How does the Occupy Wall Street movement fit in with the anti-war movement? Important OWS documents, such as the Declaration of Occupation of New York City from the Occupy Wall Street movement state that war is one of the means by which the government redistributes wealth to the richest 1%. Outside writers have coined terms like the .1% for the wealthiest of the arms merchants -- i.e., they're the creme de la creme of the 1%. Recent occupy movement events indicate further awareness of the costs of war, paid for by the 99%. And the anti-war movement has embraced the popularity of the #occupy movement, picking up tactics and terms, and even merging with them in at least one important location. What exactly is the overlap in interests between these two movements?
A coalition of anti-war groups called october2011.org launched a "Stop the Machine" movement to create a large extended rally against the Afghan war and for cuts in war spending in Washington D.C. When their Freedom Plaza permit expired, they stayed. They joined forces with Occupy Washington D.C., remain in place and have even published their own deficit proposal recently, in accordance with the large amount of press coverage of the super committee talks. One of the important parts of that proposal was "cutting military spending to only what the U.S. needs to defend itself." The October 2011 group and Occupy D.C. are clearly the most visible collaboration between anti-war and anti-wall-street groups.
The cooperative effort of those two groups underline the overlap in goals. One group wishes to reduce the choke hold that the Military Industrial Congressional complex has over a large portion of our economy, and the other wishes to reduce the influence that the financial sector and wealthiest 1% have upon our economy. Members of the 1% and the MIC overlap.
On another level, the two groups share a deeper drive. OWS is a movement about accountability, for all. Those that broke the system should pay to restore it. The anti-war movement has also called for accountability. That call is usually a citation to the Hague war crimes tribunal.
The OWS movement concern for anti-war issues is clear in many of its most important documents. The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City states as one of its grievances: "They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts." OWS recognizes that military funding enriches at least one portion of the 1%.
The 99% Declaration, a spin-off of OWS still in its early stages is even clearer in section 12 (entitled "Ending of Perpetual War for Profit") of its draft document: "Recalling all military personnel at all non-essential bases and refocusing national defense goals to address threats posed by the geopolitics of the 21st century, including terrorism and limiting the large scale deployment of military forces to instances where Congressional approval has been granted to counter the Military Industrial Complex's goal of perpetual war for profit. The annual estimated savings of one trillion dollars per year by updating our military posture will be applied to the social programs outlined herein to improve the quality of life for human beings rather than assisting corporations make ever increasing profits distributed to the top 1% of wealth owners."
Outside analysts have made the connection between the 1% and the MIC even more clear. An widely distributed article with accompanying presentation entitled "Meet the 0.01 Percent" directly compares the CEOs' salaries of our largest arms merchants to those of our largest financial institutions. They are of the same class, indeed.
Recently, many local (non-New York) occupations have held events and teach-ins to highlight military spending's influence upon our current economic situation. Some events may have had tie-ins to Veterans' Day, but we can still count these as part of an awakening and bridge building between these two movements. Here are some events that took place just within the last week:
- Atlanta: a march to Bank of America where Occupy Atlanta attempted to symbolically foreclose on the bank and gathered veterans attempted to foreclose on the war.
- Oakland: Iraq Veterans Against the War are taking a prominent part--as well as taking casualties.
- Sacramento: Sacramento area veterans, including many appearing in uniform or military garb with ribbons and medals, spoke out against wars that they said only benefit the 1 percent during a news conference held by Occupy Sacramento at Cesar Chavez Park on Veterans Day, 2011
We should also cite the Washington D.C. group again. They are working on a draft declaration, said to be 95% complete, which includes the following statement: "The U.S. government engages in drawn-out, costly conflicts abroad. These operations are often pursued to control resources, needlessly overthrow foreign governments, and install friendly regimes. These wars destroy the lives of American soldiers and innocent civilians and are a blank check to divert money from domestic priorities."
And let us not forget this particular, though anonymous, sign from New York:
"This is the second time I've fought for my country, but the first time I've known my enemy." - War Veteran at OccupyWallStreet. by Journal of a Journalist
So what's the potential?
Firstly, the 99% Declaration: an anti-war platform will most certainly be part of any political agenda if and when OWS/99% Declaration Group adopts one. If that particular sub group can carry its plans out, that would mean a massive new political force, possibly even a political party, NOT dependent on military and finance sector financing. It's not difficult to forecast a near term continuation of the cooperation between Occupy Wall Street and the anti-war movement.
Growth of OWS as a political force may be seen by others as a long shot. But U.S. history has seen in the past that a new party can emerge during times of social dislocation, and eclipse an older party, as the Republican party of Lincoln did. Or a movement can cause great changes to an existing party, as the labor movement did to the Democratic party during the Great Depression. It may take time; the OWS movement expects it to take time. The question is, do we have enough time?
The anti-war movement is small at the current time. A larger movement existed during the administration of GW Bush. Many anti-war activists marched before 2009, but then silenced themselves out of loyalty to a Democratic President. Under what circumstances would they march again? That may depend on whether they can get over their "lesser-evilism" and remember how strongly they felt about foreign wars during the GW Bush presidency.