The Paris Uprising of 1968 demanded the impossible. Over forty years later we must demand it again.
Talking with friends in the US and following its development via the internet and, to a lesser extent, television, it is clear that the Occupy movement in the United States is continuing to grow and gather momentum. This is important for the development of the movement worldwide.
Its growth and impact has been stunningly impressive especially since it has occurred in the face of hostility from local authorities, intimidation and violence from the police and the predictable attacks on the movement by the corporate media.
We have to also remember this is all happening in a country where children are taught that 'everyone can become President' and if you're not wealthy then you must be stupid and/or not hardworking enough.
Presidential candidate and former corporate CEO Herman Cain said recently “if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself.” That view may of fallen on fertile grounds in the past but the likes of Cain are now discovering that Americans aren't going to swallow that line no more. Suddenly that notorious cheerleader for the rich and powerful, Fox News, is looking mean and grubby and the demands for more cuts to social programs have become less insistent and belligerent.
The Occupy movement has changed the entire political debate. Instead of the talk being what next austerity measure can be imposed on ordinary American the focus is now well and truly on the 1 percent who have benefited at the expense of everyone else. Ordinary Americans have inserted themselves into a space previously the domain of the politicians, the business 'leaders' and the journalists and columnists of the corporate media.
After having been bailed out by ordinary Americans the denizens of Wall Street are continuing to 'live the lifestyles they have become accustomed to' and, despite it all, they still feel they are entitled to the lavish salaries and the bulging bonuses.
Many of these creatures should be in jail - but they have been shielded by a President whose election campaigns are largely funded by these very same people.
And ordinary Americans have just had enough. The sleeping giant that is the American working class has awoken and all the 'experts' who told us that class struggle was over and we had 'reached the end of history' and 'liberal democracy' had won - well, it is they who have been consigned to the rubbish dump of history. Good riddance.
Where will the Occupy movement go from here? What organisational model will it take if any? What kind of policies will it gravitate around? All these questions and more are being debated within the movement. As an aside, I am finding this debate far more interesting and stimulating then the banal charade of the New Zealand general election campaign where we plebs get to vote on which machine politician gets to manage the neoliberal economy.
While there is part of the Occupy movement that sees the corporations, the banks and 'greed' as the main problem there is , equally, a significant section of the movement that says that it is not about replacing a 'bad' banking and finance sector with a 'better' one but it is about replacing a crisis-ridden economic system that is manifestly unjust.
It seems to me that the guiding principle for the movement is that it must be ambitious and it must seek a new world. The world that Marx told us was ours to win is still to be won. That cannot be done by making deals with forces defending entrenched positions of power and privilege. That is the road to nowhere and to defeat.
If the Occupy movement retreats to the hopeless position of what is 'acceptable' it may as well give up and go home now. If it is prepared to negotiate with Government to 'find areas of common agreement' it may as well fold up the tents, stop the marches and let Wall Street continue its looting and pillaging in peace.
The Occupy movement must demand the impossible . It is only impossible until it happens. Then it is the new reality and the there is no returning to what went before and a whole new world awaits.
Be realistic and demand the impossible.