Commentary on the First Statement of the Occupy Wall Street Movement

This statement was released after a unanimous vote of Occupy Wall Street’s general assembly:

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
Wall Street and the corporatocracy are behind America's rampant militarismWall Street and the corporatocracy are behind America's rampant militarism

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!


While this is a powerful list of grievances against capitalism, it fails to even once mention the word “war.” This is a significant failing, and cannot have been an oversight. The activists in Liberty Park and in cities across the country, if they want to make this a mass movement to confront the corporate domination of American politics and society, must be willing to confront head on the reality that the corporate elite have made the U.S. into the world’s greatest war-monger. It is not just “colonialism,” an outmoded term, that is the problem. It is a vast web of imperialism, imposed by a war machine that is bigger and costlier than all the rest of the world’s armies combined, and it is the single biggest reason that this country is descending into a state of social and economic decay and decline.

How can we ignore that this country is currently involved in at least six wars abroad, spends over $1 trillion a year on war and preparation for war, has military bases and outposts in 1000 spots outside the US, and is killing hundreds of thousands of people annually? How can we ignore that the culture of war has lead to the militarization of our nation’s police, led to the common, yet once illegal sight, of armed soldiers patrolling our cities’ streets, and led to the creation of a “North American Command” that actively contemplates military actions against US citizens within the nation’s borders?

The statement also, incredibly, fails to even mention the term “climate change,” a disastrous process threatening life on the planet, which is the direct fault of capitalism, with its rapacious demand for ever more “growth” through the creation of artificial needs and consumer “demand,” and with its corrupt manipulation of the political and regulatory system to prevent any serious efforts to slow or put an end to the suicidal production of greenhouse gasses.

Also unfortunate is the failure to condemn corporate profiteering off of a penal system that now incarcerates over 2.3 million people–all poor and mostly non-white males–more than any other nation in the world, and that kills many of them, most recently the probably innocent Troy Davis, effectively establishing a new kind of slavery, complete with lynching.

The just-released statement by the heroic activists on Wall Streeet is a good start, and obviously working on the basis of a democratic policy of consensus it is hard to get these things right the first time, but these are shortcomings that must be addressed by Occupy Wall Street sooner or later if it is to seriously challenge corporate power and become a mass movement for radical change in America.

Hopefully sooner.