Occupy, to end Capitalism

BOC members have been heavily involved with the Occupy Seattle movement. We have been amazed, challenged and inspired by the mobilization of thousands of people, and the politicization of many more in this global movement.  Send thoughts. This is a work in progress.

This entry was posted in Group Statements, Labor, Race, Theory, What's up in Seattle and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Occupy, to end Capitalism

  1. Ben Seattle says:

    I have only had a moment to give this a quick scan but it is clear that this a promising start.

    We need to give activists an analysis of what is going on and what our goals must be.
    This will make it possible for activists to understand our tactics.

    The bourgeoisie, it appears to me, is working to liquidate the energy of this movement by drawing it into the Democratic Party. If that fails, their “Plan B”, it appears to me, is to “park” this energy into a third party (something like a “Democratic Party Light”) which can be “safely destroyed” (from their point of view) when things quiet down.

    Our tasks, as revolutionaries, is to help activists understand that we need a movement independent of the bourgeoisie, independent of the Democratic Party, independent of “the professionals”.

    Where does that last phrase come from? The lead article in the current issue of the Stranger:

    > Make no mistake: What these protesters started, what the brave occupiers
    > who are camped out at Westlake right now are keeping alive for us, is
    > absolutely real. It is going somewhere. It’s not going away. But it is time
    > for the organizers in Westlake to meet with the professionals and let
    > the Occupy movement grow into what it must become: Something that will
    > change everything.


    The above is from “our” weekly (ie: that supported the invasion of Iraq) with “street cred” (as shown by their front page support for the movement and the fact that 4 of their reporters burned their Chase debit cards).

    “Change everything” means to give Obama a “backbone”, etc.

    Here in Seattle, I heard from a reliable source that the King County Labor Council was negotiating with Democratic Party politician Marie Cantwell to arrange for her to speak at yesterday’s event (she refused to make the necessary promises the KCLC wanted in exchange for selling the movement to her).

    These professionals look at the movement as being theirs for the taking. They believe that sucking the life energy out of it will be as easy as stealing candy from a baby. They may be right. The are “professionals” for a reason. That is what they do. That is all they do.

    Helping activists understand the need for independence requires that they understand the nature of bourgeois class rule in this country (and all countries) and the relationship of that class rule to the system of commodity production. It requires that activists understand the need to overthrow that class rule and begin the lengthy march to an economy that is not based on commodity production. And it requires activists to understand the need for a open revolutionary network based on the principle of democratic communication (ie: not a closed “party” based on hiding its dysfunctions).

    We do not have such a network at the present time. But it is the present circumstances that may help many new activists realize that this is what we need.

    I am impressed that you got your pamphlet out so quickly. Your work and the work of the Red Spark group has been quite good. I have been giving thought to writing some comments myself that may be useful (but my efforts have been slow). I have also given thought to the idea of a joint statement that could be signed by activists from several anti-capitalist trends.

    The statement itself, as well as the work of formulating it in public and assembling activists who support it–might all be useful. Such an effort may help many activists to marry their current enthusiasm with a more long-term perspective of what needs to be done.

    My guess is that the bourgeois efforts to tame and liquidate the Occupation movements will eventually be successful. Even if this takes place, however, there will likely emerge a core of activists who recognize the need for an orientation based on class independence. The emergence of such a core would help to lay the basis for future actions of significance.

    I will have more to say in the next day or two, after I have had time to carefully read and digest your leaflet.

    All the best,
    Ben Seattle

    Also, one interesting article I found on Counterpunch:
    Beware the Democrats: An Insidious Threat to the Occupy Movement:

    • mamos206 says:

      Thanks for the support and for the info about the Dems. I agree strongly with this:

      “I have also given thought to the idea of a joint statement that could be signed by activists from several anti-capitalist trends.

      The statement itself, as well as the work of formulating it in public and assembling activists who support it–might all be useful. Such an effort may help many activists to marry their current enthusiasm with a more long-term perspective of what needs to be done.”

      We’ve been working toward some sort of mult-tendency radical bloc that could be a part of the Occupy Movement but also larger than it and hopefully able to outlive it if it does get cooopted or destroyed by the Democrats. A collective statement would be a good way to make that happen. We could call a meeting and hash out what we want to say, and maybe create a blog to post it on to welcome further discussion.

  2. gila says:

    This is good shit.

    One humble suggestion: include a word or two clarifying the difference between occupation, as a protest tactic, versus the occupation of indigenous land that has been going on for over 500 years all over this continent. i have heard several critiques of the title of the movement here: “Occupy Seattle.” i wouldn’t doubt that ya’ll have been among those voicing these critiques, as “Occupy Seattle” is pretty ironic. But, it would be great if this critique could be clearly articulated in your literature.

    It’s prolly also important to point out that this movement could very easily become (and, in many ways, has already been) another example of occupation (the bad kind) of Duwamish land. Specifically, this could look like the 99%ers kicking out some of the homeless Native folks from Westlake b/c they are “too disruptive, or make the movement look bad.” Even tho, when i’ve been down there, there’s definitely been a sizable homeless representation amongst those camping out, i’d actually be surprised if something like this hasn’t already happened, judging by some of the conversations i’ve had with reactionary crackers. If those who are indeed part of the 99% (a very problematic percentage and slogan) but are petty bourgeois or reactionary workers with illusions of moving up the social ladder continue to dominate this “movement,” then it is likely some segment of the Democrats will pronounce themselves the leaders, and “Occupy Seattle” will indeed become jus that: a colonialist occupation.

    That’s my suggestion. Thanks for writing the piece.

  3. gila says:

    One other thing that has got me scratching my head is a sentence on page 5 that reads, “It could crumble because of the internal class and race divisions mentioned above, or it could be coopted by the left wing of the Democratic Party, just like the Republicans coopted the Tea Party…”

    Of course i agree that it could be coopted by the Democratic Party, but i’m confused why you made the analogy to the Republicans and the Tea Party. i know you don’t mean it this way, but it kinda comes off as implying that, like the global “Occupy” movement, the Tea Party had a revolutionary (in a good way) potential, before they were bought off by the Republicans. i don’t think any left revolutionaries would wanna draw comparisons or point out similarities between the Occupiers and the Tea Party, so in my opinion, it’s best if you leave that analogy out.

  4. Thanks for the feedback Ben and Gila
    @Gila: Yes, we are working with others on a decolonization statement acknowledging that we are occupying stolen Duwamish land. This is what Boston has put out: http://occupyboston.com/2011/10/09/occupy-boston-ratifies-memorandum-of-solidarity-with-indigenous-peoples/

    Some people have reactionary views against the homeless — “we are not hobos” etc, and some have told the police to go to where “crack is” and stop harassing the occupation. It’s messy and we have to keep pushing it to call them out and make this movement one for POC, homeless and the poor.

    The comparison w the Tea Party is not to imply that theirs is a “positive” or revolutionary movement, but more so one that emerged initially not as a party operative but became coopted as one. Tea Party founders have tried to “give advice” the Occupy Seattle. You are right, we should clarify that more. It would also round up our analysis on HOW to be on the offensive to clearly demarcate this as a revolutionary movement.

    @ Ben: Will read the piece soon. Can you let us know where you heard/read about this: “Here in Seattle, I heard from a reliable source that the King County Labor Council was negotiating with Democratic Party politician Marie Cantwell to arrange for her to speak at yesterday’s event (she refused to make the necessary promises the KCLC wanted in exchange for selling the movement to her).”

    WE NEED to call this out. In PUBLIC.

  5. mamos206 says:

    Gila, I agree with you completely on all points. We have been advocating hard for those positions within the occupation.

  6. Pingback: Occupy to End Capitalism « occupy everything for everyone

  7. occupationist says:

    Hey folks,

    I just wanted to post some articles and thoughts to you all based on how the discussion of a name change happened last night at the GA. First, I think we should be happy that the (anticolonial) statement, at least, passed. Second, I wish that the name change would have passed, but it didn’t and I think that is reflective of a lack of community building, learning, and decolonization of our fellow “occupiers.” It could also be that folks are really attached to keeping the same “brand name” (which I think is shit, and it was certainly mostly white folks who were attached to that idea). Personally I think the name change would send a wonderfully powerful message from the Northwest to the rest of this movement that an explicitly anticolonial approach is absolutely necessary for this movement to really be about “the 99%.” After googling “Occupy Wall Street” and Colonialism, I found the following:

    “Saturday, September 24, 2011
    An Open Letter to the Occupy Wall Street Activists
    Thank you for your courage. Thank you for making an attempt to improve the situation in what is now called the United States. Thank you for your commitment to peace and non-violence. Thank you for the sacrifices you are making. Thank you.
    There’s just one thing. I am not one of the 99 percent that you refer to. And, that saddens me. Please don’t misunderstand me. I would like to be one of the 99 percent… but you’ve chosen to exclude me. Perhaps it was unintentional, but, I’ve been excluded by you. In fact, there are millions of us indigenous people who have been excluded from the Occupy Wall Street protest. Please know that I suspect that it was an unintentional exclusion on your part. That is why I’m writing to you. I believe that you can make this right. (I hope you’re still smiling.)
    It seems that ever since we indigenous people have discovered Europeans and invited them to visit with us here on our land, we’ve had to endure countless ‘-isms’ and religions and programs and social engineering that would “fix” us. Protestantism, Socialism, Communism, American Democracy, Christianity, Boarding Schools, Residential Schools,… well, you get the idea. And, it seems that these so-called enlightened strategies were nearly always enacted and implemented and pushed upon us without our consent. And, I’ll assume that you’re aware of how it turned out for us. Yes. Terribly.
    Which brings me back to your mostly-inspiring Occupy Wall Street activities. On September 22nd, with great excitement, I eagerly read your “one demand” statement. Hoping and believing that you enlightened folks fighting for justice and equality and an end to imperialism, etc., etc., would make mention of the fact that the very land upon which you are protesting does not belong to you – that you are guests upon that stolen indigenous land. I had hoped mention would be made of the indigenous nation whose land that is. I had hoped that you would address the centuries-long history that we indigenous peoples of this continent have endured being subject to the countless ‘-isms’ of do-gooders claiming to be building a “more just society,” a “better world,” a “land of freedom” on top of our indigenous societies, on our indigenous lands, while destroying and/or ignoring our ways of life. I had hoped that you would acknowledge that, since you are settlers on indigenous land, you need and want our indigenous consent to your building anything on our land – never mind an entire society. See where I’m going with this? I hope you’re still smiling. We’re still friends, so don’t sweat it. I believe your hearts are in the right place. I know that this whole genocide and colonization thing causes all of us lots of confusion sometimes. It just seems to me that you’re unknowingly doing the same thing to us that all the colonizers before you have done: you want to do stuff on our land without asking our permission.
    But, fear not my friends. We indigenous people have a sense of humor. So, I thought I might make a few friendly suggestions which may help to “fix” the pro-colonialism position in which you now (hopefully, unintentionally) find yourselves. (Please note my use of the word “fix” in the previous sentence. That’s an attempt at a joke. You can refer to the third paragraph if you’d like an explanation.)
    By the way, I’m just one indigenous person. I represent no one except myself. I’m acting alone in writing this letter. Perhaps none of my own Nishnaabe people will support me in having written this. Perhaps some will. I respect their opinions either way. I love my Nishnaabe people always. I am simply trying to do something good – same as all of you at the Occupy Wall Street protest in what is now called New York.
    So, here goes. (You’re still smiling, right?)
    1) Acknowledge that the United States of America is a colonial country, a country of settlers, built upon the land of indigenous nations; and/or…
    2) Demand immediate freedom for indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier; and/or…
    3) Demand that the colonial government of the United States of America honor all treaties signed with all indigenous nations whose lands are now collectively referred to as the “United States of America”; and/or…
    4) Make some kind of mention that you are indeed aware that you are settlers and that you are not intending to repeat the mistakes of all of the settler do-gooders that have come before you. In other words, that you are willing to obtain the consent of indigenous people before you do anything on indigenous land.
    I hope you find this list useful. I eagerly await your response, my friends.
    Miigwech! ( ~”Thank you!” )
    JohnPaul Montano


    Personally, I think following the points mentioned here would be a wonderful start to decolonizing the Occupy movement//the world. I think the best way to really get the word out about this would be to actually change our name, and then refer to the anticolonial statement that was passed last night and this letter as the reasons for doing so. Using the name change in this way, with reference to these pieces, would be very effective in making certain that all other occupies paying attentiony to Occupy Seattle would not be able to ignore this most fundamental piece to our global movement. Whether enough folks get behind the name change or not, I am pretty certain that a “Decolonize/Occupy Seattle” movement will (//has already) begin on its own, with that name. Now it is only a matter of finding out whether people who were opposed to the name change last night will get behind that or if they will continue to be attached to a “name brand” that does not do anything to address and only reinforces colonialism.

    I will post some more links below. Please print and disseminate the above letter widely. Share it. Talk about it. Decolonize the Occupation.

    Also see:

    “Occupy Wall Street: The Game of Colonialism and Further Nationalism to be Decolonized From the ‘Left'” : http://www.peopleofcolororganize.com/analysis/occupy-wall-street-game-colonialism-further-nationalism-be-decolonized-left/

    “Recommended Reading: On colonialism and ‘Occupy Wall Street”: http://www.shamelessmag.com/blog/2011/10/recommended-reading-on-colonialism-and-occupy-wal/

  8. Lake Desire says:

    Is there somewhere I can read this in plain text? I have a hard time with PDFs compressed on websites.

  9. If you scroll to the bottom of the Scribd document, you can download the file as a PDF
    Good Luck!

  10. Rob Banks says:

    Excellent!: Do I have permission to share BOC article(s) “Occupy, to end Capitalism” with others online and elsewhere?

  11. Rob Banks says:

    Thanks. Northwest peninsula (Washington).
    …have been attending Occupy Seattle on weekends and looking to start with small group here.

  12. Ben Seattle says:

    How we will create
    the organization we need

    I consider the Black Orchid Collective the most promising group
    in the city. Because the BOC has been so much on my mind these
    past few days, I found myself compelled, at last, to finish a
    more careful reading of this short pamphlet.

    My overall assessment is that the BOC is in a process of transition
    from identity politics to class politics on the basis of the class
    struggle, which is intensifying.

    The real nature of everything becomes more clear as the class struggle
    intenifies, and all that previously remained hidden is at last revealed.

    The BOC is making this transition on its own, on the basis of its own
    experience in struggle. The BOC will decide, on the basis of its own
    experience, which ideas and traditions are precious are deserving of
    being kept–and which are not. The BOC is making this transition
    without the help of any organization that has the ability to guide it
    and tell it about the rocks ahead.

    The reason for this is simple: no such organization exists.

    This is the situation that has faced activists for many decades, and
    we have conditioned ourselves to think of it as somehow “normal” and
    as part of life as we known it.

    This is going to change.

    Our class enemy, the ruling bourgeoisie, maintains _thousands_ of
    organizations and institutions for the purpose of guiding and
    training the people and organizations it nutures and grooms for
    the purpose of misdirecting the energy of the mass movements and
    protecting the status quo and bourgeois class interests.

    The proletariat, on the other hand, in spite of the best efforts
    of generations of activists, has only created organizations which
    are (at best) somewhat dysfunctional or (at worst) servants of
    the class enemy. There exists no trend on the left with sufficient
    clarity to command attention and _provide a clear picture_ of the
    tasks for revolutionaries at the present time.

    The _absence_ of such a trend, a trend with _the ability to provide
    clarity_ to an emerging generation of activists on the cusp of drawing
    revolutionary conclusions in the midst of tear gas and pepper spray,
    speaks to what must be our central focus: how to create such a trend?

    Already, dozens of new groups are being formed of every kind. Tomorrow,
    it appears, there may be hundreds. Much experimentation is taking place.
    Most of these groups will collapse, like bubbles in a pan of boiling water,
    and a few will grow large (for a while) by virtue of being less
    dysfunctional than others.

    My opinion is that the network or organization we need will develop
    around an _economic and political alternative to the class rule of
    the bourgeoisie_ which is _realistic_ and which does not _insult the
    intelligence_ of the working class and masses.

    We do not _have_ such an alternative at this time. (Many activists,
    and groups, _think_ they have an alternative, but they are _deluding_

    When we _confront_ and _overcome_ our ignorance in relation to developing
    a clear and compelling economic and political alternative to the class
    rule of the bourgeoisie–we will build a network or organization around
    _this_ alternative. And we will then be able to ask the working class and
    masses (once we have earned their ear by assisting them in their many
    struggles for partial demands) to support us and support the struggle
    to overthrow the class rule of the bourgeoisie.

    And they certainly will.

  13. Pingback: An Open letter regarding the Non-violence Vs Diversity of tactics debate

  14. Pingback: An Open Letter Regarding the Non-violence Vs Diversity of Tactics Debate | Our American Generation

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