The Workers World Party Says Occupy Philly is 30 Years in the Making
It’s a party down at City Hall and everyone’s invited—especially if you’ve still got grievances with the bankers who started the Great Recession in the first place. And like most parties, while there may be a uniting factor, everyone’s got their own reasons for joining. Which is probably why the right wing media’s been saying (hoping?) these “Occupy” protests appear a bit unorganized.
But one group that isn’t unorganized is the Workers World Party, a socialist party in the United States dedicated to workers’ and revolutionary causes, with a local Philadelphia Chapter. In fact, this is the moment they’ve been waiting for. We caught up with local Workers World organizer Joe Piette, who’s currently at Occupy Philly, to find out his reasons for heading down there, and why he thinks these now-national protests have grown so tremendously over the past weeks.
So, why are you protesting at City Hall today?
Because these are people willing to fight back against the powers that are plaguing this economy. A lot of these are young adults that have graduated college or are in college and they can’t find jobs. The promise was that if you go to school and graduate, you can get a job and have a good life. But for the last 30 years, the U.S. has been exporting jobs overseas, eliminating union jobs here and most young people can only get part time jobs. A lot of them work two or three part-time jobs without benefits. That’s not what they went to college for.
So, you think this is a movement 30 years in the making?
Yes. Capitalism wants to go around the world for the lowest wages possible and now it’s the same here. Wages are dropping, so it’s a reflection of where capitalism is going. You know, Marx talks about it. He said the problem with capitalism is that it keeps going for the lowest wages possible, that eventually it creates a society that there’s not enough workers to buy the products they’re producing. So, now we’re stuck in a world where the factories are super-efficient, but there are very few workers relatively to make the huge number of products, and no one can buy the product since everyone’s making very low wages. The investors are sitting on billions of dollars of cash and they don’t want to invest in making more products. If no one’s buying their products, they’re not going to make them.
So that’s where we’re at. High unemployment; 30 million people are unemployed or underemployed in the U.S. It’s been like that for two years, and even the economists and the politicians are saying that’s not going to change for another year or two, they’re hoping. So, what are all these unemployed people supposed to do? And the right wing wants to cut benefits even more.
Why do you think the protests took this long to organize? Why not right after the 2008 meltdown and bailouts?
I think people saw themselves unemployed. They thought maybe they didn’t take enough college courses, or take the right ones, or pass high school. But either way, it took them a while to realize they weren’t alone, that this is happening to millions of people. So it’s not a personal failing that they can’t find a job. It’s a more general situation than just a personal failing. A lot of people lose a lot of confidence and they think, ‘What’s wrong with me? I can’t find a job.’ So, I think it’s just taken a while to realize ‘There are a lot of people out there like me. Maybe if we start acting together we can actually start making some demands and make some change.’
How long do you plan to stick around City Hall?
As long as it takes. It’s been three weeks in New York and it doesn’t look like it’s ending any time soon. It’s growing every day. Yesterday there were 20,000. Unions are joining it, it’s become much more mainstream. When we marched over here from Rittenhouse Square, lots of people gave us a thumbs up and said ‘We’re with you, after work we’re going to join you.’ I’ve been to a lot of protests and the people on the street were very supportive of this today. Much more than in the past.