Occupy Movement and the Economy

99 Percent—Occupy the Economy!

Workers’ democracy is the only road to social and economic equality

By Bonnie Weinstein

The October 25th brutal police attack against peaceful Occupy Oakland protesters; and repeated on October 26 in Atlanta and on October 29th in Denver1—to mention just three recent instances of police violence against unarmed, peaceful protesters—has helped to hammer home the reality that this government does not represent the 99 percent!

The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has expressed not only a deepening level of class-consciousness by raising the demand of universal economic equality—expressing outrage at the huge wealth gap between the top one percent and the rest of humanity—but for the first time in decades, working people are questioning whether any political party funded by the wealthiest “one percent” could also represent them. How can the twin capitalist parties of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum represent the interests of the bottom “99 percent” who are not capitalists—the workers and their potential allies with similar needs and interests?

The new economic reality

In an October 15, 2011 OpEd piece in the New York Times by Nicholas D. Kristof titled, “America’s ‘Primal Scream’,” he wrote:

“According to the C.I.A.’s own ranking of countries by income inequality, the United States is more unequal a society than either Tunisia or Egypt.... Of the 100 highest-paid chief executives in the United States in 2010, 25 took home more pay than their company paid in federal corporate income taxes, according to the Institute for Policy Studies.... The banks have gotten away with privatizing profits and socializing risks, and that’s just another form of bank robbery The 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans. The top one percent of Americans possesses more wealth than the entire bottom 90 percent… “

In an article in the New Scientist, October 24, 2011, by Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie titled, “Revealed—The Capitalist Network that Runs the World,” the authors revealed that, in fact,

“‘…less than one percent of the companies [Transnational Corporations (TNCs)] were able to control 40 percent of the entire network…. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group. 2

The OWS movement has transformed these facts into “conventional wisdom.” The slogan that’s spreading like wildfire around the world—“We Are the 99 percent!”—is a profound expression of this new, and developing class-consciousness.

Like a bolt of lightening, it’s hitting the masses of working people that they are in a class far apart from the capitalist class of the one percent; and they are beginning to realize that their interests are, in fact, diametrically opposed to the interests of the top one percent who aim to stay on top by any means necessary—including the use of force and violence!

“Austerity,” the new normal

Working people are experiencing, first-hand, economic hardship and collapse. Even if you have a job; even if you have a good job; the likelihood is that your children, and grandchildren are not so lucky. For the first time in decades the children of working people are faring worse than their parents economically. Adult children have to come back home to live or never get the opportunity to move out and support themselves on their own—even after college. They will not earn as much as their parents, either, thanks to the two- and three-tier pay scales shoved down the throats of working people. This is the reality that masses of working people are living with every day. Austerity is the new normal in the face of the blatant, extravagant and lavish wealth of the top one percent.

And the mass media rubs it in. The extravagant lives of the rich and famous lead the headlines and are the subject of TV shows, magazines, movies—all designed to make us dream that we could become one of “them” someday.

The OWS movement is proof positive that this pipedream is ending.

Movement goes “viral”

The OWS movement was directly influenced by the events in Egypt and throughout the Arab world this spring. And before that, in the general strikes of France. And, now, the entire world is reciprocating by taking up the OWS demand for social and economic equality. These mass actions are profound because they illustrate the real potential power of the working class acting in unity and in their own interests. These actions are bringing together all those who share their interests—for freedom, democracy, equality and justice—socially and economically.

Workers’ democracy

The recognition of these common interests is the first step to a real workers’ democracy—a democracy of majority rule.

All across the globe the masses of demonstrators and occupiers are chanting, “This is what democracy looks like!” There is an undeniable consensus that working people want a say in their lives—not just an electoral choice between one wealthy politician over another—but a say in how the wealth produced solely by working people, should be distributed and used.

This concept is anti-capitalist to the core because it raises the possibility of challenging the private profit motive of capitalism. The demand for economic equality and democracy is a challenge to the idea that the capitalist owners of the means of production—the factories, corporations and banks—have an inalienable right to keep all the profits produced by the workers they employ, while paying the worker as little as they can get away with!

In a speech to Occupy Oakland on October 28, 2011, a few days after the brutal police assault on October 25th, Michael Moor said:

“Everybody has something to give to this. We’re all in this together. We’re gonna sink or swim together. That’s our choice right now. When, when they, when I was there last night, somebody asked one of the people in the media tent, ‘What are the goals? What are you trying to accomplish?’ And he said, well, he said, ‘Our mission is in our name, Occupy Wall Street,’ and then he said, ‘Period.’ I thought about that for a second. Occupy Wall Street, period. In other words, it isn’t just about these encampments; it’s that we’re not stopping until we, the people, occupy our economy that runs this country! This is our economy! It’s our country! We’re the ones that have a say. And, and when somebody says to me, ‘Well,’ you know, ‘What’s the goal? What’s the end-game?’ And I say, ‘Well, let me tell you somethin’ first of all, we’ve already had a number of victories in our first six weeks. And let’s acknowledge those victories. Alright? Number one, number one, we have killed despair across the country. The despair that people were feeling, that despair is dissipating right now. This movement has killed apathy. People have got up off the sofa! They’ve turned off Dancing with the Stars! And gone out in the streets!”3

Moore hit the nail on the head. The fundamental issue is about who should control the wealth that the worker sweats for.

Certainly, this is the underlying motivation for the movement, conscious or not. Should the decisions about the distribution of wealth belong to the top one percent that claim ownership over the wealth and who enforce these decisions through the use of the police and armies that they control? Or should the accumulated wealth of labor be owned, controlled, and distributed democratically by the 99 percent who actually create that wealth?

There’s no “half-way compromise” between the two forms of “ownership” of the economy. Either the workers’ democratically own the economy and make the decisions about it by majority rule so the wealth gets distributed equally and fairly among everyone; or the capitalists continue to own and consolidate the wealth into fewer and fewer hands.

And you can be sure there will be no limit to the violence the capitalists will use to maintain their dictatorial control.

The inevitable outcome of their violence will make the police attack against Occupy Oakland look like a walk in the park.

The power of the 99 percent to stop the violence of the one percent

The most inspiring and encouraging thing for all of us to realize is that we actually have the power to stop the one percent from using violence against us. The world has seen the power of the masses when they get together! They can’t send the police or the military against us if they—the police and the military—choose to join us and abandon them.

The movement must make it crystal clear, however, that the police have a special role and, therefore, a special responsibility to turn in their badges and quit being cops. The very purpose of their job is to “uphold the law.” The problem with that is, the law has been written by, for and in the interests of the top one percent! To join our side, the police have to walk away from their jobs. You can’t be employed to defend capitalist law and still be on the side of the masses of working people who are the victims of that law!

We can demand that the police and the military join us; that is what we, the 99 percent, should demand of them. But we have to do more than that. We must have a massive presence that outnumbers them. Not just in numbers in the streets; but in numbers organizing together to achieve our goals.

We have to come together and have open and democratic discussions about all these issues—on our jobs, in the schools, in our communities. We have to let everyone have a say even if they are a minority of one. And we have to come to decisions that reflect the opinions of the majority. It doesn’t mean we have to silence the minority. We must always protect the rights of the minority to speak and air their views. It just means we have to carry out the wishes of the majority. We must trust the majority to rule in the interests of the majority.

The fundamental truth is; it really is up to us! Our unity and solidarity in this struggle will actually save lives because we, as the majority, potentially have the power to disarm the one percent. Without police, armies and weapons of mass destruction under their control they are powerless—a tiny minority—the one percent! The more united we are, the weaker the capitalists are!

Unifying slogans

The mass media keep complaining that the movement “has no demands.” When discussing what they mean by “demands” they refer to various reforms such as the “Robin Hood” tax that would tax financial transactions and other such reforms that could be supported by liberal capitalist politicians. There’s nothing wrong with such demands, per se, but these reforms do not change the relationship of power of the one percent over the 99 percent in any fundamental way. The mass media agents of the capitalist class will still want to know which presidential candidate the movement will endorse.

Their goal is to hijack the movement and drag it into the Democratic Party—into the game of supporting the candidate who says she or he will support the reforms. But that lands us back where we started—depending upon the bought and paid-for representatives of the one percent to actually do what they promise to do during the election campaigns after they get elected.

To be sure, Obama has done irreparable damage to that fantasy. His failure to carry out his campaign promises hasn’t gone unnoticed by the folks occupying the streets either! But what we must thoroughly understand is that the one percent will do NOTHING that will, in any way, weaken their power and control over us. Our only option is to remove that power from them.

The movement is taking hold
and evolving

The common threads of grievances are evident in the messages hand-drawn on cardboard signs that lace the crowds occupying the streets. The messages carried in the signs and slogans of the OWS movement are quite varied such as, “People before profit;” “Jobs not war;” “Schools not jails;” “Food not bombs;” “Healthcare not corporate welfare;” “Stop foreclosures;” “Stop the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids and deportations;” “Bring all U.S. troops home now;” “Stop Stop-and-Search;” “Occupy the Hood;” and “Tax the rich;” among many others.

These slogans can be heard in countries around the globe in cities and in rural areas. That’s because all these issues have their roots in the profoundly un-equal system of capitalism that always puts profits and wars to maintain them before the needs of the masses—of the 99 percent. All these slogans are part of the process of the formation of demands to carry out the wishes of the occupations, and their supporters.

The OWS movement is in its beginning stages and growing and evolving rapidly. There are debates and discussions in the streets about how to keep going, how to expand, whether and/or how to come up with common demands, and how to organize a common movement, and how to make democratic decisions.

Currently, the Occupy movement conducts itself through democratic discussions and decision-making in the streets—in “General Assemblies” that are taking place in occupations across the country. After all, if the majority decides to stay in the streets, and more and more people join them—that’s direct democracy in action—“voting with your feet.”

The movement must remain independent of the capitalist parties

This has the potential to develop into an organized, democratic workers’ movement.

In order for it to develop fully, it must continue to organize workers independently of the capitalist class and their ruling parties. Workers must consciously challenge capitalist rule in the streets and at the point of production—through general strikes and refusals to fight in their wars.

The massive November 2, 2011 Occupy Oakland General Strike of 30-40,000 participants was an historical step forward. While the action went on all day from 9:00 A.M., by far, the largest numbers of protestors were concentrated at the Port of Oakland beginning around 5:00 P.M., shutting the port down completely.

This was a highly conscious act by the participants of Occupy Oakland in support of the ILWU and against the giant capitalist shipping infrastructure. This was a mass demonstration clearly on the side of the working class and against capitalist minority rule.

Such unified and organized worker-actions can lead to the formation of a revolutionary workers united front to fight for social and economic equality and for a workers government with the power to challenge the very foundations of capitalism—and to overthrow the capitalist state.

We can’t let the movement
be hijacked

It’s clear that there is an understanding among a majority of those in the streets that the decisions should be made democratically by the people themselves and independently of the Democratic and Republican twin parties of the one percent.

However, there have already been attempts to hijack the movement. But while we can be sure these attempts will continue, there is good reason to be optimistic that the hijacking will not succeed.

Washington’s Blog4 dated October 8, 2011 titled “Welcome to the OWS 99 Percent Movement ‘We Will NOT Be Co-Opted’” released the following “non-official” statement:

“We, a working group of people currently occupying Liberty Park and many other locations throughout the U.S., are growing increasingly concerned about divide and conquer attempts being made to co-opt the movement. In the following message, we are issuing our first proposed statement. If you agree with the statement, please post it to your website and/or spread it throughout your social networks, both online and offline at occupations throughout the country. If you would like to read this statement at your local GA meetings and vote or edit it, feel free. If you disagree with the statement, please air your disagreements—this is what democracy looks like.

“We appreciate, respect and encourage endorsements from individuals and organizations. We invite them. However, just because an individual or organization endorses our movement, does not mean that they in any way have a leadership role in deciding the future direction of this movement. We will not be co-opted by hierarchical organizations. No matter how wonderful their cause may be.

“There are many people, organizations and media outlets within both the Democratic and Republican parties who are trying to label us as the Democrat’s version of the Tea Party. In this working group’s opinion, not only is this incorrect, but in labeling us this way, you are, whether you realize it or not, undermining the very essence of this movement with your obsolete divide and conquer groupthink propaganda. Just as the mainstream media and both political parties aided and abetted the co-option of the Tea Party by the Republican Party, there is an attempt being made to do the same to us within the Democratic Party.

“We the People, we the 99 percent, are not the pawns of either wing of the two-party oligarchy.

“We emphatically reject the attempted leadership of any political party, organization or individual. If there are elected officials or organizations who endorse our movement, we welcome them.

“However, they must do so knowing this: Your voice will be just as loud as any other voice. We are led by no one. You cannot co-opt We The People.

“Respect Us.”

In an October 15, 2011 article that appeared on Reader Supported News (RSN) titled “OWS Organizers Blast MoveOn,” also by Washington’s Blog:

“David DeGraw—one of the primary Wall Street protest organizers—just sent me the following email: ‘Top MoveOn leaders/executives are all over national television speaking for the movement. Fully appreciate the help and support of MoveOn, but the MSM [Main Stream Media] is clearly using them as the spokespeople for OWS. This is a blatant attempt to fracture the 99 percent into a Democratic Party organization. The leadership of MoveON are Democratic Party operatives. They are divide-and-conquer pawns. For years they ignored Wall Street protests to keep complete focus on the Republicans, in favor of Goldman’s Obama and Wall Street’s Democratic leadership. If anyone at Move On or Daily Kos would like to have a public debate about these comments, we invite it. Please help us stop this divide and conquer attempt.’”

These hijacking attempts alternated with violent police/government attacks will get more forceful as we get closer to the 2012 elections and as the economy tanks and the movement grows stronger.

The movement must be clear that its strength is in its independence from the Democratic and Republican parties and any party that is bought and paid for by the capitalist one percent.

The glue that will hold this movement together is working-class solidarity. The OWS movement must declare itself on the side of the working class; on the side of all those who are struggling for economic and social equality and justice. We must bring together the 99 percent into one unified voice against the common enemy—the system that places the profits of the one percent over the needs and wants of the 99 percent—the system of capitalism.

—October 31, 2011

4Washington’s Blog is a website covering “Business/Economics; Energy/Environment; Politics/World News; Science/Technology; General Interest; RSS Feed; Overview. They have articles signed by Washington’s Blog, and by other authors. Their website is at;

1 Occupy Oakland Protest:;embedded

Cops make mass arrests at occupy Oakland:;7PwU&feature=player;embedded

Raw Video: Protesters Clash With Oakland Police:;embedded

Occupy Oakland - Flashbangs USED on protesters OPD LIES:;embedded

KTVU TV Video of Police violence:

Marine Vet wounded, tear gas & flash-bang grenades thrown in downtown Oakland:;embedded

Tear Gas billowing through 14th & Broadway in Downtown Oakland:;embedded

Arrests at Occupy Atlanta -- This is what a police state looks like:;embedded

Denver Police Move Into Occupy Protest Encampment, By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, October 29, 2011:

2”From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs [Trans National Corporations] and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company’s operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power. The work, to be published in PLoS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image at link below). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 percent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms—the “real” economy—representing a further 60 percent of global revenues. When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies—all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity—that controlled 40 percent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than one percent of the companies were able to control 40 percent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.” From: “Revealed—the capitalist network that runs the world,” by Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie, October 24, 2011:

3 Occupy Oakland: Michael Moore Full Speech 10.28.2011

Michael Moore: “There’s No Turning Back!” Transcript: