Sunday, November 27, 2011

600. A Word With the Readers: The Occupy Movement and the New World Youth Radicalization

Assistant editor, Sayda

By Kamran Nayeri, November 26, 2011

Since I last wrote to you in early September, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has burst into the U.S. political scene shifting public discourse to issues that matters to the working people on a scale not seen since the 1970s.  The movement spread like wild fire across the country and has received support from like-minded people in over 80 countries.  The initiators of OWS themselves were inspired by the anti-authoritarian revolt in Egypt and the Arab Spring as well as anti-austerity protests in Spain, Ireland, England and Greece. 

While various socioeconomic, demographic and political groups have participated in these events, what stands out most in my opinion is the leading role of the youth. It seems to me that we are witnessing the beginning of a new world youth radicalization that has already engulfed Middle East and North Africa, parts of Europe and North America.

I will return to this in a moment. Let’s now consider causes for the overnight and outsized success of the OWS movement.

Three years into the Great Recession that future looks bleak for the working people, especially the youth.  Witness mass unemployment that official sources admit will become a permanent feature of the U.S. economy and increasing poverty especially since the “recovery” of spring 2009.  At the same time, working people have witnessed in clear view how Washington readily showers trillions of dollars of public money to save the “too big to fail” financial and industrial corporations while devising plans to cutback trillions of dollars from social programs that working people fought to win in the 1930s and 1960s.  Finally, class collaborationist leadership of mass organizations, such as the trade union bureaucracy, has refused for decades to wage a serious fight against employers and government attacks.

This situation more or less exists in other industrialized capitalist countries.  The spread of the financial crisis to Europe and even more draconian policy response in the Euro Zone makes it plain that we area confronting a crisis of the capitalist world economy.  It is true that the Great Depression began when the financial bubble burst.  However, financial bubble burst because long-term economic stagnation had set in the industrial capitalist countries. Taken as a whole, the Group of Seven countries have a flat GDP during the past decade. 

The rise of financial capital since the 1970s corresponds to the long-term decline of manufacturing industry in these countries.  Aggregate demand was maintained through Ponzi schemes that involved consumers, corporations and government. Lacking their own internal growth motors, countries of capitalist periphery experience the crisis on an ongoing basis. We are dealing with a systemic capitalist crisis. The crisis in the Middle East and North Africa is part-and-parcel of this same systemic crisis. 

The world capitalist economy was firmly established with the English Industrial Revolution and its spread worldwide.  However, capitalist industrialization and modernity relied on more than technical innovations fostered by the dynamics of capitalist social relations, and capitalist market and accumulation supported by a burst in scientific and technical knowledge.  It required plundering of nature and labor power on an unprecedented scale and scope.  Simply recall that industrialization has relied on massive use of coal and oil. Today, China starts a new coal power plant every two weeks to meet its continued industrialization needs.

The current crisis underscores how capitalist civilization has over-reached its potential as economic crisis and ecological/environmental crisis finally converge.

If this is analysis is true in broad outlines then the example set by the Occupy movement will be followed, spread and deepen, especially by the radicalizing youth worldwide.  It would also follow that other social agency—those that are enjoy more social weight but are also more conservative than the youth, such as workers and farmers, will sooner or later enter the political stage in large numbers. Likewise, sectional movements will merge with universal movements, as the OWS movement has demonstrated already. In particular, rejuvenated labor, youth and environmental/ecological movements will tend to support each other and act for universal goals. 
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Since my last communication there has been 98 posts (no. 502 to no. 599 inclusive).  As usual, a focus has been climate change (8 posts) and ecocide (11 posts).  Three posts on growing human population. Six posts are on repression and exploitation and eight deal with the capitalist crisis and imperialism.

Then there are posts that look at proposed alternatives.  These include reform minded intervention (3 on Green Capitalism). But they are mostly about resistance (11 posts), visions of ecological socialism (4 posts) and socialism (1 post).  There are 4 posts on the Occupy movement.  As usual, Cuban experiment with socialism got special attention (18 posts). The crisis over the government attempt to build a much disputed highway in Bolivia was also a focus with 11 posts.

I should like to restate a standard journalistic policy: all signed articles represent the views of their author(s).  They are posted here because they relate to a subject of our interest and some from mass media can even represent current bourgeois thought.  Only unsigned articles are the points of view of Our Place in the World.
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