Since October 15, the “indignants movement” has spread across Canada. At the time of this writing, occupation of parks or public places were going on in 30 cities or so, including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec City and Halifax. The question of whether the movement will continue and will find a way to confront the very system responsible of all the horrors that thousands of people are outraged and are rising up against remains open.
So far, the authorities seem to tolerate the presence of occupants, perhaps hoping that the arrival of cold weather will eventually drive them out of public places. The bourgeois media, which are usually quick to discredit protesters, are throwing a rather benevolent gaze on the #occupy movement. When we know that the Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty himself expressed sympathy for the indignants, their attitude is less surprising...
In Toronto, about 100 people are still occupying St.James Park. Here as elsewhere, the movement aims to bring people together. Revolutionary communists are taking part with the objective of advancing the critique of capitalism and of stimulating debate on the need for a global alternative to the existing system. Two days after the launching of the occupation, supporters of this newspaper opposed the organizers’s decision of singing the Canadian national anthem at a demo at Dundas Square. For a movement that is supposed to be “inclusive,” that decision was certainly not the best way to encourage the participation of First Nations people, who suffer colonial rule from the Canadian state.
In Ottawa, the occupants took over Confederation Park. Activists from the University of Ottawa Marxist Students’ Association and from the Revolutionary Communist Party (PCR-RCP) have actively participated in the occupation, until an unsightly incident instigated by a pathologically anti-communist organizer forced them to leave (see below).
In Québec City, about 20 tents were erected in the Saint-Roch Garden. A hundred people are involved in one way or another in the unfolding of the occupation. While Mayor Labeaume is willing to tolerate their presence as long as things remain peaceful, many are wishing that the movement will be a prelude to “a greater upheaval.”
In Montréal, about 200 tents are covering Victoria Square, renamed the “People’s Place.” Most of the energies are devoted to the organization of everyday life and management of relationships between participants. After the holding of a demonstration that brought together between 500 and 800 people on Saturday, October 29, PCR-RCP’s activists organized a teach-in to discuss the prospects of the movement. During the discussion, two participants expressed, each in their own way, both its possibilities and its limitations.
Because the movement needs to find a political outcome if it really wants to change things, the first suggested that the #occupy movement invests the political scene, and even that it transforms itself into a political party. According to him, the movement should get out of the narrow place where the occupation is held and go to the masses, otherwise the movement will fail to get results. The second activist opposed this idea by saying that the whole political system is rotten and it would be wiser to focus on maintaining the occupation, and especially on developing “communautarian relationships” among the people there.
By saying so, both of them have expressed two of the major dangers that are threatening the movement —the third one obviously being the possibility of a brutal attack by the authorities and the police, as some have already begun to talk about and as we have seen in the United States, in Oakland, where the police have beaten and scattered the occupants.
The first danger is that of a political recuperation by the bourgeois system. The world leaders would be very happy to see all this energy and all these aspirations channeled so as to give new life to their moribund capitalist system. Already, the system seems to accommodate with the existence of a movement “that raises real questions,” as they are saying in the bourgeois media, but should certainly not lead to a radical questioning of the system as a whole.
The second danger is that of a stalemate and eventual exhaustion of the movement. It may be appealing to take an anti-capitalist stand in words and to consider itself out of the system; but capitalism can tolerate for a long time the existence of a marginal space where capitalism seems to have been evacuated: during that time, the system may continue to operate blithely and regulate almost all social relations everywhere else.
The #occupy movement is part of a climate of rising popular struggles around the world. These struggles have a common denominator: the deep crisis of global capitalism —a multifaceted crisis that is deepening. This crisis results in the impoverishment of the majority of the world population, the increased exploitation of the proletariat, the continuation and generalization of unjust wars, the destruction of natural resources and ecosystems on a scale never seen, and by the smothering of people’s legitimate aspirations for freedom and emancipation.
For many participants in the movement, the idea of trying to make some small improvements or put a band-aid on a wound cancer is no longer relevant. They do not want the movement demanding few reforms: it is the whole system that needs to be challenged! But this system will not fall alone, although some have decided to turn off from it.
To overthrow capitalism, we must first know who and what we are dealing with. We must know and analyze how this system works, who benefit from it and who are in fact pulling its strings. Although the slogan “We are the 99%” appears attractive, the truth is that the bourgeoisie is pretty more than one percent of the population. But in front of them, there is a class that has the strength and the ability of overthrowing the bourgeoisie: that is the proletariat.
If we want to overthrow capitalism or at least subject it to a defeat, we must mobilize the proletarian masses and attack the bourgeoisie. We need to wage a major and protracted political struggle, not to revive the bourgeois system, but to destroy it and replace it with a new form of social organization in which power will be exercised by those who are now exploited or oppressed. This implies that one has a clear vision of how the enemy is organized, including what is the state apparatus.
If it really wants to stop the capitalist juggernaut, the #occupy movement does not really have a choice: it must call for the organization of people’s committees in workplaces and neighborhoods. It must favorize the organization of mass revolutionary action against the interests of capitalists. It must actively prepare to face the repression from the capitalist state, which is sure to unfold. Thus it could really change the course of history.
* * *The communists from the University of Ottawa Marxist Students’ Association and from the PCR-RCP were involved start from the beginning in the occupation of Confederation Park. They have erected a tent and held seminars and were involved in the day-to-day logistics of the occupation, including the food and medic committees.
Their presence, however, was challenged by a few individuals, including a member of the “hidden leadership” of the occupation, which refuses to present themselves openly as such. This individual, who identifies as an “anarcho-pacifist” and a Buddhist, launched an anti-communist campaign. He ended up inducing someone to dump feces, urine and a blood covered blanket on the comrades’ tent. This occurred while presence of neo-Nazis and white supremacists was more and more visible and tolerated on the camp.
The comrades have decided to temporarily withdraw from the camp, until measures are taken to ensure that the movement is truly “inclusive” as it claims to be. Their full statement is available at www.pcr rcp.ca.
* * *After the Occupation: What’s Next?
Saturday, November 12 at 8:30pm
uOttawa Campus - Room Will Be Released Closer To The Date
Occupy Ottawa was strange from the beginning. And now, as much of Ottawa’s left has departed from the encampment due to a number of reasons, a critical reflection on the Occupy Ottawa movement is sorely needed.
Join MC Cheyenne Pepper (Revolutionary Communist) as she presides over a panel of three dedicated activists representing a multitude of perspectives on the Occupy Ottawa movement.
Speakers will be announced soon!
This is a SEMI-public event. Feel free to bring friends and comrades! Most are welcome.
An invitation from Ottawa's Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org).
* * *Communist Night School in Toronto
The Revolutionary Student Movement in Toronto will be hosting a Communist Night School on Thursday, November 17th. We invite you to the second session of an ongoing series of free educational discussions on various aspects of Communist politics and culture where we will debate questions of identity politics and liberalism. Let’s discuss how and why the so-called ‘death’ of communism and the rise of neo-liberalism has obscured our analysis of race, gender and sexuality as an economic phenomenon. Check out https://rsmtoronto.wordpress.com/ for more details on location, time, etc. As usual, the RSM will make the readings available online on our website.
* * *This newsletter is sent to former Arsenal-Express subscribers.
To unsubscribe, send a reply with “Unsubscribe” as subject.