The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Occupy Wall Street and Spain’s Indignados

Oct 26, 2011

On October 25, at 5 a.m., Oakland California police squadrons moved to evict Occupy Wall Street protesters, arresting nearly 100, tearing down their tents and destroying their belongings. When protesters reassembled with reinforcements at 5 p.m., attempting to march to the site, they were confronted by police, who used rubber bullets, so-called bean-bag shotguns and tear gas to sweep the downtown area. On the same evening, Atlanta police evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters from the site where they had set up a camp, arresting 53 there, also destroying belongings and the camp.

It was not the first arrests in the Occupy Wall Street movement, which first gained attention with a September 17th demonstration near Wall Street in New York City, nor even the biggest. But most of the earlier arrests had come in response to “civil disobedience” actions initiated by the protesters, like the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or the attempt to occupy Bank of America headquarters in Boston, or in smaller actions, with police picking at the edge of the movement.

This time, the cops in both cities were sent in with the specific purpose of disrupting and dispersing the whole protest, attempting to break it – and they did it in heavy-handed fashion. Is it the beginning of a wider crackdown across the country, or are these two cases isolated? At this point, that’s not clear. More important, will these attacks discourage the movement or will they give a bigger impetus to all those who are outraged?

Whatever happens, it’s obvious that the protests, which started in New York City, but quickly spread throughout the country, rolling through big cities and small, have touched an exposed nerve in the population and found support among working people.

Perpetual unemployment has marginalized nearly half the younger generation and made everyone’s life insecure. Wage cutting guarantees this new generation will live less well than their parents.

The rich get richer, spectacularly richer, parading their wealth for TV, while millionaire stockbrokers imperiously tell us they are worth every penny they get. The richest one percent of the population own more of the nation’s wealth than do the bottom 85%.

The government bails out the banks, while four million families find themselves expelled from their homes in the banks’ mortgage scam, and 11 million more are “underwater” – with no hope of ever getting afloat again.

So, yes, the youth who flocked into these demonstrations had every reason to do so. Even many of the middle class youth whose families can put them through the university find themselves today without prospects – not to mention the working class youth, unemployed, bumped from temporary job to temporary job, priced out of the university by years of tuition increases.

What will happen next, time will tell. But the events in Spain can be interesting for all those attracted by the Occupy Wall Street movement in this country. The “indignado” [indignant] movement in Spain went further and had deeper roots than the movement has had so far in this country, but there are many similarities. The article that follows was written four months ago, but the description of what happened in Spain, based on information provided by Spanish comrades active in the movement in Spain, will strike a chord with everyone here who is also “indignado” but wonders where to go next!

Please see the article on Spain’s Indignados, which follows.