link - general strike Detroit link - about


link - on the coming may day general strike

21 April 2012

With general strikes against austerity and (increasing) economic inequality happening in Egypt (11 February 2012), Greece (7 February 2012), India (28 February 2012), Oakland (3 November 2012), Portugal (22 March 2012), Quebec (8 March 2012) and Spain (29 March 2012) in the months before May day, cities across the world prepare for a coming May day general strike.  The coming general strike comes not from national parties or corporations.  Precarious working conditions and unemployment compose much of labor in the U.S. and reflects in the 11.9% unionization rate among employees according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The effect of the May day general strike, if it comes, is unknown.  However, an unknown effect of a May day general strike does not seem worse than continuing the reproduction of relations where finance attempts to regulate the lives of everyone while neglecting life.

The occupations in the fall disrupted the delineation between private and public property, allowing participation of anyone and everyone to affect the transformation of space.  Evictions of the occupations subsequently maintained the delineation of public and private space with violent and brutal tactics by the police.  In Detroit, protests and direct actions continued in the winter and spring, mainly focusing on preventing home foreclosures and protesting against corporations.  Repression of dissent to privatization and corporate influence on politics continues.  Across the Midwest, governors and legislatures attempt to take away the right to assemble and unionize.  Detroit saw blatant attempts by the state governor and legislature to disregard democratic rights of everyone in Detroit to participate in deciding their fate.  Whereas the occupations disrupted the delineation between private and public property, the general strike refuses to participate in the flows of capital that reproduce the relations of private ownership in the means of production.

The refusal to participate in the relations of production that preserve capital at the expense of everyone else allows for alternative forms of participation to emerge.  The general strike might unfold relations necessary for the rejection of the influence corporations have on politics, lead to (more) autonomous working conditions and cease some of the assaults on labor, im/migrants, women, minorities and the environment.  In each of the aforementioned scenarios, the precondition is how May day unfolds and whether or not we reach a critical mass.  The scenarios are unlikely without a critical mass since contingencies are more likely to isolate from one another without a majority of workers ceasing work.

Much of the critique of the coming May day general strike takes the positions: (1) we are not ready for a general strike because organization has not laid the necessary groundwork, (2) union leadership has not called for a general strike and, thus, there is no general strike and (3) calling for workers not to go to work does not improve their conditions and risks job loss followed by loss of income.  To such critiques I ask: (1) if not now general strike, when?; (2) to what extent do union leadership represent labor when less than 12% of the labor force in the U.S. has a union and disagreement between leadership and rank-and-file over strategy?; and, (3) how do we assume the vulnerability of workers is not a result of failure to mobilize against assaults to labor and not vice versa?  The critiques thinly veil attempts to bureaucratize labor at the behest of national parties, corporations, non-governmental organizations and non-profits.  As a result, supporters of the general strike are sometimes accused of taking anti-union positions.  However, wildcat strikes and general strikes mobilize labor to disrupt the flows of capital to reject the regimes that have attempted to suppress the ability of workers to assemble.

The desires for May day are diverse, but support of labor and im/migrant rights intersect many if not all of them.  The transnational general strike seeks to stop the work, school, shopping and banking done for the exchange of labor, the preserving of capital, survival and the reproduction of relations dictating how to live according to regimes meant for profit at the expense of everyone else.
link-events link - forum link - resources link - calendar link - links link - contact