A General Strike.. in my country? 5 Myths of the May Day “General Strike”.

  • Posted on: 9 April 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href="http://autonomousworkers.wordpress.com/">Autonomous Workers</a>

1. The May Day General Strike is Substitutionist and Ultra Left Opportunism.

For those unfamiliar with “Substitutionism”, the gist of it is the believe that a radically organized minority can act in the name of the working class rather than rely on the self – activity of the working class. “Ultra – Left” refers to the tendency of “a hardened political theory that rejects strategies aimed at involving the greatest number of workers, students and community members in the fight to win their rights and improve their conditions in favor of the actions taken by a self-selected minority of activists”. As though you have rights in the first place… But I Digress, I remember back in late November 2011 in a radically organized caucus right before we organized the D12 shutdown of the ports those comrades in the Bolshevik tradition as ardent proponents of our actions as “Substitutionist” and “Ultra Left”. </td><td><img title="The size of your paragraphs tell me you ARE ultra-left..." src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2012/redandblack.jpg"></td></tr>...

I remember a comrade from the I.W.W dispelling such myths and those childish comrades walking out of the meeting. I remember the ISO attacking the Oakland Anarchists and the Seattle Libertarians for such similar mentalities, for their criticism of Occupy’s Liberal tendencies. Once again against the victories we’ve made, against the momentum and experience we’ve gained these Bolshevik – Communists of all different traditions are attacking us with the rhetoric of “Substitutionism” and “Ultra Leftism”.

D12 was a response to the escalation of class war . We can not see what happened at Longview as an isolated instance, but as a small piece on a larger continuum of strides against the oppressed. Longshoreman or not, it affects us all. The unresisted victory of the Bourgeois at the Port like its victory at Wisconsin would mean an invigoration of its forces on all fronts against us. So on D12 we shutdown the ports for the workers who could not strike because the unions were to cowardice, because they want labor peace, not class war. We shutdown the ports because as a class this affects us all. We did so not as a closed organization, but as an open organization. We provided the space for which Longshoreman could get involved and they did. Against their Union and Boss they provided us with the means to shutdown the ports. Not only this, they brought us pizza on the day of the shutdown and stood on the picketline. This was not a Substitutionist action and to the thousands which stood on the picketline with us, I say it was not a minority.

A reality check is needed: the vast majority of the working class is not Unionized. The ISO and sympathizers with this myth have a strange fetish for organized labor as somehow the vanguard of the modern proletariat. If anything has been proven in the last decade it is that the last vestiges of AFL – CIO, SEIU or any trade union are incapable of organizing nor generalizing the dissent of the masses. The failure of unions to catalyze a General Strike in Wisconsin is the perfect example of this. The continuous concessions, retreats and losses on the part of Union movement has welded the most pathetic example of organized labor for a first-world country in the world. We can not leave it up to the Unions to make the Strike we need.

The point of this General Strike is to provide a space by which people can assemble and strike without operating in the legal and limiting forms of the Union. The point is to provide a space for which precarious and casualized workers who are not unionized can Strike. The point is to call out the entire working class: the unemployed, the housewife, the student, the service sector worker AND the Union worker. The point is to make the Occupy Movement the General Workers Union for the entire Proletariat. The “One Big Industrial Union” for our time.

We are not “Ultra Left”. Our hardened rejection of unions is for the fact they are both a minority in the face of a much larger working class, that they are typically reactionary and that they are largely irrelevant to the Student, the Unemployed, the Precarious or Casualized worker which makes up the much larger face of the Proletarian class then the Union movement.

What does the ISO and similar Bolshevik camps want? They say against Ultra Leftism they want the masses. But we want the masses too. However we want the most revolutionary sections of the working class. They are the vanguard; they will lead the rest of the dispossessed to victory. We don’t want them for the existing Unions or for any party, we want them to think and act autonomously, to become their own masters. That’s Anarchism actualized. You will neither find the masses in the Unions, nor the most revolutionary sections of the working class. We want to organize the vast majority of the dispossessed who are unorganized. Not beat the dead horse of the Union movement.

2. A General Strike is called by a Union

Not Always. The Great Upheaval of 1877 which started as a Wildcat Strike turned into a Nationwide Wildcat Mass Strike shutting down the railroads and enveloping cities into insurrection and insurgency. May 68 in France became a Nationwide Wildcat General strike calling on more than 10 million workers and many million students and unemployed into the streets for more than two weeks against the State, Unions and against all Political Parties which would co – opt its struggle. If anything the most memorable and inspirational strikes have been from Working Class Autonomy outside the Trade Union movement, not from it.

3.The May Day Strike will Accomplish Nothing

Even if the May Day Strike turns to nothing but mass marches, the fact that Occupy has interjected even the word of General Strike back into the everyday lives of the working class is an accomplishment. This is marked by the fact that since the first interjection of General Strike and Occupy into mass media has been from Wisconsin struggle last spring has lead Occupy Wall St. and the subsequent General Strike of Oakland and from the Bay area the call for a national General Strike.

4.The May Day General Strike has no “Demands”

False. The General Strike is “against the corruption of the worldwide marketplace, which has led to illegal foreclosures, mass unemployment, low wages, high taxes and a penalization of all those who do not own the ‘99%’ of the world’s resources, and in solidarity with the immigrant movements of May 1st”, but the simple act of Striking is a program in and of itself. A cold hearted rejection of the systems of exploitation. Its limits are clear however. Stopping work is not the same as abolishing work as a Social relation. This has always been the historic limit of a General Strikes and why the working class gets into one and then asks itself… well what do we do next? The General Strike is the tallest and highest weapon of the working class. But a gun isn’t a hammer and we can’t expect to build a new world until we turn protest into new communistic social relations.

5. A General Strike will win us these demands

General Strikes never win much. Especially not in America. The fetish of General Strikes will result only in disappointment. Only revolution can realize these demands and a General Strike will not and never has catalyzed any revolution. General Strikes are “revolutionary gymnastics,” a way of keeping in shape for the time of revolution. It’s a way of increasing militancy, developing strategies and new tactics, keeping the power of the working class in the public eye. It’s but a small piece in the accumulated experience of the working class.


that is a terrible definition of ultra-leftism, even Lenin would disagree with it.

It is to quote the ISO's biased characterization.

>So on D12 we shutdown the ports for the workers who could not strike because the unions were to cowardice

So funny on so many levels.

1. & yr not substitutionist? i don't buy the substitutionist line by any means, but you really set yourself up for it there.

2. y u like doing things for others?

3. y couldn't the workers strike? ever heard of a wildcat? y u equate what the workers can do to what their union restricts them to? yr not so "autonomous" as your name would suggest

4. cowardly not cowardice

5. we shut down not we shutdown

6. got you

1. What was said later - "We did so as an open organization" shutting down the industry and providing a medium for which workers could get on board and they did. It wasn't substitutionist because the conditions were there for a strike but the Union wouldn't get on board for fear of legality.

2. Solidarity is a two way street.

3. They basically did wildcat strike by not crossing the picketline. But they needed the space for which Occupy provided to act. Autonomy like Solidarity is a two way street.

4+5 screw your bourgie professionalism! anarchist language foreva I DO WAT I WANT.

6. http://tinypic.com/r/54jegz/5

1. ok but really, u dont think that sentence is entirely counterproductive to your whole argument?

2. not if the longshoremen are never going to drive the other way down it, which they aren't

3. autonomy = acting within the confines of the union's rules, the contract, labor law, etc? lol

4+5. grammar and spelling are not bourgeois

6. forcedmemeisforced.jpg

7. your writing is shit, not to mention explicitly vanguardist while being passed off as anarchism. give up the @ label and just admit you're a leninist.

Oh yeah we are defiantly Leninist, for you know, attacking Bolshevism , the ISO and not advocating a Party or a Union Bureaucracy. How is it Vanguardist? Never is it mentioned that a Party or any organization should lead anything to victory and make Anarchism/ Communism/ whatever you want... It said that the most dispossessed by Capitalism will pull the rest of the proletariat who are on the fringe of supporting class struggle into class struggle itself. Vanguard is a touchy word for anti - authoritarians, but it wasn't meant in any coercive or authoritative way. It has alot of different meanings. I never said autonomy was acting in the confines of union rules or labor law, its an autonomous action to do otherwise.

No I don't see how it is counterproductive. You picked one sentence in a larger paragraph which explains that this was not just an issue of a particular industry but an injury to all. To leave it up to the Union is not adequate because chances are it would either concede, retreat or pursue some reformist struggle which would end up with the same results which would effect us all. No longer is a single institution bound to protect a single industry of workers capable of safeguarding their interests and no longer are their interests just their own, they are all of ours.

>How is it Vanguardist?
>But we want the masses too.
>However we want the most revolutionary sections of the working class.
>They are the vanguard
>they will lead the rest of the dispossessed to victory.
>That’s Anarchism actualized.


>Vanguard is a touchy word for anti - authoritarians, but it wasn't meant in any coercive or authoritative way. It has alot of different meanings.

no totally, you're right, there are lots of different meanings, like 'the most advanced sections of the working class that lead the rest to victory as an authoritarian party' or 'the most advanced sections of the working class that lead the rest to victory as an autonomous force that is not a party and not authoritarian i swear i swear i swear on lenin's grave i swear it'

you are not an anarchist you are a vanguardist wanker

how is life as a tool?

>No I don't see how it is counterproductive.

Fine. Since you're a vanguardist masquerading as an anarchist I don't really care to help you see why you come across as a dolt.

I honestly could just say the word "lenin" and regardless of context you'd cry that I'm a Vanguardist. What is trying to be said here is that it will be the most dispossessed by the State and Capital, you know, the Housewife, the Unemployed, the Precarious Worker, People of Color, those folks who are not privileged by their exclusive union card, by their skin, sex, whatever, that will drag those privileged elements into real class struggle. Nice try, the quote actually goes "we want them [the masses] to think and act autonomously, to become their own masters. That’s Anarchism actualized." -- Being your own master, refusing to accept any hierarchy or authority is the destruction of this society, and the beginning of a new society which arises from our hearts, not from any party or union. Whatever I'm done. If being an ass strokes your troll ego, fine. I would have loved to actually have had a good conversation with you'd rather then you call a comrade a "wanker" and "tool".


1. you are not my comrade

2. you SAY you want and believe in the vanguard, and that they will lead the masses to victory. that makes you a vanguardist. (and a fool, and a wanker, and a tool)

2. you capitalize the words "housewife," "unemployed," "precarious worker," "people of color," lol

3. you say "real class struggle," lol

4. this has been a good conversation for me. especially if it causes you to leave @news forever and stop pretending to be an anarchist.

5. don't come back it won't be as pleasant for you next time

I am very scared :0


>to the thousands which stood on the picketline with us, I say it was not a minority.

minority: <50%

thousands out of a city of hundreds of thousands < 10% < 50% i.e. a minority

You need to take into consideration people who supported our actions but weren't there for whatever reasons.

I can't remember were I read it, maybe in a book/article about the Iranian rev? But what I read was that most revolutions in history have only had the active participation of about 1% of the population, and only a few of the major ones (French,Russian,Iranian,etc.) had the active participation of more then 10% of the population. "Active participation", I tend to think would mean the participation of conscious revolutionaries as opposed to people who might be pulled in at some point in time into active participation in a revolution primarily by force of circumstances.

Point is, most people tend to go with the flow of things. If revolutionaries have a message that the masses in general are sympathetic to and a program that they can get behind then the revolutionaries might eventually be successful in pulling off a revolution...all things considered, that is.

>But we want the masses too. However we want the most revolutionary sections of the working class. They are the vanguard; they will lead the rest of the dispossessed to victory. We don’t want them for the existing Unions or for any party, we want them to think and act autonomously, to become their own masters. That’s Anarchism actualized.

>the masses... most revolutionary... vanguard... lead the rest to victory... That's Anarchism actualized.
>vanguard lead the masses to victory. That's Anarchism actualized.
>That's Anarchism actualized.

hold on. i didnt read this thing but is the TL;DR really "Vanguardism = Anarchism"???

it is, comrade.

Look everyone: homie is just really confused right now, and trying to synthesize moth ball syndicalism with insurrection. It's like when you poop and it only comes half way out and you have a whole smear of poop on the TP. Eventually it'll get cleaned up.

Insurrection is the explosive diarrhea of anarchy.

This should be tagged as Wingnut.

because vanguardists are inherently wingnuts, or because vanguardists calling themselves anarchists are wingnuts?



k, really I just want a day to smash shit.

why not a General Smash instead of a General Strike? I mean, shit, I don't have a fucking job!

**hobbling off to make a poster on MS Paint while grumbling to myself**

Most Unions as such reflect the character of their constituents, materialistic, superficial, stockholm syndromized, close minded, well entertained, and accomodationist and that's just for starters. Union members may lean towards the leftish end of the general population, but if you want analysis and action there is only one union, IWW.

That being said, don't toss the union baby out with the morning garbage. Many of these folks -absent reactionary leadership - are your natural allies. It is correct to make plans to operate on your own, but do not project your alienation onto people who, with a bit of consideration, may very well be willing to help you. Seek, engage, implore and decide, but don't overgeneralize the unions with a broad brush. Cheers.

if you want me to read your paper it is best edit it first...too many screw ups, someone just started to read theory books for the first time. tl;dr

Shoddy work. This essay not only makes an awful analysis of class, it also criticizes the ISO as a vanguardist organization while advocating vangaurdism at the same time. Here's an article you may want to read: http://www.isreview.org/issues/52/postindustrial.shtml

The only logical thing for the writer of this article to do is repeatedly punch them self in the face. It should be taken down just in case someone reads it.

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