We have heard this past week from people either currently working with or who have very recently left Occupy Chicago that the organization is in the final stages of its death throes. Hooray! It’s time for you to “Occupy” the Dustbin of History!
We had expected that they would survive just long enough to throw what was left of their weight behind the re-election campaign of Barack Obama. Hopefully, according to our information, that will not occur! Hip, hip, hooray! We offer a “laurel and hearty handshake” to the man or woman who turns out the lights for the last time in the Occupy Chicago offices! No longer will the working class have to suffer the embarrassment of the continued existence of this pathetic remnant of what was once an inspiring movement!
The rapid disintegration and final demise of the organization was entirely self-inflicted. Originally formed in the summer of 2011, Occupy Chicago rapidly grew into a large organization with hundreds of people attending its nightly “General Assembly” meetings, which were held at Congress and Michigan Avenues in downtown Chicago.
The organization was crippled from birth principally by its own fatal insistence that it would not form a political party, as well as its refusal to create any kind of class-based political program. Consequently, it degenerated into a mishmash of independently organized cells called “Committees”, in which every type of political adventurer under the sun could seize control of a sandbox to play in and then kick everyone out who did not go along with the program of the clique of politically immature people who organized that particular sandbox.
Complicating matters further was the organization’s insistence on not having any kind of membership organization, and its puerile insistence on raising cash for its activities solely from donations from the public: Occupy Chicago’s members refused to shell out their own money to support their own organization.
The group also attempted to represent people from all over the political spectrum. This led to an organization whose members took opposing sides on key issues, like abortion rights for women and support to the Democratic Party. We remarked early on during our brief participation in the group that unless they created a politically consistent program that represented the interests of the working class, they would be quickly absorbed into the Democratic Party or destroyed by internal conflicts, as centrifugal political forces tore the organization apart. This is, in fact, exactly what has happened. Over the past several months, the group has hosted prominent Democrats at it’s events. Jesse jackson was invited to speak at the rally at Petrillo Band Shell during the anti-NATO protest and he was again a featured speaker at a soiree held at Occupy Chicago’s headquarters in a broken down building in no-man’s land between Pilsen and Chinatown. Several of the “leaders” of Occupy (a “leaderless group”) repeatedly expressed their determination to support and vote for the Democrats in the presidential elections to be held this year. We expect that among the final acts of Occupy we will see what is left of their organization completely co-opted by the Democratic Party (a process that has been under way since the group’s founding) and are certain that, providing they survive long enough to do it, they will endorse the Democratic candidate for President as a “lesser of two evils” choice, thus completing their own self-immolation.
Though we are sorry to see a movement that began with such tremendous potential and which had raised the hopes and inspired the political activity of so many members of the working class crash and burn so rapidly, we must say that the working class of the United States needs an organization far, far better organized and led than Occupy Chicago or Occupy Wall St., for that matter. The gang of political adventurers who seized control of Occupy Chicago – a fetid combination of barely closeted Democrats and phony anarchists – like Kieran Aarons of De Paul University – proved beyond a shadow of a doubt their utter uselessness as political leaders of the working class. Their total contempt for anything resembling workers democracy inside their organization discredited them long ago in the eyes of many of the hardest working members of Occupy Chicago. Their unprincipled actions included:
1) Holding blatantly rigged voting processes and slandering their political opponents would have gladdened the heart of Joseph Stalin – or Joseph McCarthy, for that matter;
2) The brazen seizure of the organization by the Kieran Aarons faction using every kind of vicious weapon usually deployed by the bourgeois politicians and the capitalist class was breathtaking in its audacity and for its naked self-aggrandizing power-grabbing style;
3) These self-proclaimed “leaders” of Occupy looked the other way as donations from the public – of everything from food to cash money – was stolen by their own “Security Committee” people and their street-hustler co-conspirators in the “Organizations [sic] Committee”;
4) The Kieran Aarons faction and their supporters repeatedly called the Chicago Police in to GAs to arrest the Aarons faction’s political opponents;
5) They set up a “homeless shelter” at Grace Place that was overseen by a couple of common street hustlers who treated the homeless Occupiers worse than any other shelter in Chicago would, refusing them food while allowing boxes full of donated food to spoil in storage and forcing homeless Occupiers to stand out in the snow and rain until almost midnight, only allowing them at most 5 hours a night of sleep while the bogus “Organizations [sic] Committee” running the shelter played favorites and stole donations;
6) The Aaronites seized control of the treasury without permission of the GA and then quickly drove the organization into immediate financial difficulty by squandering the generosity of the workers of the midwest, wasting over $7,000 a MONTH on rent of no-visibility office space in a desolate area of the city at a time when they had just $22,000 cash in hand and had just a few months to prepare for the anti-NATO protests;
7) They also abandoned the whole concept of “Occupying” the public space by maintaining a street presence in Chicago (something the Aaronites were always opposed to from the beginning); they drove away hundreds of people with their undemocratic methods and their political gangsterism;
8) They spread dangerous illusions among the workers that the police forces of the capitalist class and their state could be reformed to “serve and protect” the working class and that the cops are “workers in uniform”, which is tantamount to setting a trap for the working class. The police are not members of the working class – they are the armed fist of the capitalist class, who can always be counted on to smash union picket lines and infiltrate and destroy workers organizations. They are the first line of defense of the capitalist system against the working class and are sworn to “serve and protect” only the capitalist class and capitalist private property;
9) They abandoned their responsibility as the host organization of the anti-NATO protests, refusing to provide housing for the thousands of workers from all over the US who were expected to come to Chicago – and got the word out that there were no accomodations in order to keep the attendance of those demonstrations as low as possible; then left many out-of-town activists to fend for themselves when they did show up;
10) And now they have blown all the cash and are holed up in a much smaller office space in Riverfront Work Lofts – a rundown, shabby building suitable for the rundown, shabby politics of what remains of the Aaronites’ broken-down organization.
So goodbye and good riddance, Occupy Chicago! Do the working class of Chicago a great big favor and fold up already! Don’t let the door crush your tails as you slither out of the city! The sooner you “Occupy” that “dustbin of history” the better.
And for those of you Occupiers who want to fight on behalf of the working class and who really want to change the world, we say: join us! The working class needs honest, hardworking people to organize a working class political party that will NEVER support the Democratic or Republican parties – or any other pro-capitalist parties or politicians; that will take its responsibilities to the working class seriously and that will provide exemplary leadership that instills the principles of workers democracy outside – and inside the organization. We will fight for the gradual abolition of the capitalist system and its replacement by an egalitarian, democratic workers government that fights for the emancipation of labor all over the world. These are goals worthy of your time and talents.