I recently did a thought experiment of Rosa Luxemburg and gave her a role in advising the young activists. I will not repeat that.practice. Her spirit, however, of principled resistance to imperialism and advocacy of revolution over reform endears her to us and informs young activists involved in struggle against the US empire.
As the Occupy movement is still with us and finding new ways of trying to live lives consonant with the spirit of Occupy we think of it as the new year dawns and try to draw lessons for movements active today and the ones to come.
Initially, we must know that Occupy is an American phenomenon, but there are similar expressions in other parts of the world – like the Indignados in Spain, the Arab spring in North Africa, the Movimento Sem Terra, the landless paesant’s movement in Brazil and beyond.
All of these movements share something fundamental: A discontent with the status quo, and a deep desire for change.
They each know that the status quo is untenable, that the state is an instrument of the wealthy, and that the present economic system is rapacious when it comes to using its power to protect the well-to-do.
In a word – they know that the system is broken irrevocably. They also know that capitalism is to blame, namely the crisis of capitalism which is raging to make more and more money from any conceivable outlet.
Rosa Luxemburg would have loved to be around.
Not just to see the effects of that crisis – but to teach the lessons of organizing and revolution growing, and while it would be premature to call some of these movements revolutionary they are certainly radical, and they are calling into question the systems under which we live, including capitalism.
In the US the Occupy movement struck quite a chord, simply by speaking to the stark divide in American society between the 1% and the 99%. Their slogan „We are the 99%“ cut to the very heart of the economic crises ripping through the United States. The joblessnes, the government budgets being slashed, and the monstrous weight to the many states of the prison industrial complex – the biggest such system on earth.
Similar crises are being thrust on to many European states, say Greece, Italy, and Portugal, just for starters.
What we are seeing is the boundless appetite of capital for more capital, especially in the aftermath of the fall of the Sovjet Union.
These economic disruptions are having a political effect – as shown by the rise of anticapitalist groupings which challenge the status quo.
As these contradictions in society become sharper, more people are drawn into such movements to try to redirect this social decay into more productive, more social concerns.
The empire strikes back.
National news reports have shown a campaign of repression against occupiers, from police assaults, beatings, mass arrests, and anti-occupy media propaganda. First the media ignored them. Then, when it was no longer possible to do so, they maligned them. They defended their corporate owners by misreporting on the anti-1-percenters, depicting them as silly, trifling people. Police infiltrated them at every level.
Yet they remain involved in a variety of issues in the variety of American cities. No longer as visible and no longer a mass at open air locations they remain opposed to the status quo. They are searching for a way, true. But the good thing is: they are still searching. They are still organizing. They are still trying to build a system that serves human needs instead of corporate needs. They are still trying.
Rosa Luxemburg would be proud.
Hier spricht Mumia Abu-Jamal.