Last night, capping a day of student rallies at UC Berkeley against state cuts to education, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich gave the annual Mario Savio Memorial Lecture on the steps of Sproul Hall.

As reported in The Daily Cal, protest organizers had asked the Mario Savio Memorial Lecture and Young Activist Award Board of Directors move the lecture from the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building to the Sproul steps.

Reich, a professor of public policy and a frequent political commentator, called his speech “Class Warfare in America.” As you might deduce from that title, he talked about the much-chronicled concentration of wealth in the country at the top of the economic pyramid, and “the irresponsible use of wealth to undermine our democratic system.” He ended with this:

“All of you, right now, understand intuitively that if we allow America to continue in the way it is going … that the bullies would be in charge. You understand how important it is to fight the bullies, to have a voice. I want to thank each and every one of you for what you are doing.”

Watch the video here:

Reich also posted a column yesterday called “Occupiers Occupied: The Hijacking of the First Amendment,” in which he gives describes his view of the predicament the Occupy movement now faces.

A bunch of people carrying pickets isn’t news. When it comes to making views known, picketing is no competition for big money.

Yet if Occupiers now shift tactics from passive resistance to violence, it would spell the end of the movement. The vast American middle class that now empathizes with the Occupiers would promptly desert them.

But there’s another alternative. If Occupiers are expelled from specific geographic locations the Occupier movement can shift to broad-based organizing around the simple idea at the core of the movement: It’s time to occupy our democracy.

Video: Robert Reich’s Mario Savio Memorial Lecture at UCB Protest 16 November,2011Jon Brooks

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