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The Next Step: Occupy Wal-Mart By Michael Rectenwald 07 Oct 2011
Occupy Wall Street exceeds anything that either of the two big business political parties can contain or accurately represent. Contrary to the fantasies of some pundits, the movement was not initiated by Democratic operatives nor funded by George Soros. Nor, apparently, does it seek to be absorbed or strictly represented by a Democratic Party platform. That is, Occupy Wall Street is precisely not the 'left' version of the Tea Party.
Rather, the movement represents the numerous and sundry workers of whatever age, occupation, or political affiliation affected by the economic crisis that began in 2008 and continues to this day. It represents those who have lost or cannot find jobs, those who are under-employed and working numerous piecemeal jobs to make ends meet, those who have lost homes or cannot afford homes, those who cannot pay for college or cannot pay back loans used to pay for college – in short, all of those who have been buffeted about by the aleatory conditions of a brutal capitalist system in protracted crisis.
These are not people who are looking for handouts, but rather people who object to the handouts given to the capitalist class. These are not people who refuse to work, but rather people whose labor has enriched a class that now refuses to re-invest its stolen capital. This is not an insubstantial layer of students and chronic liberal complainers. The movement represents a mass of workers with the potential for unforeseen revolutionary change in the U.S. and the world at large.
This is the movement's historical character and meaning, regardless of any particular expression given of it by the corporate media, the protesters, or the organizers, themselves.
Likewise, Occupy Wall Street has the potential to disrupt the standard political configuration of big business politics. It has the potential to cut across traditional political affiliations to secure the confidence and support of a broad base of workers, including some who have been held hostage by the Republican Party. For this reason, the political pundits of the right wing are especially concerned to portray the Occupy movement as the baby of the Democratic Party.
The Democratic politicos will no doubt attempt to appropriate the expressions of the movement to secure votes in the 2012 election cycle. This has already begun, as the party attempts to hijack the protests with union bosses and party spokesmen. Yet the movement appears poised to reject the Democrats and their union surrogates, as well as the media mouthpieces whose only 'solution' is to exert 'left' pressure on the Democratic Party and to point fingers at Republican Party bogeys. Occupy Wall Street appears on the brink of a decisive break with the 'left' reformism of the political establishment, appealing instead to the entire working class on basis of a complete political revision.
As workers attracted to the movement reject the political caricatures painted by both big business parties, they will break down false oppositions of town and country, and appeal to their counterparts in suburbia and rural America, truly a nightmare prospect for the ruling oligarchy. If Occupy Wall Street becomes "Occupy Wal-Mart," – that is, if it penetrates to the alienated and exploited heartland, it will combine workers for a truly revolutionary activity.