May 23, 2013
May Day 2012: The Call for a General Strike
Posted on Mar 15, 2012
By Scott Tucker
4. Theory Is Memory With a Purpose
The Occupy movement has to evolve beyond encampments subject to mass police raids. But evolution in what forms and in which directions? The Occupy movement has begun branching out to occupy workplaces, foreclosed homes, student debt, industrial wastelands, corporate buildings and might well revisit financial centers of power. These are likewise some of the sites for a more general occupation in a general strike.
The practical goals of the Occupy movement, and indeed of any general strike, will be decided in the actual practice of occupying workplaces, homes and apartments, schools and libraries, public streets and parks, and the whole public sphere of free speech and assembly. In this sense, our class-conscious goals coincide with a deeply civil libertarian conception of public life, and public memory becomes our best source of political theory. Theory is memory with a purpose. If we have a long span of memory in surveying the past, we will have a clearer view of the landscape in surveying the possibilities of the future. Anyone who thinks a general strike happens in one lightning stroke, or that the Occupy movement is a complete break from the past, is a political romantic. In personal life, romance needs no defense. In political life, however, a romantic perspective leads to many cults of personality, abuses of authority and political mystification.
5. Apocalypse and Phony Pragmatism—Two Sides of Debased Bipartisan Currency
Over the course of the past four decades and more, the two big corporate parties have been locked in a flaming downward spiral into the political abyss. Some Democrats like to romanticize Bill Clinton’s years in the White House as a golden age of public responsibility and financial sanity. They forget (or refuse to remember) that Clinton continued bipartisan policies of war, militarism and ecological recklessness. But Clinton also undermined civil liberties, tore down the last remnants of welfare protections for poor and single parents, and was committed to the deregulation of big banks and high finance. Obama beat the Clintons and other Democratic Leadership Council insiders at their own game of political triangulation, and so the candidate of hope and change now presides over bipartisan wars and over Congress, itself the front office of the ruling class. Greens, Socialists, Libertarians and a number of smaller parties should join together in a coalition with the single goal of radical electoral reform. In certain areas, Socialists and Greens should coordinate political campaigns while keeping their partisan autonomy. Those last two political objectives will not be of interest to outright anarchists, and to some members of the Occupy movement who are now taking a healthy break from rigged elections. We, the people, will have to invent a dual form of power that extends social democracy beyond election days, but is also firmly established in fair elections. In areas where the disenfranchisement of voters and of anti-corporate parties has been most blatant, voters might protest at their local polling places on Election Day with signs and leaflets explaining the need for fair elections, campaign finance reform, proportional representation and instant runoff voting.
Not one cent and not one vote for the parties of war and empire.
For peace, democracy and socialism.
Information and Resources:
Can Occupy pull off a general strike?
There is a very good Wikipedia article on the general strike (with historical examples of general strikes—not “mythical” but actual), and with references to the Industrial Workers of the World, the general strikes in North American cities of 1919 and to Rosa Luxemburg.
The Online Books Page has a list of books in several languages on mass and general strikes.
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