Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D.
September 29, 2011
Political mass strike dynamics have been at work in the United States since the Wisconsin and Ohio mobilizations of February and March. Now, there are
demonstrations in lower Manhattan and Boston specifically directed against the Wall Street banks. Another protest demonstration is scheduled for
Washington, DC, starting on October 6. Good: a political challenge to Wall Street is indeed long overdue.
The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are skeptical in regard to Obama. There is no sizable constituency for Ron Paul, and the crackpot Austrian school
of economics is hardly represented. Above all, there is a desire to break the power of Wall Street. This much is promising, but still not enough to
The demonstrations appear initially as leaderless groups, engaged in an organic process of discussion from which specific demands are supposed to
emerge. But so far, these demonstrations have put forth no specific demands, reforms, or concrete measures whatsoever to fight Wall Street. This is a
fatal political weakness. A movement that attempts to go forward with vague slogans like “Freedom” or “Abolish capitalism” is likely to become
easy prey for foundation-funded operatives on the left wing of the Democratic Party.
If a movement pretends to have no leaders, then it is the corporate media, themselves controlled by Wall Street, who will choose the leaders. A few
days ago, a Wall Street protester named Kelly Heresy was anointed as principal honcho by Keith Olbermann, who used to work for the hedge fund called
General Electric, and who now works for Al Gore. This is no way to select leaders.
The demonstrations may appear spontaneous, but it is easy to see gatekeepers and countergangs operating in their midst, often with a frank
counterinsurgency agenda. Occupy Wall Street in particular shows the heavy influence of union bureaucrats from the Service Employees International
Union, as well as Acorn – both parts of the Obama machine. The goal of these operatives is to keep the focus of the protests vague and diffuse, so
that no demands emerge that might be embarrassing to the Wall Street puppet Obama and his reelection campaign. Their ultimate goal is to absorb the
protests as the left wing of the Obama 2012 effort. That means supporting an administration which not only refuses to fight Wall Street, but which is
packed with Wall Street executives in its highest positions.
Dubious Hollywood figures like Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore are attempting to gain publicity for themselves by showing up at the demonstrations.
Michael Moore, who is not very popular with the demonstrators, was instrumental in leading the antiwar and impeachment movements of the past decade
back into the Democratic Party to support Obama. Journalist Matt Taibbi, another newly minted expert on the movement, is remembered for his hatchet
jobs in favor of the Bush administration theory of terrorism.
The organizers of the Wall Street action say they want to imitate recent protests in other countries. Their favorite is the Tahrir Square agitation in
Egypt in February. But if you go to Cairo today, veterans of those demonstrations will tell you that these efforts accomplished relatively little, and
mainly had the effect of ousting an oppressive civilian government in favor of an even more oppressive military government of weak CIA puppets which
is still operating under martial law, even as benighted religious fanatics gather strength. In Greece, it is true that the trade unions have mounted a
dozen general strikes, but all of these have failed to oust Prime Minister Papandreou, the main enforcer of austerity cuts demanded by the
International Monetary Fund, and so the brutal austerity continues. The same thing applies to Spain, where the indignados became so self-absorbed in
their discussion and consensus process that they never put forward a program to save Spanish society from the bankers. In Iceland too, the anti-bank
movement was never able to go beyond mere protest to advance a series of concrete measures that would allow them to contend for power, take power, and
hold onto it for the public good.
The lesson of all of these situations is that, in a severe world economic depression of the kind we have today, mere protest is not enough. Desperate
populations are looking for political leadership with solutions capable of solving the life or death issues facing nations today. A movement which is
incapable of specifying what it intends to fight for is an immature movement which no intelligent person will take seriously.
The secret of a mass strike upsurge is that crisis conditions will propel many apolitical people into activism. This makes them vulnerable to
manipulation by demagogues, including those of the extreme right. The mass strike upsurge by itself solves nothing. The question is whether any
coherent group of people can intervene into the mass upsurge and push aside bankrupt and failed leaders with the kind of radical reform program that
can actually get the society out of the crisis. The masses cannot discover this program on their own – they are too busy with the struggle for daily
existence. College students therefore have a special responsibility to provide ideas for the benefit of the entire society. If an adequate program
becomes dominant, the nation can survive. Otherwise, nothing guarantees that civilization itself will not collapse – look at the Tea Party if you
don’t believe this. Soros, Koch, and the other finance capitalists have a good working understanding of how these things work, which is why they are
sending in their operatives to make sure that this movement will have only the vaguest demands, or no demands at all, to fight for. Let that happen,
and Wall Street will rule the day once again.
Despite what Michael Moore may think, the political power of Wall Street is considerable, and an effective attack on the bankers will demand the
unified efforts of key sectors of the population. This unity must be expressed in the program itself. Students must broaden the sociological scope of
the movement to include all walks of life.
In order to fight Wall Street, it is necessary for the American people to understand the basic idea of shifting the cost of the world economic
depression off of the backs of working people and the poor where it is now, and onto Wall Street banks and super-rich speculators. Depressions are
very expensive. Who should pay for the current depression? The bankers demand that the American people must pay. We want the bankers to pay, and we
must specify how. A movement that wants to defend working people against the class warfare of the bankers has the responsibility of putting forward a
program to defend middle-class and other working people. In order to win, the anti-Wall Street protests must agitate for a series of demands including