A Critical Analysis of Occupy Wall Street

Negative: 99% WTF?

Occupy Wall Street was most successful in creating the new language of the left-liberal scene: “We are the 99%“. This was their message to the Wall Street bankers: “You are the 1%” and, therefore, the opposition. Of course, not the enemy, because that’s too strong a term.

The only drawback to this language is that it’s incorrect in two ways.

First of all, 99% of the people involved in Occupy Wall Street were not/are not really part of the 99%, because they’re all comparatively well-off compared to most of the world. Let’s be serious, a white 23 year-old with $10,000 of debt from their Ivy League University is not in the same position as anyone in the Third World.

Second of all, the enemy (I’m not afraid of the term) is a lot more than the 1%. The bourgeoisie, petite-bourgeoisie, and other reactionary classes make up significantly more than the 1% on Wall Street. Those who own the means of production make up a more sizeable group than that and those who benefit from the super-exploitation of the Third World make up the entire First World.

We’re talking about imperialism.

Occupy’s sloppy analysis isn’t helpful.

The big problem here is that analysis and language here have a feedback loop – the language is flawed and the more this language is used, the less the analysis reflects reality.

Positive: Reinvigorated some aspects of protest culture

One nice thing that OWS was that it put protests back into the mainstream in a way. Whereas before 2011, there certainly wasn’t a prevalence of protests coming from the Left in the dominant culture, today there seems to be far more of a willingness to protest. I’d be willing to concede that this probably had to do with the prevalence of OWS in the news/popular culture.

Negative: White-washed

Occupy Wall Street

Need I say more?

Positive: Set the stage for Black Lives Matter

I hesitate to draw this line, because it gives Occupy too much credit in my opinion, and it makes it seem (once again) that black people need white people for inspiration and support (which is obviously not the case), but a lot of people have connected these two protest movements. Objectively, OWS did take place before BLM (in other words, before a white pig murdered an unarmed black teenager in Missouri), so OWS was in the news before BLM was.

Negative: Non-ideological

Occupy is not some pan-leftist movement, but rather a washed-up intellectually-vacuous garbage. Case and point: this bullshit.

Positive: Opened up the ideological space

Of course, anything posted on Occupy.com in 2017 isn’t getting very wide readership, so we can rest assured that this “Letter to the American Left” won’t be poisoning much dialogue.

Negative: Undisciplined

OWS had no specific goals, demands, tactics, strategies, analysis, worldview, standards, or ideas about pretty much anything. This led to the conclusion that putting up tents and using unclear language would be a successful (whatever that means) strategy to realizing their goals (whatever those were).

Actually, the major mistake that OWS made was that they said everything, rather than nothing. Different factions articulated different aims and different paths. By saying everything, they effectively said nothing. And, all the while, in this menagerie of ideas, the Occupiers were so frustrated that their “pure” message was being ignored.

Positive: The Left can learn

This broad populist left-liberal space is a minefield.

Left-liberalism is a dead-end.

Capitalism is a losing game.

The lesson here is clear: analyze and radicalize.

The Assassination of Walter Scott

In April of 2015, a white cop assassinated a unarmed black man.

Period. End of Story.

walter-scott

There isn’t any more discussion needed. Any facts you want to hash out, like the fact that Walter Scott was running away, are superfluous.

Terms like “appropriate use of force” and “doing it by the book” don’t need to be thrown around. We don’t need pathetic apologetics like “Being a cop is hard work!” or “This wasn’t about race!”

Even the liberals, for the most part, get it. Just as they kind of got it with Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. The bullshit American media tells the story in an isolated context, without telling the full story or asking the real question.

How do we conceptualize “justice”?

That’s the story here.

When a representative of state power murders a civilian, what are we going to do about it?

There is indeed no such thing as a “justice system” in the United States today. That ought to be obvious to anyone who even takes a cursory glance at the society (and after all, the state institutions simply maintain a society and provide some semblance of logic to it).

We could throw out the numbers about African Americans and Latinos being thrown in prison at significantly higher rates than whites. We could look at the use of the death penalty almost exclusively for black men. We could look at how “laws” are specified to target people of color.

The government has defined “justice” for us here.

“Justice” in the US means letting white people off free and terrorizing and imprisoning people of color.

But, of course, under capitalism, it is not simply a game played on race, but is much broader. The full scope of the American “justice system” is the marginalization and brutalization of the poor (comparatively).

Predominately, in the US (and throughout the global imperialist system), those who are made poor are those who don’t share the white skin of the people in power.

So the next question: do we accept this definition of “justice”?

Do we accept “laws” that are meant to disenfranchise people of color?

Do we accept cops who come into communities and shoot civilians?

Do we allow state oppression to engage in domestic terrorism (or international terrorism, for that matter)?

If we don’t accept these things, then how do we conceptualize “justice”?

And what are we going to do about it?