With the notable exception of Oakland, CA, the Occupy Wall Street movement has mainly gone underground — or least indoors — for the winter. But the movement is gearing up for a major three day series of demonstrations in Washington D.C. in April, dubbed Occupy Spring.
Famed consumer advocate and populist leader Ralph Nader says the movement is on the right track by focusing on Congress. "They should say to Congress, 'you're not delivering, except to big business and you better start delivering'," Nader says.
Contrary to popular opinion, Nader says the movement does have a clear, unifying message: "We have to overcome corporatism," he says. "They basically want a responsive government, accountable corporations and an opportunity for them to have a say. They know if they don't have a say, they're going to pay."
By "corporatism," Nader refers to corporate power over government, consumers and workers, which Franklin Delano Roosevelt warned could lead to fascism.
"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself," FDR declared in an address to Congress in 1938. "That, in its essence, is fascism --ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power."
Not coincidentally, these are the themes of Nader's latest book Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism, which he says can be a playbook of sorts for the Occupy movement.
While "stopping fascism" might be too philosophical for some, Nader says the movement should "start filling in the blanks" on its policy priorities. His recommendations: put pressure on Congress to raise the minimum wage and put more resources behind prosecution of corporate crimes. (See: Ralph Nader's Game Plan for Democrats to Beat "Crazed, Venal" GOP)
While clearly sympathetic, Nader is not officially involved in the movement. He has met with some of its representatives, who he dubs "very smart" for avoiding the so-called identity politics of the 1960s and 1970s.
"They're moving forward with the great slogan 'the 99%' and are not having infighting over who gets priorities," Nader observes.
Stay tuned for Stage 2 of the Occupy movement this Spring.
For more See: 2011 Reflections: Occupy Wall Street