Some objections to Occupy May 1st

Some objections to Occupy May 1st

A short list of objections to the May 1st general strike effort within the Occupy movement and some responses to them.

By now you’ve probably heard about how in various cities Occupy has called for a general strike on May 1. The call seemed to originate from a number of different circles, although the most influential circle seems to have been a group of people involved in several anarchist organizations and/or the IWW. Their influence can be seen in how widely the call was circulated, in the websites set up for Occupy May 1st, and in some of the decent looking posters and images they put out.

Regardless of the source of the call, it has been taken up in a variety of ways by Occupy groups in New York, Los Angeles, Oakland, Minneapolis, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Long Beach, Detroit, and Oklahoma City, among other places. The media has been reporting on it and it’s probably fair to say that this could be the biggest May Day since the immigration protests of 2006.

As the call has spread around and become something inseparable from Occupy as a movement, there have been a number of objections or concerns about a May 1st general strike. Some of them even come from people in the IWW or those in the radical left who we would presume would be on board. Here is my attempt to quickly address some of the most common ones.

“A general strike is irresponsible and will make people lose sympathy with Occupy.”

This comes more from the perspective that movements are about publicity and a battle of positions, primarily though the mainstream media. I don’t want to lessen the role that media plays in affecting our movements and efforts, but this shouldn’t be a main consideration of what we do or how we do it. The media is composed of mostly large businesses that are tied to numerable other large businesses and rely on them for their existence. It is largely a reflection of the interests of the rich or politicians, and it very rarely will be in favor of groups or actions which undermine this. Look at much of the coverage of Occupy; a lot of it is neutral or even positive up to a point where Occupy calls into question the pillars of our society, then the typical associations with violence, “Communism” or “hippies” are trotted out to delegitimize what the movement says. Let us also not forget how they ignored us until the police viciously attacked Occupiers in New York.

“Organized labor was not/is not being consulted.”

In a number of cities our friends in Occupy are talking with the larger mainstream unions and there is some level of participation, even if unofficial, between the two. But let’s be clear, the mainstream unions are tied up in labor law and contracts that were specifically developed to prevent such a linking between them and social movements and to dish out major consequences (including massive fines and jail time) for exceeding the restrictions put upon them.

Unions also are on the decline and have been for a while. Only a small amount of the American workforce are in unions, and many workers (especially younger ones) have had almost no experiences with them. This makes ties to the rank and file much more difficult and can result in only having ties with staff and officers, who are not necessarily the people you want to be in contact with when it comes to mobilizing, engaging and building relationships with the membership to take part in such a thing as a May 1st general strike.

“May Day is for immigrants/Occupy is co-opting May Day”

Anything that Occupy as a movement turns its eye towards has received words of skepticism and territorial claims by individuals and groups who have been involved in specific issues prior to Occupy's emergence. At first, radical left activists looked at Occupy as encroaching their turf. The people attending the occupations were unfamiliar, not in their social circles. In places like Oakland or in situations like the port shutdowns, as the encampments moved towards 'worker issues', some union leaders and groups close to unions glared suspiciously at some erosion on their monopoly of 'worker issues'. Similar sentiments in regard to race have been expressed around the Trayvon Martin case. We see this also with May 1st and immigration.

May Day or May 1st is, strictly defined, International Workers Day. A day in which martyred Chicago anarchist labor organizers are remembered. A day in which the old workers movements have flexed their muscle in a demonstration of numbers and power. But it has also been a day for dystopian 'socialist' regimes to display to the world their weaponry. In the early 70s, May 1st meant massive student protests against the Vietnam war. And yes, in recent years, in the United States, its been a day centered around the rights of immigrants. It's safe to say its meant different things to different people at various times.

However, whether using the rhetoric of the 99% against the 1% or the traditional language of working class vs. the ruling class, the participants in both the Occupy movement and the immigration rights movement are linked. Neither one 'owns' May Day. The additional involvement of other movements with May Day is something to be welcomed.

“It’s not going to be a ‘real’ general strike”

Some like to say or imply that a “real” general strike is something which unions call for, and then people strike, in the formal definition of the word. Sometimes, general strikes do happen this way. Other times they start with other, more unofficial action or wildcat strikes that spread. On May Day 2006, for instance, millions of people just called in sick. Those who say May 1st won’t be a “real” general strike, are probably right. What will happen will most likely resemble what occurred in Oakland on Nov. 2, 2011. Personally, I don’t think what it’s called matters much.

Remember that the reason that the term general strike is even in the vocabulary of U.S. social movements again is because of the IWW’s efforts in Wisconsin. It was an important concept and we did a lot of admirable work towards this concept, but as someone who was there, I don’t think the strategy we engaged in (working through official union decision-making structures) was a realistic way to push for a general strike. However, I think that if we succeeded that it would a “real” general strike and the possibility did exist.

We also don’t really know what a U.S. general strike in 2012 will look like. The last time an official one happened here was 1946. The workforce and society in general have changed drastically since then. Our workplaces are more fragmented. Solidarity and worker combativeness isn't something that can be assumed as a given anymore. The forms of resistance that we take will often look different from past struggles. General strikes of 1877 didn't look the same as those in the 1930s, why would one today look like ones from 70 years ago?

“What about May 2nd?”

This is a good point. What about the day after? The week after? The month after? It is up to the participants of Occupy May 1st to make sure this May Day is something much more than a mere mobilization of people to protest, but the opening shot in a new era of Occupy where we take on issues relevant to our daily life. Work, unemployment, immigration, and housing aren’t just some vague issues that are mentioned within the context of the upcoming elections, but are very real experiences that make up, for better or worse, who we are. They are also things we have the most power to change or even (if we wish) to eliminate as problems. As people who wish for a new world, we should welcome the opportunity to place organizing back into the context of our lived experiences.

A version of this will appear in the May 2012 issue of the Industrial Worker

Comments

Steven.
Apr 23 2012 19:19

Good article.

Just a note on sub editing, to get articles to show up on the libcom front page now in the new theme, editors should click on "front page" below articles. Clicking "feature" makes articles appeared random in the featured blocks on the right-hand side and in the footer.

redsdisease
Apr 24 2012 01:58

This is a really excellent article. Bummer that it'll be in the May issue of the IW and probably won't even be read by a lot of folks until after May Day is over.

Juan Conatz
Apr 24 2012 21:23

Huh. I got the IW in the mail yesterday. I suppose the May issue goes out earlier than usual.

R. Spourgitis
Apr 24 2012 21:37

I don't know, I think there were, and are, some critiques that came out of the class struggle anarchist/libertarian communist feedback to this campaign that were a bit more complex than this. Our own group, gave what I would call a qualified endorsement of this campaign.

Wild Rose, an organization of the "new world in our hearts" grouping linked at the top of the OP.

Quote:
Wild Rose Collective endorses the "Build Power / Show Power Campaign." We see the most important aspects of this campaign as the opportunity to further develop class struggle activity and strategies, and to raise class consciousness through workshops, literature and relationship building, as these correlate to our own local strategy and the CSAC document on involvement in the Occupy Movement. We see, as paramount, building power through the campaign more than what happens on May 1.

We agree with the reasons and goals for the proposed May 1 day of action/general strike, and are developing strategy on reviving our local May Day Organizing Committee, which many of our members participated in building two years ago.

However, we find ourselves in some disagreement about use of the term "General Strike" in all communities. While the terminology is appropriate in some cities, in our smaller, Midwestern town we find that people are slowly moving further to the left, but would not identify with “General Strike” rhetoric. We see its use as a possible deterrent for potential allies. In our community, there is a need to think more long term and continue to meet those on the left where they are, rather than demand they meet us at our more radical place. We suspect that in places similar to Iowa City, this may also be the case.

We propose individual discretion for organizations, based on analysis of their communities, about use of the term "General Strike,"; we would choose to use "Day of Action," while leaving all other aspects of the campaign as proposed.

The reference to BP/SP comes from here, which seems to be based largely on the original MAS call out for an international campaign for May 1.

While I have seen some people express sympathy for some of the views laid out by the trots in ISO and others referenced here, like over how "real" a strike it is or the organized labor presence, I'm interested in a discussion about the rhetoric around general strike.

It seems to me, granting my limited vantage point, that as a term it's not necessarily doing us favors. I see that Juan says here, it's not so much what it's called, I agree there, and also in the need to put organizing in the context of lived experiences... but does employing "general strike" do this? I'm not so sure.

In another place I commented that it sort of reminds me of the insurrectionary rhetoric which sees the great uprising, mass revolt or riot just around the corner from every heightened moment. While I totally support the campaign and it's goals, and have been actively helping it locally, I think there can be some limitations to this kind of thing. That could be indicative of levels of consciousness and militancy being different in different places, but then we should talk about those complexities, too. Like eastern Iowa isn't Oakland or Miami, or even Minneapolis, so what does it look like/sound like to build a big May Day event in the context of this campaign? We settled for "day of action" ... and we've got fliers about "no work/no school," but we don't use "general strike" for all the above reasons.

I suppose I'm interested in a discussion around the different interpretations of this particular phrase, without getting into semantics or which historical period justifies said position and blah blah blah. What I'm getting at is that I was loathe to go around trying to explain what the European conception of the social strike means while using "general strike".

blarg
Apr 25 2012 04:05
Quote:
Those who say May 1st won’t be a “real” general strike, are probably right. What will happen will most likely resemble what occurred in Oakland on Nov. 2, 2011. Personally, I don’t think what it’s called matters much.

Hmm, so you don't think it matters whether people call this May Day a "general strike" or not? I was surprised to read that, since that's the main point of contention that this whole debate, and your piece, is about. And the verdict is...it doesn't matter? It sounds like in Wisconsin you were eager to raise workers' consciousness and understanding of what an actual general strike would be: a multi-industry workers' strike (whether called by unions or not) which, combined with street action, paralyzes the economic life of (at least) a city for as long as it lasts. I'd say (and would have thought you'd agree) that promoting an understanding of this tactic, and more importantly, an ability to carry it out, ought to be a key medium-range goal for all of us, if we want to build a movement that can actually hope to beat capitalism.

And yet now you're arguing that it's fine (or doesn't matter) to have our movement loudly and publicly proclaiming a dramatic redefinition of the term "general strike" to the extent that what happened in Oakland in November (a very powerful action, just not a general strike) somehow qualifies as one. How does this help educate people about what a general strike actually is? Doesn't it just spread confusion about it? And doesn't it cost us credibility when we engage in hype like this, while knowing full well that the reality won't live up to the hype?

Right now our movement shows no signs of being in a position to be able to have an actual general strike. I hope that changes soon. In the meantime, crying wolf about it and playing make-believe doesn't help. It spreads illusions, and after illusion comes disillusionment.

Juan Conatz
Apr 25 2012 01:36
R. Spourgìtis wrote:
I don't know, I think there were, and are, some critiques that came out of the class struggle anarchist/libertarian communist feedback to this campaign that were a bit more complex than this.

I imagine there is, but I'm taking on things I've heard or read, to my knowledge, none of the CSAC groups have released anything taking on the thing critically.

On the WRC statement...I agree. Like I said, I don't think it matters what it's called, but what is done. And yes, things are going to be different in different places.

Quote:
It seems to me, granting my limited vantage point, that as a term it's not necessarily doing us favors. I see that Juan says here, it's not so much what it's called, I agree there, and also in the need to put organizing in the context of lived experiences... but does employing "general strike" do this? I'm not so sure.

I think GS is way more appealing because of Wisconsin and Oakland than 'day of action'. That said, in Minneapolis we decided not to go with 'GS', either, but its seeped into our stuff just because of what's going on nationally and what inter-Occupy circles are saying. And I was more talking about organizing within lived experiences not rhetoric. We have to push rhetoric and words. Probably most people's lived experience has all types of misconceptions around the words 'anarchism', 'socialism', 'communism', 'unions', etc, yet I think most of us would agree that we shouldn't abandon these words.

Quote:
In another place I commented that it sort of reminds me of the insurrectionary rhetoric which sees the great uprising, mass revolt or riot just around the corner from every heightened moment.

I don't think I agree, but I'm not really sure what exactly you're saying here. I've also changed my mind about a lot of what insurrectionaries do or say though.

Quote:
I suppose I'm interested in a discussion around the different interpretations of this particular phrase, without getting into semantics or which historical period justifies said position and blah blah blah. What I'm getting at is that I was loathe to go around trying to explain what the European conception of the social strike means while using "general strike".

I think it's really pretty simple actually. General strike = don't go to work or school. Whether that's sickouts, official strikes, wildcats, whatever, when it comes down to it, that's what I feel like I'm trying to accomplish.

Because of a lack of a large organization and base in which to estimate participation, its impossible to know if and where it will succeed and what success is beforehand.

I think the fundamental disagreement is that some people do not think we're in a place to call a "real" general strike and we should reserve the word for the future. In my opinion, we probably will never be in a position to call for a "real" general strike or won't for a long while and this means we should appropriate this word that's been abandoned here for 70 years for whatever uses we see fit.

Juan Conatz
Apr 25 2012 02:01
Quote:
Hmm, so you don't think it matters whether people call this May Day a "general strike" or not? I was surprised to read that, since that's the main point of contention that this whole debate, and your piece, is about. And the verdict is...it doesn't matter? It sounds like in Wisconsin you were eager to raise workers' consciousness and understanding of what an actual general strike would be: a multi-industry workers' strike (whether called by unions or not) which, combined with street action, paralyzes the economic life of (at least) a city for as long as it lasts. I'd say (and would have thought you'd agree) that promoting an understanding of this tactic, and more importantly, and ability to carry it out, ought to be a key medium-range goal for all of us, if we want to build a movement that can actually hope to beat capitalism.

Again, this argument places way too much power on terminology. It's basically saying that workers won't go on multi-industry strikes that paralyze the economy because we're using a word. With all due respect, that's ridiculous. Of all the obstacles to that happening, a word being misused is hardly in the top 100.

Quote:
And yet now you're arguing that it's fine (or doesn't matter) to have our movement loudly and publicly proclaiming a dramatic redefinition of the term "general strike" to the extent that what happened in Oakland in November (a very powerful action, just not a general strike) somehow qualifies as one. How does this help educate people about what a general strike actually is? Doesn't it just spread confusion about it? And doesn't it cost us credibility when we engage in hype like this, while knowing full well that the reality won't live up to the hype?

Well, personally, I think the call would have caught on regardless of people in the CSAC groups, IWW etc because of what happened in Oakland and because there's been a lull in national Occupy projects after most of the encampments have been ejected. And because of that, I think it would be and is a conservative stance to argue against that term. Personally, any groups or individuals that do or did I would consider obstacles to be organized around and/or against. I just don't see that position as helpful in any way at all.

And this is something that has never been answered in any satisfactory way but, why the sudden concern over terminology? There's situations that are called general strikes that are officially called by, managed, and restricted by reformist unions. There's ones that start as wildcats that spread without official approval. There's ones with 20-30% participation. There's other situations, like the 2006 immigration protests, that weren't even called such, even though they fit a loose definition more so than other situations. The old IWW/syndicalists had a more strict definition of the GS as a revolutionary event.

So to look at these examples and to not see that the term shifts in meaning at different periods according to who employs it and then yet try and act like it has a strict definition...that part I don't get.

Quote:
Right now our movement shows no signs of being in a position to be able to have an actual general strike. I hope that changes soon. In the meantime, crying wolf about it and playing make-believe doesn't help. It spreads illusions, and after illusion comes disillusionment.

And it never will most likely. Can you outline how it could happen? Because the only answers I've got on this is 'build the unions'. Talk about unrealistic! Union density is about 12%! If anything is playing make believe its thinking that going from years long union decline because of labor law, declining industry, labor-management partnerships, etc etc can somehow be reversed to the point where radicals take over the unions and call "real" general strikes.

Nate
Apr 25 2012 04:43

I don't have strong feelings either way about calling stuff a general strike but I feel like the bus has left the station to some extent. I do think there's a lot of unresolved stuff about what a general strike looks like, and I think more importantly why it matters.

I also want to add, I'm skeptical that a general strike in the sense of a massive class-wide work stoppage can be successfully called in the US, let alone one that's revolutionary in character, so that the arguments against calling a general strike on May Day sound to me like arguments against ever calling a general strike.

blarg
Apr 25 2012 04:59
Juan Conatz wrote:
Again, this argument places way too much power on terminology. It's basically saying that workers won't go on multi-industry strikes that paralyze the economy because we're using a word.

No, obviously nobody thinks that. But how clear-thinking and real our organizers and groups are might affect whether we have any influence on the course and outcome of said strikes when they happen.

Juan Conatz wrote:
And this is something that has never been answered in any satisfactory way but, why the sudden concern over terminology?

JC, you're the one who felt the need to write an article about it. I'm just responding because I usually agree with what you have to say and found it interesting that you took the position you did on this.

Juan Conatz wrote:
There's situations that are called general strikes that are officially called by, managed, and restricted by reformist unions. There's ones that start as wildcats that spread without official approval. There's ones with 20-30% participation. There's other situations, like the 2006 immigration protests, that weren't even called such, even though they fit a loose definition more so than other situations. The old IWW/syndicalists had a more strict definition of the GS as a revolutionary event.

So to look at these examples and to not see that the term shifts in meaning at different periods according to who employs it and then yet try and act like it has a strict definition...that part I don't get.

Sure, different groups throw around a lot of words in a lot of different ways. But if I'm building a dog house and I announce that it's going to be a mansion, what would otherwise be a perfectly good dog house that I could be proud of, instead ends up being somewhat of an embarrassment.

Juan Conatz wrote:
Quote:
Right now our movement shows no signs of being in a position to be able to have an actual general strike. I hope that changes soon. In the meantime, crying wolf about it and playing make-believe doesn't help. It spreads illusions, and after illusion comes disillusionment.

And it never will most likely. Can you outline how it could happen? Because the only answers I've got on this is 'build the unions'. Talk about unrealistic! Union density is about 12%! If anything is playing make believe its thinking that going from years long union decline because of labor law, declining industry, labor-management partnerships, etc etc can somehow be reversed to the point where radicals take over the unions and call "real" general strikes.

No, I don't expect it to happen mainly through the established unions, although stranger things have happened. I'd like to take a stab at the outline you're asking for, but it's beyond the scope of this thread and would take forever to write out right now. Maybe later. What I find surprising is how negative you now seem about future prospects for radical class struggle. From what I can see, beyond the short-term ups and downs of passing episodes like Madison, Occupy, Longview etc, the main trend is towards more and more possibilities for mass struggle.

Juan Conatz
Apr 25 2012 08:23
Quote:
JC, you're the one who felt the need to write an article about it. I'm just responding because I usually agree with what you have to say and found it interesting that you took the position you did on this.

I pretty much wrote it because the editor of the Industrial Worker wanted something on Occupy May 1st on short notice. So, I wrote something addressing some things that I had heard or seen from the ISO, immigration activists, some Wobs, some people in CSAC groups, etc.

Also, I didn't write a whole article about terminology. That part is a section of a wider article.

Quote:
Sure, different groups throw around a lot of words in a lot of different ways. But if I'm building a dog house and I announce that it's going to be a mansion, what would otherwise be a perfectly good dog house that I could be proud of, instead ends up being somewhat of an embarrassment.

That doesn't really address what I said at all. I gave examples of how the term's meaning differs during different times and situations, and you respond with a proverb about strict definitions.

Quote:
What I find surprising is how negative you now seem about future prospects for radical class struggle.From what I can see, beyond the short-term ups and downs of passing episodes like Madison, Occupy, Longview etc, the main trend is towards more and more possibilities for mass struggle.

Because I don't think a "real" general strike is likely any time soon I'm negative about the future prospects of radical class struggle? I guess if you see a "real" general strike as the natural progression, but despite my membership in the IWW, I don't believe in the The General Strike as a revolutionary event, nor do I think its required for radical class struggle. I think we live in different times, and its going to look different. So are non-unionized service industry workers, who make up the vast majority in many (most?) cities supposed to engage in a never before seen unionization drive or spring up workers councils? No, what they will probably do is engage in sickouts, blockade, riot, shut down major industries they don't work at, occupy buildings, etc.

I do think there and more possibilities for mass struggle, and I don't see how you could imply that I don't, particularly when its a favorable article about a current mass movement's project...

Nate's right though, the bus has left the station. The term is out there whether we like it or not. This argument is really not about much of any consequence. The point is...the word, after 70 years, has been reactivated, which means to me there is an interest in a whole lot of stuff that there wasn't before and opens up lots of potential.

Spikymike
Apr 25 2012 12:38

I'd be suprised to see even a half decent 'dog house' comming out of this let alone something with a nice looking extension but the proof will be there to argue over soon.

Unions these days don't call more than token 'general strikes' even in austerity struck southern Europe and the organised anarchist movement is not in any position to effectively call workers out on even this, though they might play a useful minority role in any newly emmerging workers resistance.

R. Spourgitis
Apr 25 2012 13:33
Quote:
Quote:
In another place I commented that it sort of reminds me of the insurrectionary rhetoric which sees the great uprising, mass revolt or riot just around the corner from every heightened moment.

I don't think I agree, but I'm not really sure what exactly you're saying here. I've also changed my mind about a lot of what insurrectionaries do or say though.

In my mind, there's a certain analogy to using general strike in a national sense like this for May Day '12 as there is to "spreading revolt" through dragging newspaper boxes into the streets or smashing windows and issuing grand communiques about it. I'm not saying it's the same thing, and I'm also not deriding any insurrection or insurrectionaries anywhere ever, what I mean is that there is a disconnection between the language/action employed and where people are actually at with understanding and being behind what's going on.

Quote:
We have to push rhetoric and words. Probably most people's lived experience has all types of misconceptions around the words 'anarchism', 'socialism', 'communism', 'unions', etc, yet I think most of us would agree that we shouldn't abandon these words.

True, but your examples are ideologies and organization (and are also struggled with in terms of propaganda and engagement, in my experience), general strike is an action, I don't know, that feels different to me. Like I said, I'm posing the question because it threw up some difficulties for me on this campaign, and they weren't really resolved. If we're trying to redefine the term general strike, which is still what it feels like to me, then we can at least acknowledge that's what we're doing rather than making it seem implied that that's just what it is now, because we called it that. Seems a little tautological. That's not aimed at Juan or anyone in particular, it's just my observation about how this has unfolded.

So yeah, the dye is cast, what's done is done, all true. I meant to say that I'm interested in breaking down how this is unfolding and what people mean and understand by using general strike this way, like I said, 'cause it feels disconnected from a more popular understanding, as well as the capabilities, and maybe we can be smarter in how we push our politics.

Quote:
I think it's really pretty simple actually. General strike = don't go to work or school. Whether that's sickouts, official strikes, wildcats, whatever, when it comes down to it, that's what I feel like I'm trying to accomplish.

I think realistically this isn't even what's possible. I may be wrong, or just plain full of shit, but if I had the sense that there was going to be this happening, or even potentially so this year, I wouldn't have nearly as much concern over the way general strike is being thrown around. What's frustrating too, is that people don't want to talk about it, the limitations we're coming up against or acknowledging that perhaps this effort presumed increased mobilization through Occupy that was, and is, actually demobilizing. My concerns are strategic, not ideological.

Nate
Apr 25 2012 14:51

Juan said that the word general strike has been "reactivated", which is interesting. It seems like 'general strike' means a number of different things to people, as Juan said and has been talked about before on here. Like R. Spurgetis I've felt like there could have been more discussion on this. I personally was not for the general strike call when it first came out, because it seemed to me that we couldn't accomplish anything like a general strike in any sense of the word that I'm interested in. And so the proposal seemed to me like either way too ambitious in an unrealistic way or like it was using the word general strike in some weird way. I still have mixed feelings about it, but I think that there's something significant in how much the term seems to be resonating with people. I think it's good that the general strike idea got as much play as it did in Madison, and I think the Occupy Oakland talk about a general strike was good too. It's double-edged, though, in that the term could expand to the point that it means very little. (That seems to have happened with the word 'occupy' which at this points seems to mean anything from taking and refusing to leave space, to permitted rallies and camping.)

I sort of said this but I also think that there's a lot of discussion to be had still about why to do a general strike. For the most part the emphasis seems to be on having a lot of people stop work because it would be awesome, or in order to fight for reforms. I agree that it'd be awesome and I'd like some positive reforms, but either way I have a really hard time telling what the politics of the general strike call is. I know the trot groups have come out strong against it mostly, but I think that's primarily because this is mostly an anarchist thing so far and because they tend to be afraid of/hostile to anything new. I don't think there's any real reason why the trot groups couldn't get on board with it, or the AFL for that matter. I mean, there are tactical reasons they might not want to - fear of legal repercussions, alienating allies in the labor officialdom, etc -but that could change, and some locals have backed the strike call. I think that speaks to the ambiguity of the strike call.

Juan Conatz
May 7 2012 04:22
blarg
May 7 2012 16:36

The piece on inthesetimes.com is good, though it sort of mixes up two distinct questions, one being whether to rely on the unions and their bureaucrats, and the other being whether the term "general strike" ought to refer to demonstrations of middling size which shut down few if any industries.

I'm not trying to be negative about May Day - I participated and thought it was great. I just think the idea of the general strike tactic is important for us to keep around and build towards in the future, and not redefine into meaninglessness.

So in retrospect, does anyone still think it makes sense to call what happened in the US on Tuesday a general strike?

Nate
May 12 2012 02:54

Blarg, I'd definitely say it was not a general strike. A friend who was much more active said that initially here it was not called a general strike locally but there was material sent to help with outreach and stuff that used the phrase so it got picked up here as a result even though people never really thought it was going to be a general strike here in any real sense.I'm sure Juan could say a lot more about all that than I could.

Juan Conatz
May 12 2012 04:36

No, I don't think its useful to call it that, and I've noticed that usage has went into decline pretty rapidly after May 1st to describe what happened.

That said, I still stand by what I said in this piece. I think really the only valid critisim I've seen is the issue for calling one, given that GS rarely happen this way.