Then came the evictions.
There is a traditional terms of alliance between liberals and radicals in American social movements: through civil disobedience and direct action, the radicals create a fire on the liberals' left that makes them seem relevant as a moderate alternative; the liberals keep us out of jail. In this case, the liberals spectacularly failed.
Over the winter, rather than making an issue of the extraordinary illegal violence of the evictions, they chose, instead, to create an almost histrionic moral crisis over a few broken windows in Oakland months before. But when OWS re-emerged in the spring, the abandonment of the liberals, the drying-up of the money, have become an almost miraculous blessing. Activists have honed and polished their street tactics and democratic process. New alliances have been created, with community groups, immigrant rights organizations, and, increasingly, labor unions.
One reason OWS agreed to forgo mass civil disobedience in New York on 1 May was to solidify those alliances. Instead, occupiers working within the coalition pushed -- with the boisterous support of many rank and file, despite the initial hesitation of some union leadership -- for a joint solidarity statement that called not just for the usual battle against austerity, but to the revolutionary transformation of society:
"For centuries, May Day has been a time when the stirrings of spring lead people of good will towards visions of revolutionary renewal. The powerful wish to take these dreams away from us. They never will. And so it is on this May Day, in the wake of a growing planetary uprising for justice, we dare to look forward to a world when the borders that divide us will be made meaningless, to the birth of genuinely democratic culture of communities managing their own resources for the common good, and where the value and dignity of no human being on this planet is considered inferior to any other."- Advertisement -
For representatives of New York's Health and Transit Workers, not to mention its Central Labor Council, to sign on to such a statement is epochal. America is one of the few countries where May Day, the International Workers' Day, is not even a holiday -- ironically enough, considering the fact the date was chosen to commemorate events that occurred in Chicago, during the struggle for the 8-hour day in 1886. During the cold war, the idea of unions signing on to a statement like this would have been inconceivable: in the 1960s, unionized workers were known physically attack Wall Street protestors in the name of patriotic anti-communism. But the collapse of state socialism has made new alliances possible, and, in making common cause with occupiers, and the immigrant groups that first turned May Day into a national day of action in 2006, working-class organizations are also beginning to return to their roots--up to and including, the ideas and visions of the Haymarket martyrs themselves.
The words might be diplomatically chosen, but there's no mistaking what tradition is being invoked here. In endorsing a vision of universal equality, of the dissolution of national borders, and democratic self-governing communities, nurses, bus drivers, and construction workers at the heart of America's greatest capitalist metropolis are signing on to the vision, if not the tactics, of revolutionary anarchism.