The Meaning of “Occupy”

While cleaning out a closet, going through a box full of old magazines, I found the April 2002 Volume 17 edition of Marxist Review. There was a banner across the front cover of the magazine which read, “THE OCCUPATION OF RAMALLAH.” I opened the front cover and read, “Palestinians emerge stronger from three-day occupation of Ramallah On-the-spot report,” by Anna Athow and Paddy O’Regan. The use of the term “occupation” did not seem at all haphazard. Yesterday there was the “occupation of Ramallah,” and today there is an “occupation of Wall Street.” Tomorrow we will see the occupation of “everywhere.”

I was curious about the occupation of Ramallah (which took place nearly a decade ago). Why was an English language Communist magazine committed to making an “on-the-spot” report about it? I turned to page 16 of the magazine and read. The article described an Israeli terror campaign, and the brave Palestinians who marched to occupy Ramallah. It was a battle in which unarmed women allegedly stood up to Israeli tanks. There was also a picture of a 14-year-old boy shot in the chest, recovering in a hospital (there were also pictures of armed Palestinian militants fending off Israeli snipers).

How was this article related to Marxism? In Marxist theory, the Palestinians are representatives of the international proletariat, while their “Jewish and imperialist” oppressors represent the international bourgeoisie. This was not stated explicitly in the article, but anyone familiar with Marxist patterns of thought will recognize this theme. On page 22 I found a more explicit admission, in the form of an article titled “The Palestinian Revolution and the Fourth International,” by Ray Athow. It was about Communist Trade Union support for the oppressed Palestinians. There was a subsection titled “Imperialism and Zionism,” which described Israel as a mercenary state under the direction of “imperialism.” According to this interpretation, the Arab masses are natural allies of the British and American working class.
Given past resemblances, we should not be surprised to find that the Communist Party USA has declared its solidarity with the Palestinian cause as well as the Occupy Wall Street movement, along with a hodgepodge of socialists and fellow travelers, as shown in many representative videos (see Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C). It is a fact that various political causes throughout the world are linked, and this is no accident. Amidst ideological double-talk, confusion and ignorance, the Occupy Movement appears to be a thinly disguised socialist push for power, exploiting today’s economic crisis under a banner of popular outrage aimed at Wall Street. Behind the half-educated, semi-literate rank-and-file protestors there exists an elite cadre of revolutionaries who follow an international strategy. Their objective is to overthrow capitalism, smash the free market, and establish a socialist commonwealth.

But how is this possible? The majority of protestors could hardly be Communists. Alas, one need not be a Communist to serve the Revolution. One need only be a “useful idiot.” Consider, in this respect, a recently published book written by Paul Kengor, titled Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century. “Communist propagandists,” writes Kengor, “[have] conducted duping on a remarkable, deliberate scale and with remarkable, deliberate craftsmanship – with America’s liberals and progressives as the prime target.” His book is carefully researched, well-written and factual. Kengor says that the fall of the Soviet Union did not spell the end of the duping process. “The plain, undeniable – but historically unappreciated – fact is that the dupe has played a significant role in the recent history of America and in the nation’s ability to deal with destructive opponents.” Undoubtedly this is the essence of what we see today in the Occupy Movement. It is easy to confuse the public mind, to blame capitalism for inequality. Such is the game of those who seek power for themselves, but do not possess the necessary wealth or standing. They manipulate an ignorant mob, and organize unrest.

The truly annoying thing about capitalism – for socialist revolutionaries– is that the peaceful competition for political power involves the use of cash instead of guns. Those who hate the capitalist system would prefer something more in tune with the Dark Ages, where political power involves the extermination of rivals. It may be doubted whether the supporters of the Occupy Movement fully appreciate what their anti-capitalist rhetoric signifies. If the rich do not dominate through the peaceful medium of money, the only other medium would be naked violence. In that case, politics would not require spending more money than a political opponent. It would require the opponent’s “liquidation.” Such, in fact, was the character of socialism when it first came to power nearly a century ago (in Russia).

“The most passionate detractors of capitalism are those who reject it on account of its alleged injustice,” wrote Ludwig von Mises in The Anti-Capitalist Mentality. “The truth is that the accumulation of capital and its investment in machines … are due exclusively to … capitalism….” All society is enriched by the unprecedented success of businessmen. In America we are truly blessed to live under the capitalist system, and cursed insofar as we live under a system where the free market is hampered. “All those rejecting capitalism on moral grounds as an unfair system are deluded by their failure to comprehend what capital is,” wrote Mises. All of society enjoys the benefits that Wall Street makes possible.

The solution for oppressed Palestinians or unemployed American workers is the same: more capitalism and not less; peaceful economic competition and not violent protests. The definition of the word occupy is “to seize possession of and maintain control over.” The definition of the word freedom is “the absence of coercion.” In Wall Street we find the productive potential of freedom. Those who would occupy Wall Street, signify freedom’s curtailment.

About the Author

jrnyquist [at] aol [dot] com ()