Fed up with unemployment and underemployment, thousands of Americans across the country have taken to the streets to challenge the corporate control of our nominal democracy. In the spirit of Abraham Lincoln, they say that the American government should be run by and for the people, not by and for the corporate grafters at the top. And they are right.
But if the movement is to succeed, it first has to avoid being hijacked by the corporate forces it opposes. Second, it needs to develop a clear set of political objectives that can command the support of middle class families whether they identify themselves as liberals or conservatives, Republicans, Democrats or Independents. Third, the movement needs to develop a sustainable organizational structure making full use of the internet.
Step One – Don’t get hijacked
First, let’s consider the danger that the movement will be hijacked. Is it likely? Very. The hijacking of popular movements is the norm, not the exception.
Here is an early example,
From the early19th century on, Russian activists like the Decembrists (from whom the music group took its name) influenced by liberal western ideas sought to create a constitutional monarchy or republic to replace Russia’s all powerful czar. But in 1917, the reform movement was hijacked by the tiny Bolshevik faction which according to historian Antony Sutton was backed by Wall Street. As a result, the Russians went from czarist absolutism to communist totalitarianism.
And two more recent ones,
The Egyptian people risked their lives in Tahrir Square this spring to overthrow American backed dictator Hosni Mubarek and establish democracy. Well, Mubarek is gone, but what happened to the free elections that were supposed to take place in September? They were not held and, today, the country is run by a Military Council.
The Tea Party
Reducing the size and intrusiveness of the government is a cause many rallied to in the Tea Party. But it was quickly hijacked by the billionaire Koch brothers and longtime Republican leader Richard Armey. As the result, the Tea Party was diverted to a corporate agenda of business deregulation and social spending cuts while giving the corporate cleptocracy a free pass.
Occupy Wall Street activists can expect to be at the receiving end of the tried and true techniques of the power elite to undermine popular movements.
- Watch out for infiltrators who encourage acts of violence or utter radical slogans to alienate the movement from its middle class base.
- Beware of “benefactors” who offer to pay for the movement’s websites and other expenses. You may soon find that the benefactor is looking out for the interests of the big corporations and not the people.
- Watch out for a co-opted leadership that, in cooperation with the corporate media, points the movement away from the critical political issues so that its energies are wasted.
So as a first step, the Occupy Wall Street movement must be vigilant against a takeover by corporate forces. But, positive steps are essential as well.
The Occupy Wall Street movement should establish these clear goals critical to overthrowing the corporate oligarchy, restoring democracy, and providing economic opportunity for all Americans – goals that can be supported by American families whatever their political affiliation:
1. Abolish the Federal Reserve Bank and replace it with a publicly owned national bank which can create debt free money.
The Federal Reserve is a private banking cartel which through its relationships with major corporations is the lynchpin of the corporate control of our country. When it was created in 1913, it was given the exclusive right to create money, a right which belongs to the people. With this power the Fed, not only, exercises inordinate control over our economy and government, but also, saddles Americans with interest on the money they could have created for free.
2. End the war and return to the original Washington and Jefferson foreign policy of non-intervention.
As historian Paul Kennedy showed in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, war is the path to economic ruin. As capital is diverted to the military, the real economy is hollowed out and collapses. Furthermore, war provides the pretext for the suppression of democratic rights as we’ve seen with the passage of the Patriot Act and the proliferation of police/military fusion centers to spy on Americans.
3. Undertake a massive program of infrastructure building to create good paying jobs and make the United States more competitive.
The rise of the United States to economic eminence was fueled by government initiated infrastructure programs – from the Erie Canal and the Transcontinental Railroad to the Interstate Highway System. These programs created the basis for strong private sector economic growth. This growth generated good paying jobs, not only, for Americans, but also, for millions of immigrants.
Step Three – Create a decentralized organization
The Occupy Wall Street movement needs an organizational structure which will be difficult to infiltrate or manipulate and which will be a base for a sustained political effort to achieve its goals. Specifically,
1. Decentralize the movement by establishing autonomous chapters of the movement at the community level. Where the members know each other personally, it will be more difficult for corporate interests to take them over.
2. In order to counterbalance corporate control of the media, the movement should fully utilize the internet to coordinate activities from the local to the national level. The movement could create an internet age version of the independent Committees of Correspondence set up by American patriots before our rebellion against Great Britain.
3. The community chapters individually or in groups should support candidates for local office and for Congress regardless of party who support the movement’s three goals. Here again, the internet can play a crucial role in mobilizing support at every level from the local town council to national office.
The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are galvanizing Americans with the hope that we can restore our democracy and provide economic opportunity for all. But, if these objectives are to be achieved, it is essential to lay the foundation for the long and difficult political struggle that lies ahead.