My previous article, called “Occupy Tulsa and the Contradiction of Left and Right”, contained a blatant factual error concerning the workings of magnetism. My mistake. Opposite poles attract — rather than repel — one another. The principle of the dialectical unity of opposites still holds, however. The antagonism between two repellant magnets resolves itself into the higher form of the spinning motion behind the electric motor. Libertarians and Marxists — opposites in every way — both agree that political economy holds the key to comprehending and transforming society, but the mutual repulsion between the two class positions represented, respectively, by libertarians and Marxists leads to the type of spinning motion that we see right now among the activists of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Too bad Selecting Stones doesn’t have a fact-checking staff, like the mainstream media does. Oh well. Maybe I got a few of the details wrong, maybe I didn’t. I don’t really care. It should have been blatantly obvious that I was never trying for “impartiality” in the first place. (By the way, impartiality doesn’t actually exist in the real world.) That’s not to say that I intended to skew any facts. Rather, I simply wanted to emphasize one clear and incontestable fact above all the others: that Occupy Tulsa divided into a Left-wing faction and a Right-wing faction. I argued, therefore, that Occupy Tulsa acts as the perfect microcosm of the “anti-establishment” community of “activists” in the Occupy movement in particular, the United States in general, and, perhaps, of the whole world.
In response to my article, the Right-wing engaged in a divisive argument, seemingly in order to say that divisive arguments are unproductive. Perhaps this little contradiction sheds light on the greater contradiction lived out every day by the vested property-owning classes within a self-destructive capitalist society. It makes about as much sense as it does to wage a war of personal, ad hominem attacks in order to demonstrate how petty personal, ad hominem attacks are. The personal attack is also, of course, the classic, tried and true, tactic of the man (or woman, as it may be) with nothing to say. Just because you use words doesn’t mean that you’re saying anything. Anyone who has ever tried to talk to a staunch libertarian will know exactly what I mean.
What I should have emphasized more strongly in my article is that Occupy Tulsa is not really the issue. Rather, Occupy Tulsa represents the perfect demonstration of an issue much larger than Occupy Tulsa itself. The real issue at hand is the fundamental contradiction between Left and Right, and — much more importantly — the unfortunate tendency in the United States of America to misrepresent the nature of that contradiction, or to simply blur it over with slogans and platitudes so vague and abstract that they have no meaning at all. There is a Left. There is a Right. They are not compatible with one another. The reason that they are not compatible is because they represent different class positions. Movements like Occupy, however, can oftentimes veil this basic reality. The events that have transpired in Tulsa have helped to lift this veil, specifically for Oklahoma, and also in general terms. (And, just so there is absolutely no confusion, when we say “Left”, we are definitely not talking about the Democrats.)
It makes no sense for Marxists to attempt to “win over” right-wing anarchists and libertarians. (And vice-versa.) Marxists have no need to convince the right-wing of the validity of their position. That would be like trying to convince the business owner to become his own minimum wage employee. Of course, the libertarians themselves will stand shocked at the suggestion that, no, the Marxists are not trying to convince them. Much like liberals and conservatives, libertarians think that all the contradictions of social relations could ultimately be resolved if only everyone could talk it out. If only we had more understanding and mutual-respect for one another, then the antagonisms would magically disappear. Admittedly, that sounds nice. But, unfortunately, that’s not how the real world works.
A plantation owner can sit there and flatter his slave all day long, but at the end of the day, the master is still the master and the slave is still the slave. That is, unless the slave does something about it. (Read up on the life of Frederick Douglass, or the history of Haiti.) Today, slavery is gone. But, unfortunately, minimum wage work — if you can even get it — retains many of the same characteristics. Just ask the guy at Burger King.
The bottom line is that libertarians have no interest in the working class, except, perhaps, for lowering workers’ real wages even further. But that’s okay: This is not a moral indictment against them. Morality plays no role in the antagonistic struggle between different classes. As expected, business owners will look out for their own interests. The task of the working class, then, is to look out for its own interests. It’s simple, really.
Perhaps the main reason why the Occupy movement could never get off the ground is that it continued to see things in the moralistic world-view so characteristic of the upper-middle-class small business owner. Hence, it could never distinguish itself from the moralistic game of the Democratic and Republican parties, which pretends all day long that classes do not exist. By splitting into antagonistic camps in a way that directly mirrors the objective conflict of interests between employers and employees, at least Occupy Tulsa succeeded in temporarily lifting that moralistic mask which so cripples the political landscape in America. I still stand behind what Phil Ingram and I wrote last November, when we said that Occupy Tulsa was several steps ahead of the occupations going on in New York and DC. Now, however, I say this for a very different reason.