Sunday, October 23, 2011
What Should OWS Demand?
Not that anybody has been waiting breathlessly for my opinion, but I’ve finally figured out the single, key demand that OWS should make.
To understand it, consider these premisses:
1. You would have to go back a century to find a time when the financial elite had as large a share of the loot as they do today.
2. In the absence of a large, well-organized countervailing force, money is power.
3. We don’t need new ideas to fix the economy. The policy obsessed debate the details, but the main contours in debt writedowns, regulation, public investment and related domains are well understood. The problem is that what is good for the economy is generally not profitable for the rich, and vice versa. Because of the gross imbalance of power in this country, we are unable to do what needs to be done.
So what’s the key demand? OWS does not need to make any demands on the Obama administration, much less the Republican shadow government in Congress. It does need to make a demand on us, the lower 99:
Organize yourselves! Get rid of the fatalism, cynicism and paralysis that took over when Obama turned out to be Mr. Wrong. It isn’t about him in any case, it’s about the fact that there is no organized democratic force in America that can challenge the plutocrats.
Not everyone can become an urban camper, so the first item on the OWS, and the Occupy-your-city-goes-here, agenda should be how to expand the movement to reach the millions who would join if they knew how. Keep the flexibility and commitment to democracy and reflection. Avoid actions, like political endorsements, that would divide people or channel their energies away from the organizations they can control themselves.
Reach out and scale up.