Friday, October 28, 2011

Musings on OWS...

In the Michael Moore movie "Capitalism: A Love Story" there is a scene where a white couple get evicted after foreclosure from her (the wife's) family's farm. She says something that betrays the nature of OWS in a profound way as including (if not consisting entirely of, at this point) a petit bourgeois/white privilege response.

I deliberately avoided using "reaction" because I think that that is only one aspect of its potentiality, as I will explain.

"I've lost a piece of my heritage...," she says. "Why do you do this to the hardworking people? Why do you take everything away from them? We're just middle-classed (sic, but this form has its own meaning) hardworking people trying to make a living, just trying to survive."

It is important to understand that while she was enjoying her "heritage" (privilege), others were not; rather, they were working and suffering in support of such privilege. She obviously saw that others experiencing her pain were likely NOT "hardworking people" and didn't act to stop it then, perhaps even saw stopping it as inappropriate - no problem to "take everything away" from THEM - they must not have earned what she had. She's middle-classED - meaning she was PLACED there, according to the American Dream narrative, by God and personal industriousness. And now she feels her survival is threatened.

The potential and dangers of the moment are laid bare here, and solutions begin to present themselves as well.

These people - the most recent arrivals to the "99%" - need to be LED by working people. REAL working people.

And those need to be led by Black and Brown people, who have been experiencing this condition, in the main, since the country was founded - and before.

Perhaps Occupy Oakland - if its constituency becomes personned BY ALL communities in Oakland - can take the lead in the OWS 'movement' a la the Petrograd soviet, the first, and prominent, workers' council that became the model for the early USSR. In Oakland, they are already seeing a solidarity general strike involving unions.

If ACTUAL Oakland joins and takes leadership, Occupy Oakland can and will move in the right direction, and provide an example to others as well. Ditto ATL.

BUT the majority has to join, and AS a majority. THAT is the key point.

Consider: The vector in wealth over 1973-2011 represents the impoverishment of the "middle class" whereas the vector in wealth previously represented primarily white privilege and then the basic capitalist contradiction of owner and worker below that.

OWS etc has all the newly impoverished as soil, but there is a truckload of people of color and white wage-workers who need to see that OWS can and should be theirs. Much of the wealth of the former middle class was previously extracted from this truck load. The new members of the "99%" need to know and understand that, and recognize how that previous situation led to this one, that the impoverishment of others led naturally to their own impoverishment.

And then the "new" members need to take leadership from the veterans of poverty and oppression. Whether or not that happens will determine the nature, and thus, the direction, of this "movement."