To follow up on my latest lash-out against capitalism, I present a quote by Silvia Federici, a veteran activist, feminist and Marxist, taken from a recent interview. Here, she situates the Occupy movement within the global anti-capitalistic movement. She also emphasises the importance of reaching out to those minorities that have been victimised the most by the capitalist system.
“I must add that, in the present economic context, is it impossible to take on Wall Street’s ‘crimes’ without confronting the entire economic system at the basis of its abuses. As with any other movements, there are different strands within the Occupations. Some participants may be satisfied with just obtaining a more regulated banking system, or a return to Keynesianism. But the economic crisis is bringing to light, in a dramatic way, the fact that the capitalist class has nothing to offer to the majority of the population except more misery, more destruction of the environment, and more war.
Occupations, in this context, are sites for the construction of a non-capitalist conception of society and a coming together of the practices that, in recent years, have begun to concretize this project. A sign of the broad scope of this movement and its capacity to resonate beyond downtown Manhattan is that in Egypt the people of the squares have recognized the commonality between their movement and that of OWS or Oakland.
As some have put it, the Occupy movement is the first worldwide anti-capitalist movement to appear in a long time in the US. It is the first movement in this country to give expression to the growing revolt against the present economic and political order, which is the reason why it has spread so rapidly and has excited the collective imagination to such a degree.
I agree with Mike Davis, however, that the movement should not be too eager to produce programmatic demands and should concentrate, instead, on making its presence more visible, on reaching out to other communities, and on ‘reclaiming the commons.’ This is beginning to happen with the migration of the occupations into the neighborhoods, which is essential to reconstruct a social fabric that has been dismantled through years of neoliberal restructuring and the gentrification and suburbanization of space.”
The most crucial test, however, will be whether the Occupy movement has the capacity to address the divisions that have structured the history of this continent. Clearly, you cannot have an egalitarian society without undoing the legacy of centuries of enslavement, genocide, and imperial warfare that have left a deeply scarred and divided social body. Confronting racism, colonialism and other forms of oppression and exploitation, both within the movement and in broader society and its institutions, will have to be the centerpiece of the drive for the production of a new “constitution,” whatever forms this may take.
A positive sign is that the composition of the movement is already quite diverse, although the degree of diversity varies in different parts of the country. It has been a long time since we’ve seen a movement bringing together students, nurses, veterans, radicals and trade unionists with immigrant- and people of color-led grassroots community organizations. The key questions will be whether this movement can be a bridge to the millions of incarcerated in the US jails, or to the many more who cannot take their money out of the banks because they have no bank accounts, and whether the movement’s agenda can include an end to the criminalization of undocumented immigrants and the policy of deportation.”