I am beginning to get hopeful for this movement, where are the old guard?
I remember watching Billy Bragg on Democracy Now saying there is a need for a new style of movement. However much he impressed me I saw this as a bit of wish-fulfilment and a bit of the Trot in him. Now I am far less sure, in fact I am sure it is about time the old guard recognised there is a need for a change.
In earlier blogs I discussed the issue of the division of the movement and the damage the Trots can do, citing the divisions that led to the demise of the poll tax movement and Thatcher’s victory with the Council tax. What is happening in the old-guard movement now? Nothing. The trade unions are barely holding onto membership and mostly spend their time protecting their jobs. Socialist groups fan the embers maybe pretending they are cadres-in-waiting, and meanwhile the grip the corporatocracy has tightens and tightens. Despite the deep respect I have for the old guys most of whom have passed on, their style of organisation is not suited now.
Look at Libya. Despite Nato interference they basically started as rag, tag and bobtail, and Libya’s democratic movement grew out of that. In the end Nato defended democracy although I am sure that they will do all they can to crush this fledgeling democracy when there is less public scrutiny.
So how does this connect with Occupy? Occupy is not based around traditional party structures as Michael Moore said on Democracy Now (28/9/11) noting that these people have not paid their dues nor are they carrying cards – members. #OccupyWallSt is out there because a bunch of young politicos were angry and said let’s go to Wall Street. Apparently there was some kind of umbrella organisation in Toronto that called for it, but this is not an organised mass movement of representatives etc. Now it is not big as yet, but it is spreading across America and to London – let’s hope elsewhere. Apparently one trade union has supported them but the truth is that trade unions are too invested in the existing corporatocratic structures to give support. What are trade unions about? Discussing profit margins and demanding that the workforce has a higher proportion than previously. But the corporatocracy has moved on. They are now saying we don’t need you as workers, we can slash the workforce and manufacture elsewhere – typically short-sighted as who will have money to buy their products? The only business that is expanding is the war machine – drones!!
Update, according to RT, unions are giving #OccupyWallSt support but that does not alter my comment that they are financially tied into the system – and an unlikely source of deep support.
Most of the left-wing parties, both CP and socialist, organise around the trade unions, and they seek political power through the trade union influence on the Labour Party. But that influence is dead. Look at Tony. He went cap-in-hand to industry and said I can give you more profit than the Tories. I will control the workforce by pretending to work with the unions, and will so increase your profits. In return you give me a job with the Quartet afterwards, I will make sure that there is no peace so long as I get a whack from J P Morgan and a few lucrative contracts with the oil sheikhs. Where is the Labour movement in all of that? Used and stepped on. It is not just postholders that cling to the old left-wing model it is the stalwarts, the comrades who have attended trades council week-in week-out, committed themselves to the democracy of their union branch and acted in solidarity with them throughout their lives. These people have always been dumped on by their leaders, and that suits the corporatocracy. Nice middle-class liberals who maybe get a bit political where their Oxfam interests touch on trade unionism, church groups giving out of conscience to recognised charities – a bit less now because of the recession, these people have all helped in the struggle in the past. This has all gone as an effective approach – even if it ever was.
And what is the instrument of organised resistence in the class struggle now? The keyboard and mobile phone. Kids gave grown up with internet access, and whether parents have liked it or not (I use it but don’t like it) this is a way of communicating for them. Whilst I still maintain this communication is (140 character-)shallow, #OccupyWallSt can still offer a rallying call, http://occupywallst.org can show us the clips of the policy of police violence last weekend, and hopefully enough of these twitters will have the balls to get out on the streets. But it is a young fight. Let the young loudmouth women shout if they choose – most people I have seen interviewed are saying this is a peaceful protest. But it is young people, let them do it their way. Michael Moore can stand up and support, but he is not saying do it our way – the way of the old organisers. To paraphrase he is saying, let’s gather round rag, tag and bobtail and start a movement, and move and move.
Where will it go? It can spread #OccupySingapore, #OccupySilom, #OccupyMoscow #Occupy#, anywhere. The point is for young people to occupy, and continue occupying. How long was Greenham occupied? Occupy. What good will it do? Who knows? As Michael Moore says, in this campaign ordinary working people support the issue these young people are campaigning about. At the start of Vietnam people supported the war, in the end people backed the young. But now the people see that Wall Street and their corporate clones globally are just sucking the money out of society and putting nothing back. In the US there are foreclosures – people have no homes when they have worked all their lives, they have no medical protection when they want to pay for it, they are just being screwed – as always but this time the greedy have hopefully (in one sense) gone too far.
Previously the trade unions were fighting for the company profits. Now it has changed. People are saying to the rich no matter how much you manipulate you cannot take the world’s money and store it behind barbed-wire walls and security. There is no violence and if the rich respond less greedily there will never be such, but they are saying “Pay your tax, you are people as well stop screwing us and give your share”. The demands cannot be more than this, detailed demands play into their pockets. That is the old way, use action to reinforce particular demands. But the corporatocracy has that game licked. Rag tag and bobtail are saying “you are people too, pay your way”. I hope all the old guard will use their influence to get out and join rag, tag and bobtail.
Of course the old guard might not know it’s happening as the media has a lid on it – the kids’ media doesn’t. Tweet, download, skype, text, foursquare, play the game with the kids and get out on the streets. Comrades join the kids, and get out of the old traps.