Autor: Emil

~ 31/12/11

This post is a reply to someone. You can read the original discussion here.

-Originally posted at Revleft on 1st December 2011-

In this post I shortly address the issues with the strategy (as opposed to the tactic) of the general strike. The post is a reply to another user.

[Quoting user “阿部高和”]

One Day Strikes are garbage (In Japan they’ll even help with one-day strikes because they know everyone gets back to work the next morning on time). they do nothing but make good photo-ops and headline grabbers for the newspapers, but they’re extremely ineffective in accomplishing anything.

This striking doesn’t work. They’ve attempted this in Spain, Greece, Italy, and now the UK–all have and will face austerity cuts. as if nothing happened the day before. and just like all the others, UK is going to face austerity cuts as well. the only way they’ll ever fight this is if they not just strike, but boycott ALL work indefinetly.
People can tolerate having to forgo the mail for a day; but when Christmas comes and presents don’t come, society will have the backlash on the causation.

The cogs of the machine have to break before they will ever give up the keys

While I agree that striking in itself is no solution or strategy towards anything, I disagree that we therefore need to go even further and adopt a slogan like “all out, stay out” (like the SWP in the UK does for example). This amounts to nothing more than revolutionary phrase-mongering.

The underlying point here is that the strength of the working class lies in its position of running society and that therefore withholding our work strengthens our position. On the contrary, the strength of the working class lies in its alienation from the means of production and the necessary collective action that flows from this position in relation to our society. Said differently, we have to form ourselves as a class before we can pose positive alternatives on society and a strike can help in this process.

Secondly, an actual indefinite general strike is wholly unacceptable as society would cease to function meaning no emergency services, no food in the supermarkets, no water from the tap. So what will actually happen is that a general strike committee must be formed which takes over the tasks of coordinating basic social functions. Of course this point is well understood by the “general strikist” left and it is in fact their intention to reach such strike committees. So, say after three months of a general strike, with social power firmly under control of the general strike committee, the left can go around to the working class and say: “oh by the way, we took over power from the capitalists, long live the revolution!”. Or that is the plan in a nutshell.

This however has a major problem: It doesn’t work this way. In any historical situation of a prolonged general strike situation or a situation of political melt down of the old order, the working class movement won’t just spontaniously conclude to seize power for themselves, but instead will look to alternative but already established authorities. The social-democrats in Portugal in 1974 come to mind as a clear example of this. At another level the Iranian revolution of 1979 is another example. We cannot trick the working class into power.

The strategy then is to build our own alternative authority: that of a self-conscious working class wanting to take power as a class. This is why I think a partyist strategy is needed: A mass politicised working class movement that patiently works to educate, agitate and organise the working class independently and in its own interests on a radical democratic and global level. The left can be a positive triggering point for such a party-movement by uniting on this basis and for a Marxist programme.

Within this framework then a general strike is one available tactic in building our class.

1 Comment »

  1. […] the working class and “con it into power” via the general strike. I’ve written here on that subject. 3. Since organising the working class as a class for its own isn’t going to […]

    Pingback by De Rooie Rakker » Revleft: Theses for partyism — Sunday, 1 January, 2012 @ 8:04

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