Labor Must Choose Between Occupy and the Democrats

Published on Global Research.ca (see also on WORKER’s ACTION), by Shamus Cooke, November 21, 2011.

The Occupy Movement couldn’t have come along at a worse time, from the viewpoint of the Democrats. Election season is just getting started and Occupy has thrown a giant wrench into the political machinery. Some labor leaders too are sensing “politics as usual” shifting under their feet; the “get out the vote” for the Democrats may elicit blank stares from the rank and file. Occupy has the potential to create earthquakes within the labor movement and labor’s relationship to the Democrats, if it approaches the subject intelligently. This seismic shift could permanently change politics in the United States, much for the better.  

Many commentators have noted that the Occupy Movement can be only poison for the Democrats. Unlike the Republicans, who benefited from the corporate sponsored far-right Tea Party, the Democrats have no intention of moving — or even flirting — with an independent movement to its left. Long before the corporate Presidency of Bill Clinton, the Democrats have moved only to the right, with the leftist talk reserved strictly for election campaigns. This evolution is now to the point where President Obama stands to the right of President and arch-Conservative Richard Nixon on most economic and social issues. Times have certainly changed.

In an effort to pretend that times haven’t changed, some labor leaders are obsessed with comparing the modern Democrats with the modern Republicans, the latter who have evolved into a party that openly denies evolution and disdains all things non-corporate. Comparing Democrats with Republicans in this distorted manner certainly makes Democrats look good, while also avoiding the real issues at stake.

And then came Occupy … //

… This gives the Occupy Movement an amazing chance to lead labor down the right path. There is a wide gulf between the demands that the labor movement and the Democratic Party are putting forward and what working people desperately need. Occupy would not exist were this not the case.

Therefore, Occupy must address the nationwide social crisis in a serious way that can unite working people, and help drive the labor movement forward in the process. For example, instead of the labor movement merely demanding End the Bush Tax Cuts, Occupy could demand Tax the 1% at 90% (as it was under Franklin Delano Roosevelt). Instead of labor demanding that Obama’s Jobs bill be passed, the Occupy Movement should demand that revenue from taxing the rich be used to create 20 million new jobs, a federal jobs program similar to the one implemented in the 1930s, but bigger.

Most importantly, Occupy could start a national campaign demanding NO CUTS to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid by taxing the rich and corporations. Taxing the rich should be a critical demand of the Occupy movement, since it naturally unites working people against cuts and produces revenue that can create jobs. Taxing the rich is also the demand that naturally emerges from the slogan “We Are the 99%,” which reveals the giant wealth disequilibrium that has happened in the country, in large part due to the shrinking tax rates of the rich.

There is plenty of room for Occupy to prove its political independence by putting forth demands that will discredit the Democrats and lead Labor towards campaigns that the majority of working people will join, making Occupy/Labor an unstoppable force.  If occupy mobilizes over key demands that resonate with the majority, the unions will follow. They will have no choice, since their rank and file will already be following Occupy. (full text).

(Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist and writer for Workers Action. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Shamus Cooke).

Links:

The Silence of the Democratic Party is Complicity, on Daily KOS, Nov. 16, 2011;

Here’s what attempted co-option of OWS looks like, on Salon.com, by Glenn Greenwald, Nov. 19, 2011;

(My comment:

How many times all Occupy activist worldwide are claiming having not a precise agenda, but wanting discuss FIRST fundamental needs and changes with the 99% (what meens real democracy). I agree, wanting too quickly a definitive agenda is not only missing the final goal, but a lack of democracy about this goal … the discussion about is just starting …

Excerpts of my comment on May 16, 2007
– here valuable for the 99%:

  • … we are not a humanity, but an amount of different clans, working and living to increase the own profit, at the costs of others. At the costs of all those who are not same … //
  • … In my eyes, there are two fundamental society-structures, which are NOT compatible, each to the other, and for which we have – one day – to choose. We have to choose as a whole humanity. This choice is NOT made still now, even if we claim sometimes to know what we want.
  • Really? Do we know it really?
  • For me, the first item (between others) to be chosen lays in the hierarchic structure of a future humanity:
  • 1): – or we want something like democracy. This means, every human has the right to claim equality in surviving, in economic wealth (how much?), for education, and access to information (how much information? All? Or only almost all?), and his right to act as a recognished responsible citizen of this world, by taking an equal part in all decision processes. This means freedom of encounter with any group we choose, freedom of press, freedom of choosing sexual, religious and any civil behaviour, as long as it is in harmony with some Human Rights (still to be defined, like the economic, social and civil HR, a debate running at the UN as the – aborted – trial to promote the op-icescr). And strictly seen, social Darwinism can no more have its place in this model, as incompatible with fundamental human rights.
  • 2): – or we choose a structure which accepts the division of our humanity into 2 layers: the ones who govern, an elite ‘knowing’ what is good for the people, and this so called people, all those who are NOT the elite. And strictly seen, social Darwinism is always part of this model, as the Elite uses its advantage automatically to serve itself first from the ‘big cake’.
  • An intermediate model is co-running since the middle age, where ’some’ may consider themselves as ‘Elites’, but in reality they are only elites over the rest of the people, not over those who really ‘have’ the power, whatever makes that this power is working over the rest of us all. Sometimes this ‘power’ works as a religious power (as for our western societies before renaissance), sometimes it works as economic power (as today: ’some’ have the possibility to make really politics with money … ).
  • So, what model do we want for this our humanity?
  • Both models have ‘good or bad’ aspects. Good or bad belonging the viewpoint you apply to them.
  • The good aspect of model 1) is, every one can develop and become a REAL human being, not only some BABY having to follow any ideology. This aspect is cheered by all of us wanting progress, democracy, something giving us a good consciousness, a good feeling. A feeling we have learned since decades being ‘the right one’. The right to become a grown up citizen. Most of us who cherish to defend Human Rights in this world, may claim to chose this model.
  • The bad side of this model (of 1): we really have to make efforts to progress, to think about problems, to decide by taking our responsibility. If you really believe to this model, then remember, if you are a bit older, how overworked could feel all these fine communards in our ‘first world experiences’ of community, hippy-groups or self controlled enterprises of the 1970’s. Remember the endless discussions and not working results when no agreement was reached.
  • Remember also all these elections during the last decades, when peoples elect some guys becoming quasi dictators, promising protection against threats they consciously created before (for example, the US and their terrorists). I mean, this model asks us much more efforts than only showing a ‘nice attitude’.
  • Or if you are a Swiss citizen, you know how time taking may be the ‘right’ to choose for the next votation. Just now, mid of May 2007, we are asked to answer for 13 (thirteen) economic, political or social items (on the level of the canton/state of Geneva). Items we have to study, reflect about, take responsibility for, as these decisions become regulations or laws we will have to live with.
  • In model 2) you may find the good side in the fact that you no more have to think about your responsibility, you just follow the (strong, tough) recommendations of those ‘knowing better than you’. Now you really can live your simple pleasures and tititainments (from tits and entertainment).
  • And here is also the place of any religious fundamentalism. The place for representants of God or Allah telling you what’s right or wrong. And wanting you follow them, because, if not …
  • The bad side (of 2): if you do not follow their recommendations when this model is running, not only the leaders, but mainly your neighbours, NOT wanting think themselves, will put you straight on the right way. Normally this model is called a dictatorship. Or a religious state, not separating religion and civil government.
  • OK, I confess, model 1): is my definitive choice. I know why and I assume for me the consequences. So, my choice is made. But: are we aware, if we choose this model, that we can NO MORE accept that parts of Model 2) is running together with model 1)?
  • Model 2) is still running in our economic behaviour (rich world against poor world, rich social groups against poor social groups). If we accept Model 1), we HAVE to eliminate – by a conscious choice – all economic relents of Model 2).
  • I do not claim war, I am sure that IF we are conscious what is the real question, we become able to choose, and, if we chose model 1), then the small group insisting now to run model 2) on the economic level, has to accept this choice. As they are a really small group. But a group having possibilities of influence and manoeuvres of all kind. I do not think they ‘give up’ their power, but we have to answer consciously their attempts of destabilisation.
  • Yes, I exclude here the religious fundamentalism, as I am convinced, if the economic and development justice is reached, religious fundamentalism will no more have the same power it has today. If your neighbour has no more the power to force you in his right way, and if you have access to education, then you can really make a choice.
  • If we are not able to choose the whole part of one of the models – and that is the actual running struggle worldwide, for me, all wars include this fundamental question – if we are not able to discuss together all aspects of these 2 models, and choose deliberately one of the models, we will have no peace.
  • Peace can only come with a conscious, wanted decision for a common model of our humanity …

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