No matter what party is voted in- Democrat, Republican, Green, or whatever- politicians are controlled by whoever controls industry.
Under Capitalism, that is the ruling class.
It’s not about personality or even intention. If I, as a communist, were elected as president- I would be powerless to enact any of my ideas as long as the economic system is capitalist. In order to even think I might get anything passed, I’d have to “play the game”. “The game” is oppression and exploitation.
NONE of the major progressive changes that have come about in the last 100 years have come due to electing the right person into office.
Labor laws, the weekend, and the 8 hour day came as a result of strikes and physical battles between workers and the police.
The New Deal (which brought MediCare, Welfare, and Social Security) happened at a time when the Communist Party, USA, had a million card-carrying members and millions of other sympathizers. People were shutting down factories and having strikes all over the country. Places like Montana, Utah, Michigan, and Alabama were called “hotbeds of Communist Activity” by Hoover. FDR was actually afraid there would be a revolution. That’s how those gains happened.
The Civil Rights Act happened because people were in the streets and in places of business, stopping commerce. Kennedy had made statements previously that were against a bill of that sort. But it was a necessary concession to stop a movement from growing that might demand even more.
Affirmative Action was passed under NIXON! Not because he cared about people- he was a right-wing racist, but because he, too, was scared of revolution. There was a mass, mostly radical movement at the time and there were revolutions happening all over the world. That legislation was passed as a concession to the movement.
The only way we’re going to make substantive change is by making those that control industry lose profit, forcing them to choose between meeting our demands- which would mean they make less profit- and making no profit at all.
Strikes, shutdowns, and militant labor struggles. They used to be the language of an effective left.
Again, politicians are controlled by whoever controls industry. If we want to control the politicians, the people must make a movement in which we control industry through strikes, shut downs, and militant unions.
Once you have this, politicians in office will make legislation that attempts to at least seem like it benefits the people. Until then, it won’t matter who you elect- they’ll be forced to make decisions that hurt the people.
50’s McCarthyism, the New Left of the 60’s focus on students, and the proliferation of foundation-controlled non-profits have moved our tactics away from those effective tools.
There was a huge Anti-War movement in the US, but it got turned into a pro-Kerry movement for the 2004 elections, and that KILLED the Anti-War movement. It was almost non-existent after the elections. The Anti-War movement got built up again and was growing immensely, then it got turned into the pro-Obama campaign of 2008. The Anti-War movement was pretty much gone after that election. Electoral campaigns take massive amounts of time and energy from thousands of people, and there is an “end-game”, a “finish line” that allows people to go home after an election- this is why electoral campaigns kill grassroots movements.
There is no historical evidence to support the idea that we can change the system through elections, yet many on the left keep pushing this.
Because we don’t think we have the ability to create a large enough movement. But we do have that ability.
It’s called the Occupy Wall Street movement. Join the one in your area. It may not look or work exactly the way you want it to right now, but give it some of your time and energy- help shape it, it’s only a few months old.
And please don’t try to turn the OWS movement into an electoral campaign. That is a quick way to kill the movement. Whoever you get into office will then not be effective anyway because there will be no movement that forces politicians to act like they’re on the side of the people.
Boots Riley, Oakland,CA
January 2, 2012
Every progressive movement in U.S. history was portrayed negatively by mainstream media at the time it was happening.
It is no surprise that they portray the Occupy Wall Street movement in the same light.
During the Montgomery Bus Boycott, mainstream media interviewed Black folks that were against it, and talked about how the boycott was misguided and hurts the local economy.
During the rest of the civil rights movement, protesters who were fire-hosed and otherwise brutalized were called “violent protesters” in the mainstream media- again with interviews from people saying that the protests were wrongheaded.
During the Anti-Vietnam War movement, the mainstream media, who was extremely supportive of the war, portrayed protesters as out of touch, violent, and dirty. There was a picture in the Chronicle of a guy who was throwing back a tear gas canister which had been shot at the peaceful crowd. This was shown as proof of protesters being wild, out of touch, and violent.
When the Black Panther Party had free breakfast programs- every mainstream media outlet that covered it, covered it negatively- along with claims that they didn’t really connect with the Black community.
There has never been ANY strike, work stoppage, or union action that was supported by the mainstream media at the time that it was happening. All of union history is filled with mainstream press hit pieces.
The mainstream press spoke negatively of the port truckers in 2004, when they shut down the Port Of Oakland themselves for a whole week- around the same issues we brought up on with the West Coast Port Shutdown.
The mainstream press didn’t support the Anti-Apartheid movement, they don’t support the BDS movement for Palestine.
The mainstream press is always on the wrong side of history because they are always on the side of the status quo, which is capitalist exploitation and oppression. Exploitation and oppression are portrayed as the natural and comfortable norm and movements trying to vary from that norm are portrayed as being against the majority’s will.
To do this, the articles don’t have to make sense, they just have to touch on that theme.
Every article about the port shutdown featured a trucker saying they were against the shutdown. However, the OWS movement received and circulated a letter from an organization representing hundreds of port truckers which thanked us all for this action in support of their struggle. None of those folks were interviewed by media. As well, the shutdown in LA was called for and enacted by port truckers- no media interviewed them. As we marched, many truckers honked their horns and gave the clenched fist. In the morning, 6 of them parked their trucks and joined our picket line- even though I pointed them out to mainstream reporters, none of them were interviewed. Again, the truckers at the Port Of Oakland shut the port down for a whole week a few years ago- these are all the same drivers, it wasn’t hard to find supportive truckers.
In any movement we will make in the US that is multi-racial, there will be real problems around race to fix inside our movement. These are good problems, because they come from the fact that a lot of different groups of people who normally wouldn’t work together are doing so now. We need to make some concrete changes to fix those problems. But the article in the Chronicle that supposedly showed that Occupy Oakland doesn’t connect with Black folks was poor an unethical journalism. In the whole city of Oakland, they quoted only 2 Black folks. One of them feels the answer is to tell other Black folks to “Stop The Violence”. Ok. They didn’t interview any of the folks in the neighborhood around Gayla Newsome who was put back into her foreclosed home. They didn’t interview the neighborhood around 10th and Mandela, where the Tactical Action Committee has made a foreclosed Fannie Mae home into a community center with workshops for the community. They didn’t interview anyone involved with Occupy Oakland’s November 19th march, which was 2000 strong and focused on school closures. They didn’t interview any of the many Black union members who have worked with us. They didn’t interview anyone in the People Of Color Caucus, or anyone else who is Black that works with Occupy Oakland. They falsely claimed that the money spent on police had to do with vandalism, although it actually was spent on the unnecessary eviction of Occupy Oakland.
Some have said that the negative media portrayal is related to vandalism on November 2nd that some associate with OO. But, that doesn’t explain mainstream media’s negative portrayal of all the progressive movements of the past. That also doesn’t explain the mainstream media’s negative portrayal of other OWS encampments, who don’t have vandalism charges. That doesn’t explain the media’s positive portrayal of gun carrying teapartiers, or their positive portrayal of police violence- now, and throughout history.
Don’t be surprised at the media’s negative portrayal of our movement. It is happening because we are growing, we are effective, and we are right.
My tire tracks (Taken with Instagram at Public Park @ The Uptown)
Taken with Instagram at Public Park @ The Uptown
Doodling @ home (Taken with Instagram at 600 Uptown Apartment)
Unoccupied (Taken with Instagram at #OccupyOakland)
Post-shrink (Taken with Instagram at Albany, CA)