Should Occupiers be concerned that the Nazi Party has given official “support” to the Occupy Movement? Or be worried that other far-right groups — including sections of the Tea Party — are "pro occupy?” Absolutely. These groups have no place in an anti-corporate, pro-worker movement. The Occupy Movement's greatest strength — its broad appeal — can quickly become an exploitable weakness, and the far right smells blood.
Luckily, expelling the right wing isn't so difficult once you understand their motives and strategy. Right-wing populism's greatest strength is also the vague nature of their demands, which intend to connect with broad sections of the population. However, their demands are vague not because they are a fledgling movement — like Occupy — but because they strategically try to conceal their radically right-wing goals.
For example, right-wing populists put forth demands that are intentionally not class based; in a society torn by class-based inequality, their demands aim to shield this fact. Thus, some popular far-right demands include: End the Fed, End Free Trade, End Globalization, Immigration Reform, and anti Government rhetoric (especially if the Democrats are in power).
A cursory glance at these demands would lead many to believe that they're coming from a left-wing group — an expression of the far-right's populism. But these demands are used by the far right because there are many corporations and wealthy people who agree with them and even fund them. For example, many companies favor protectionism over free trade, and thus despise "globalization.” There are also corporations who think the anti-democratic Federal Reserve is far too democratic.
More importantly, these populist demands hide the class divides of our society and thus shield the corporate elite from being targeted, preventing real social change. Vague populist demands tend to distract from the real corporate rulers of our society and direct mass anger towards immigrants, minorities, labor unions and single institutions like the Federal Reserve, etc. The far right also makes the occasional anti-Wall Street or anti-capitalist statement, while immediately linking the two with "Zionist bankers,” using populist bait to make an anti-Semitic switch.
The right wing resorts to such trickery because otherwise they would have zero popular support. The Republican Party has evolved to appear overly religious and overly anti-immigrant to hide the fact they are so utterly pro-corporation. But the Republican Party cannot maintain mass support in a country that is becoming less racist, less homophobic, and more against corporate domination. The far right, however, knows that religion and immigration are not enough to woo the masses in times of economic crisis; they hide their pro-corporate ideology behind a fog of populism.
Hitler was a successful right-wing populist and used the above formula to perfection. He called himself a "national socialist" — even though he was a pro-corporate fascist — because the majority of working-class Germans were socialists of one kind or another at the time. He also used anti-banker rhetoric to gain popularity while reinforcing his anti Jewish and anti minority agenda. He was so successful that, after the Nazis gained government power, they gained support among some working class sectors. The leaders of this Nazi pseudo anti-corporate faction were then assassinated in Hitler's infamous Night of Long Knives, so that an unchallenged pro-corporate agenda could be pursued. Hitler outlawed labor unions and the large Socialist and Communist Parties to free the profit constraints of his corporate bosses.
The modern far-right's populist demands can be discredited by the Occupy Movement with one stroke; if we make class-specific demands that clearly benefit working people at the expense of the wealthy and the big corporations, the right wing will be disarmed. For example, instead of simply being anti Wall Street, the Occupy Movement should demand that the wealthiest 1% be taxed at 90%, as they were under Republican President Eisenhower, who dared not challenge the powerful labor/social movement at the time.
The Occupy Movement could also demand that corporate taxes and the inheritance tax be raised significantly. Using this tax money to implement a massive federal jobs program — along the lines of President Roosevelt’s public works projects — would leave the right wing speechless. Finally, war spending should be slashed and defense contractors should be compelled to produce items for the much-needed nationwide infrastructure repair and overhaul.
The far-right's propaganda would crumble with such demands, while the Occupy Movement would grow, since wider layers of the working class would see a movement that they could not only relate to, but that offers real solutions to their most pressing problems. Working people who have been fooled by the Tea Party would be won over to our cause while their leaders would discover themselves without followers. The same is also true of Democratic Party politicians looking to hijack the Occupy Movement; serious working-class based demands would repel the Democrats as much as the far right, since, at bottom, they both serve basically the same corporate bosses with the same profit motives.
Ultimately, the political spectrum of Left versus Right reflects a real-life class divide in our society; the Right being the purest form of pro-corporate politics while the Left represents the interests of those who suffer under the exploitation of these corporations and the wealthy who own them. Placing the Occupy Movement firmly on the Left with working class-specific demands will strengthen the movement while expelling fake populist intruders who would love to derail this movement.
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org).