The Responsibility of The General Strike: A January 20th Manifesto

Friction is the byproduct of all social systems. The infinite forms of individuals in a shared region will always come together in a disproportionate cluster of tangles which has equal parts the ability to define or confine us. This is the ends of people and not systems. What counts above all is that our relations are disarmed of any potential to oppress if our system is a parameter to secure our own well-being and free will, and not one for imposing direction.

But never in the longest stretches of human history up until the last one thousand years have we experienced a time where friction becomes competition between classes, and where competition is funneled into a system of oligarchy which is in turn used to sustain profitable inequity defended by political litanies and cultural reinforcement. Where our system is a parameter against case-by-case needs, and moreover a broad apparatus for the elite at the expense of the many.

For the masses of people who work in full for less than half, and those among them who suffer the ills resulting from the historical inequity, their struggle is aimed at, if nothing else specifically, the possibility of freedom and livelihood.

Present society continues what has been done for centuries, only with a new face and refurbished bolsters for the bosses. In regard to the mechanics, we are not different from the serfs of the dark ages, but merely given appeasement in pay for our continued servitude. The institutions connect inward to sustain, in varying ways, the end result of wage labor and exclusive property rights, all which require a workforce not emancipated but not strictly in chains, rather coerced by dominant economic structures protected by the state. This is our current system.

As of writing, tomorrow we will ceremonially patronize a new national headmaster who will be the same bullhorn for profit and enforcement as the last forty or so in the United States. Except now it seems those at the top of the political process have made more than a Freudian slip, but a free declaration of their logical destinations.

“Ban all Muslims.” “Torture even if it doesn’t work.” “Build a massive wall on the US-Mexico border. Because, afterall, they’re rapists, they’re criminals. Some of them might be good people, but nonetheless.” The overlap in the institutions and discrimination has become undeniable, even to the ruling class, and having this realized they will make a last effort to fix their weapons on the working class with a smile. All this suppressed with appeasement, with sensation and with just enough of a supportive demographic to signal those “objective” types to try to fight fairly in an artificially unfair world.

In a way, suppressing the population has a way of destroying itself. Along with incinerating the ecosystem and driving the workforce and consumers into suicide and extinction (as an outcome of anti-democratic practices everywhere), it takes only one person to draw out the inequalities into attainable ideas to light a flame under the workers until they boil over. This manifests, among other ways, as a general strike.

For joint agreement among the working class to protest en mass the injustice that characterizes the system which sustains their exploitation and continual desperation; that is the force behind the general strike. To accomplish an idea where workers halt all service to all employers, both as a means to identify the lifeblood of a society, and to emphasize what happens when that is abused and broken beyond repair.

Historically, on both intellectual and physical battlegrounds, the general strike is a show of force, but it also contains a demonstration of capital’s consequences. It seems to bring into reality for everyone that the boss is an arbitrary formality, while the real power rests with those who perform the jobs. Even the defenders of the bosses cannot adequately shrug off the workers’ efforts. The bosses alone are the crumbled mortar of a vibrant architectural work. They must simply be outraged at the audacity of the workers for addressing their own power.

This further supports that workers are better suited to run themselves democratically. If not practically, at least logically. Though the strike is not self-management, it reflects the capacity of it. Alienation by designated, central leadership is totally absent, instead directed through free groups of the proletariat acting on group-by-group agreement. In this, we find an organic and free expression of demands, all connecting each other and effectively coordinating what has been composed in libertarian socialism.

Hoisting the bisected black and red flag over the angry masses is many things. It is a symbol of unity in anger and hope. It is a call to defiance against tyranny. It represents the revolutionary Syndicalist tradition. It is the greatest threat to the absentee owners of capital. Perhaps more importantly above all, it is a call to reorganize; a call for revolution beyond designated political and economic structures — a call for social revolution.

In dissolving the exclusive rights over production and management through organized expropriation, we dissolve the resulting imbalances that are the base of capitalism and the labor market. We restructure all of the social and cultural products under an equal arrangement by simply acknowledging from where their ills originate, and acting to repurpose what the capitalists have utilized.

The general strike is the clamor for this realization, a foretaste of it in the streets. Its various nature depends on the event or condition which inspired it. In this present case, it’s something of a unique happening. Before now, the past strikes have been solely class-oriented or politically-specific, but we seem to have combined multiple points of discourse stemming from popular outcry rooted in liberal politics, introducing the general strike idea to what can be called “the mainstream.”

Class struggle entails a greater cooperation with differently oppressed groups, as history has shown and discriminatory policy has proven. This is not a new revelation, but it is a factor that has primarily been exercised in the radical labor movement instead of liberalism. Bigotry and greed being connected, their grasp on social conditions intersects and injures everyone. The oppression of the worker affects the minority, and the oppression of the minority affects solidarity. One is not separate from the other, as struggles under capitalism come from the same place.

Class awareness has seemingly reached an all-time low in the United States, but is reaching an upswing. While liberalism dispels class anger in favor of reform, its use in channeling more radical messages cannot be overlooked, especially now. This, of course, is not to say that we should join the liberal side, but to incorporate agitation and organization wherever possible; particularly where the greatest number of people are listening.

In the wake of Trump, instead of individual legislation for progressives to rally against, they’ve found a single figure who resembles all that is loathed in the left. It’s almost comical how much Trump embodies the dominant American values that make up its political caricature, which is what liberals default to instead of class analysis, and so there is an immediate guarantee of where attention will be focused. There is undeniable potential for ideas in the current generation to be taken further in regard to where the root of these problems really are. There is a real, shared desire for potent organization and a substantive exchange of ideas beyond involvement in representative politics. An interest in alternative modes of community and economic structures, and consequently a cautiously optimistic gravitation toward social revolution which must be fostered and amplified fully.

This entire collision between a solid continuation of class struggle history and the mainstream being seized into a joint strike against fascism rests on the crossroads between success in an uprising and another lobotomized political period. A responsibility becomes too apparent.

The responsibility is a lost one — a stolen one. If any circumstantial honor among people had ever been, it was to join arms with those who are exactly like you in every way of condition and dependence. Every person already invested in a leftist perspective will need to take on a careful role of condensing the ideas and pairing them with all-too familiar experiences among liberal or apolitical workers. The stigma against a workers’ revolution must be fought continually, citing the inequities in private property, enforcement of profit by the state, the mutual relationship of greed and bigotry and the methods of anarchist democracy.

The strike must be universal. It must belong to everyone, but at the same time be united under a basic demand for social revolution. Not enriched appeasement made the basis for the same political structure, but for self-management and autonomy to surpass any limitation; to outdo what anything else could ever try. To reinvest power in those who upheld their own slavery.

Socialism or Barbarism is the evident truth. For us to meaningfully oppose Trump, we must reconcile all of our issues: those of working people, women, ethnic minorities, immigrants and LGBTQ people, under the banner of class struggle through revolutionary tactics. The state can do no justice but for the built-in protection of exploitation and alienation, for the frictions between people made a component of the system.

For freedom to be realized, we must consolidate individual freedom into collectively managed, horizontal portions of society and base our relations on trust and mutual aid. For the health of the planet, the security of our friends, family and ourselves, we must pursue and bottom-up rearrangement of society, and it starts with a General Strike.

The Responsibility of The General Strike: A January 20th Manifesto