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The General Strike - Part 2

Industrial Solidarity

The General Strike has allied in its service thinkers and men of action of many different schools of thought. For over a quarter of a century the Industrial Workers of the World have consistently advocated the General Strike as Labor's mightiest weapon in the class struggle.

The General Strike - Part 1

Why The General Strike?

Numsa Press Statement on the Numsa 14th of October 2015 Anti-Corruption March

By Irvin Jim - NUMSA, October 7, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s. The following event is unfolding as this goes to press:

A. The origins and foundations of South Africa’s unique corruption

There is concrete evidence, and also an admission by a key individual with a conscience, Ronnie Kasrils, about the extent of the sell-out deals the ANC made with capital during the 1990s, namely that the ANC would only get political power, without economic power, and that no radical measures would be embarked upon to restructure and to transform the South African economy.

We now know for certain that those deals sold the struggle for liberation in South African down the drain, and instead they ensured that post apartheid South Africa would be an extremely corrupt neoliberal capitalist state and society. South Africa is now in that space – an Olympic gold medal winning corrupt neoliberal capitalist system and society.

In place of the radical and full implementation of the Freedom Charter, the ANC abandoned both the philosophy and ideology of the liberation struggle – which were based on moving South Africa out of apartheid capitalism and all its evils including corruption and environmental destruction, into a society free of racism, colonialism, patriarchy and one of shared human values, social and economic justice and a transition to socialism.

Such a society was not capable of being created on the foundation of our inherited racist and patriarchal colonial capitalism.

Secretly and publicly, the ANC sold the dream for a racism free, equal and just society for a neoliberal capitalist society, complete with the corruption that comes with that package.

Apart from accepting International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank neoliberal capitalist dogma, and guaranteeing that land justice would never take place outside the capitalist markets, here are some of the deals the ANC struck with the devil, literally and figuratively, between 1990 and 1994:

  • The ANC accepted to repay $25 billion of inherited apartheid-era foreign debt (October 1993).
  • They gave the central bank formal independence in the interim and final constitutions (November 1993 and July 1996).
  • They borrowed $850 million from the IMF with tough conditions (December 1993)
  • They reappoint apartheid finance minister Derek Keys and SA Reserve Bank governor Chris Stals (May 1994).
  • They agreed that South Africa would join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (later renamed World Trade Organisation) on disadvantageous terms (August 1994).
  • They agreed to lower the main corporate tax rate from 48% to 29% and maintain countless privileges enjoyed by wealthy white people and corporations (1994-99)
  • They agreed to privatise peripheral parts of the state (January 1995).
  • They agreed to relax exchange controls (the ‘finrand’) and raise interest rates (March 1995).
  • They granted permission to South Africa’s biggest companies to move their financial headquarters to London (1999).
  • Finally, of course, they adopt a neoliberal Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) policy (June 1996).

The adoption of the GEAR policy (June 1996) effectively buried any hope of sustaining any liberation ethos and cultures, as South Africa was now fully confirmed as a neoliberal capitalist state and society replete with all the cutthroat competition, capitalist greed and pathological craving for accumulation of wealth by all means necessary including all and extreme forms of corruption.

All that we have said above is in the public domain. Why are our own state regulators, academics and journalists not blowing the whistle? Why must it take the FBI to tell us the details of the $10 million bribe that Thabo Mbeki and Danny Jordaan made to Sepp Blatter’s cronies, and the $6 million (R80 million) that Chancellor House made from the corrupt Hitachi deal to build Medupi’s boilers?

In effect an elite has agreed to use its control of the state to allow the white racist colonial capitalist foundation of South Africa to remain intact, in the process, allowing white dominated and foreign corporations to continue with their economic activities unchanged. It has done this in exchange for a share of the spoils. We know some of them are direct beneficiaries. They are businessmen and women during the night and politicians during the day. And of course their families are crony capitalists night and day. Today, the ANC itself acknowledges this fact – just read their 2015 NGC documents.

There is no difference between the ANC and the network of public officials and private individuals who agree to corruptly allocate tenders in exchange for a share of the spoils. This behaviour is a logical and necessary corrupt character structure of the society that neoliberal capitalism thrives on.

May Day #ShutItDown Communique and Banner Drop Photos!

By x363464 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, April 29, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

In preparation for May Day protests, a determined unionist dropped a banner early this morning reading "May Day #SHUTITDOWN!" at 17th and Broadway. This Banner was intentionally dropped near Latham Square, the site of the 1946 Oakland General Strike, in hopes to revive the tactic. We think it is the most effective tool for working class people to achieve their demands for a living wage, against police violence, and against austerity and gentrification. We hope to shut down the city this May Day to show the world that the workers are the ones that run the system and it is time to stop it's exploitation and stop the destruction of the working class, poor, and the planet we inhabit.

May Day ‪#‎SHUTITDOWN‬ Full Schedule and Posters!

Share and invite your friends!

All around the world May Day has been a day for direct action, reclaiming the streets, speaking out against injustice. Systematic racism, police violence, environmental catastrophes, and economic inequality are some of the many oppressions that are destroying our lives and the planet we live on. May Day should always be the day to take it to the next level and #shutitdown. We cannot continue to live this way and May Day we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Radicalization of the May 1st 2015 Strike

By Quebec IWW - SITT-IWW, March 29, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

English Translation. Pour lire cet article en français, cliquez ici. 

A phantom haunts the province of Quebec. It is the phantom of the General Strike. Since 2012, our elites have known that the working class, the students, and all those who continue to decry injustice and repression have the power to take to the streets and impose their legitimacy in the face of the State. Despite this dread, the high-priests of capitalism, and especially those preaching its liberal vision, can not hold back from waging an open war against everything that isn’t merchandise, against everything that isn’t financially valuable. From budget cuts to over-arming police forces, and from underpaid jobs to public insults against the poor and the exploited, everything leads one to believe that Quebec is now the foreground of unbridled capitalism. This neo-liberal paradise, protected by the State and its minions, ruins our lives and those of our families and friends, quashes what little is left of our liberty, spits in the faces of those most hard on their luck and on the misery of its own creation.

We have long ceased to believe in the regulatory capacity of this system. By destroying itself, it will destroy us too. Each new day we are reminded of this programmed failure: environmental disasters, increased inequality, the deterioration of working conditions, institutional racism, systemic corruption of our political system, and harassment of women in their workplaces or at school. Generally speaking, it is all forms of domination that are dangerously increasing, pushing the most exploited and dominated to the breaking point, all in order to install our elites on a too-comfortable pedestal.

This is why we call the rebellious among us to insurrection. We hope that the spring will bring out the most angry, those who are disgusted at the system, in the streets and in actions. Because apathy just isn’t enough, we firmly believe in our common capacity to create a better world. More than a simple timely struggle against austerity, we see on the horizon the premises of a social war, of which the 2012 strike was only a beginning. Each government, left or right, has tried time and again to impose their rotten economic and societal concepts upon us. A single day of strikes is not enough to push back a government which dearly protects the financial assets of the most dominant in society. We believe that a global revolt of all society must emerge during the spring. This revolt must be planned on the long term: in Quebec as in Europe, there are too many recent examples that demonstrate the futility of punctual and singular actions against governments that are now used to and prepared for social discontent.

Against capitalism and liberalism, we reaffirm our right to manage our own lives, whether the people who rule us like it or not. Our daily lives belong to us, our cities too. We firmly believe that capitalism must be erased from Quebec. In this goal, we will always be in solidarity with those who struggle, and always at odds with those who remain resigned and prostrate. We will be alongside workers and students in their struggles, and we will oppose all police brutality with working class solidarity. In the streets, in our workplaces and schools, in our neighborhoods, we are here to struggle and help.

Let us not fear our utopias!

Let us dare to overthrow the established order!

Blockades, Strikes, and the Blowback of the Fossil Fuel Economy

By Alexander Reid Ross - Earth First! Newswire, February 2, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The Strategies and Tactics of Pipelines and Oil Trains

It was said of Rockefeller as he built his prolific infrastructure empire of trains, pipelines, and refineries, that he would enter a community first with a promises of money, and if his kindness was refused, he would resort to other means. His oft-cited quotation speaks for itself, “the way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets.” Update this position to today, and you have the model for contemporary counterinsurgency (COIN) that plunges a growing pipeline and oil train network through dissenting communities.

Rising Tide blockade of oil trains / photo courtesy Rising Tide

Rising Tide blockade of oil trains / photo courtesy Rising Tide

As Warren Buffet, owner of Burlington Santa Fe Railroad, once stated, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” But with militant labor strikes shocking the oil industry and blockades halting oil trains throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada, it would appear that the class war is finally starting to even out.

Burlington Santa Fe Railroad is the largest oil train business in the US, an infrastructural necessity sparked by the fracking boom in the Bakken Shale of North Dakota, and the popular uprising against the network of pipelines projected out of the Alberta tar sands. After an oil train explosion vaporized nearly half of the downtown area of a Canadian town, Lac-Mégantic, killing 47 people, an outcry against oil trains arose throughout the country. Ensuing derailments of coal and oil trains, along with explosions propelling fireballs fifty feet into the air, highlighted the increasing urgency of direct action to halt the exploding “bomb trains,” as well as other fossil fuel infrastructure

From June to November 2014, around a dozen coal and oil train blockades emerged throughout the Pacific Northwest. From Seattle, where 300 people blocked an oil train after the Peoples Climate March, to Portland, where 100 protestors blocked a train in November, urban populations have increasingly mobilized to join rural dissent against fossil fuel infrastructure in numerous places around a Cascadian bioregion that stretches from Northern California to Idaho to British Columbia.

Many of these demonstrations are organized by a network called Rising Tide North America, which formed in 2005 out of the Earth First! Climate Caucus to combat “the root causes of climate change.” With its connections to Earth First!, a grassroots environmental group that has drawn the ire of the FBI and DHS on numerous occasions, Rising Tide has faced more than its share of interference from local law enforcement, federal policing agencies, and, curiously, even private contractors.

Strike! for Climate Justice

By Jeffrey Free Luers - Strike for Climate Justice, March 20, 2009

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s. Note that this call wasmade five years ago, but is still entirely relevant today.

Twenty years ago governments of the world met for the first ever climate talks. The talks, then, focused largely on the growing hole in the world’s ozone layer (a hole that still exists today) and the need to eliminate CFC emissions (which also still exist today though in much smaller amounts). The other climate item on the agenda was global warming. Scientists warned that there was growing evidence that the world was warming, possibly due to human activity much like the root cause of the ozone hole.

Unfortunately, in 1988 it was decided that global warming did not pose a significant threat to warrant action. The problem could wait to be addressed.

Nearly a decade later, in 1997, the governments of the world met for their annual climate talks in Kyoto, Japan. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a panel of the world’s leading scientists from countries around the globe, presented growing evidence that the world faced a severe threat from climate change. These scientists concluded that the single largest contributor to climate change were human greenhouse gas emissions, most notably carbon dioxide (CO2).

For the first time since the inception of the climate talks, world leaders agreed action was needed to combat climate change. The world took notice with a collective gasp as 180 governments pledged their support to a worldwide climate treaty to reduce CO2 emissions in an effort to conquer global warming.

In 2007, a decade after Kyoto and twenty years since the first climate talks, the IPCC declared in its strongest language yet that the world faced imminent global catastrophe unless immediate and drastic action was taken to reduce and then eliminate greenhouse emissions.

In the years following the Kyoto protocol, the United States – the highest emitter of greenhouse gases per capita in the world – pulled out of the treaty. CO2 emission around the world continued to rise. Governments that had promised to reduce emissions failed to impose strict limits, instead relying on voluntary cuts from industry. As industries refused to limit their emissions and governments balked at regulation, the Kyoto protocol collapsed.

The U.S. and numerous other countries with high greenhouse emissions have steadfastly refused to cut CO2 emissions, claiming that doing so would harm their ability remain economically competitive.

In the face of the largest economic collapse in world history, brought about by the very same green, deceit and malfeasance of the worlds most powerful multinational and government deregulation that has allowed CO2 emissions to go unchecked. Government and corporate claims that reducing emissions would create economic hard ring hollow.

People around the world put faith in our governments and institutions to act on our behalf and in our best interests. Our governments have had 20 years to act on global warming and climate change. 20 years to act on a threat that the world’s leading scientists say is the greatest threat to human kind the world has ever faced.

IWW Greece: Call for a General Strike on Nov. 27th

We call the entire working class for a
GENERAL STRIKE on 11/27/2014

Against austerity and predatory neoliberal policies
Against the terrorism of poverty and degradation
Against State’s authoritarianism and the policing of public spaces
Against the relentless onslaught of capitalist elites and their state-servant
The working class does not claim fraternal benefits and privileges
It fights for the liberation of all humanity from the tyranny of the capital
Our resistance will be unyielding until they are finally overthrown.

ΙWW Greece

The General Strike (Ralph Chaplin)

Introduction - (from the 1985 republication of this pamphlet):

Thousands of thoughtful and class-conscious workers in years past have looked to the General Strike for deliverance from wage slavery. Today their hopes are stronger than ever. Their number has been increased with additional thousands who are confident that the General Strike, and the General Strike alone, can save Humanity from the torture and degradation of the continuation of capitalism and the misery and privation of its recurrent wars and depressions.

The General Strike is the child of the Labor Movement. It is Labor's natural reaction to a system of society based upon the private ownership of the machinery of production. It is Labor's ultimate attitude in the class struggle. It is Labor's answer to the problem of economic disorganization.

Logically enough the General Strike has become the rallying-cry of millions of persons the world over who favor it simply because they do not wish to see the highly industrialized modern world sink into chaos, and human society sink to the level of savage survival.

The idea of the General Strike is here to stay. It came into being with the perfection of the machine process and the centralization of control which made it possible. And it will remain as a constant challenge to capitalism as long as the machinery of production is operated for profit instead of for use.

What is the General Strike?

When Ralph Chaplin wrote this pamphlet in 1933, fascism was on the march in Europe and America. He saw the general strike not just as a broad work stoppage, but rather as the occupation of industry by the workers themselves. It was his belief then that only worker control of industry could combat fascist repression and insure world peace.

 This conception of the general strike influenced the stay-in strikes of the '30s here and was modified by Japanese workers after World War II when they occupied the industries to make sure they were kept running. More recently, in the 1980s, workers in Bolivia, the Phillipines, Poland and South Africa have militantly taken up the tactic. It remains to be applied on a mass level once and for all to do away with the dangerous foolishness of private or State ownership of production. It is an idea both revolutionary and constructive, with a tremendous future.

Current IWW literature urges that workers the world over need to reach an understanding among ourselves as to what we will make, where we will ship it, and how we will distribute it in order to make optimal use of our skills and Earth's productive resources without either raping the Earth or making slaves of her people.

The General Strike

Born in Salt Lake City, Bill Haywood (1869-1928) went to work in the mines at the age of nine. He joined the Western Federation of Miners in 1896 and was active as an executive board member and as secretary-treasurer of that organization until 1907. One of the founders and the best known of the I.W.W. leaders, he became its secretary-treasurer for 1916-18. In September 1917 he was arrested and convicted under the Federal Espionage Act. In 1920, while out of Leavenworth Penitentiary on bail, he fled to the Soviet Union where, for a time, he was a leader of the American Kuzbas Colony in Siberia. He died in Moscow in 1928 after writing his memoirs, which he titled Against the Current. They were published as Bill Haywood's Book by International Publishers (New York, 1929).

Haywood wrote several pamphlets and numerous articles. He was one of the I.W.W.'s most famous lecturers. In World of Labour (London, 1913), G. D. H. Cole said: "Haywood could make himself understood by a crowd that did not know a word he said, merely by waving his arms and shouting." On Haywood's death, an obituary in The Nation (May 30, 1928) called him "as American as Bret Harte or Mark Twain."

Haywood's pamphlet The General Strike (Chicago, n.d.), published by the I.W.W., was a summary of a speech he gave in New York City on March 16, 1911.

Introductory material scanned from Rebel Voices, edited by Joyce L. Kornbluth, (1998), Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, 1740 West Greenleaf Avenue, Chicago, IL 60626. THE GENERAL STRIKE


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