An open letter to the Occupations

You have all been placed under pressure to provide your demands. I’ll admit when I heard of the Occupy Wall Street movement at its inception, I, too, was quite interested in what it was all about. I’ve seen laundry lists that contain jobs not cuts; tax the rich; people over profits; no more corruption; end the greed, etc. I’ve seen laundry lists that contain specific legislation to get behind; reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act (separating commercial and investment banks); do away with corporate personhood; end the Fed; end the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy; nationalize the big banks; and even my favorite, enact Rep. Kucinich’s NEED Act (National Emergency Economic Defense Act) that would take away the tremendous power to create money from the private banks, put it in the hands of a nationalized Federal Reserve, create fiat money with no debt to put people to work rebuilding our infrastructure and finance education and healthcare.

There is certainly some good with all these proposals, but to support specific legislative goals is a mistake for this movement. Getting involved in the legislative process will detract from the strength of the movement. Even if we get them to pass a watered down version of one of the above, we lose. We’ll get something similar to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform bill (that reforms nothing) or heaven help us another health insurance bail out bill that we still don’t know what’s in it beside the addition of 40 million new customers for the insurance industry.

I didn’t spend my youth sipping champagne at polo matches. I played poker, pool and golf for cash. I know a rigged game when I see it and our so-called “democratic” political system is such a game. Throw in capitalism and you have a deadly combination, hazardous to the health of any society that falls for it.

A monopoly two-party political system that requires massive funding, vetting by one of the two corporate parties and coverage by the corporate owned media is completely unreformable. Sitting down at the congressional poker table in Washington will not get us what the earth and society desperately needs. A final warning on rigged games. They usually let you win the first time or two that you sit down at the table with them. You are then hooked and in their pocket. You will then lie, steal and cheat to keep coming back to the table for that first rush.

Fundamentally, capitalism is a society created on the principle of the dominance of private property rights over everything else. When all other rights are subservient to private property rights, the strongest begin accumulating the most private property. The strongest become the strongest and most conniving. Imagining that some sort of Marquis of Queensberry rules can govern this accumulation is folly. Anyone attempting to play the capitalist game within a framework of such rules will lose to the competition that does whatever it takes to win.

It becomes a Monopoly game for a handful. Remember, there are only so many tokens in the game of Monopoly. The poor and the working class remain on the floor to fight for the occasional crumbs that fall from the capitalist table.

Talk of reforming corruption and punishing greed might make us feel good, but it will accomplish nothing of substance. Greed and corruption are part of Capitalism’s DNA. Greed and corruption are required to survive at the capitalist level. It’s part of the system.

While I love the metaphor of the 99%, we must realize that there is a 10–20% professional/managerial class that benefits disproportionately from capitalism. While not capitalist themselves, many, perhaps most, will be interested in continuing the status quo and their privileged status.

My own education over the last several years has led me and others to a distilled list that contains the whole.

  1. Create an Environmentally Sustainable World
  2. Social & Economic Justice for All
  3. Bottom Up Participatory Democracy, Instead of Cram Down Corporate Democracy
  4. End U.S. Imperialism and Wars

All four areas must be addressed and pursued concurrently. They are interdependent. We can’t change one, without changing all.

Members of my generation are so delighted that our younger generation has stepped forward in this movement. I know that you like to say there are no leaders and I greatly appreciate the remarkable accomplishment of participatory democracy in your General Assemblies, but we all know that leaders emerge. This is not a bad thing and I have the utmost respect for the leadership within your groups that has brought the nation to the point of awakening.

The revolution is live. It will not be televised.

Nick Egnatz of Munster, Indiana, is a Vietnam veteran and member of Veterans For Peace. He has been actively protesting our government’s crimes of empire in both person and print for some years now and was named “Citizen of the Year” for Northwest Indiana in 2006 by the National Association of Social Workers for his peace activism. Contact Nick at

One Response to An open letter to the Occupations

  1. Just had a spirited discussion with 20 others in our local People’s Movement Assembly. I would like to make an addition to what is listed as demand #2, should now read.
    2. Racial Justice, Social Justice, Economic Justice for All