A class-conscious struggle against the corporate state is also a struggle against war and empire. If this government makes the free election of real democrats and of socialists impossible, then we, the people, have the right and duty to elect ourselves as public citizens; and to begin creating a new republic founded upon peace, social wealth, ethical obligation, ecological sanity, and the solidarity of labor across all borders. Every workplace is potentially a free council of workers; every street and neighborhood is potentially a public space of freedom.
In Europe, many thousands of working people have already taken to the streets against the austerity programs imposed by parties of the earnest right and the bogus left. What we may call the political warm spring in Europe may yet become a hot summer. In Greece, workers and students waged a general strike, and in Spain they still occupy public squares—recently braving an assault by riot police swinging shields and truncheons against citizens who peacefully linked arms in a mass sit-down protest in Barcelona. We, too, have a history of urban general strikes in this country, and of class-conscious struggles against war and corporate rule. This government depends on our obedience, but our lives depend on open rebellion. Start small and start now.
Occupy Oakland’s General Assembly last night voted unanimously, 200-0 (with hundreds still in jail from Saturday night), to join in support of a call for a General Strike originating with Occupy Los Angeles. It will take place on International Workers’ Day, May 1st, 2012.
Occupy Wall Street has boldly called for a general strike of the 99 percent on May Day—May 1. “*No Work *No School *No Housework *No Shopping,” read the text approved by the OWS General Assembly. The action is scheduled to overlap with a day intended to call attention to the plight of immigrants.
The prospect of an Occupy general strike has been circulating for a while already. One of the several Facebook event pages devoted to it has more than 10,000 attendees. Occupy Los Angeles began calling for a May 1 general strike as early as last November, and Occupy Oakland joined at the end of January. Occupy Wall Street’s Direct Action group tried to take a strategic approach to the idea; though many of its members had little hesitation about calling for it, they took steps to ensure there was consultation, and therefore buy-in, among some of those whose participation would be vital. Since the beginning of the year, they’ve been holding twice-weekly meetings—with as many as 150 people crowded into a church or a union-office basement—which included labor organizers, immigrants’ rights groups, artists and anarchists.
Together, these stakeholders debated what a general strike could even mean in 2012, given the poor state of organized labor, and whether making such an ambitious call would turn into anything other than an embarrassment. “It has to happen on a huge enough scale that retaliation is unthinkable,” a person noted at one of the initial meetings on January 11. While one voice that night argued that “you use this tool to gain specific ends”—the tool of a general strike—another preferred to “not issue any demands, but rather take what is ours.” From these discussions, it was agreed that the more open-ended language of “a day without the 99 percent” should stand alongside that of “general strike.”