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The Wrong Kind of Occupation

25 November 2012

It's been a year since the Occupy Movement began with such great promise. Therefore, it's interesting to evaluate its achievements and failures.

It was heartening to see a grass roots movement protest the inequality in society with its 'ninety-nine per cent against one', and to see it spread all over the world so quickly and democratically. That there were no leaders and all decisions were made and implemented by committees was a vindication of the socialist view that people do not need anyone to lead them and tell them what to do. It was democratic in the fullest sense. Some SPC members visited the site in Toronto and noted that anyone could address its meetings, which one member did to general agreement among those attending.

When the authorities forced the evacuation of the sites, the movement, to its credit, continued. They are constantly holding meetings, addressing a wide variety of social concerns, educating and being educated, and protesting the inequalities so endemic in capitalist society. After the occupation, members had to face the cold, hard reality of life under capitalism, namely the need to acquire food, clothing, and shelter. One Occupier reported, "I had to step back and continue my schooling. I have to focus on career goals at this moment." (Toronto Star, October 20, 2012).

A major and understandable issue that Occupy have is the present haste of the destruction of the environment through global warming. However, one rarely hears the word capitalism spoken, implying that the problem could be solved within the system. Another issue is the Western occupation of the Middle East and Central Asia. Occupy want the armed forces withdrawn which is a fine idea but a bit unrealistic in capitalist terms where competition between countries and between corporations for resources will ensure that invasion and occupation remain a constant threat.

Though many in the working class were sympathetic to the Occupy Movement, many were not and the fault was not all theirs alone. Basically, what Occupy demands is equality but fail to explain just what they mean. If they desire equality within capitalism, as they seems they do, then they are pursuing an illusion. Capitalism is a system that requires inequality to function. There are owners and non- owners, workers and bosses, rich and poor. If the owners do not garner more of the surplus capital than the workers engendered by production, then there will be no investment to continue or expand production. That's the class struggle. Equality will only be realized when all stand equal in relation to the means of producing and distributing wealth. This can only be achieved in a system of common ownership of those means of production and free access for all to all goods produced.

If Occupy wants that, then there is no clearly stated path to that end. What we have is a howl of protest against the effects of capitalism. The Socialist Party of Canada and its companion parties in other lands do not waste their time protesting the effects of capitalism but point out that all the social evils created by it can only be abolished by the removal of the cause, namely, the ownership of the tools of production by a privileged minority, and the consequential enslavement of the majority, in other words, the capitalist system itself. Furthermore, we advocate clear- cut tactics conducive to its abolition i.e., a socialist minded majority organizing to capture political power so that the whole apparatus of capitalist administration can be removed and socialism established. The only occupation we advocate is that of elected socialist representatives of the people occupying, however briefly, the citadels of power the capitalists now hold. So why not join us and have done with protests that are not reinforced with political action.

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