LETTER FORM OAKLAND: Will this be the break from Democratic Party politics?

Yes, Oakland officially began its Occupy Oakland process today, Monday, October 10, 2011. It is in solidarity with now over 1,600 OccupyTogether locations, spin-offs from Occupy Wall street. We met in front of City Hall in a steady drizzle of rain. Most people present were strongly against the corporate presence in America. Most feel that everything bad in this country today emanates from corporations. Most would agree that we have to take over the corporations before they take over America.

Yet these were not the powerful voices out of Oakland!

One of the Occupy Oakland posters.Oh no — we heard those voices last week at the “Take Back the American Dream” Conference in Washington DC. That conference was organized by Oakland’s own Van Jones. Jones is a slick talker, and knows how to evoke America’s populist perceptions. His base is the Ella Baker Center which moved from SF to O a few years ago. He was the first person run out of the Obama Administration – the urban environmental radical in he Administration.

Right up the road from Oakland is Berkeley with its famous university. Robert Reich, head of the Department of Labor under Clinton, now teaches there and propounds bringing back the New Deal. He was a key-note at the conference as well.

Jones called for building a movement to make “Take Back America” a common banner that the “every day heroes” can all stand under. Reich put the blame on Republicans and the rich, not on a failed system.

You can hear their “dynamic message” at KPFA radio’s Letters To Washington show for Monday, 10-10 ( In the part I heard, neither mentioned going on the offensive to end the corporate strangulation of America; neither talked about the Democratic Party.

It is only fair to ask these new, hip heavy hitters — with long years in the politics of the Democratic Party — a question. Do you agree with the common sentiment among protestors that the system has failed both politically and economically?

Can we finally abandon the failed politics of begging, the stupid approach that our demands must be confined to “deliverables”, the passive protest, always staying on the defensive, relying on “our friends in Congress”, afraid to talk about the truth and to attack the entrenched untruths about the capitalist system?

What was possible before 2008 is now impossible. This is the defensive, incremental approach that preaches reliance on “our friends in Congress”. What was impossible before 2008 is now possible. This means fighting with a Vision of a different future. We are witnessing the advent of a new way to fight.

Martin Luther King never protested without presenting a concrete demand for the state. This must be the point of attack because the state and government are responsible to operate in the public interests.

This is not what we have been taught about non-violence. Over the years, compromisers have reduced King’s message to a huddled, passive, all-but-silent approach.

The state cannot be allowed to remain either neutral or silent. We must compel it to respond to our demands. This means battering it with all kinds of creativity. This is what we are seeing today. The fight for timid reforms no longer can drive the process forward! Only unleashing class struggle in its myriad forms will change the situation. The recognition that voting no longer can suffice is basic to the #Occupy movements.

The public must take over the corporations before the corporations take over the public. This means taking the offensive against corporations as a form of property and moving on all fronts to abolish them.

For the moment, Oakland represents both directions – collaboration, dressed in populism, that will keep the movement dependent on the Democratic Party, and taking the offensive against corporations that is independent of the legislative process.

Whether this moment is a turning point in US History, as many claim, depends on how this debate moves forward.

Steven Miller

Oakland, 10-10-11


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