General Strike Time


#1

Francine Prose, writing for the Guardian, makes the perfectly good point that marching in the streets can only accomplish so much. The time has come to throw our bodies on the gears.

But the trouble is that these protests are too easily ignored and forgotten by those who wish to ignore and forget them. The barriers go up, the march takes place, the barriers come down. Everyone goes home happier.

One reason that Saturday’s protests were so effective was that, while peaceful, they were disruptive. Terminal Four was closed, incoming flights were delayed. One traveller wrote, on Twitter, that his fellow passengers applauded when their pilot announced the reason why their plane would be landing an hour behind schedule.

Trump must be stopped. At all costs and at every turn. This isn’t the time to be reasonable, to give him a chance, to wait things out, or to walk it off. This man is fundamentally incompetent and is currently purging the government of its most competent people and replacing them with vile, corrupt, traitors. We have to stop him before he causes irreparable damage. Congress is either unwilling or unable to act. It is dangerous to wait for an institution so deeply in thrall to business interests that the biggest open secret of our government is how it is not truly one of the people.

We must act in unison and solidarity, and begin to truly risk our comfort and our well-being for what we believe in. Otherwise, we’re going to have to learn to dream a little smaller from now on.


#2

Maybe.


#3

Wasn’t that supposed to happen on inauguration day? I know there were some protests, but a few months ago there was a lot of talk about nationwide general strike and I haven’t seen anything about it since.


#4

I was thinking something along these lines. I saw a documentary on the Sufferage movement, where women withheld sex from their husbands in an effort to get them to give them the vote. I was wondering if it would work today.

But both tactics are a double-edged sword. What you don’t give, you also don’t get. I get paid by the hour, and if I chose not to work in a general strike, I would also choose not to eat. I don’t imagine I’m the only one in that position.


#5

Well coordinated general strikes attempt to pick up that slack for you. People usually pitch into an emergency strike fund. This is one of those cases where the particulars will matter: Where you live, how organized your local organizers are, and the political climate. As a for instance: I live in a liberal blue dot in a red state where I personally know some of the more prominent community organizers. One of whom is an old union guy and a labor studies prof. He has a lot of first-hand experience and is knowledgeable about these things. When he and his ilk organize something, it’s organized, and the community here, including businesses, has a strong sense of solidarity. Your mileage may definitely vary.

There is always a risk, and the decision we’re all going to have to make is what risks we are willing to take, relative to the costs this madman will impose. My risks are similar to yours in terms of the fact that I can ill-afford to turn down work. But on the other hand, hourly wage labor isn’t about to get better. I can’t make the decision of relative risk for you, obviously. But that’s a decision you will make, one way or another. As always, the most vulnerable populations are the ones that will risk the most because they will have the most to lose. Muslims, the LGBT community, the working class, undocumented people, etc. are between a rock and a hard place. Either they are actively resisting Trump, and exposing themselves to scrutiny and risk, or they’re waiting in the dark for his wildest fantasies to come to fruit. Neither situation is ideal, but there is no middle ground, either.

Let’s be very clear about something too, the overtime rule is only the beginning. His labor secretary appointee is noxiously anti-worker. Make no mistake: This administration, without knowing in the slightest who you are, is coming for you. Are you coming for them?


#6

A couple of weeks ago a group calling for the Vanderbilt University campus to be a sanctuary space for people of color, immigrants, Muslims, LGBT people, and others potentially affected by Trump’s policies marched and temporarily blocked a major intersection, West End and 21st Avenue South.

The whole thing was very short–police arrived and the group dispersed peacefully within less than half an hour–but it seemed like the sort of thing that, if repeated enough, could effectively send a powerful message. It would have been even better if someone had called local news sources in advance, although I’m not sure how well-planned the event was. From what I understand it started as a gathering that then turned into a march.

Obviously it doesn’t need to be the only form of protest, and I think much larger, more dramatic actions are needed, but it had the advantages of being both brief and noticeable. It happened at about 12:30pm so workers taking a lunch break could participate–and that also heightened its visibility.

I’m just putting it out there as a model for one form of action.


#7

Protest by flash mob… maybe.

The question I would ask of any protest these days is: How does this impose costs either on the regime, those enabling it, or otherwise leverage entities and institutions that can exert influence on the regime. And so I don’t discount any protest method out of hand, because any tactic may be applied to achieve the goals listed above.

One thing we need to start hitting hard is people who are in positions of authority and force them to defy unjust laws to avoid significant social, economic, or other costs. We cannot let people “just follow orders.” I encourage people to keep the arithmetic simple: Don’t waste time on actions whose benefits are downstream and difficult to qualify or quantify.


#8

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