Occupy Wall Street and the Punditti
The “nattering nabobs of negativity” have been having their day with OWS. First “why don't they dress differently?” And of course, “they are a bunch of spoiled college kids.” Then, “they have no program, its all a mass of different demands.” and “it will easily be co-opted.” The first two brilliant responses are from the right. They said the same about us 45 years ago, but imagination was never the strong point with right-whiners anyway. Less easy to dismiss, as it comes from left as well as right, is the supposed profusion of demands. For shame, you lefties, if any group should know better it is you! (Ever heard the word dialectics ?) The right views the world in a disconnected, atomistic fashion. Thus, the various demands seem unconnected to them. But in the real world, environmental destruction, imperialism, job-outsourcing, privatization, war, corporate welfare, financial crimes, tax dodging etc., are all part of the same corporate state system. To anyone outside the right-whiner sects, this fact is as obvious as a mules ass at noon! It is brilliant on the part of the organizers not to posit a set of demands and to let the people decide themselves. If at the beginning you posit a narrow set of demands you limit the field of potential support.
As for cooptation, please do! The people have had their Obummer moment, any attempt at cooptation that lacks substance, will be jeered at. Minimally, labour and mainstream social movements will have to demand the re-institution of Glass-Segal, a Tobin tax and a tax on the uber-greed creeps. But capitalism has moved beyond the possibility of allowing even these simple demands. It will take a virtual revolution to impose elements of social democracy again. There will be so much resistance by the parasitic classes to even minor social reforms like these, that it will push the population in a revolutionary direction. We see this in Greece, as but one example. The mass demands are not for socialism, but to stop the cut-backs, to achieve the status quo ante. As Abbie Hoffman once said “the pigs are our leaders.” The state and the criminals it pimps for, are fighting tooth and nail to impose austerity on the workers, and as they do, the popular response becomes ever more militant and ever more radical.