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The 99% Movement Has Something for Everyone -- But Is it Occupy?

How will the 99% Spring impact the Occupy Movement?

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The demise of the Iraq antiwar movement is a warning for the Occupy Movement. Obama the candidate wrapped himself in the antiwar mantle. By 2011 Obama the president was waging war on six countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yemen), asserting the right to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process and continuing policies of indefinite detention and warrantless surveillance. Many liberals now deem Obama “ one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades,” while liberal groups like MoveOn have fallen silent on the issue of illegal wars and war crimes.  Glenn Greenwald observes this hypocrisy turns “right-wing radicalism into robust bipartisan consensus,” making it ever more difficult to build a principled antiwar movement. For Occupy, the danger of being sucked into the Democratic Party as its purpose becomes supporting a party that is in the pocket of Wall Street, instead of ending the tyranny of Wall Street.

Referring to Mitt Romney as “Mr. 1%,” Ruben says of the 2012 presidential contest, “There are real elections happening where people are choosing between candidates who want to cut taxes for billionaires and candidates who want billionaires to pay their fair share. And that’s a real choice.”

Many occupiers beg to differ. Sure, plenty say they will hold their nose and vote for Obama, but few think it will make a real difference. Perhaps more significant economists beg to differ. None – left, right or center – think making billionaires “pay their fair share” by passing Obama’s Buffet rule will do anything meaningful to reduce inequality. But calling Romney Mr. 1% is a subtle way to imply that Obama represents the 99%. Bill Dobbs says, “If Obama is fighting for the 99%, I’m Greta Garbo. He’s running around the country selling the presidency to raise $700 million.”

The Occupy movement has created an opening in which millions of people in unions and organizations like MoveOn are receptive to the idea that only radical changes can solve America’s social and economic crisis. But Dobbs cautions, “We need a resistance movement, not more Democratic Party-aligned advocacy. This kind of relationship needs to be approached with healthy skepticism. There are benefits but also perils because… social movements often wind up in the Democratic Party junkyard. That’s where contemporary feminist organizing has ended up. That’s where civil rights struggles have ended up.” For the Occupy Movement, the question is where it ends up this November.

 

Arun Gupta is a founding editor of The Indypendent newspaper. He is writing a book on the decline of American Empire for Haymarket Books.

 
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