Although the 99% can find commonality in our relationship to
the tiny 1% of billionaires who own everything, the 99% come from diverse
backgrounds—different nationalities, genders and sexual orientations. There are
also different ideological strains within the 99%, some of which directly
oppose one another.
While most in the movement want to see a better, more just
and equal United States
and world, a small but vocal minority have a narrower agenda that appears to
use broad, anti-government rhetoric, but is rooted in racism, bigotry and an
undying allegiance to capitalism.
People in the latter category are generally supporters of
U.S. Congressman Ron Paul. Paul represents the Republican Party in Congress,
but is associated with the libertarian ideology. Many identify as libertarians
who are drawn to its emphasis on individual rights and expression; but the
libertarian movement itself is racist, right-wing and for the elimination of
vital social services and protections for working people.
By railing against “big government,” libertarians are able
to capitalize on a mistaken tendency to view the abuses of the capitalist state
as simply examples of overreaching authority rather than a concerted assault on
the working class by the capitalists. On certain issues, like the Patriot Act,
the war on drugs, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ron Paul can even seem
progressive. But his worldview is not. Libertarianism represents a dead end for
workers and poor people.
Can there be unity
with the right wing?
The Occupy movement has succeeded in highlighting the class
lines that exist between the rich and the growing number of poor. But
elucidating what kind of society we seek to achieve is a question of central
importance. On what basis can we build unity and with whom? Can workers and
unemployed people unite with those who also must sell their labor to live, but
who hold extreme right-wing views?
Unity comes through participating in the class struggle, and
by developing and working to achieve common political goals. By protesting,
organizing, occupying and fighting back against the system, we can unite with
all sectors of the working class who are oppressed by the capitalist system.
Our basis of unity is hatred of the bankrupt system. But building a united
movement can only come if we politically stand on the same side of the class
divide. When it comes to Ron Paul and right-wing libertarian ideology, we don’t.
Paul and libertarians are not for redistributing Wall
Street’s wealth to benefit working and poor people. They are opposed to
creating jobs with a living wage, universal health care, public education, and
making affordable housing a right. They are opposed to any social program aimed
at alleviating the suffering of the masses of people.
Ron Paul strongly opposes anything that puts the brakes on
the capitalists’ ability to make profits. He would like to see labor unions
destroyed. He is against a federal minimum wage.
Paul wants the current tax system to be reformed, but only
so that it favors the super rich even more. He supports wide-ranging
privatizations, wanting to hand over everything from Social Security to the
post office to capitalists who would drive up prices and exploit workers even
more to maximize profit. All of this is framed by the bogus argument of needing
But Paul seeks to retain capitalism for the benefit of
business owners and at the expense of the poor. No matter what the pro-Paul
rhetoric claims, libertarians like Paul want to retain the system that keeps
Wall Street greed alive.
Bigotry in the name
of private ownership
Racism and bigotry are also key components of Ron Paul’s
politics. In an official newsletter Paul has made a slew of racist comments
on-record. One of them being “I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of
the [Black] males in that city [Washington,
D.C.] are semi-criminal or
entirely criminal.” The newsletter also called the national holiday celebrating
Martin Luther King Jr. an “outrage.”
Paul has gone on record in opposition to the 1964 Civil
Rights Act, which prohibits businesses from discriminating on the basis of
race. For Ron Paul, business owners’ property rights trump equal rights for the
Paul has also espoused anti-immigrant beliefs, sponsored
sexist, anti-choice legislation, and made derisive comments targeting LGBT
people. Apparently, his brand of “individualism” has no room for the people
most oppressed by capitalism—people of color, immigrants, women and the LGBT
community. Yet it is these very sectors that must be at the forefront of any
people’s struggle to change society for the better.
For this movement to move forward, we must be clear: There
is no room for right-wing ideologies in the struggle against Wall Street. Those
views reinforce the status quo and serves the interests of Wall Street.
The choice facing the working class is not between more or
less government. The real question is which class the government serves.
Working and poor people should reject the backward ideology of libertarianism
and fight for a people’s government committed to building a more just and equal