I went to #OccupyBristol last Saturday for a workshop on the "Crisis of Capitalism".
There were about 12 people there, and it was led by a guy I think by the name of Eric, leading a group of 4-5 allies, (they were not occupiers per se) who gave a textbook old-school Communist analysis: Capitalism is totally evil, and must be replaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Three or four of us put forward the view that the word "capitalism" needs to be defined, and that we are against crony-capitalism, greed capitalism, and free market fundamentalism. We are not against the liberty of an individual to use his or her own money to meet a genuine need in society, and to take a fair and reasonable profit from success. For instance, we are not against the freedom of individuals to use their redundancy money to set up a business in providing insulation for domestic property.
This was all overridden by the insistence that Capitalism itself is totally wrong and must be overthrown, by violence if necessary.
This black/white, right/wrong analysis is exactly what we find in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, which looks at the belief systems that underpin individual psychological dysfunction. People who carry these absolute distinctions end up with trouble relating to reality, because much of their psychic energy is taken up in reacting to perceived absolutes, either trying to live up to impossible standards, or in reacting to perceived absolutes found in every aspect of the established economic order.
Absolutism negates any single practical reform, or set of economic reforms. There are no policy changes to be requested; only a complete replacement of the whole system from top to bottom, and replacement by the dictatorship of the proletariat, will suffice.
It emerged that Eric approved of Stalin, Gaddafi, Bashar al-Assad of Syria and AhmediNajad of Iran.
Four bloodstained dictators.
It is very clear that the entire global #Ocupy movement is against dictatorship. We may in the UK have one of the weakest forms of democracy going, where participation is limited to the use of an inefficient and unrepresentative FPTP electoral system every four years, to elect a government that will be substantially in thrall to the trans-national corporations. But even this defective system is better than outright political dictatorship, because it gives us the power to turn out one set of individuals every four years, even though it means replacing them with another set of individuals with substantially the same policies. The advantage is that if an individual or party is in power for too long, power goes to the head, distorting thinking, abolishing humility and care for anything other than the interests of the ruling party.
I know that the workshop was non-representative of the #Occupy movement as a whole, but it does show the problem posed by the designation by the media of Occupy an anti-capitalist movement, rather than an anti-inequality movement.
If we are to own the label "anti-capitalist", the term needs to be rigorously defined as free-market capitalism, neo-liberal or neo-conservative capitalism. We are not against individual freedom to trade and create work that benefits society and environment.
In particular, I think there is a need now for the influential eco-socialist group within the Green Party to build a clear firewall between their position and the position outlined above by Eric, by insisting that they are against all dictatorships, even dictatorships that may have taken up a position antagonistic to Western Mega-Capitalism.