A General Strike?

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meerov21
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Sep 20 2013 20:58
A General Strike?

Today, one general strike in Greece follows another. In Spain, France, Italy this happens once in a few years or more often. Of course, the unions aren’t trying to do away with capitalism. They only want to limit neo-liberal reforms. However, the neo-liberal policy of privatisation continues, as well as the reduction of social programs and cuts to health care; unemployment is rising, temporary employment is gaining momentum, working conditions are deteriorating. So why such a powerful weapon as a general strike is not working now?

First of all, we should get rid of the illusion that we can negotiate with modern business. We cannot. Neo-liberal policy is connected with movement of capital across the globe. If workers demand too much, the manufacture will simply be shut down and transferred to West Bengal or Vietnam. People there are working for miserable wages and starving, so they will agree to work for a pittance for 10 hours a day, if not for 12. The illusion of social partnership, which is the basis of trade union activity, has nothing to do with modern processes in the economy.

Moreover, the strikes in question last a few days at most, most often only a day. It is the same as holidays, when many businesses don’t work. It’s hard, of course, but as they know in advance when it will happen, businessmen and consumers adjust themselves to the circumstances. There are 365 days in a year. They can survive. Finally, general strikes are only nominally general: in fact, many factories and transport companies work. In this scenario, the business and the state will not give in. Nothing terrible is happening, after all.

For the general strike to be really general, first, it has to cover all or almost all of the real sector companies, and second, to become perpetual. That is, if a plant continues to work, groups of workers from other plants come and stop them (workers in Russia in the early 20th century often did so). And if business and state don’t give in, the strike has no end.

Easier said than done. A general strike implies, first, being ready for violence against operating plants, and, second, circumspect activity that will enable workers to hold out for very long. A country is on strike for a week; traffic stops; there’s neither electricity, nor production or food transportation; store shelves are empty. What's next? Options are few. Workers urgently need to take control of warehouses with food and various goods and distribute things between worker’s groups and families. What is more, this must be performed on a national scale. And this is already a takeover of property which implies a direct conflict with the authorities.

And if even that doesn’t work? If even then business and state don’t give in? Of course, they might become frightened and cede. But there is a good chance they will not, because they know: if they do that once, employees will continue to put pressure on them, will get a taste for it, as they say.

If so, the workers will have to run the factories, transport, electricity but so that business can’t have profit. That is, to occupy enterprises and to organise a production for their own use. To restart the economy on different principles. But then a question arises: if you can manage the economy yourselves, why bother to ask anything from the management and state officials? We CAN do without them.

Obviously, each of these steps will cause immediate repressions by the state which is connected with the oligarchy. Forced termination of enterprises is invasion to the territory with another’s property. Capture of food stores is an attempt at private property. All these things are serious crimes. So, long before the restart of the economic system, the government, in order to prevent them, will make use of the power structures. They can be countered by the police though, and agitators can be sent to barracks to persuade soldiers not to shoot at people and share arms, as it was in Iran during the revolution of 1979.

Of course, this is something union officials will never go for, none of the mentioned steps. As noted by the German revolutionary Otto Rühle, union officials that govern worker’s unions receive high wages and enjoy their power and position under capitalism. They are not interested in the change of society (1). They fear a real general strike like the plague. And what they pass off as a general strike is a fake. It is just letting off steam, so that workers aren’t disappointed in the unions completely.

The general strike can be organised only if the worker’s groups get out of union’s control (2), choose coordinating bodies, the councils (fully accountable to the regular general assembly), and create an association of councils. A general perpetual strike is a social revolution, a revolution of councils.

No one is obliged to act radically. One can continue with one-day strikes. But it will not stop the neo-liberal policy. A different algorithm is the one of the revolution. There’s no other thing in nature.

1) "The need to rise against trade unions"
http://www.libcom.org/forums/theory/need-rise-against-trade-unions-19082...

2) Members of KKE and stalinist union PAME defend the Greek parliament during the 19-20 October 2011 general strike
http://s596.photobucket.com/user/magidd/media/KKE-Stalinists-defend-Parl...

meerov21
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Joined: 14-08-13
Sep 22 2013 15:24

I fixed something in my texts:
http://www.libcom.org/forums/theory/general-strike-20092013
http://www.libcom.org/forums/theory/need-rise-against-trade-unions-19082...

But still i don't see changes then i open this texts.
Please help me...