Seven Left Myths About Capitalism

by G.B. Taylor

Occupy Wall Street has renewed hope for a left political renaissance by challenging economic inequality and the neoliberal discourse that legitimated it, and reintroducing the word capitalism to political debate. The “greed” of the “1%,” counterpoised to the hardworking, rule-abiding 99%, has emerged as the dominant political frame of OWS. Rhetorically powerful, the slogan’s elegant simplicity conceals as much as it reveals. The language of “corruption,” the betrayal of Main Street by parasitic Wall Street bankers, and nationalist appeals to “take America back” all express a deep confusion as to the nature of the current crisis. This often results in a highly personalized moral critique of capitalism rather than a systemic one.

The crisis wracking capitalism today cannot be understood as simply the evil actions of greedy bankers and the 1%. In fact, as Max Weber pointed out, unlike the ostentatious opulence of earlier economic forms like feudalism, capitalism actually has tendencies which check greed – for example how intra-capitalist competition forces firms to save and reinvest. Thus the logic of states wielding coercive external power in human form as armies and police is quite different from that of capitalism, wherein power is more difficult to pinpoint or assign personal agency to. Conflating these two modes of power leads to very different political demands and outcomes. Capitalist power acts not only or even primarily on us from outside, but through us, as worker and capitalist alike are caught up in an impersonal competitive imperative that would quickly bankrupt any turncoat bankers or CEOs who might suddenly take Occupy’s message to heart. Continue reading

Capitalism: A Ghost Story

by Arundhati Roy

Rockefeller to Mandela, Vedanta to Anna Hazare…. How long can the cardinals of corporate gospel buy up our protests?

CORBIS (FROM OUTLOOK, MARCH 26, 2012)

Antilla the Hun Mukesh Ambani’s 27-storey home on Altamont Road. Its bright lights, say the neighbours, have stolen the night.

Is it a house or a home? A temple to the new India, or a warehouse for its ghosts? Ever since Antilla arrived on Altamont Road in Mumbai, exuding mystery and quiet menace, things have not been the same. “Here we are,” the friend who took me there said, “Pay your respects to our new Ruler.”

Antilla belongs to India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. I had read about this most expensive dwelling ever built, the twenty-seven floors, three helipads, nine lifts, hanging gardens, ballrooms, weather rooms, gymnasiums, six floors of parking, and the six hundred servants. Nothing had prepared me for the vertical lawn—a soaring, 27-storey-high wall of grass attached to a vast metal grid. The grass was dry in patches; bits had fallen off in neat rectangles. Clearly, Trickledown hadn’t worked. Continue reading

Mass Arrests Follow OWS Return to Zuccotti Park

by Caleb T. Maupin | 

New York, NY – March 17 was the sixth-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. In the late evening, a crowd of hundreds gathered in historic Zuccotti Park, now dubbed Liberty Plaza. Many organizers and progressive forces attending the annual Left Forum at Pace University, very close to the park, joined OWS activists.

The youth gathered in the park for hours, playing drums and refusing to leave. The crowd gradually swelled as the evening went on. A small contingent of youth from Workers World Party circled the square chanting, “Just like Ho Chi Minh! Occupy is gonna win!” Others joined in this anti-imperialist chant.

Michael Moore and Cornel West, who had addressed the Left Forum earlier in the evening, joined the crowd and gave words of support.

When the New York Police Department announced that the park was closed, several hundred youth sat down together, joining arms. They insisted on their right to stay there, citing a recent court ruling that required the park to remain open. When the police refused to listen, they chanted, “We are not afraid.”

Police pulled protesters out of the crowd and handcuffed them. They swung batons and pushed people to the ground. The media reported that police actions injured several people. These included shoving a woman’s head against the hood of a car and pushing a man’s head into a plateglass window. Another woman suffered a seizure because of a forceful arrest, and then police denied her help from OWS emergency medical technicians. It took loud protests from the crowd to get an ambulance to the scene.

A youth who witnessed the police attack told Workers World, “All I could see was batons high in the air, coming down on people.” Some of the 73 people who were arrested reported being held, handcuffed and left on city buses for hours, before finally being taken to holding cells.

A march was called the following evening in support of the arrestees. At the closing panel of the Left Forum, speakers urged the audience to attend the march and support the arrested youth.

Fight Back News Service is circulating the preceding article from Workers World.