We respond to the LRP’s economistic, nationalistic critique of the Occupy Wall Street movement

On the 1st March 2012 the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP) published a critique of the Occupy Wall Street movement. At the time we had published a call for the Occupy Wall Street movement to transform itself into an ‘Occupy White House’ movement. In other words, for shifting the concentration from the occupation of open spaces and marches on the banks to marches on and occupations of buildings of parliamentary control. This was to begin to draw the lesson that the executive armed wing  of the Wall street bandits is the state apparatus and that unless the working class overthrew the state apparatus, setting up workers’ councils, the struggle to deal decisively with the gangsters on Wall street would never be achieved. The fact is the Wall street capitalists rule through the White House.

In the wake of the Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen being almost killed by the police in October 2011, the LRP argued for a march on the Oakland mayor and police chief, calling on them to resign, a step which they said could spark other political fights across the country which could have halted the attacks on the Occupy Wall Street encampments around the country.  The LRP claimed that this step would help the masses break from electoralism. But surely, this would just be another form of setting in motion a bourgeois recall election- the message would have been: the mayor and police chief are anti-worker, they need to be replaced by other pro-worker elements- this was implied in the slogan of the LRP.

What should have been raised is the need for workers’ self defence committees, centred on the factories and in this context a march on the mayor’s office, denouncing the police as the armed wing of Wall street, and calling for their  disbandment.  And considering that many war veterans were supportive of the Occupy Wall Street movement, this would have posed the question to them that indeed, the biggest enemy is at home, their own regime.

This brings us to one of the major shortcomings of the LRP critique, namely its nationalism: The LRP ignores the role of US imperialism as the major world dominant capitalist force and that the Occupy Wall Street movement represented a split in the base that has been used for the past 100 or so years to terrorise the masses of the world. The slogan of we are the 99% against the 1%, represents a realization that sections of the middle class and ,more importantly,  sections of the military are breaking from their support for the imperialist capitalist class. Fundamentally too, huge sections of the working class in the main imperialist power were starting to question the role of their capitalist class as the main exploiter in the world and were beginning to protest against them. The revolutionary threat against the US imperialist capitalist regime is one of the most important factors that is constraining a direct US military intervention in the world today (compare this period to the period of the 2003 Iraq invasion). This is one of the factors swaying world conditions more towards the working class today.  Such a change in the world balance of forces completely escapes the LRP. When the Occupy Wall Street movement begins to raise a call for ‘an end to all wars’, it reflects a split in the military- the LRP simply rejects this as utopian and offers no way forward to advance and deepen the internationalist sentiments of the masses.

The question of how to consolidate and deepen the crack in the middle class base of US imperialism escapes the LRP. When Obama speaks of the middle class America, he is trying to blur the class lines. The LRP simply talks of a general strike without offering one concrete step of how to advance the current struggle towards it. 

Instead of an internationalist programme, the LRP raises the demand for ‘re-industrialization’. This is a local brand of what chauvinist raised in Britain (‘British jobs for British workers’). This is raising the begging bowl to capitalists like Apple, to bring back the jobs from China, or for other jobs to come back from Mexico and India, to the USA. How different is this from the Tea party? Where is the call for the working class in the neo-colonies to also get organised and rise up against the 1% of Wall Street? Unfortunately, they do not feature in the critique by the LRP.

When the Occupy Wall Street activists call for ‘democratically-controlled’ jobs, the LRP pours scorn over them and implies that workers are not really concerned about that but only a ‘roof’ and a ‘job’. Thus the LRP discards the fight for workers’ control. In the Transitional Programme’s section on ‘The struggle against imperialism and war’, the demands are posed of workers control of the war industry and of confiscation of all their profits. The LRP does not raise these demands, nor of workers’ control over the public works programme. In fact the LRP appears to support the bourgeois notion of raising taxes of the rich, instead of counter-posing this with the Marxist call for confiscation of their profits.   Thus on the question of internationalism and workers’ control, the supposedly middle class Occupy Wall Street movement is to the left of the LRP.

The LRP complains about the domination of the middle class and the anarchists of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The LRP does not reach out to the left anarchists who are pro-worker, nor do they raise the call for workers committees to be set up at workplaces in struggle, a necessary step in the fight against the union bureaucracy and the capitalist class.

Finally, the LRP does not even raise the question of workers joining COFI (Communist Organization for the Fourth International). Surely the struggle for working class power in the USA is an international question for the world proletariat. We call on the LRP to retake the path of internationalism, to break from its economism. As Lenin put it that the party can wait for the masses but the masses cannot wait for the party.

15 Dec 2012