By Orsan Senalp, 19 November 2011
The 1% has not randomly chosen 15 November to raid #OWS and other camps across the US. The coordinated raid was launched against the peaceful occupations only two days before the ‘collective day of action’ which was called by the movement and American unions. That action took place on 17 November anyway but in a much different atmosphere. 15 November was also exactly the month anniversary of the global mobilization for #World Revolution.
May be the 1% wished to give a lesson to the 99%, yet state aggression has helped to take the movement one step further strategically, also at the global level. Either the elit itself did not get its lessons from Tahrir, del Sol, and Oakland, or they are losing control.
New generation general strikes in the making!
Since 15 October, solidarity between the old and newest social movements has rapidly increased. This is certainly a positive change forward for the established unions. Yet is also essential for the success of the global movement of indignant people or ‘precariat’. This solidarity between the old and new labor classes, organised and unorganised labour can be sign of a formation of a sort of ‘grand alliance’ against the 1%. It is a difficult but important process. In my opinion 1% saw this was coming and wanted to prevent it, but they have failed badly.
Now we hope that the revolutionary wave we are witnessing in 2011 would be coupled with a global wave of general strikes. I want to argue here that such wave is already in the move. Moreover the rising new culture of resistance making an impact on traditional understanding of general strike. As the occupy movement and labor movement interact and collaborates more closely the making of new type of general strikes has been accelerating. As soon as this solidarity take concrete forms strikes like Oakland would extend towards a level higher and than we can start realizing concrete achievements before winter falls.
J30 – prototype for global general strike
The organized labor has been playing an important role in the resistance in Greece, Italy, Spain, France, and the UK, yet something has radically changed since Tahrir, del Sol, Wall Street and global occupations took place on 15 October. Especially after the long Puerto del Sol resistance started on 15 May. And indignados has spread it regionally and globally throughout Europe, Middle East, the UK and the US. Processes and forces have reached to a level of hyper-connectivity. As a contribution of time and space compression, existing student, citizen and labor resistance in the UK lead many unions, the uncut movement, students and hackers to join the call for June 30 genral strike. It was very clear that J30 was indicating the rise of a new generation general strikes. What made J30 different and new is its combining traditional picketing model with computer hacking, occupation, assemblies, media actions, art strikes and many other type of actions in a creative, assertive, productive and positive way. And than concentrate all the impact on the weak points of the establishment. Be it codes of the capitalist property regime, the spaces of the monetary system, or greed of the capitalist class, you name it. J30 and general strikes following to it have also started to go beyond the national borders with speed of light, receiving immediate solidarity actions from other countries. This was really a good news for change,
2N Oakland General Strike
In 3 December 1946, a very important general strike took place in Oakland, as an extension of a national general strike wave. On 2 November 2011 another important general strike came about in Oakland. But this time, it might be indicating a major turn in the global history of social changes. Not because it was a ‘general strike’ happening after many decades, but also because of the way it happened. It was called by the people’s decision taken at the Occupy Oakland General Assembly with majority vote, hence without a call from established unions or labor movement. Instead unions endorsed to the call coming from the people. Partly it was similar in affect to Egypt. After a long resistance of the protestors occupying Tahrir and other key squares in the country the independent labor movement stepped to support protestors in February 2011. Continuous state aggression on peaceful protestors triggered a final reaction from the labor movement and a nation wide general strike has put a full stop to the rule of the last freon.
Oakland goes global: N6#6N, N17#17N
November 2011 has become a month of historical importance. We observe that the similar pattern of solidarity grew in Egypt, the UK and Oakland are now going global. We are heading from one general strike to other in different continents and they are some how linked to each other. The strikes that have been in Europe in recent years was giving us a clue that such momentum could rise. The 48 hour general strikes in Greece, the ‘mother of all strikes’ confirmed such a global wave is beginning to happen. Than suddenly we got N2 Oakland, N6 Israel nationwide public sector strike, and they have linked up to 11 November global Occupy protests. On 17 November in Spain we had students’ general strike, and in Italian transport workers’ general strike. All strikers send solidarity messages to each other and occupy movements started to engage with strikes. Greek’s protest against the austerity regime and 17 November killings add on top of these protests. As the globe turned around Occupy Wall Street and unions set forward a long day of collective action.
At the very moment we are heading to the general strike in Portugal, called for 24 November. There are general strikes planned in Dallas and the UK on 30 November. Dallas case is very similar to Oakland, as it was called by the Occupy Dallas’ General Assembly, after a brutal police attack on non-violent protestors. In N24 Portugal and N30 UK strikes called by unions and they target the cuts and pension reforms. However this is not all. In this juncture something else happened. The European Public Service Unions Federation EPSU, which has declared a verbal support for 15 October global actions, has called for symbolic European day of Action to support N30 in the UK. The call has been made on 12 November. It is aimed to support strikes as well as workers in the South Europe who struggle against the austerity regime dictated by the authoritarian global capitalism. The action can not go further than a symbolic level probably because of the internal conflictual structure of the federation. The same is true for the much more important support declared by the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC the biggest international organized labor entity, for the Occupy Movement. It was declared on 17 November by the General Secretary.
Since union bodies like EPSU, ETUC and ITUC have also members ‘representing’ right wing of the middle of political spectrum, as well as social democratic members that have established ties with social democrat parties in power it would be naive to expect them to join actively to the general strike wave that would target to shut the system down, at regional or global levels. But, certainly this support is of major importance.
If new generation general strikes would be able to adopt ‘positive’ forms towards N30 that would appeal majority of the society, then it would definitely motivate the mainstream unions to join in. As an example we can think of providing free public services to the people, instead of totally shutting down the schools, hospitals, transportation, water, gas, etc. so organized union members would not charge so-called ‘costumers’/citizens on the November 30 for public services. Another idea could be extending the life style in the occupations toward the out side the camp by providing public services through the network of occupiers, at least at a symbolic level. These kind of creative type of actions, would may general strike be thinkable or inevitable for the mainstream unions.
N30#30N towards a Global Wikistrike?
Besides a minor global mobilization organized to display the established connectivity and unity among the occupations and squares, there has been an open global wikistrike process launched anonymously on 11 November. With wikistrike it is referred to an open ended, open to all, distributed mass action framework, ultimately targets to network all the actions that are targeting a systemic change in a creative, productive, positive, assertive and borderless way. So occupy actions and others can be brought together with the traditional way of striking methods within such wiki process. Since it is defined as a collaborative pattern, content and form of actions would be open to modification, and participants’ initiative, This call would provide an example interface in which rising new generation general strikes can be linked to each other. If occupation assemblies take on it and support the N30 strikes and actions, it will also become 30N. This would mean that we are about to experience/experiment with the first global wikstrike soon.
Field is open!
As Zizek put it: “the filed is open”. In terms of the new collective action culture that came about in the recent revolutionary waves and dynamically characterized the opening of the field a recent Roarmag article gives us a clear picture. The road from Wikileaks to the global occupations, or taking of the squares, is full of new strategies of resistance invented and mobilizations techniques developed. They have been combined and implemented successfully. Now we are about to link the old and the new.
Peer to peer ‘wiki’ form has been underlying how occupations works, how global movement has built and swarmed. It has been not only helpful for creating wider alliances, unity in diversity, that pushed the movement forward. It can also be an effective way to enforce our collectively built alternatives on the road to dignity if we can concertize it and use it to transform them into wiki-political outcomes. In November 2011, several initiatives have risen in order to connect occupy and take the square popular assemblies. These initiatives can be future ‘interfaces’ bridging the social and the political spheres that we are dynamically building. If we can succeed and make these initiatives work we can also think about legitimate ways to replace the unjust production, distribution and ownership relations in a foreseeable time frame, for example with ones that we have been experimenting in the occupy camps, since Tahrir and del Sol moments. Between 15M in Spain and J30 in the UK, in Italy a great water revolution took place. It pave the way to the recent fall of the last Cesar, Berlusconi. Italian water justice movement’s success story -including the historic referendum result on 14 June- gives us a perfect national level insights with regard to this current stage of the movement. An open and global wikistrike process can be a effective tool to support this transition.
To speak out loudly what I read from the intensive global uprising that we are witnessing and making of that an egalitarian, peaceful and transnational revolutionary subjectivity is being formed. This subjectivity has a great potential to fill successfully in the opening field, Zizek was talking about. So we are forming a transnational historic bloc of counter hegemonic forces.As Jerome E. Roos put it, the end of the End of History has come and it is possible that the end of the ruthless rule of the 1% is closer. Alternatives options are of course and unfortunately exist, and they are very scary. Lets do focus for the time being on making the former option reality, and continue to build the way as we are walking!
We should keep in mind that we are the Many, as Hawaiian wikistriker Makana sings it truthfully!