The Occupy Wall Street movement is a demand for democracy in a world of financial power beyond the reach of popular will. People have reacted not only to the inequality of wealth, but also to the inequality of power that makes it possible. The rebellion has swelled with millions no longer accepting the legitimacy of Wall Street nor their political representatives in Washington.
The movement is a reaction to the current economic crisis, but also to a historic shift in the nature of capitalism. The populist content of bourgeois rule that emerged with the American and French revolutions is being exhausted and corrupted, replaced with a clear shift to the right. Globalization has given rise to a transnational capitalist class (TCC) with access to world labor and markets and a neoliberal penchant for deregulation. The result is the shredding of the old social contracts and a gutting of democratic political restraints.
By targeting Wall Street, the current upsurge and wave of resistance also underscores the connection between financial power and government. The state has always functioned to enforce and stabilize the relations of production. These relations form the basis of class power and are surrounded by laws, regulations and methods to mediate conflicts.
Consensus and coercion is the dialectic of capitalist hegemony. However weakened, a degree of democracy and economic opportunity are essential aspects of bourgeois society inherited from its revolutionary beginning. This is why the loss of jobs and democratic influence are felt so deeply as a betrayal, and resistance often expresses as a desire to 'take back' the country and government. To connect to the disappointment and boiling anger of the current upsurge, the left needs to understand the dynamics of this legacy.
The Democratic Revolutionary Tradition
Workers, farmers, peasants and the poor were at the heart of the revolutionary upheaval that rid France of its aristocratic ruling class. Protection of property rights and markets for the capitalists shared the stage with liberty, equality and fraternity for the masses. In North America a similar set of working masses with European roots fought one of the first great anti-colonial wars under the leadership of the rising bourgeoisie and slave-owning planters. Alongside property rights was the Bill of Rights guaranteeing free speech, assembly and press. The other upheaval in the New World was the Haitian Revolution, where all classes were inspired by the French revolt, but where the powerful dynamic of a slave revolt added to its democratic character. Out of these revolutions came notions, however flawed with the birthmarks of the old order, of citizenship, human rights and a new nationalism.
From its inception capitalist society was thus a political and economic compromise between workers and farmers and the capitalist class. The idea that men were born free and equal was inscrolled in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens as well as the Declaration of Independence. This was as fundamental a part of the new societies, as was slavery and the inexorable logic of capitalism to exploit labor and nature. Over the years these rights have been challenged by the right and left, contracted and expanded. In large measure, that historic process is the wellspring that sparked the current insurgency today.
Background to the 'Social Contract'
The economic social contract has a long history in Western society and is closely tied to imperialism. In 1895 British imperialist Cecil Rhodes wrote:
I was in the East End of London yesterday and attended a meeting of the unemployed. I listened to the wild speeches, which were just a cry for 'bread,' 'bread', and on my way home I pondered over the scene and I became more than ever convinced of the importance of imperialism...My cherished idea is a solution for the social problem, i.e., in order to save the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we colonial statesmen must acquire new lands for settling the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced in the factories and mines. The Empire, as I have always said is a bread and butter question. If you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialists.
This strategy, so well articulated by Rhodes, established a sector of the working class with middle-class incomes founded on the exploitation of global labor in the colonized world. A few decades later Henry Ford added a new dimension when he doubled the wages of his auto workers so they could buy his cars. And after W.W. II, under massive pressure from the working class and an era of economic expansion, home ownership, health care, good education and rising wages formed the basis of the 'Golden Era' of Western capitalism. Social Democracy in Europe and the New Deal in the U.S. meant a significant sector of the capitalist class accepted the social contract and the stability it brought to the system, and it thus became an important construct of the dominant hegemonic bloc. In the U.S. military Keynesian policies also underwrote the consensual aspect that laid the foundation of support among many workers.
But the contradiction between the rights of private property and the rights of society become particularly intense during period of crisis when the capitalist class has less room to solve social tensions. Capitalism, as a competitive system of accumulation has an internal logic to push labor and nature to extreme limits of exploitation, and it rarely will shy away from the use of violence to achieve its ends. This has been the constant reality for people in the global South. In the West the history of democracy also came with jailing, beatings and death. This was true during all the great social movements of women, minorities and unions. But unlike the global South were armed struggle was the primary path to independence and self-determination, the Western countries maintained enough flexibility to adapt to many of the democratic and redistributive demands of the working class. This flexibility existed, in large part, because of the democratic content of the bourgeois revolutions, a content that imperialism rarely, if ever, extended to the third world.
The Social Structure of Accumulation
The ability of Western capitalism to embrace aspects of economic and political democracy were incorporated, after World War I, into a Keynesian social structure of accumulation (SSA).# As William Tabb explains; "In each SSA there is a regime of accumulation, labor relations, taxation, spending priorities of government, and regulatory norms consonant with the composition of dominant class alliances and the ideological predilection favored by this historic bloc."# In post W.W. II society that restructuring resulted in rising wages, unions that guaranteed health care, job protection, pensions and eventually the incorporation of affirmative action for minorities and women.
Starting in the mid-1970s, this reigning Keynesian SSA was replaced with neo-liberalism. With the globalization of finance and production, long-term industrial commitments were replaced with speculation over short-term stock prices, transnational assembly lines, outsourcing, part-time and contingent labor and a general reduction in living standards and conditions of work. With the new neo-liberal accumulation model in place, the narrowing of democratic space was a parallel political development.
From its inception, global capitalism fostered a greater centralization of economic and political power. It was driven by the cold logic of efficiency and profitability without any democratic concerns or the burdens of social responsibility. Fundamental aspects of economic governance were put in the technocratic hands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank and other transnational institutions. These were designed to be far removed from democratic input or control on the nation-state level. This project was lead by the transnational capitalist class, that sector of capital whose profits and power are embedded in patterns of global accumulation.
The TCC came to power in the 1980s as a growing sector in all Western governments, as well as in many countries of the global South under the onslaught of neo-liberal policies. While united by a common project of 'Empire' to build a world of unrestricted and integrated capital, this new hegemonic bloc also retained some specific national characteristics. Each nation was drawn into global finance and production at its own pace determined by local conditions. This long drawn-out process is full of contradictions, competing visions and policies. But key elements are in place that have situated a great amount of economic and political power in the hands of the TCC, with its inherent impulse towards centralization and technocratic authoritarianism.
Rise of Global Authoritarianism
Under the TCC new political and economic regimes were established in the North and South. The new authoritarian structure manifested its most severe character in the global South where the first post-1960s economic crises broke out. Using the IMF, transnational capital enforced draconian Structural Adjustment Programs and raided state-owned industries through forced privatizations. Economic governance emanated from transnational institutions with the bureaucratic functionaries of the TCC restricting and transforming national control. Such forms of domination were different from earlier era imperialism, where countries belonged to their colonial overlords. Then capital didn't have a singular global identity, but a specific national one tied to the various 'Great Nations.'
In the North changes began during the Reagan/Thatcher years, and although racked by periodic crisis, the neo-liberal social structure of accumulation maintained hegemony for 30 years. But now the economic collapse that hit the capitalist heartland in 2009 has laid bare the deep systemic problems that makes a rebuilt SSA necessary and formation of a new hegemonic bloc.
The question before us presently is to understand the context and character of the current global crisis and its implications in the struggles for popular and economic democracy. Will the social crisis create a more authoritarian capitalism with greater restrictions on democracy, or a progressive alternative entailing a decisive defeat of neo-liberalism? As in every period of severe social crisis, a reactionary movement can take power. But progressive and revolutionary movements can also take shape and form a counter-hegemonic bloc. In past crises, movements arose within an international system of nation states. The crisis now takes place within a more deeply integrated transnational system lead by finance capital. We believe the global character of contemporary capitalism helps determine the nature of the reactionary threat as well as the shape of the emerging progressive bloc, and so the following discussion bears weight for left strategic thinking in the coming period.
Imperialism has often exported its economic problems to the third world. But now the chickens have come home to roost. Capitalism can no longer offload its crises because the doors between the South and North have been pushed wide open. Access to two billion new low-wage workers in China, India and former socialist countries has resulted in the shredding of the social contract on the home front. The result has been 'race to the bottom' policies resulting in growing unemployment in the E.U. and U.S. In addition the digital-information revolution created technologies that have displaced a generation of unskilled and semi-skilled workers in far larger numbers than any new technical sectors. This growing organic composition of capital fueled a falling rate of profit. With unemployment spiraling upwards and wages spiraling down, capitalists pumped up the economy with hundreds of new speculative markets, expanding consumer debt and the housing bubble. It was a structure built to collapse and when it did, finance used its power over government to bail itself out, while ignoring or discounting everyone else.
Beginning in the Reagan-Thatcher years, the transition of national economies into an integrated global economy was accompanied by attacks on government services. But with the current crisis, the severity of these attacks have reached new heights, with economic recovery defined as a defeated working class ready to accept any wage and a barely minimal social safety net. These attacks are the flip side in the global North to the Structural Adjustment Programs enforced by the IMF in the South. As the economic crisis hit with full force, the TCC has offered nothing but further neo-liberal austerity programs or limp stimulus policies that have utterly failed to resolve their problems. Now Ireland, Portugal and Greece are being treated in the same manner the IMF treated Thailand, South Korea, and Indonesia when the Asian crash occurred in 1997.
The destruction of Greek independence on the altar of transnational bond holders exemplifies the expanding power of authoritarian capitalism. Greeks find themselves deprived of any semblance of control over their own political system. When Prime Minister George Papandreou attempted to let Greeks vote on the unforgiving E.U. bail-out agreement, he was quickly summoned to his TCC overlords for daring to assert an iota of national sovereignty. Or as the Financial Times put it, for having the "disruptive desire for democratic legitimacy." The message was clear, authority resides with hierarchical power structures outside the nation, and those inside national governments must implement policies in-line with TCC priorities.
It doesn't take a radical to see the growing crisis of democracy. Neo-Keynesian economist Paul Krugman writes:
We have a society in which money is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people, and in which that concentration of income and wealth threatens to make us a democracy in name only. We still like to think of ourselves as a middle-class country. But with the bottom 80 percent of households now receiving less than half of total income, that's a vision increasingly at odds with reality... extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.
The Transnational Character of Finance Capital
The authoritarian nature of global financial capital doesn't spring from an affinity to reactionary nationalism. It springs largely from the opposite, its alienation from financial bonds embedded in national relations of production. We can look at some economic data to explore the deeply transnational character of finance capitalism. According to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) the externally held assets and liabilities of banks as of June 2011 was over $61 trillion dollars, almost equal to the world's GDP. In the table below we can examine the external assets of banks from ten major countries. These are not the top ten, but the table gives a spread of major countries throughout the world. Offshore centers are also important, holding 14% of world totals. The BIS list 22 offshore banking centers, the Cayman Islands with holdings of over $1.8 trillion is the largest.# Note that the figures below exclude hedge funds, insurance corporations, private equity firms and other non-banking financial institutions.
Externally Held Assets of Banks
External Assets of Banks (in millions of US dollars)
China & Hong Kong
BIS, figures taken from Table 6A.
Another interesting set of statistics is "consolidated foreign claims and other potential exposures." Foreign claims includes cross-border claims, and local claims of foreign affiliates on banking and non-banking sectors of the economy. Potential exposures cover derivatives, extended guarantees and credit commitments. The total is over $42.7 trillion and covers the G10 plus 20 other countries. These figures indicate the profound financial links between transnational capitalists and the co-dependency of the global economy through loans, debt and other commitments. Again the table doesn't show the top ten, but a spread of major countries. We must also recognize that although these figures as listed with national identities, these "national" institutions have deep pools of cross-border investors that give them a fundamental transnational character.
Consolidated Foreign Claims and Exposures of Financial Institutions
Consolidated foreign claims & potential exposures (in millions of US dollars)
China & Hong Kong
BIS, figures taken from Table 9E.
This integrated global financial edifice is not overseen by one nation-centric ruling class, but by the TCC as a whole through transnational governance institutions. Such tremendous financial flows need stability in order that the entire structure can avoid collapse. The governance by necessity has to take place within global structures outside the control of any one nation. Therefore, the TCC is driven to gain global authority and power over national laws and interests. The more severe the crisis the more frantic the TCC becomes as bankruptcy spreads, their ideology challenged, and protestors take to the streets. Each nation must bend to the dogmatic prescriptions of transnational finance. But such attempts create greater pressures and tensions producing more instability, not less.
Under such circumstances the TCC may turn to greater authoritarian governance in the quest for stability and to enforce the breaking of the middle class with austerity. Free of democratic restraints and the social contract, the traditional hegemonic bloc narrows to the point where coercion becomes the overriding tool of control. The threat of fascism may then appear as the TCC seeks a new base of popular support among home-grown reactionary nationalists to rebuild their hegemonic bloc. But, as we discuss below, this would be at best an unstable relationship difficult to maintain.
Crisis and the Threat to Democracy
If the crisis endures and deepens, the question becomes whether an important sector of finance will ally with a fascist popular base and use a totalitarian dictatorship to solve its problems. At this point the capitalist class still has any number of repressive tools to work with before abandoning its claim to democracy. Most of the financial sector plays politics pragmatically, funding both parties to maintain their own influence. The majority of Wall Street money went to Obama in the 2008 election. This money is now flowing to the Republicans, but this is more about the Dobb-Frank Bill and other regulatory restrictions pushed by the Democrats, than some move to fascism. The flow can reverse rather quickly.
It's true that we find some committed ideologues, like the Koch brothers, funding reactionary movements. Likewise with Richard Mellon-Scaife money and the Olin family. This is an important danger not to be taken lightly. For example, the Scaife, Koch and Olin families fund the American Legislative Exchange Council whose agenda makes it harder for minorities to vote, undermines health care reform, weakens environmental laws and breaks unions. Through its legislative agenda the group has attracted board members from major corporations including ExxonMobil, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Wal-Mart, AT&T, Kraft, Coca-Cola, State Farm, UPS, Peabody Energy and others.# Consequently reactionary capitalist class activists can facilitate alliances with more mainstream elements around issues that affect specific industrial economic interests.
Reactionary and proto-fascist forces also have deep influence within Republican circles. One manifestation was at the 2012 annual C-PAC conference in Washington, DC. Every Republican presidential candidate spoke to C-PAC which endorsed Romney for president. At the conference, the group ProEnglish organized a panel, 'The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American identity.' The host, Robert Vandervoort, is a former leader of a white nationalist organization Chicagoland Friends of the American Renaissance. Another panelist was Peter Brimelow, founder and head of the white nationalist hate website VDARE. In 2009, Brimelow spoke at C-PAC on the "Obama's racial-socialist coup" and expressed his fear that the U.S. is doomed to face a "minority occupation government." He called on the Republican Party to become the party of white voters by attacking "ethnic lobbies," affirmative action, bilingual education and "taxpayer subsidies to illegal aliens." Vandervoort also delivered a speech from Serge Trifkovic that focused on how the "cult of non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual victimhood and multiculturalist indoctrination" is ruining the West. Another C-PAC speaker, Rosalie Porter, bemoaned the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act for giving too much political influence to minorities.# The fact that Romney and other Republican globalists cultivate these political ties indicate the potential for a reactionary alliance and fascist influenced hegemonic bloc.
But other transnational capitalists like George Soros, Bill Gates, Morgan Stanley executive Stephan Roach and Warren Buffet are in the neo-Keynesian wing of capital. Consequently substantial political splits still exists within the TCC, even if many of the Keynesian intellectual experts like Krugman and Joseph Stieglitz find themselves currently 'out in the cold' from positions of governmental power and influence.
But beyond internal splits within the TCC, the construction of a fascist hegemonic bloc remains problematic. Why? Because it would entail reactionary nationalists and authoritarian corporate globalists working out a political and economic compromise. This is possible, as revealed in the common goal of C-PAC, the Tea Party and GOP neoliberals in defeating Obama at all cost. But it also reveals an unreliable alliance full of instabilities, due to the contradictory relationship between transnational economics and nationalist ideologies which deeply distrust and dislike global governance. Just think of the far right warning against 'The New World Order'---clearly an agenda unwelcomed by transnational capitalists. Another case in point is the reactionary nationalist campaign in Tucson banning Mexican American studies and literally seizing thousands of Chicano studies textbooks and placing them 'under arrest,' forbidding their use in the classrooms. Certainly a problematic fit given that multi-culturalism is accepted and promoted by all globalists factions.
The same problems have appeared in Europe where reactionary parties in Finland, the Netherlands, Hungary and Austria take an anti-globalist political stance. These differences are played out in the political rivalries between dominant neo-liberal conservative parties and the challenge posed by right-wing nationalists. In France the program of Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, advocates abandoning the Euro and using the French state to protect national industries. Le Pen's strong anti-globalist stance is undercutting the conservative appeal of neo-liberal Nicolas Sarkozy, and the split may result in a victory for the Socialist Party.
To confuse corporate authoritarianism favored by globalists with national fascism is to overestimate the influence of fascism and underestimate the reactionary character of neo-liberalism. Globalists, by their transnational nature, are lacking the reactionary nationalist character of fascist ideology, even as they work to implement draconian measures. To compare differences between authoritarian capitalism and the current proto-fascist movement it may be useful to consider the classic definition of fascism offered by British Marxist Palme Dutt, working with the contributions of Georgi Dimitrov;
"Fascism (is) the open, terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist elements of finance capital, endeavoring to mask its real aims by the most extreme and shameless social and national demagogy, and in this way seeking to build up a basis of support in the population, especially among the petty-bourgeoisie and backward workers..."#
This definition in part reflects Tea Party politics. "Shameless social and national demagogy" certainly fits them as well as some leading Republican candidates for president. There is the targeting of immigrants, minority nationalities, food stamp recipients, gays, intellectuals and Muslims as scapegoats. And the economic crisis is laid on the doorstep of the government while paying little attention to corporate America. The Tea Party base also consists of classic fascist-prone elements from the popular classes such as small businessmen, with a large contingent coming from working-class white males in the South, West and Appalachian regions. In large part, they are retirees living on small pensions combined with social security and limited health care. They are just getting by personally in the crisis, but their situation is often precarious and insecure. They are on the cusp of failure and don't see a 'bigger pie,' and hence see any effort to expand benefits to 'The Other'-Blacks, Latinos, immigrants, the poor--as a threat to their own precarious situation.
The successful targeting of immigrants was revealed in a poll commissioned by the German Marshall Fund of the United States. It showed that Americans believe immigrants are 39 percent of the U.S. population, although 13.5 percent is the actual number. In other words, the perception is almost 200 percent greater than the reality.# Additionally, the Tea Party is steeped in both American nationalist and 'white' nationalist symbols, gun culture and irrationalist rhetoric about saving America from its perceived internal enemies.
As for the potential for anti-popular violence and 'open terror', we cannot ignore a serious threat among the far right 'Christian dominionist' organizing in the military, and mercenary forces such as Blackwater/Xe. Blackwater founder Charles Prince has well known ties to the extreme right-wing. Moreover, there still exist various armed militias throughout the U.S. We should also point to a small but constant fascist base among right-wing Christian fundamentalists more widely active in various political campaigns.
At this point, the Tea Party and other elements of the far right comprise somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of the electorate, depending on the region. Taken by themselves, this is not yet a major threat. But when combined with the neoliberals in the Republican party, their power is enhanced to the point of being able to 'deadlock' Congress on a range of issues. A Republican presidential victory would consolidate this alliance as a ruling hegemonic bloc.
Given the above reality, the left needs to be vigilant about the linking of authoritarian globalists and nationally rooted reactionary forces. Even so, the left also needs to be wary of the boy who cried wolf too often, where every time a police billy club swings we cry "fascist!" Our language is important in explaining ideas and speaking to a broad audience. Political strategy easily falls short when rhetoric fails to met objective reality and is out of sync with the popular perceptions of political conditions.
Fascism is rightly understood as a totalitarian dictatorship in which people can't speak freely in fear of secret police and the total suppression of constitutional freedoms. It is not just racist, imperialist and repressive-U.S bourgeois democracy has had those features for centuries. Apart from a powerful popular upsurge that approaches insurrection, it is unlikely that authoritarian capitalism will need to assume an extreme dictatorial structure, at least for the entire population.
The left also needs to remember its own history of isolation and acts of desperation due to an overestimation of the fascist danger. The Communist Party faced a real fascistic danger during the McCarthy period. But defining the threat of fascism as "imminent" resulted in sending hundreds of leading cadre underground and limiting mass work. This played into the hands of the FBI, helping to undermine the Party's influence and eventual playing an important role in many leaving the organization. The Black Panther Party saw the Nixon administration as fascist, which factored into the splitting off of the Black Liberation Army and acts of robbery and murder. The Weathermen were also affected by similar conceptions and replaced mass organizing and mobilizations with pseudo 'armed struggle'.
During previous repressive periods there were returns to democratic legitimacy because the capitalist class was still firmly invested in national institutions and the national market. Global capitalists lack such roots and consequently their alienation from the nation state makes it easy to discard important aspects of formal democratic norms in both political and economic realms. The crisis has not led the TCC to desert neo-liberalism, but to defend it adamantly, albeit with more flexibility. So the threat to democracy in some ways is more dangerous from this quarter than from native-grown fascism. Why? Because authoritarian capitalism arises from core elements of the TCC, not an extreme and more marginal reactionary wing of local and anti-global nationalists.
At the same time authoritarian capitalism is more likely to retain limited democratic openings not found in fascist dictatorships, such as the multi party system, the constitution and aspects of free speech and press. But this would be in conjunction with moves that limit mass protests, narrows access to the internet, targets the left with repression, abandons the social contract and moves real political authority to transnational bodies out of reach of popular electoral control via the WTO, IMF, G20 agreements, and so on.
In part, this is what Chicago activists have already seen from their new mayor, Rahm Emmanuel. With the G8 and NATO coming to town Emmanuel wants to present Chicago as a global-friendly city for his transnational compatriots. To insure order, he limited the time and place for protests, ordered the pre-registration of banners, announced the early closing of parks and doubled fines for resisting arrest. Confronted by protest organizers, labor unions and civil liberties groups he backed down on some, but not all aspects of what has been labeled the "sit down and shut up" ordinance. The fact that Emmanuel comes out of the Clinton and Obama administration shows that the authoritarian impulse emanates from both local political wings of the globalists.
It's not only the left that is worried about attacks on civil liberties. Convinced of growing social unrest George Soros commented:
"It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States."#
Building the Progressive Hegemonic Bloc
To counter the consolidation and continued growth of authoritarian capitalism, a progressive counter-hegemonic bloc must be built. This seemed to be taking place around the 2008 Obama election--with the mobilization of youth, minorities and unions in alliance with the neo-Keynesian centrist and center-right wings of the TCC. With the GOP's upturn in the 2010 election and its domination of the House of Representatives, Obama was put on the defensive and the progressive majority within the bloc that elected him was weakened.
The TCC, for its part, has been split into three general factions since the 1997 crash in Asia, when the crisis caused a crystallization of different policy solutions. The foremost faction has been free market fundamentalists who dominated the neo-liberal movement during the Reagan-Thatcher period and still maintain major influence within finance capital. The structuralists wing came into influence during the Clinton years with Larry Summers and Robert Rubin. They advanced the neo-liberal agenda with further deregulation of financial markets, but also argued for a semi-Keynesian governmental role to bail out elite institutions and create greater stability. Finally, liberal regulationists and neo-Keynesians like Krugman and Stieglitz turned away from neo-liberalism, seeking a greater role for the government in solving the more extreme social and economic inequalities resulting from globalization.# Their followers have largely been removed from the ruling coalition, leaving them to make overtures to progressives and the left.
Obama could have built a ruling alliance between the structuralists and neo-Keynesians, but instead choose an alliance between the structuralists and free market fundamentalists - a clear shift rightward. Neo-Keynesians were frozen out while Summers and Timothy Geithner worked with Wall Street bankers on all major economic issues. This led to insufficient stimulus policies and growing inequality, while profits and bonuses swelled for the TCC. The result has been a deepening of political alienation, questioning the legitimacy of democratic rule and the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The failure of Team Obama to consolidate a progressive hegemonic bloc has created a radical contradictory process. The Occupy Wall Street movement is largely independent of the Democratic Party, unlike the progressive upsurge of Obama's electoral campaign. It has also energized unions back into the streets and created the conditions for wider mass mobilizations around key economic and social demands. Furthermore, it has energized progressive voters in the Democratic orbit, even without any formal connection to them. Such an independent and militant movement may create political conditions similar to the mass protests of the Great Depression that forced Roosevelt to create and expand the New Deal.
Additionally Obama's failures has pushed the neo-Keynesians into a sharper and more critical analysis, not only of White House policy, but of structural problems within capitalism. For example, a report titled "The Way Forward" by Daniel Alpert, Robert Hockett and Nouriel Roubini targeted the globalization of production, access to billions of new workers and overproduction as structural problems that have "shifted the balance of power between labor and capital resulting in levels of income and wealth inequality not seen since the immediate pre-Great-Depression 1920s. "# A cornerstone to their solution is a five to seven year program with $1.2 trillion of public investments in areas such as clean energy, green manufacturing and transportation, and education that would produce 5.52 million jobs each year.
These developments sets the stage for building a counter-hegemonic bloc in which progressives have greater voice and independence, rather than acting simply as electoral shock troops tailing the Democrats. There is an opening to grow a major progressive force still within the coalition, but considerably to the left of the White House. At the same time this can undercut the attraction of the Tea Party, its ability to mobilize around reactionary slogans, and the consolidation of authoritarian capitalism. A key to this strategy is to maintain focus on mass organizing and the defense of democracy against authoritarian limitations. A misreading which makes fascism the dominant danger can easily result in isolating tactics and over blown rhetoric. If we are the 99 percent then the united front must be broad and open and the main blow consistently aimed at the 1 percent and their defenders.
The final question is can a progressive bloc go beyond a program for jobs, peace and less inequality, to having the grassroots power and political and analytical clarity to force capitalism to abandon neo-liberal globalization and eventually move on to an alternative socialist and sustainable society? This raises the relationship between reform and revolution and whether globalization is the final stage of capitalist development. However, without building a progressive counter-hegemonic bloc with a militant and mobilized base, and a dynamic, unified and expanded left wing, we'll never know the answer.
 Beaud, Michel. A History of Capitalism 1500 - 1980. Monthly Review Press, New York, 1983. ps. 139- 140.
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