Strikes r Out

As the happenings from May Day get more vague, I thought it was a good idea to skip church (for me personally, it’s ‘most always a good idea to skip church) and type up a couple of thoughts.

My position that I voiced on Friday was that we radicals need to leave New York City and start communal villages where land is currently—though not indefinitely—much more affordable and much more valuable from a human perspective: “where land is not a concrete desert upheld by massive petroleum inputs”. I encountered some who were open to this idea, but many too—Trotskyists in particular were a strong presence at the gathering, distributing their own literature—who believed we need global revolution coming from a uniting of the workers of the world. I wanted to focus this post now to worker’s power, and talk more about global revolution in an upcoming post.

Workers under capitalism have historically been deemed—rightly so—to be the true power of capitalism, with one of the most obvious ways of displaying that power to themselves, and to the naïve, unlearned capitalists, being the strike. Striking is very effective when workers do indeed hold the real power and can bring their masters to heel. Work has evolved into “work” in many places, and there are many unproductive underlings that could just as easily go on strike and be dismissed without so much as a reaction from their employers. On this point, it seems to me that corporations like Walmart feign a need for employees, but truly it’s a facade to further their on the ground presence. There would be no need for a scab when the limb is already dead, being propped up by invisible strings.

But maybe if ALL employees globally agreed to strike indefinitely and were able to prevent scabbing, they could shake the foundations a bit, but I am uncertain how much this would hurt the supposedly existing capitalists at the top. Important to note is when it comes to important employment such as food production, wouldn’t striking probably lash those workers at the bottom of the scale the worst? It’s difficult for the workers of the world to unite behind striking when there are such vast differences in what they would be sacrificing by putting their livelihoods on the line. Would employees who are much higher on the pay scale ever agree to identify with those at the bottom, when they are so close (at least in their minds) to the top? Further, why would people who work in some societally positive industry (it seems so hard to come up with an example) want to ally with, for example, workers in a bullet factory, when those workers being paid at all for such a ghastly profession is itself a primary question in their mind? Another difference separating workers from one another is that some have the choice of where they are employed—even if they don’t have much say over the amount of pay—while others have no choice, and so the efforts to bring coherency and a sense of fairness for a global program is multiplied immensely.

I believe striking isn’t the answer for widespread change, moreso today than ever before, largely because it is ineffective, but so too because demanding more pay (or workplace changes) for a job that ethically or practically doesn’t really warrant it, is not a justifiable arena to put efforts into. On the other hand, leaving your job to build up practical, important skills related to growing food (such as adopting the low impact permaculture philosophy), is much more in sync with creating a radical and beautiful future; a future where slaves won’t require masters, nor other slaves, and they will lose their chains…

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