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Occupy Toronto

28 November 2011

As anyone can clearly see, the world is heading closer to the brink of environmental and financial disaster brought about by the rapacious and ruthless nature of capitalism. In such disturbing times, it is refreshing to see two movements appear that are saying, in effect, "wait a minute, there is a way out". I refer to Democracy Now and the Occupy Movements. Both have spread rapidly and globally, particularly the Occupy Movement, and both are unlike anything else yet seen under capitalism, apart from socialism.

They cannot be compared to the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s, or the feminist groups of the 70s, because in neither case are they demanding improvements for minorities within capitalism. Nor can there be comparisons with the Anti-Vietnam War Movement, which wasn't opposed to capitalism or even the American government, but its policy of continuing, in their view, an unjust war (as if there could be such a thing as a just war).

The most positive factor with these new developments is that they realize that it is pointless getting rid of a government and putting a new one in power if its intention is to continue to administer capitalism for the benefit of the capitalists. Both groups understand very well that the problem facing humanity cannot be solved within the same economic system that caused them.

Another heartening aspect of this for socialists is that it happened so quickly, so widely, and so democratically and justifies what the World Socialist Movement contends, that revolutionary ideas cannot be stopped at borders and they don't need leaders. The Occupy Toronto site was organized by elected committees and decisions made democratically by all those who wanted to participate, and work was voluntary thus mirroring many aspects of a socialist society. In addition its basic tenets include 'People affected by decisions should be at the table making them';'No one gets left behind'; 'Work based on volunteerism'; 'Speakers' forum'.

Four SPC members recently visited the Occupy Toronto site and were impressed how democratic the whole thing was. At 6pm. everyday, anyone was allowed to get up and address the occupiers and express their opinions from the central park bandstand, which one of our members did, explaining the socialist case and wishing the campers success. Though we didn't hear any speaker criticize them, we were sure they would be heard. A general feeling of warmth, solidarity and goodwill prevailed. Noticing a computer sitting on a bench, for example, we waited to see the outcome. A man left the nearby toilets and picked up the computer certain that it wouldn't be stolen.

When we moved around the camp and explained our case, we were treated with interest and respect. This doesn't mean that the occupiers understand socialism as can be seen from their list of demands (tax the rich) but they are willing to listen. What it does mean is that people whose political views differ have, through economic pressure, rallied together to resist, protest, and say, 'There must be something better than capitalism." The signs and banners on display throughout the park is testament to this even without engaging in conversation.

The Occupy movement has now been moved out of the park by court order by the city but it isn't going to end any time soon. The web sites are still active and the day after the eviction from the park saw a march through Toronto's financial district. This was supported by the union movement, as was the park occupation. It seems that the union movement has been galvanized at last into action by the Occupy Movement.

This is something worth watching and participating in!

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