(Originally posted on Selecting Stones, January 7, 2012)
by Frank W. Strauch
Why is it that everyone flies the American flag at the Occupy movement? Why is it that so many occupiers who consider themselves to be on the Left speak of “restoring” the American constitution? Do they not realize that they sound exactly like Ron Paul, who never tires of singing the merits of the Constitution, and whose campaign slogan is precisely “Restore America Now”? Why do so many occupiers feel the need to quote Thomas Jefferson? Do they not realize that Thomas Jefferson’s entire political philosophy sought solely to free capitalist commodity exchange by creating a republic of slaveholding plantation owners?
We live under capitalism. Good luck, therefore, in finding one single commodity that isn’t dripping in blood. What are you wearing right now? Fair trade coffee, indigenous handicrafts, and locally grown organic produce are petty gimmicks, but fortunately only the bourgeoisie is short-sighted enough to fall for its own tricks. They’re also the only ones who can monetarily afford to throw a bone to their conscience. We are all guilty, in a sense, just by living our lives. It could be no other way under capitalism. Religions, such as, for example, Catholicism or Westboro Baptist Church, would simply ask you to repent for your sins. But if you go down that route, you may well end up molesting children or irrationally hating certain people because of their bedroom practices. Just as there is no such thing as an innocent philosophy, there is no such thing as penance. Capitalism only allows two possible ways of life for the working class: Either you can bury your head in the sand, or you can consciously work to bring capitalism to an end. And we are not speaking here of the so-called “excesses of capitalism”. On the contrary, we are speaking of capitalism itself. How can “greed” be an “excess” of a mode of production premised on the inexorable self-valorization of private capital in the first place? Adam Smith himself knew this well. Only small business owners would try to convince you otherwise, but they do so precisely because the valorization of their own capital requires you to assign a use-value to that strange abstraction known as pity. But why should we pity them? Leave that to their friends at a Ron Paul rally. And where did the bourgeois bohemians of Occupy Wall Street ever get it into their heads that “Mom and Pop” are somehow closet socialists? Have they ever actually met a small business owner? Worst yet, have they ever actually worked for one?
Small business owners are not the friend of “the people”, and they are certainly not the friend of their employees. Small business owners are the friend of small business owners. They are at odds with big business, quite simply because big business is driving them under, but they must necessarily side with big business at every point against the working class. The primary antagonism in a capitalist society such as America is that between labor and capital. This does not mean that different strata within the realm of capital will not come into conflict with one another, because, indeed, the very notion of competition within a free market presupposes such conflict. However, it does mean that, at the end of the day, the forces of capital will side with one another against the forces of labor. This is why, for example, there are different factions and ideologies within the Democratic and Republican Parties. These factions are nothing but a reflection of the different strata within the bourgeoisie, the capital-holding class of large and small business owners. When push comes to shove, though, we all know damn well that the Democrats and Republicans are both looking out for the same interests.
And the same can be said of Occupy and Ron Paul: In slightly different ways, both represent a revolt of the interests of small business against those of big business. Neither position, however, represents the interests of the actual working class. This is primarily an internal struggle within the bourgeoisie, hence the yoga lessons. That’s why it’s time for the proletariat to start taking matters into its own hands. We may well start to see some action coming from the poorest neighborhoods of America’s cities, where there is very little interest in “restoring” the American constitution, and very little love for Thomas Jefferson.
As Dead Prez once said, with characteristic insight, “If you claimin’ gangsta, then bang on the system, and show that you ready to ride.” Hell yeah.