Statement by MDS in Support of the “Occupy Wall Street” Movement
FOR A HUMAN REVOLUTION
Notes on a Global Discussion of Goals of the Occupy Wall Street Movement
By Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS)
Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS) is a multi-generational organization and organizing project growing from the experiences of the 1960′s New Left, especially Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). It was originally conceived by SDS as a framework for continuing, life-long activism after student days. When SDS reestablished itself in 2006, MDS also resumed, inviting memberships and contributing to movement discussions, campaigns and actions.
We are in full solidarity with the Occupy Movement, beginning at Occupy Wall Street. Like “back in the day” only better, the movement has spread, like prairie fire, amplifying the people’s voice in almost 2,000 cities worldwide. MDS members participate wherever we are. We offer the following suggestions to join the on-going process of defining objectives and deliberating actions.
The focus in our name is “democracy,” as a means and as a social goal, essential for justice and freedom.
Our one demand is for a new world society based upon direct participatory democracy and the protection and expansion of human rights, being good stewards of our environments, ending wars, freeing ourselves from elite power, sharing the commons, etc. Other demands and reforms are rooted in and a way to this one central objective. Modern communications and computing technology now make such a society truly possible.
We first demand that modern communications and computing technology be accessible to all people. When the “communication commons” is freely available and communication made democratic, then the people will begin to be able to listen to each other and hear and speak, and power will begin to coalesce from the bottom up.
Occupy the Media is a next step from Wall Street! Breaking the stranglehold of corporate media is essential to achieving democracy. To press the “transition,” allowing the people’s voices to be heard, we urge movement activists to spread the demand that all television and radio stations, broadcast and cable, allocate a substantial prime time schedule for uncensored, and live broadcast of open town meetings, forums and teach-ins (like 3 hours a day.)
As we know, power concedes nothing without demand. To force elites to concede to demands, they have to see the power of the people in more than symbolic ways. We need new rank and file, worldwide coordinations of strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience, nonviolent civil resistance and the use of a diversity of tactics. Where direct action is made officially “illegal,” it is time for stepped up tactics the movements have learned over the years. The movement must be “ungovernable” and must resist co-optation.
Big Considerations and Big Ideas
The process whereby small entrepreneur capitalist enterprises, evolve, over time, into global monopolist, predatory corporations and financial manipulators, hand in glove with imperial militarized governments, is part of the normal operation of capitalism. The economic crises we face have their root causes in the very nature of the system as it has evolved. We cannot end the “corporate rule” of our world, without transcending the age and culture of capitalism, to create a new economy whose logic is meeting human needs, instead of profit above all.
Any movement for justice and equality in the United States must expose the original and on-going crimes and atrocities of the U.S. colonizing system against indigenous nations in the U.S. and world wide. We urge movement activists to integrate, into our philosophies, values that respect the rights of indigenous peoples, and integrate indigenous models in environmental, social, cultural, economic, and political designs.
More than a fair and progressive tax system for the future, we need a real accounting, a settling and setting to right the past era of bad practices, deregulations and rip-offs. A sort of global “Jubilee” is what the world needs, cancellation of impoverishing debts and re-calibration of the monetary system.
Given the massive changes in income distribution that have taken place in the U.S. since the 1970s, the proportion, and not merely the dollar amount of income going to the top 1% has nearly tripled from around 9% to about one quarter of the total, and is generally rising rapidly. These wealthy were perfectly well off in 1979 — but now their share of total income has increased by multiple trillions of dollars annually. This obscene change has been largely ignored by both major political parties in the U.S., even as cutbacks in public education and other essential services have spread like a cancer in both the U.S. and the European Union. As a modest measure, we insist that at least a trillion dollars a year in extra taxation be directed at the top 1% in the U.S., including subjecting their income above $500,000 to both Medicare and Social Security payments, together with a sharp increase (and not merely a few per cent, as is debated in the mainstream) in federal income tax rates on this high income level. A “Security Transaction Exchange Tax (STET)” could raise many more billions and discourage idle speculation; further taxes aimed at the top 1% should include a return of full force inheritance taxes on estates over several million dollars, and an annual wealth tax on concentrations of wealth above $10 million per person.
Finally, income in the form of capital gains made over less than one year or over the rate of inflation at high levels should be subject to high rates comparable to ordinary income. With such taxation, single-payer healthcare, Medicare, public education, eco-industrialization, adequate housing, infrastructure repair and much more could all be easily funded, with beneficial effects on the economy and employment. These revenues could be used for a “bailout of main street”, something voters for Obama in 2008 had a right to expect.
These sharp changes in the tax system, which should parallel those in other nations, are not the kind of fundamental restructuring of the economy needed for a truly just and thoroughly democratic society. However, together with cuts in military spending and the growing prison-industrial complex, such changes could help reverse the current disempowering and impoverishing fiscal trends throughout the advanced capitalist world.
Another urgent priority is the global environment, repeatedly referenced during the last U.S. presidential election as a ‘planet in peril’. This concern must be more than the lip service, accompanied by half-hearted measures, that it has, at best, been in the U.S. today. The world’s leading climatologists on global warming are being joined by a rising tide of popular recognition that current atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases are already too high — and that’s atmospheric levels and not just emissions.
The next phase of industrial development needs to be “eco-industrialization”, not only shifting to solar, wind, and hydrogen for energy, but restructuring what is produced and consumed and how. This could be furthered by taxes on pollution and scarce resources, and necessitates a massive public investment in a new technological foundation for modern society.
Corporations can be democratized. Governing bodies of corporations can be constituted with 60 percent control by their workers (for instance) and 40 percent control by the general community. Stockholders as community members need not have any privileged legal power in the governance of corporations.
Corporations through public charters can be redefined as public economic agencies of the people. As public agencies, corporations will respect fundamental rights of free speech, freedom of association (such as unions) and freedom of assembly and due process rights of the corporations’ workers. A corporation is not a person. No law should say otherwise.
The world movement to restore and reclaim the commons can be a shared reference point for political action. Establish use rights to replace private property enclosure rights in land. End foreclosures and evictions. Recognize safe shelter as a human right.
Free public education for all with lifelong learning. Abolish the student loan system and cancel all student loan debt. Give living stipends for full and part time study.
Healthcare is a universal human right. As such, the people of the world are entitled to free, universal public healthcare based on world citizenry, not based on income or geopolitics.
Put solar panels on every building. Shift investments and incentives from fossil fuels and nuclear to clean renewable sources.
Convene into extended session a citizen-initiated World Peace Meeting, seeking to bring to just conclusions the many wars still hot in the world, to address global disarmament and mutual security agreements, and to mark a world shift from the time of the war system of domination, hierarchy, patriarchy, impunity, violence, coercion, etc., to a new time and new social contract of the “peace system” emphasizing partnership, cooperation, generosity, caring, sharing, nonviolence and healing from the time of war.
Extend jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and amplify application of the Nuremberg Principles to all United Nations members. Bring Kissinger, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Obama and others to the Court for trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. End impunity. Begin accountability. Figure out terms of “truth and reconciliation,” and moral equivalents of revenge, so there can be “revolutions without executions.”
Transfer all nuclear weapons to the jurisdiction of the Security Council and International atomic energy agency for dismantling as part of the complete and total abolition of nuclear weapons and control of fissile material, worldwide.
De-militarize our world. Close or convert all military institutions. Give universal unconditional amnesty for war resisters. Halt U.S. imperialism and hegemony policies around the world and shift our global society to a peacetime economy, creating new jobs and right livelihood for previous war workers and veterans.
The United Nations Organization needs to be transformed to become more democratic, better representing the peoples of the world. Permanent member veto power in the Security Council should be abolished. A “People’s House,” paralleling General Assembly representation, can be based on direct election (with recall rights) by the populations. Numbers of representatives of each community can be proportional to the size of its population. We seek neither continuation of the era of the nation-states nor an era of a world state. Instead, we aim to achieve a world of freely associated communities.
Dare to Imagine, Together
We ourselves, in MDS, are struggling with how best to express what this system change is about. We hope everyone in this new movement will discuss, debate and share thinking about big ideas we all dare imagine. We want to engage this process.
We are recognizing the approaching 50th anniversary of the drafting of the Port Huron Statement in 1962. Then, we were one generation looking uncomfortably to the future we would inherit.
Now we are 3 or 4 generations, alive, active, conscious, able together better to understand the “sins of the fathers” that have passed down on us and, increasingly, what to do to fix it. We also have the beneficence of many generations of the struggle to strengthen us for a human revolution.
We invite all into a collective writing and meeting endeavor that we are calling “Port Huron plus 50.” This statement is the first public mention of the event. We are planning this event to happen in the spring of 2012.
What would be a “manifesto for now”? We call for the thinking and papers of the occupy movement to be collected and included in this project and those interested in working on this to be in touch.
We welcome feedback and response.
Solidarity and revolutionary love!!!
Post Office Box 7213, Ann Arbor MI 48107
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