There has been a lot of criticism of the USA-wide “Occupy” protests on the grounds that they lack concrete demands. I’d like to address this notion in this post. To begin with I agree with those who argue that simply occupying public spaces in defiance of state intimidation is in itself useful, and furthermore I would suggest that it isn’t so much the case that the protests lack demands, but that they are not issuing demands which can readily be interpreted and digested by the state. This statement contains a number of demands which are objectionable to the ruling class only on the grounds that they are “unrealistic.” The protesters’ demands are simply that these outrageous actions on the part of the ruling class be stopped. If something as simple as putting an end to the immoral exploitation of the sick and dying by insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry is “unrealistic” how much more so is the perpetuation of the broken capitalist system?
A more general criticism of the Left is that we are incapable of imagining a different future, and that all we are capable of doing is whining about the evils of capitalism without actually providing any alternatives. I certainly can’t speak for the “Occupy” protests’ assemblies, but as someone on the Left I can list some concrete demands that I would like to see realized in the United States:
– Nationalization of the banking system and its reestablishment as a public utility (The system is clearly reliant on the public purse for its existence, it should serve the public).
– Enactment of anti-capital flight laws with the institution of a maximum punishment of long-term imprisonment.
– Abolition of the death penalty and nationalization of private prisons.
– Re-imposition of FDR’s income tax rates (updated for inflation) and establishment of a commission for closing tax loopholes.
– Creation of local councils for including the people in the governance of their communities.
– Implementation of equal pay for women.
– Creation of a committee for ending economic and social discrimination against minorites.
– Electoral reforms including establishment of proportional representation and ending the grip of the Democratic and Republican parties over the electoral process.
– Establishment of a committee for ending the War on Drugs, with either a wholesale reform or abolition of the DEA.
– Establishment of a committee for dismantling the Military-Industrial Complex and its re-purposing to peaceful ends.
– Establishment of a committee for revising and implementing a serious version of the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act.
– Implementation of vigorous media deconcentration legislation with an emphasis on ensuring the predominance of public and community media.
– Establishment of a “single-payer” socialized medical system.
– Ending the wars of empire abroad and initiation of re-negotiation of Status of Forces Agreements in foreign countries on grounds attentive to the will of local populations.
– Establishment of a committee for the promotion of workplace democracy and establishment of cooperatives.
– Establishment of an investigatory committee for the implementation of a modernized and democratized version of Project Cybersyn as an alternative to the capitalist organization of the national economy.
– A general student loan amnesty and nationalization of all for-profit universities.
– Establishment of an investigatory committee for ending the purchase and sale of housing and its replacement with an online property swapping system.
– Establishment of a maximum wage law as FDR attempted to implement.
– Establishment of a home foreclosure amnesty commission.
– Nationalization of all non-religious private schools and increased funding for public education.
– Establishment of an Efficiency and Ecological Planning Agency tasked with transitioning the nation towards ecological sustainability.
– Establishment of a committee for civil liberties and rescinding of the USA PATRIOT act.
– Institution of intellectual property law reform, with a ban on corporate patent hoarding and reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to promote sharing and real innovation.
– Nationalization of large-scale industries and implementation of a Committee for Open Technology to promote the sharing of technical information between firms in order to promote efficiency.
– Ending the embargo against Cuba and offering financial/technological aid to the country on the condition of greater democratization.
– Establishment of a committee to pay reparations to nations which were the victims of American imperial intervention.
– Strengthening and enforcing of significant estate and inheritance taxes.
– Establishment of a constitutional amendment revoking corporate personhood.
I could go on. It should be clear from this list written by just one person that the Left doesn’t lack for ideas or demands!