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My personal experience of the Nov. 2nd general strike in Oakland was that it was a blast. The event was beautiful and exhilarating — even the colors in the sky were perfect! More importantly, as the first attempt at a general strike in a U.S. city in sixty-six years, I hope Nov. 2nd in Oakland can stir a long-suffering and silent wage-earning class in the United States to see the collective power we can have when we use a mass-scale workplace walkout as a political weapon against the owners of America. This is a gift to our future from the Occupy movement as a whole, and in particular a tribute to the outward-directed and working class focus of Occupy Oakland. Today in the Occupy movement, Oakland leads the way.

The ever-more-alienated internet is now saturated with exhaustively detailed first-person accounts of this event and I don’t need to add to these. I’m not out to revel in a self-indulgent buzz. The San Francisco Bay Area anti-authoritarian protest-scenester-scene is at its most limber and energetic when patting itself on its back, reveling in imaginary victories, celebrating its manifest failings as glorious victories, and proclaiming the limits of its current endeavors as the highest possible point that future efforts can aspire to.

The word ‘strike’ means “to hit with force’ (Webster’s dictionary). Except for a few large windows of some wholly appropriate businesses, nothing got hit with force in Oakland on Nov. 2, 2011. It may be years until we have some accurate figure of the number of people who actually walked off the job in Oakland on Nov. 2nd, but my guess is that it was something less than 15% of the city’s wage earners. Below 10% might be even more likely.

A “strike” that the boss gives you permission to take part in isn’t really a strike. On Nov. 2nd in Oakland this meant:

1. Employees represented by the California Nurses Association making use of their sick days,

2. Oakland City government employees were given permission from the city to “participate,”

3. And the occasionally leftist-jargon-slinging port worker’s union, the ILWU, needed to have masses of protesters block the gates to port facilities, and with this in place got an official mediator to approve of one of the port worker’s shifts being cancelled. Other ILWU members went to work during an earlier shift on the day of the general strike.

A strike has to have some forcible, breaking-all-the-normal-rules, disruptive and destructive qualities to be a true act of social or class rebellion. It has to damage the economic interest of the bosses, and this didn’t happen with the strike on Nov. 2nd. Among other negative indicators here, I haven’t seen the bourgeois media offering any public estimate of money lost to businesses from the strike. You can generally count on this after similar episodes in all those other countries where the working class has been more assertive of its interests than we’ve been. An actual one-day general strike would deliver an economic rabbit-punch to the bourgeoisie, and if they had taken a real hit this way we would have heard them acting martyred about it afterward...