really wealthy). It's because they control so much of our planetary resources, and they use them so poorly and so selfishly, that we are in this mess.

    They will fight like demon's to prevent that. "All history demonstrates that the rich never give up their power and privileges without a fight," is right on the money. I'd add to that, "And whatever they give up, they spend all their remaining power and resources to get back."

    But yes, I think that Occupy Wall Street, while farther to the Left economically than the political class in America, doesn't represent a Marxist movement. As something of a Marxist, what I hope it will do is provide some space in political discourse for Marxist ideas along with other alternatives to capitalism.

  2. Obviously, the powers that be have ruled Marxist ideas out of bounds. Completely out of bounds. If the OWS movement can achieve a reintegration of Marxian analysis with our nation's general discussions, it will have achieved mightily.

    Personally, I think socialism is the best answer, though it's not the finale. It must set the table for true classless, stateless societies, but over time. Establish democratic socialism first, then work toward a worldwide village, where all is community property except for one's home. Neither public nor private intrudes there. But all connecting points are communal. We abolish collectivism for plutocrats, and institute collectivism for the collective.

    I think Marx was correct. You can't skip phases. Not because history has some inevitable trajectory. But for practical and pragmatic reasons. Leaping from feudalism to socialism, for instance, skips the crucial point of creating surplus to share, as foundation. Without that, you're forced into authoritarian controls which forever postpone true participatory demos. Thus making the entire enterprise illegitimate and unjust.

    . . .

    In broader terms, what we must do in America is bring the economy into the democratic sphere. A democracy that allows the economy to remain outside that sphere is not a democracy. In fact, it may even be worse than a kingdom, because the people are deluded into thinking they have a voice when they do not. Democracy must include the economy, or it is nearly worthless.

    We need to start there.

  3. Interestingly, we got some Marx into the speeches at the Capitol rally today, from the Communist Manifesto, no less, and the crowd cheered loudly. I don't think they knew what it was because the speaker didn't identify the source of the quote, and he changed some of the wording so that "Communists" was never said. But some of us knew what it was. Others had no idea. Regardless, they sure loved what they heard.

    One of the other speakers quoted Charlie Chaplin's entire speech that's at the end of "The Great Dictator."

    There is something happening here, but it's not what any of us expected, not even those who have been in the midst of it since the beginning. Governments, literally around the world now, don't know what to do.

    It's amazing.