Is Capitalism Losing the Debate?
By Carl Finamore
A remarkable shift in mass public opinion is occurring
right before our eyes. It does not happen often.
Normally, only when there is a severe breakdown in
public confidence about the future.
Now is such a time.
Millions are demanding clear explanations for the
economic turmoil surrounding their lives and rejecting
en masse standard platitudes from an increasingly
discredited political establishment.
Fox-News pundits, Heritage Foundation business
scholars, glib right-wing loud mouths and two-faced
politicians from both major parties have been exposed
as stand-in ventriloquists for the wealthy -
shockingly, all in a few short weeks.
It all began with only a few hundred protestors camped
out on Wall Street challenging conceited notions of the
Through it all, the Occupy Movement is discovering what
my generation learned during the civil rights, antiwar,
feminist and gay rights struggles begun some 65 years
ago - the ideas of the rich and powerful just don't stand up.
They don't hold water. That is, they do not accurately
explain what is happening around us, the measure most
rational people use to determine if something is true or false.
There was bitter political conflict with the status quo
during the conformist "American Dream" decade of the 1950s.
Fundamental rights of equality were denied and numerous
US military interventions into Central America and
were excused by a conservative, misinformed and
compliant American population.
Eventually, it all turned around.
Principles of humanity and fairness displaced racist
fears. Support for national self-determination and non-
interference in other nations' internal affairs
ultimately won out against cold-war anti-communist
How did this happen? Simple, false assumptions of the
dominant powers in this country were challenged and examined.
There was a conversation in almost every American
household. Some were hotly contested with families torn apart.
Historical hindsight confirms the best reform proposals
in American history have come from socially conscious
mass movements. They have not come from traditional
leaders positioned inside the political machinery that
has so consistently and miserably failed us.
So it was in my days as a young activist.
In the end, the social, economic and political demands
of the popular mass movements thoroughly overcame
retrograde "Jim Crow" prejudices and reactionary "cold
The massively extensive political dialogue that broke
out in this country changed
For a precious few years, the lives of national
minorities, women and gays actually improved and,
significantly, lives were also saved as it became more
difficult for the
using illegitimate pretexts and lies.
Extensive political debate can have a greater impact
today because the economic and social crisis is deeper.
Again, we have an opportunity to change our country and the world.
“Ideas, Like Rivers, Do Not Flow Backward.”*
The first collective statement from the original Occupy
Wall Street encampment is an extremely damning
indictment of corporate
"We come to you at a time when corporations, which
place profit over people, self-interest over justice,
and oppression over equality, run our governments. We
have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let
these facts be known."
In response, there has been no serious attempt by the
establishment to engage in authentic dialogue or in
spirited defense of their policies. On the contrary,
authorities have responded by letting loose riot
police, spewing slander and unsuccessfully trying to
change the subject by complaining about loud drum noise
and unsanitary conditions.
Really, it is quite a lame and ineffectual response
coming as it is from the most boastful and arrogant
power in the world that only a few years ago gloated
about the triumph of American free-enterprise over the
For a while, another "American Century" was trumpeted.
How quickly it has all imploded, not just their system
but their self confidence; and not just for US rulers
but for their cronies across the world as in
In fact, many of the protestors' claims are now
considered valid by most Americans. Even the corporate-
controlled media has acknowledged alarming facets of
corporate control they previously ignored such as the
vast gap in wealth.
For the first time in decades, political, economic and
social ideas are being reviewed more closely by
millions of working people.
The rich and powerful retain control of the
that's for sure, but they have been embarrassed off the
public stage where the Occupy Movement holds the
world's attention. It's laughable and also quite
revealing that Governor Rick Perry doesn't want to
debate anymore because he complains he just gets ridiculed.
Millions are fed up with the steady diet of distortions
concealing an infinitesimally small group of super-
wealthy financiers steering our economy into a ditch.
Occupy the Economy
Radicals have long accused capitalist western
democracies of being phony by asserting real democracy
is impossible while a small minority runs the economy.
Now, even this radical idea too is being seriously
For example, talented documentarian Michael Moore, a
self-described liberal and supporter of President
Obama, proclaimed to thunderous applause at a recent
come when the 99 percent "begins to Occupy the
Yes, it is true that the Occupy Movement has not
precisely defined what that means nor have they
coalesced around a common set of solutions. But,
really, at this early stage, how could it be otherwise?
In fact, why should it be otherwise while the movement
is still growing and developing its legs?
The really momentous accomplishment is that a mass
political discussion is occurring throughout
kept alive by regular actions of the Occupy Movement.
Eventually, adoption of various programs and demands
will have to be considered and nobody has the
unrealistic expectation that divisions will not appear.
But we should expect, and actually firmly insist, that
differences not deter us from continuing to act
together against common symbols of greed and injustice
and in vigorous defense of civil liberties.
Let discussion on
workplace and community as the movement continues to
mobilize and as it begins to refine its goals and
Carl Finamore is Air Transport Employees Local Lodge 1781, IAMAW, delegate to the
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