This week we bring you a piece discussing how labor can respond to working under Trump. The context for the piece comes on the heels of national calls for a general strike on January 20th when Trump will be inaugurated. The author himself was a participant in the Wisconsin General Strike attempt and wrote about it prior. Having been around for the 2006 Immigration general strike attempt, the events in Wisconsin, 2012 Occupy General Strike, and explored general strikes here on Recomposition. We haven’t collectively taken a position on this most general strike proposal, but we hope that some continuity and discussion can inform whatever happens on January 20th and after. What is crucial is that we attempt to understand the changes happening, and the potentials and challenges for a revolutionary union movement. With unionization rates at 100 year lows and the doors seemingly closing on passive legalistic approaches to workplace organizing, the author argues that we will find a new envi…Read More
Juan Conatz spent a long time in Madison at the height of the protests there in 2011. In light of events since, in Wisconsin and across North America, these events take on even greater importance. Below are two articles Juan wrote about these events.
In this post we reprint an article from William Trautmann, one of the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World. Trautmann’s discussion of general strikes is relevant to the current conversations happening about occupations and calls for general strikes. For Trautmann, a successful general strike will be a lockout of the capitalist class, which is to say, occupations of workplaces which prevent capitalist economic activity from happening.
This is a speech given by the famous anarchist Lucy Parsons. This excerpt in particular is particularly relevant to recent discussions of a general strike:
“Nature has (…) placed in this earth all the material of wealth that is necessary to make men and women happy. (…) We simply lack the intelligence to take possession of that which we have produced. (…) My conception of the future method of taking possession of this is that of the general strike: that is my conception of it. The trouble with all the strikes in the past has been this: the workingmen like the teamsters in our cities, these hard-working teamsters, strike and go out and starve. Their children starve. Their wives get discouraged. (…) That is the way with the strikes in the past. My conception of the strike of the future is not to strike and go out and starve, but to strike and remain in and take possession of the necessary property of production.”
For Parsons, a general strike and an occupation are synonyms.
The rest of the speech is below. Other elements resonate greatly with the present moment. Parsons discusses her experiences with the police and state murder of her husband, sadly relevant to recent police violence. Parsons talks about how U.S. residents drew inspiration from struggles around the world, another parallel to the present where protests around the world look to each other for ideas and motivation. Parsons also discusses gender divisions within movements of her day, issues which we still need to address today.
In his article “Replace Yourself,” J. Pierce recommends “reveal your sources so others can think with you” and “encourage other members to read what you’ve read.” This latest post — Stan Weir’s “Unions with Leaders Who Stay on the Job” — does both at once. Weir’s piece inspired some of the ideas in all of the recent posts on leadership.