October 2011  
Expropriate Wall Street Through Socialist Revolution!

NYPD: Guard Dogs of Finance Capital

NYC cops arrest 700+ anti-Wall Street protesters as they try to march across Brooklyn Bridge, Oct. 1.
(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty)

Students and Workers: Shut the City Down!

With the okay of NYC’s billionaire mayor Bloomberg, the New York Police Department lashed out at the “Occupy Wall Street” (OWS) protesters Saturday, October 1, arresting over 700 demonstrators as they tried to march over the Brooklyn Bridge. After setting the trap, police closed off both ends of the span and surrounded the marchers with orange plastic netting. Cops held the protesters there for a couple hours in a cold rain as they were handcuffed with plastic zip-ties and loaded onto pre-deployed police vans, Department of Corrections vehicles and some commandeered MTA buses, which then went precinct-hopping in Manhattan and Brooklyn looking for jail space.

The NYPD and the bourgeois media are now trying to baffle people with BS, debating whether the police “led” the marchers onto the bridge roadway where they could be arrested for obstructing traffic. In fact, it was “a planned move on protesters,” as a police official anonymously told the New York Times (1 October), which noted that earlier in the afternoon ten buses had been dispatched from the Rikers Island prison to transport the not-yet-arrested prisoners.

And it wasn’t the first time. A week earlier, on September 24, police penned in OWS marchers as they were returning from Union Square to their base. The cops arrested 85 people, charging into the crowd to yank people out, throwing anyone who objected to the ground, kicking the feet out from under a woman photographer. Outrage boiled over when videos were posted of a high-level police inspector attacking trapped women with point-blank pepper spray in the face. Two days before, police repeatedly blockaded, clubbed and arrested marchers protesting the execution of Troy Davis.

The escalating series of arrests, beatings and harassment by the NYPD have spurred city and national unions to come out in favor of the protest. Last week, the powerful Transport Workers Union Local 100 declared its support. On Monday the TWU sued the city to prevent the NYPD from using MTA buses as mobile jails, saying it backed the marches and the demonstrators should never have been arrested. Other major unions, including the United Federation of Teachers, Service Employees 32BJ (janitors and building staff) and 1199SEIU (health care workers), and the United Steelworkers and Laborers International have offered various kinds of support.

In all, around 1,000 protesters have been arrested in the past two weeks. Most have been released and issued summonses for violations. A few are still in jail and may face more serious charges. We demand: Release them all now! Drop all charges against OWS protesters!

After a thousands-strong march against police brutality on September 30 that ended in a rally at One Police Plaza, city unions are promoting a massive rally against police brutality for Wednesday, October 5. A huge turnout is called for, but more than marches and speeches, what’s needed is to mobilize labor’s power against racist police-state repression. As hundreds of demonstrators chanted along with supporters of the CUNY Internationalist Clubs on September 30: “Students and labor, shut the city down!

But the response to the heavy-handed repression must also be political. The NYPD is acting as guard dogs of finance capital. As if to underline this, right after the mass arrests of OWS protesters, JPMorgan Chase announced an unprecedented “charitable” contribution of $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. Many protesters have huge illusions about the police. Some carried signs calling on cops to join them, saying police are part of the “99%” of the population which the OWS seeks to represent. Dead wrong. The thugs in blue uniforms are not fellow workers but the armed fist of the class enemy: professional repressors and enforcers of racist “law and order.” The police are at  the hard core of the capitalist state.

Not Illusory Cleaned Up Capitalism…

The Occupy Wall Street protest in lower Manhattan has grown by the thousands since it began two weeks ago. They are camped out a few blocks from Wall Street in Liberty Plaza (a/k/a Zuccotti Park, named after the real estate mogul who owns the park and many of the neighboring office buildings). The NYPD’s heavy-handed repression of OWS has only brought it greater attention and public sympathy, striking a deep well of discontent across the country. Now similar protests are mushrooming in cities across the U.S., from Chicago to Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, Birmingham, Philadelphia and soon to come to Washington, D.C.

Something was bound to spark the discontent that is growing in nearly every sector of U.S. society. U.S. corporations are earning record profits, a projected $1.6 trillion in 2011, even as U.S. unemployment is over 17 percent and the capitalist economy is mired in a depression. To secure these and future profits, imperialist wars drag on endlessly, civil liberties are shredded “at home,” workers who still have jobs face ferocious union-busting, declining wages, disappearing health care and foreclosed homes, immigrants are subject to mass deportation while middle-class students and youth confront a debt-ridden jobless, downwardly mobile future.

Right-wing media try to paint the OWS protesters as fire-breathing radicals, which the vast majority certainly are not. For communists what’s striking is how “mainstream” the protests are: liberal politics with a heavy dose of flag-waving populism. In fact, many of the largely middle class white protesters are youth who tweeted, texted and voted for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008. Now that it’s clear that there has been none of the hoped-for “change,” many have concluded that “No they can’t” achieve anything through the electoral system because the Wall Street banks own it all, including Obama, so they’re taking to the streets.

Railing against greed and corruption on Wall Street is hardly against the system. While there is no agreed-upon set of demands, only a long list of grievances in the style of the Declaration of Independence, the proposals that have been floated at most amount to a slightly reformed, cleaned up, “green” capitalism. Yet greed and corruption are the lifeblood of the production-for-profit system. And there are quite a few American flags at the protests. As the 700+ demonstrators were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge the crowd sang the national anthem, with a number standing at attention and saluting, and at the end broke into chants of “USA, USA,” to emphasize their patriotism.[1]

The common ground shared by the angry liberals, social-democrats and populists who cohabit in the occupation’s assemblies – as well as the Ron Paul racists in the crowd and LaRoucheite fascists lurking around the corners of the square – is faith in U.S.-style (capitalist) “democracy” and visceral anticommunism, in which they are joined by the various anarchists. Mention the word “socialism” at the “people’s soapbox” and suddenly the “people’s microphone” cuts out, as occurred when an Internationalist Group supporter spoke at a meeting in the square on September 30.

Shortly after, on the march to police headquarters to condemn cop brutality against the occupation, IG supporters began chanting “We are all Sean Bell, NYPD go to hell,” whereupon a squad of “radical” busybodies sporting a large U.S. flag tried to hush us up! Apparently that was “off message,” and the march o police headquarters was to beg these racist killers who had just beaten, maced and arrested nearly a hundred protesters to “join us”! The next night, at the October 1 General Assembly immediately after over 700 of their fellow protesters had been arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, official “facilitators” shut down a young black woman who had witnessed the police entrapment and tried to report it. “This is not the time for personal statements,” said the arbiters of the “people’s microphone.”

At that meeting OWS spokespeople shamefully blamed the police roundup on its victims. One attacked the “small number of individuals” who deviated from the official plan. An OWS media spokesman told the London Guardian (3 October) that “provocateurs” led the march onto the roadway. However, a CUNY Internationalist speaker told the crowd that it wasn’t the demonstrators who were responsible for the mass arrests but the police, the mayor and Wall Street. He added that this never has been “our country,” and the stars and stripes is not our flag. “Our flag is that of the working class. It is red,” he ended to applause (video available at www.internationalist.org).

…But Workers Revolution

CUNY Internationalist Clubs at the October 5 labor demonstration in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street protesters against police repression. (Internationalist photo)

The source of the injustices that feed this new protest movement is capitalism, as many of the protesters recognize in some way. Whether there is (bourgeois) democracy or not, lots of corruption or little, appropriation of the surplus value by the capitalist owners of the means of production inevitably produces growing inequality and misery for the many.

Although the protest may “occupy” a square near the heart of finance capital, a Marxist understanding of the nature of capitalism and the revolutionary program to bring it down is rare. Involvement of labor and the union-backed rally could change things. The people who make the trains and buses run, who make the lights turn on, who daily feed, clean, build and maintain every city and town are the only ones with the power to defeat the capitalist class and its guard dogs in blue. The working class has scores to settle with the racist rulers whose “justice” lynched Troy Davis and whose police treat black and Latino neighborhoods like an occupying army.

The working-class rebellion in Wisconsin earlier this year, recent sharp clashes pitting ILWU longshore workers against a union-busting grain terminal operator and an on-going teachers strike in Washington state show that at least sections of the working class are ready and willing to fight. But the union bureaucrats are loyal to their capitalist masters. The OWS populists’ flag-waving and appeals to the police would sit well with these misleaders, who presided over the near destruction of organized labor in the U.S. while patriotically enlisting in the anti-Soviet war drive. They continue to chain the workers to the capitalist Democrats, as they did in Wisconsin, leading to the collapse of labor resistance. Now these “labor fakers” have seen that OWS has struck a chord, and want to control it and divert it.

The gushing accounts by various left groups are silent about all this. On the street these reformists never talk of socialist revolution, since (a) they’re not for it, despite their names, and (b) they don’t want to “get out too far ahead” of the protesters. But we Internationalists believe in telling the truth, and the truth is that capitalism cannot be reformed to “serve the people,” it must brought down through a struggle for workers power. Demonstrators are getting a chance to see how the capitalist system works, and some may learn from their experience in the school of hard knocks.

While the inaugural issue of the Occupied Wall Street Journal gushes about “real democracy,” and features an American flag, the only movement that has ever brought down the rule of capital, ended an imperialist war, and served as a beacon to the oppressed and exploited all over the world was the Russian socialist revolution of October 1917. The CUNY Internationalist Clubs join with the Internationalist Group, U.S. section of the League for the Fourth International, in seeking to build revolutionary workers parties as the only means by which the millions who are exploited and downtrodden by the dying capitalist system can triumph over the imperialist would-be masters of the world. Expropriate Wall Street through socialist revolution.

[1] See a collage of photos of U.S. flags in OWS demonstrations here

To contact the CUNY Internationalist Clubs, send e-mail to: cunyinternationalists@gmail.com

To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: