Radical Marxism and the Occupy Movement

November 21, 2011

Political Theory

The last month in American politics is probably most known for its occupy movement. Starting in New York with the occupy Wall St. , this 99% vs. 1% battle spread rapidly across the US and cries of elitism and economic inequality. Nevertheless, the occupation seems to be losing steam and in a few month everything will probably be back to normal. For now, capitalism survives. The real question is why didn’t it work?

My answer is that they were not capitalist enough.

The old class war takes its roots all the way back in The Communist Manifesto, and I think it is here where we can find our solution to the horrors of deregulation and market economies. Marx talks a lot about his belief in linear history; his belief that capitalism follows a predetermined path that, essentially, involves capitalism being created and then getting so powerful that it invites backlash and topples upon itself. This is a greatly simplified explanation of Marx’s linear history, but the general premise still applies. The key distinction here is that capitalism becomes so powerful that the proletariat ban together and bring it down and the all is well and socialism prevails.

The Occupy movements seemed like the dream come true when it came to finally beating capitalism, but it seems as if they are too soon. Too many Americans still enjoy getting paid and coming home to their flat screen television and Netflix. This is why I say we need to be more capitalist. What if instead of occupying Wall St. the protestors joined Wall St. What if they all took all the money they had and put in on the stock market and waited to see what happened? Or better yet, what if they all started pyramid schemes like Murdoch and thought of every way they could cheat someone out of a dollar? It would be the death of our economy. Our economy that is already on crutches and trying to bandage it wounds from the last set of ruthless attacks capitalism brought its way!

Maybe this is too simple of an answer, but I think Marx might be on to something. Capitalism isn’t going to disappear simply by asking it to go away. We have to make people so disgusted with the idea of the market economy that they will do everything in their power to get rid of it. This seems to be the only way. Plain and simple: if you want to end capitalism, you have to be a capitalist.



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6 Comments on “Radical Marxism and the Occupy Movement”

  1. afadel Says:

    Capitalism didn’t work because it wasn’t implemented. Arguably since the turn of the century, our national political ideology has been centered around interventionist and statist policies. This is a key point that many of the pro-OWS people fail to understand. We don’t live in a capitalist country. The most you can do is call it a mixed economy, an economy of both freedom and controls. It is no surprise that the sectors of the economy in which the government played its biggest hand were the ones to crash: the housing and banking sectors. Another important distinction to be made in regards to the OWS movement is the confusion between people like Bernie Madoff and Steve Jobs. Lumping the two under one umbrella of “selfish businessmen” is extremely misleading. Bernie Madoff was a criminal, who used fraud to achieve his goals. Steve Jobs was an intellectual genius, who sold his goods voluntarily on the free market and lifted the standard of living for millions of people while doing so. It is even a stretch to call Bernie Maddoff “selfish”. If he was really rationally concerned with his own self, he wouldn’t have done the things he did. I think the term self-destructive better suits him.

    People will never be disgusted with the idea of a market economy. The market economy, as you indirectly hint at, is responsible for the high standard of living we experience today. It is even responsible for the computer you probably used to type up this blog post.

  2. jeanrichmann Says:

    I believe that the Occupy Wallstreet Movement shows the failures of Capitalism that Marx proclaimed. Occupy Wallstreet is protesting the fact that wealthiest 1% of the nation controls 40% of the nation’s wealth. Slogans have been created, such as ‘We are the 99%’. This movement is attempting to demonstrate to the nation the exploration of capitalism. Marx discussed the flaw of capitalism, that certain individuals control capital, while all other have to offer is their physical labor. Because a person, or in the case of OWS the 1%, controls the majority of capital, laborers become exploited and suffer from the suppression of capitalism.

    The goal of an owner of capital is to generate a large profit. Competition for profit between capital owners encourages the wages of laborers to be decreased as the price of goods is decreased. Competition for work between the laborers allows them to accept the lower wages. These lower wages encourage laborers to decrease their standard of living to regenerate a worker’s labor power. This in turn creates pauperism, which the Occupy Wallsteet Movement protests. Capitalists tend to be self interested, looking out for the increase in their person profit and ignoring the exploitation of laborers.

  3. Danielle Studenberg Says:

    I believe that the Occupy movement could have clarified their stance a bit more, though I do not believe the answer to this would be for them to join the capitalist movement. Though they may not have been extremely specific as to what they wanted from the protests (a specific bill to be passed, etc), I admire all of those men and women for standing up and saying that what happened was wrong – because it is. It IS wrong for financial executives to receive bonuses when Middle America can’t even pay their mortgages and I am glad they are saying/doing something about it – having their voices be heard.

  4. luniho Says:

    This is a really interesting interpretation of The Communist Manifesto within the context of the Occupy Wall Street movement. This recent protest has shown solidarity between the 99%, composed of the proletariat, in opposition to the greed demonstrated by the most elite capitalists in our economic system. I too think that these protests will have no lasting significant impact. The methodology used by these people has failed to impact regulation practices. However, I’m not sure that a complete overthrow of our consumer system would bring about a more successful political and social climate. Capitalism is far from perfect; the system is deeply flawed. However, it remains superior to others, especially when successfully regulated.


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