On a balmy autumn afternoon, a stroll along lower Manhattan to Liberty Plaza, or another American city or even in squares and plazas around the world, is likely to take you to an encampment of mostly-young, mostly cheerful, determined citizens who've come together for the long haul to challenge and oppose a list of anti-social deeds, from government support of venal businessmen to excessive CO2 emissions. Under the banner of "Occupy Wall Street," a local-turned-global protest movement strives to bring your attention to injustice.
The panoply of complaints, seen by some observers as a childish litany, is cited by others as an important renovation: Cornel West, a fiery academic activist who advised President Obama’s 2008 campaign, says, "It’s impossible to translate the issue of the greed of Wall Street into one demand, or two demands. We’re talking about a democratic awakening."
The visible protest is by and large a data point on a historic timeline of young people confronting a tired old regime; in that sense, it's a periodic renaissance, the refreshment that society needs to move from one epoch to another.
In the present instance, however, there's an undercurrent moving in the opposite direction, a careful manipulation of participants by a deeply non-democratic band. Behind the current Occupy Wall Street protests is a "red army" of radicals seeking no less than to provoke a new, definitive economic crisis, with their goal being the full collapse of the U.S. financial system, with the ensuing chaos to be rebuilt into a utopian socialist vision.
The angry millennials pressing toward economic cataclysm are seasoned organizers of mass chaos aimed at provoking transformation.
To dismiss these rabble-rousers as mere nuisance would be a gross underestimation not only of their Saul Alinsky-style direct action and community organizing capabilities, but of the ideological alliance between these street activists and the far more patient radicals who have infiltrated Congress, shaped Barack Obama's presidential agenda, and now in fact threaten the future of our country. (For those of you not familiar with Alinsky, he is considered the father of modern community organizing.)
Unlike the street agitators, this radical network – which I've spent the last four years investigating and have published two books documenting the research – excels in the creation of innocuous-sounding front groups, including political caucuses and think tanks, which deceptively promote their radical policies in the guise of moderation and in the rhetoric of modest-sounding social ideals.
Scores of progressive politicians, from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to President Obama himself, have expressed support for the Occupy Wall Street movement, treating the protest movement as though it spontaneously represents popular opposition to a corrupt economic system, when a main motivating force is the rush to national failure by seasoned radicals.
Just as the behind-the-scenes activists use deceptive rhetoric to mask their true intent, the ties between some of our top political leaders and the organizers behind this movement have generally been concealed.
My own research has identified the overtly anti-capitalist Service Employees International Union organizer Stephen Lerner as a main instigator of the economic protest templates being used by the Occupy Wall Street campaign. Writing in the Washington Post last Tuesday, the columnist Harold Meyerson, long-time vice-chair of Democratic Socialists of America, quoted Lerner thus on the Wall Street agitation: "It's a confluence of planned and unplanned demonstrations … We build on each other. We go ping-ponging back and forth."
Lerner’s use of the word “we,” describing himself as part of that coalition, is revealing. The unrest first began in its current inception on Sept. 17 – not coincidentally the date the U.S. Constitution was signed - with a protest called the "Day of Rage." Planners used their own website – USDayofRage.org – which is now a sister site for the Occupy Wall Street initiative.
Last March, ACORN founder Wade Rathke announced what he called "days of rage in 10 cities around JP Morgan Chase." Rathke was president of an SEIU local in New Orleans.
The Sept. 17 protest was by all accounts the culmination of Rathke's efforts. Those efforts were implemented by Lerner, an SEIU board member, who reportedly has visited the Obama White House at least four times. The SEIU’s former president, Andy Stern, was the White House's most frequent visitor in 2009.
Lerner is considered one of the most capable of the Alinsky organizers in the progressive movement. In September 1995, he organized the SEIU's highly successful Justice for Janitors direct action protest campaign, which used many of the same tactics now being utilized to assault Wall Street.
As part of his recently-implemented JP Morgan Chase protests, Lerner called for "a week of civil disobedience, direct action all over” in various major cities. His protest’s stated aim was to "destabilize the folks that are in power and start to rebuild a movement." In an interview about those protests, Lerner outlined his goals: "How do we bring down the stock market? How do we bring down their bonuses? How do we interfere with their ability to, to be rich?"
Lerner came under fire in the conservative blogosphere and digital news in March after he issued a call for a mass strike by mortgage payers that, he boasted, was meant to cause a new financial crisis.
In the lead-up to last month’s Wall Street protest launch, Lerner addressed a “Summit for a Fair Economy” convention in which he tellingly touted his previous successes in leading the blockage of Washington’s Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge during his Janitors assault.
Earlier this month, the Occupy Wall Street agitators followed Lerner’s lead and shut down the Brooklyn Bridge.
The SEIU and other unions have been essential to the recent unrest, most notably in sending armies of supporters to the protests that rocked Wisconsin this past February. Those Wisconsin protests appear to have been a test-run for the larger anti-Wall Street escalation we are now witnessing.
Though largely unreported at the time, the Wisconsin protests were replete with ties to the White House. One of the main organizers of the Wisconsin protests, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, is part of the Moving Wisconsin Forward movement. Citizen Action is also an arm of the long-established, Alinsky-style community organizing outfit the Midwest Academy.
President Obama himself once helped fund the Midwest Academy. In 1999, the Midwest Academy received $75,000 from a philanthropic foundation called the Woods Fund, where then-community-organizer Barack Obama served on the board as a paid director along with the unrepentant Pentagon bomber Bill Ayers. In 2002, with Obama and Ayers still serving on the Woods Fund, Midwest received another $23,500 for its Young Organizers Development Program.
Lest we believe these connections were only limited to Obama’s Chicago community organizing days, Jackie Kendall, the Woods Fund’s executive director, was on the team that developed and delivered the first training of volunteers at Camp Obama, a two-to-four day intensive course run in conjunction with Obama's 2008 presidential campaign aimed at training volunteers to help Obama win the White House.
Regardless of these connections, the disreputable cast of characters behind the Occupy Wall Street movement and a network of other planned agitations are allied with a larger radical progressive network that works from within the system; this network openly and enthusiastically strives to transform the United States into a socialist enterprise.
Indeed, as a matter of strategy, some radicals utilize direct action assaults such as the Wall Street protest movement, while others try to bore from within the American system; they share the same transformative goals.
Even before the candidacy of Obama – whose entire political career had been spent under the tutelage of “progressives,” including some of its leading figures – this radical network had already succeeded over the decades in infiltrating major institutions of American power. Along the way, progressives hijacked an entire spectrum of important social causes, from feminism and race relations through environmental and antiwar activism, each of which became subordinated to an agenda having very little to do with the actual cause at hand and everything to do with the underlying agenda of the radical reconstruction of our society.
This red army has taken over not merely the largest worker unions, but also the mainstream of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Socialists of America, for example, has deeply penetrated the United States Congress, forming one of the most powerful caucuses on Capitol Hill, the Congressional Progressives.
Like a conventional army, I have found the progressive red army is an organized network consisting of numerous branches and divisions, deploying the appropriate battalion for the specific goal or battle at hand. The reader may blanch at the whiff of conspiracy, which – as it applies to conspiracy to commit a crime - is a grave offense in the U.S. legal system. Yet the “red army” of which I write uses mostly legal means to pursue its radical agenda. In fact, the largest part of its nefarious genius lies precisely in its employment of legal and quasi-legal stratagems to “fundamentally transform,” and even overthrow, the American system.
Many of these activists are openly hate America, or at least the American capitalist system, including its basic document and compact, the Constitution of the United States. Many others, to be fair, genuinely love this country while believing that socialism would pave the road to a better society. Still others are merely along for the ride, and pursue personal power and profit in the service of a new order; in this matter, it's often impossible to distinguish where true conspiracy ends and mere corruption begins. But these, in the final analysis, are distinctions without a difference.
Aaron Klein hosts "Aaron Klein Investigative Radio" on WABC Radio and is senior reporter for WorldNetDaily.com. His new book, "Red Army: The Radical Network That Must Be Defeated to Save America" (HarperCollins) debuts today.