Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bank Occupation & Growing Worker Militancy

Protesters from the National People’s Action occupied the office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in Washington, D.C., this week, forcing staffers to flee. They did the same to House Leader John Boehner. Many carried signs saying “We Do Not Have a Budget Crisis, but a Revenue Crisis” referring to their desire to make Wall Street pay for the deficit, rather than squeezing it out of poor and working folks. Several hundred protesters surrounded the Georgetown home of Charles Rossitti, a Bank of America board member, while 600 protesters occupied a local D.C. branch of Bank of America shutting it down for over an hour (see video above).
National People’s Action is a coalition of community, faith-based, youth and labor groups. They held a recent conference and direct action training session in Washington, hence the string of direct actions in the Washington D.C. area. The actions were part of the Make Wall Street Pay campaign.

While it is refreshing and exciting to see such militancy, it will take considerably more than this for the activists to achieve their goals. They will need many more people participating in similarly militant acts of civil disobedience and direct action and will need to sustain the actions over a considerable length of time. Therefore, the movement will also need to organize and mobilize people from outside the usual activist circles, large numbers of participants, particularly regular folks who have never participated in direct actions and who would otherwise be offended or frightened by such confrontational acts. And they need to be able to persevere in the face of state violence and the threat of prison. After all, their goal is to make the rich suffer inconvenience, disruption, and most of all, a loss of profits, something the rich cannot tolerate in the least.

There should also be a more careful analysis of the goals and tactics of this movement. For example, what if it was possible to get the rich to pay more taxes? People would still be stuck with low wages, poor benefits and often dangerous working conditions. Poverty would persist, as would homelessness, hunger, pollution and war. There would continue to be gated communities and ghettos, Cadillac health care and Medicare, foie gras and food stamps. The bosses and the rich would continue to maintain all the power, while the rest of us would continue to be dependent on them for jobs just so we can eat. The attacks on unions would not disappear since the bosses who hate the unions would still be in control.

However, what if their tactics were sufficient to get the rich to buckle and agree to higher taxes? That would be an indication that our power was effective, so why stop there? Why not go for it all? How about an end to wealth and poverty? They want to abolish unions. Why don’t we abolish bosses and wage slavery itself?

For a world without bosses!

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