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View Diary: Occupy Calls for a Global General Strike on May 1, International Workers' Day. (212 comments)

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  •  Terrible idea because it won't work (16+ / 0-)

    It takes years to build up the organization to pull off a general strike, and OWS is NOWHERE near having that organizational strength.

    I'm probably one of the few DKers who has lived in a country where there were general strikes and participated in them -- South Africa.  

    The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) called two general strikes while I was living there and compliance was almost total among the black majority and progressive whites.

    One of the lessons I learned watching COSATU is how reluctant they were to call a general strike and how rarely they did, even though they had the organizational power to do so.

    Know why?

    Because if you call a general strike and it doesn't happen you merely demonstrate your powerlessness and lack of organization.

    It took COSATU and its predecessor from around 1974 to around 1986 -- twelve years -- to build up the capacity and penetration of the labor force to be able successfully to call a general strike and make it happen and scare the government and corporate sector into reversing course on whatever stupid thing they were doing.

    If you call a general strike for May 1, and out of a labor force of a hundred million, a few hundred or thousand people participate you will just be setting back your movement and the reputation you've built up.

    A general strike is supposed to be general -- everyone stays home.

    If you want to call a strike by participants in OWS by all means do so.

    Calling a general strike, though, is stupid at this point.  When 99.9% of the workforce goes to work that day, you will turn the slogan "we're the 99%" on its head.

    •  I agree at this point it won't work well. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jpmassar, Evolutionary

      In a few years, I believe it is not only possible, but will happen.

      Santorum: Man on Dog; Romney: Dog on Car. equalitymaine.org

      by commonmass on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 09:12:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Interesting analysis. (9+ / 0-)

      OTOH, they did not have the Internet back then.  I suspect that three months is severely pushing it, but twelve years in this day and age is absurdly long.

      And it depends on what you want to achieve and expect to achieve.  People shout "General Strike!" but no one really expects the entire workforce or even the vast majority of it to stay home or march.  Getting shitloads of people out onto the streets will likely count as a pretty good victory.

    •  "Organized" general strikes are for the birds. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Evolutionary, jpmassar, ladyjames

      If we can pull off something real here it will be a national wildcat general strike.  That is far scarier to the ruling class than a well-managed and directed general strike organized by massive conglomerations of trade unions.  Even if we get a far lower percentage of the workforce to participate than a "traditional" strike would have.

      Why?  Because a strike that is carefully coordinated and controlled by huge federations of trade unions is easy to manage, weather and/or co-opt.  It's by definition tame and cautious, even if the feelings and individual actions of the rank-and-file are not.  Several big shots in the labor federations get to decide what the demands are, what concessions are necessary to save face (they know their actual demands won't be met in full) and when they get to declare "victory" and tell everyone to go back to work.  It's easy pickings for our adversaries when everything we do is so tied up in a hierarchical, central decision-making apparatus.

      When people wildcat, we are unpredictable and uncontrollable.  No one gets to tell us what our demands are, or what concessions we have to accept or when we must go back to work.  We decide for ourselves.  There is no intermediary in the struggle.  It is us and the other side, facing off.  We learn of our own power this way.  And that scares the shit out of elites.

      This can be a one day exercise in awakening our power and sending a true warning shot across the bow of the elite's luxury yacht.  It won't necessarily be that, but it could be if it resonates and grows spontaneously, getting picked up by groups and organizations and individual workers all across the country.

      The politics of direct action is based, to a certain degree, on a faith that freedom is contagious. - David Graeber

      by An Affirming Flame on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 12:28:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And what's the possibility (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jpmassar

        that tens of millions of secretaries, carpenters, plumbers, construction workers, teachers, nurses, etc., etc., are going to miss work and strike because a website and OWS, from a top down perspective, tell them to?

        You know what the probability is?

        ZERO.

        •  OWS isn't telling anyone to go on strike. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladyjames, Evolutionary

          It's an idea.  People are free to pick it up or not.  You will not be thrown out of your union (and consequently your job) if you don't go on strike on May 1st.

          Therefore, the people who do go on strike will be doing it out of commitment, not fear or conformity.

          That's powerful stuff.  Even if it is only tens or hundreds of thousands instead of tens of millions.

          The politics of direct action is based, to a certain degree, on a faith that freedom is contagious. - David Graeber

          by An Affirming Flame on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 01:21:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Then it isn't a "general strike" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jpmassar

            It's a strike by 500 - 1000 people associated with the OWS movement out of a labor force of 100 million.

            Go ahead and enjoy, but the only way to call it a general strike is to pervert the definition of "general strike."

            Meanwhile all around the world, progressive movements that actually care about doing the ground work are able to mount real general strikes in order to bring down oppressive regimes and create real social change.

            But the American left is, in the global context of left movements, uniquely incompetent, uniquely lazy and uniquely unaware of history.

            •  I'm not providing a critique from "the American (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jpmassar

              left."  I'm providing an anarchist critique of trade unions and movements controlled by them.

              I'd love to have a real general strike.  One will never come from trade unions though.  The IWW or some other revolutionary union, perhaps, but certainly, certainly we will never see a real general strike from the AFL-CIO or (shudder) SEIU.  They might, theoretically, someday mobilize to get tens of millions of workers to strike for a day.  But I'm pretty sure that kind of general strike would only succeed despite the efforts of the labor federations, not because of them.

              I'm also quite confident that far more than 500-1000 people will strike on May 1st.  At least 5,000 people struck in Oakland alone last fall.  We're not going to see tens of millions (barring something miraculous), but we'll certainly see many thousands (barring some awful collapse).

              The politics of direct action is based, to a certain degree, on a faith that freedom is contagious. - David Graeber

              by An Affirming Flame on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 02:12:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You're from the ... (0+ / 0-)

                anarchist left?

                Ha ha ha ha .. Ha ha ha ha ha..  ha ha ha ha ..
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                •  Uuuuuhhhhhhh! (0+ / 0-)

                  And you want to actually accomplish something?

                  Oh no, you got me started again!@

                  Ha ha ha ha .. Ha ha ha ha ha..  ha ha ha ha ..
                  ha ....   ha ha ha ha ha ha ...   Ha ha ha ha ha ha
                  ha ha ha ha ....   Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ....  
                  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ....  Ha ha ha ha ha ha
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            •  You might be on the wrong blog. (0+ / 0-)
              But the American left is, in the global context of left movements, uniquely incompetent, uniquely lazy and uniquely unaware of history.

              I find that insulting.  So us lefties are now incompetent, lazy, and uneducated about history?

              Nice.

              #OccupyOMC - "We have a permit, its called The Constitution".

              by Evolutionary on Tue Jan 31, 2012 at 12:39:18 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Most people ignore OWS anyway so it's not (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HamdenRice, jpmassar

      going to hurt it much more. Yeah, it's not going to work.

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