A Marxist Critique Of The Occupy Movement

1450 words - 6 pages

For a movement that impacted the country both socially and politically, the occupy movement started out relatively small. According to Peter Katel of the CQ Researcher, a group of 1,000 protesters settled into Zuccotti Park, in New York City, in mid-September of 2011. This group, motivated by the growing chasm between the wealthy and middle classes hoped that non-violent protest could enlighten lawmakers and bring about economic change. The movement spread from New York to cities across America. The driving force behind the movement was a desire to change national policy, which favors the rich at the expense of the poor. There was a strong push against the movement as well. Many people ...view middle of the document...

Primary amongst these differences is the very purpose for Occupy movement. While some similarities exist, in critically examining the differences, it becomes quite difficult to classify the Occupy movement as a communist uprising.
Popular American opinion towards communism has been overwhelmingly negative. As stated earlier, many opponents of the Occupy movement used the label, communism, to invoke cold war feelings, turning the American public against the Occupy movement. In this goal, according to Stephen Tumino, a professor at CUNY- Kingsborough, “Marxism operates as a catch-all "bogey-man" intended to scare the workers into seeing any resistance to capitalism as "foreign," "violent," and a threat to the "American way of life."’ (Tumino). Marx, however, was very clear in his definition of communism. Thus it is important to understand Marx’s theories of inequality and social change. Work played a critical role for Marx. According to author George Ritzer, human gratification was centered on their ability to creatively express themselves through work. This ability is called one’s human potential. As a conflict theorist, Marx believed that resources are unequally distributed. Those who controlled the resources had power over those who didn’t. Thus society is divided between the haves and the have-nots. Under a capitalist system, those who don’t have control over the resources are forced to accept work from do. In return the upper class provides workers with monetary compensation. This paycheck, however, is far less that the workers’ human potential. It represents the smallest amount the owners can possibly pay the working class so they can continue working. As a result of competition amongst businesses, most people are forced to join the working class while a shrinking number of business owners become increasingly wealthy. Marx predicted that As the working class understands the disparity between it and the upper class, it will overthrow the current establishment Instituting, according to Ritzer, “A system that permits people o express the thoughtfulness, creativity, and sociability that have always been a possibility but inhibited or destroyed by previous social systems” (Ritzer 30). Marx called this final system of governing communism.
Many of the goals of the Occupy movement appear to resemble Marx’s ideal communist system. According to Mr. Tumino, “Today we are confronted with the fact that capitalism has failed in exactly the way that Marx explained was inevitable.4 It has ‘simplified the class antagonism’ by concentrating wealth and centralizing power in the hands of a few it has succeeded in dispossessing the masses of people of everything except their labor power” (Tumino). From this quote, Mr. Tumino believes that American capitalism closely resembles the system of exploitation Marx described. Mr. Ritzer comes to the same conclusion by saying “In the last two decades the global proliferation predicted by Marx has occurred with a...

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