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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Triumph Of General Strike

Shit just got real:

Joe Conway, president of the Madison firefighters’ union, said recently that the political situation has grown so dire in Wisconsin, he’d support a general strike.

“We should start walking out tomorrow, the next day … See how long they can last,” he told reporters with The Uptake. “This is a nation-wide movement to attack all working men and women in Wisconsin and the United States.”

Just a reminder about general strikes from a little-read blog:

Method 117. General strike (multi-industry strikes):

The general strike is a widespread stoppage of labor by workers in an attempt to bring the economic life of a given area to a more or less complete standstill in order to achieve certain desired objectives.  The method may be used on a local, regional, national or international level.  Wilfred Harris Crook defined the general strike as "the strike of a majority of the workers in the more important industries of any one locality or region."
While a general strike is usually intended to be total, certain vital services may be allowed to operate, especially those necessary for health...Crook distinguishes three broad types of general strike--political, economic and revolutionary.

A political general strike has the goal of achieving specific concessions from the government.  One great historical example is the series of strikes in 18931902 and 1913 in support of electoral reforms in Belgium--actually, Belgians seem to love this Method for lots of goals.

Belgium has a long tradition of mass industrial strikes. In 1886 a great series of strikes broke out first in the neighbourhood of Charleroi, then in Liége and over a large part of the Walloon provinces. The main demand was universal suffrage; but there were economic demands as well in some places.

Then in May, 1891, a mass strike of some 125,000 workers put forward a demand for changes in the electoral system. In April, 1893. another strike, embracing about a quarter of a million workers, broke out around a similar demand. The outcome was a universal, but unequal, franchise, the votes of the rich and “cultured” counting for two or three times those of workers. Dissatisfied, the workers called another mass strike nine years later, demanding a complete revision of the Constitution.

An even bigger strike – in which 450,000 workers took part – was called by the Socialist Party and trade unions to achieve electoral reform in 1902, and again in 1913.

Another general strike, which wrested a forty-hour week and paid holidays from the capitalists, took place in 1936. In 1950 a general strike led to the abdication of King Leopold.

In 1958-9 the coal-miners of the Borinage spontaneously began a general strike not merely for wage demands but for the nationalisation of the mining industry.

Our reformist tradition in the United States also includes general strikes, usually in support of labor, such as the Seattle General Strike, the San Francisco General Strike and Textile General Strike.

I'm especially pleased to see students in WI get in the game, too.  Stay firm and keep your wits about you, and the GOP is going to rue the day they pulled their little procedural stunt...


March 10, 2011 in Pax Americana | Permalink


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pax americana lives!

Posted by: hipparchia | Mar 10, 2011 10:04:31 PM

Minneapolis General Strike of 1934

Posted by: AndyG | Mar 10, 2011 10:08:18 PM

Quite the argument last night over at Baby Blue over whether Obama should be involving himself more to help the Wisconsin workers. My immediate gut reaction was no, they are doing fine on their own. It's because national Dem leaders are not involved, that this thing has gone viral and radicalized so quickly.

Posted by: Karin | Mar 10, 2011 10:20:47 PM

Well, if the Teamsters support a Wisconsin general strike, it's definitely gonna be on!

Posted by: Karin | Mar 10, 2011 10:37:21 PM

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