In light of the general strike called for today by the Occupy movement, Bhaskar Sunkara asks, “What is a general strike, anyway?”:
A general strike has traditionally been defined as a work stoppage by a critical mass of labor in a given location. The daily processes of accumulation are stopped and neglected political questions come to the forefront of public debate.
Anti-austerity movements in Europe and elsewhere have recently seen such strikes, with millions in the street, mustering support for threatened social services. In the past, workers have similarly mobilized over a host of issues in the United States. General strikes took place in Saint Louis in 1877, New Orleans in 1892, Seattle in 1919, San Francisco in 1934, and Oakland in 1946. All were visible demonstrations of capital’s dependence on labor.
Occupy will not be able to match the scale of these actions, but many believe keeping the concept in circulation is important in itself.
Read Sunkara’s intervention here.