the sentiment fits equally well in the heart of a citizenry that believes it is already dead
September 23, 2007 8:10 PM   Subscribe

General Strike. Garret Keizer has an idea. It's really not so outlandish. But of course it won't do any good.
posted by BackwardsCity (95 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Surely this... would lead to Bush invoking the Insurrevtion Act to implement Marshall Law.
posted by Poolio at 8:21 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Marshall Law can't force everyone to leave their houses and go to work.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:22 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm gonna do this anyway. But probably not if I get a job in the meantime.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:23 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Marshall Law can't force everyone to leave their houses and go to work.

I fear there are 5 SCOTUS justices who'd disagree.
posted by Poolio at 8:23 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think you would be surprised what martial law could force.
posted by Flunkie at 8:25 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


The problem is that this war just doesn't affect most of us in any measurable way besides anger. Assuming you're not in the military and don't know anyone who is, has your life been any different at all since 9/11? Aside from higher gas prices and general aversion to the MSM, I mean.

Me neither. That's why not asking Americans to sacrifice anything for these wars was such a brilliant move, conscious or not.
posted by gottabefunky at 8:26 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm sure they would...but I'm talking about the reality of it. You can feasibly go house to house and make people go be productive or shop. Marshall Law works best in the reverse of that.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:27 PM on September 23, 2007


Grr. Can't feasibly, I meant.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:27 PM on September 23, 2007


I have been saying this for four years. A general strike is a good idea. As is a general "consumption" boycott.

But. Heaven forbid anybody actually have to DO anything. Except one of them potlucks for peace. Or a half hour march. Or maybe a tersely worded email after I play three hours of WoWC. LIKE, BUSH TOTALLY SUX DUDE!
posted by tkchrist at 8:27 PM on September 23, 2007 [5 favorites]


You can feasibly go house to house and make people go be productive or shop.

I assume you meant to say "can't feasibly...", in which case I'd say you'd be surprised what the threat of imprisonment (or "rendition") can make people do.
posted by Poolio at 8:29 PM on September 23, 2007


you'd be surprised what the threat of imprisonment (or "rendition") can make people do.

You're right there. Which is part of the reason this hasn't already happened.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:33 PM on September 23, 2007


Poolio, presumably some of the support for the strike would come from the police officers who would otherwise force the strikers back to work (everybody? at gunpoint? and stand behind their desks afterwards and make sure they're really working hard?).

What I find interesting about the article is the same thing I find interesting about your response, which is this immediate, unshakable belief we all seem to have that there's absolutely nothing we can do but go along and not make waves and wait for 2009/2013/2017. Why are we all so cowed?
posted by BackwardsCity at 8:35 PM on September 23, 2007


presumably some of the support for the strike would come from the police officers who would otherwise force the strikers back to work

Under Marshall Law, it'd be the military (National Guard) that handles enforcement.
posted by Poolio at 8:38 PM on September 23, 2007


Why are we all so cowed?

Good question. So if you really believe in this, let's stop intellectualizing about it and start planning to stay home on the 6th of November.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:40 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, I tried to be subtle about it, but it didn't work. Again, I'm sorry, I know this is trivial and I shouldn't be complaining about it, but it's driving me crazy:

It's "martial law".

Once again, I'm sorry.
posted by Flunkie at 8:41 PM on September 23, 2007 [17 favorites]


I think you would be surprised what martial law could force.

And WHO pray tell is going to be there to force it? Our national guard and army are all in fucking Iraq.

What goon army is Bush going to field againt the 50% of country who actively dislikes him. Blackwater mercenaries? On $1000 dollars a day against the taxpayers who PAY THEM?

What? Who else? The 28% left that actively supports Bush? Those die hard FREEPER mouth-breathers?

Sure they got some guns. But those people are quite possibly the laziest, dumbest, most obese dip-shit populations of humans that have ever existed on this planet. And most of them are over 50 years old already.

This is WHY there was never a draft for Iraq. This is why they hoped, against all logic and fact, that they could invade and occupy a country of 24 million with 100,000 combat troops.

Because IF they attempted to initiate a draft the population of this country would go ape shit and they have nobody here to control us.

Nationwide martial law would not do shit. In fact it would have he opposite effect of "instilling order."

Unless of course the country bends over like a bunch pussies and takes it. And judging how the supposed liberals have taken the repeated outrages of this war on their knees. Eh. Okay. Maybe.
posted by tkchrist at 8:42 PM on September 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


Sorry, Flunkie.

I'm glad you complained, because it's a stupid mistake that I'm embarrassed to have made (repeatedly).
posted by Poolio at 8:43 PM on September 23, 2007


The problem with a plan like this is that things simply aren't bad enough yet. People won't sacrifice like this until they have nothing left to lose.

Who do you think is going to strike? Nobody cares that much. At most a few thousand people.
posted by empath at 8:45 PM on September 23, 2007


I don't think a general strike would faze the elite too much. You might get fired, but either way you'd still have your bills to pay at the end of the month.

A month of not buying gasoline and biking to work, turning off your cable service, not going out to fast food restaurants, not buying news media products, not buying shit, period.

Stop consuming America's garbage for a month and you'll get their attention.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:47 PM on September 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


tkchrist, please note that I neither said nor implied that Bush would be able to force everyone to work under the current political and military condition that America finds itself in.

You are, however, incorrect that "our national guard and army are all in fucking Iraq". Approximately 6.5% of our forces are in fucking Iraq.
posted by Flunkie at 8:48 PM on September 23, 2007


Sacrifice? Jesus.

This is how lazy Americans are. A day off work is now a fucking sacrifice.

Good googly moogly. Ask some American to maybe not buy an iPod or Xbox and you'd think you asked him to walk to Selma and hunger strike for six months.
posted by tkchrist at 8:48 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


But, I'm interested in it as an experiment in activating the you-tube/digg/myspace/facebook generation.

Start a myspace page, start digging up articles about it, post videos about it. Create some catchy slogans. Someone pull out the Color Revolution handbooks from Eastern Europe. I'll happily participate if it looks like it's going to come off.

Remember, Remember, the 6th of November.
posted by empath at 8:50 PM on September 23, 2007


So if you really believe in this, let's stop intellectualizing about it and start planning to stay home on the 6th of November.

I used the pieinthesky tag for a reason; a general strike probably wouldn't work, and probably couldn't even get off the ground. I do think the article is a good starting place for thinking about why this is, and also hopefully to start thinking about what sorts of mass movements might actually work and what they might accomplish, as well as how we got ourselves into this snare of inaction in the first place.

On the plus side, given that I'm a grad student, there's a reasonable chance I'll stay home on Nov. 6 anyway. You're all this close to having a National Philosopher's Strike on your hands.
posted by BackwardsCity at 8:50 PM on September 23, 2007


You are, however, incorrect that "our national guard and army are all in fucking Iraq". Approximately 6.5% of our forces are in fucking Iraq.

Besides which, there's always Blackwater et al.
posted by Poolio at 8:52 PM on September 23, 2007


This bloke has explained exactly the problem with his case.

The stream of commuters heading into the city, the caravan of tractor-trailers pulling out of the rest stop into the dawn’s early light, speak a deep-throated Yes to the sum total of what’s going on in our collective life.

Americans are happy enough to continue foreign wars for oil. Even here in this supposed 'Liberal echo chamber' the troops are still sacrosanct, and the right of the US to invade other nations is not really disputed - only the manner of the invasion and its justification.

The same forces that protect the worker from the draft protect the capitalist from the worker. The only reason the opposition have slowly come around to doubting the war is that it (now, temporily) seems a handy wedge to use for their real goal: taking Washington.
posted by pompomtom at 8:53 PM on September 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Oh, ok, cool. Let's just talk about how awesome it could be. Much better.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:54 PM on September 23, 2007


The other problem with this idea is that everyone is holding out hope for major changes after the 2008 elections, making the whole exercise moot. However, if we get into a war with Iran, all of that could change.
posted by empath at 8:54 PM on September 23, 2007


A month of not buying gasoline and biking to work, turning off your cable service, not going out to fast food restaurants, not buying news media products, not buying shit, period.

no, make it a lifestyle, as much as you can for as long as you can

hint - turning off your cable service should be easiest and first
posted by pyramid termite at 8:54 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Approximately 6.5% of our forces are in fucking Iraq.

Oh Jeeze. Dude. That is nearly ALL our active COMBAT ready ground forces. You understand how that works right? Most personnel are "support" and/or are cycled in and out of combat roles.

So. You think they would withdraw our NATO commitments? Or out USFK (Korea)? Or maybe they will put truck drivers and cargo plane pilots in riot gear?

Look. People. Understand something. If our best trained, best equipped forces could not handle a few thousand unemployed arab teenagers how the fuck are they gonna get a police state going in a nation 300 million people.

Iraq. 24 million. Disaster.

Domestic National martial law. 300 million. Im-fucking-possible.

And. If THAT is what is keeping people from doing something about this administration? The fear of martial law? Then we are in way worse shape than I thought.

It's not fear of "the Man." It's laziness. That is why things are fucked up.
posted by tkchrist at 8:59 PM on September 23, 2007 [10 favorites]


Could you please calm down and stop yelling at me for things that I haven't said? Thank you.
posted by Flunkie at 9:01 PM on September 23, 2007


But not my cable modem, right? Let's not lose our heads.

Roman, I would love to see a general strike, but we all seem to agree on the problems with mobilizing a population that doesn't seem all that unhappy with the way things are going. So how does a mass movement begin in these circumstances?
posted by BackwardsCity at 9:01 PM on September 23, 2007


So how does a mass movement begin in these circumstances?

I understand the long odds. But it starts like it's always started, with hope and trying. You get out there and you pour your heart out to whoever will listen. Maybe the numbers swell and people get inspired, maybe they don't. At least we will have fucking tried instead of taking it like dogs.
posted by Roman Graves at 9:05 PM on September 23, 2007


I'm just going to point out that if you're going to call for a general strike (general meaning wider than the liberal elite), Harper's probably isn't the best place to do it.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:05 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


The other problem with this idea is that everyone is holding out hope for major changes after the 2008 elections, making the whole exercise moot. However, if we get into a war with Iran, all of that could change.

Yes, just a year and a half left. January 2008, unless someone like Guiliani or McCain get elected. (Mitt Romney is too self-aware to go down in history as W 2.0, IMO.) I seriously doubt that could happen, though.
posted by delmoi at 9:07 PM on September 23, 2007


I like turtles.
posted by humannaire at 9:07 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mitt Romney is too self-aware
Really? He has always struck me as an early model replicant.
posted by Flunkie at 9:11 PM on September 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Besides which, there's always Blackwater et al.

No. Cylons. They would manufacture battle droids.

Who is Blackwater? They are former military or LEO. They are MERCENARIES. There is no way they could employ enough mercenaries (Blackwater rates are like $1000 dollars a day, BTW... my brother worked for them) to handle even one Major US city in revolt. Not for any length of time. Not yet any way.

There would be no martial law if there was General strike. The idea is absurd. They would have no constitutional grounds for it, anyway.

There would have to be a much more serious uprising for that.

Look. The only way police states successfully quell massive large scale uprisings (let alone "handle" a piss-ant protest like a strike - which they would ignore totally, btw) is if there is not sufficient support for the uprising from the middle class - IE: MONEY.

So. What you do is allow economic forces to whittle down (or make passive) the middle class... with inflation (or pacify with bribes). Well we don't have cash to bribe the middle class. And it looks like the economy may tank soon. So. THAT is when you may get away with martial law - during a severe inflationary period. But it's a two edge sword. Domestic occupation costs money, too. No middle class. No taxes to support your secret police.
posted by tkchrist at 9:13 PM on September 23, 2007


I er ahh, would also like to add that I err like turtles too.

(Boooooo!)
posted by 1adam12 at 9:13 PM on September 23, 2007


Just adding to tkchrist, the entire point of the article is that we don't need to imagine martial law putting down this hypothetical general strike because we call it off before it's begun.
posted by BackwardsCity at 9:19 PM on September 23, 2007


There is no way they could employ enough mercenaries (Blackwater rates are like $1000 dollars a day, BTW... my brother worked for them) to handle even one Major US city in revolt. Not for any length of time.

Yeah... because we know how fiscally responsible Bush is.

But seriously, if a Democrat wins in 2008, I fear what Bush (read: Cheney) will do between election day and inauguration day.
posted by Poolio at 9:20 PM on September 23, 2007


not going out to fast food restaurants

So going out to fine restaurants with $90 entrees is cool? I do love me some tortured logic! And then after we stop eating fast food we could "vegan Michael Moore WTO impeach Cheaney no war for oil kill your tv miscellaneous liberal platitude with no concrete connection to the current situation!"

meanwhile, hard working activists will continue the hard, slow, subtle work of effecting real change.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:21 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry flunkie. I ain't yelling at you. Not the literal "you." Okay. Maybe perhaps the larger metaphorical "You."

I wanted to dispel they hysteria over the omnipotent "martial law" US police state before it starts. If people get out and act then is no police state as the elected representatives will actually see we care and want change.
posted by tkchrist at 9:22 PM on September 23, 2007


Poolio. You fear to much.

Fear not.

Go out and DO something.
posted by tkchrist at 9:24 PM on September 23, 2007


hard working activists will continue the hard, slow, subtle work of effecting real change.

Yeah. And by 2035 they will prevent the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Er.

Ooops.
posted by tkchrist at 9:27 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey, I tried, man. But the season premiere of Heroes is on tomorrow...

Also: Know who else had a general strike?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:28 PM on September 23, 2007


Sorry flunkie. I ain't yelling at you.
No problem. Thanks.
posted by Flunkie at 9:29 PM on September 23, 2007


Poolio. You fear to much.

Not really... I've never actually bought into any of the "Bush will cancel the elections" type stuff... but my one real fear is what'll happen if a Democrat is elected... this admin has buried an awful lot of bodies in and around the White House.
posted by Poolio at 9:30 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


meanwhile, hard working activists will continue the hard, slow, subtle work of effecting real change.

Spoken like a true pussy. You can't subtly change a completely broken system.
posted by Roman Graves at 9:31 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


What's this mythical Democrat going to do? It seems increasingly unlikely that Hillary will even end the war, much less do anything else. You may see a lot of happy people on Jan. 20, 2009, but how are they going to feel in six months when the new boss turns out to pretty damn similar to the old one, and nothing's magically changed overnight after all?
posted by BackwardsCity at 9:35 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hah hah hah.

I'll blog about this, but I won't actually do anything.
posted by orthogonality at 9:35 PM on September 23, 2007


(Insert your most likely Democratic nominee for Clinton if you like. Are any of them going to withdraw from Iraq on Jan. 21?)
posted by BackwardsCity at 9:36 PM on September 23, 2007


PS> I truly believe that national martial law would be, like, totally awesome man. The draft would have been better.

You want change? Have Bush do something THAT colossally stupid.
posted by tkchrist at 9:37 PM on September 23, 2007


(Insert your most likely Democratic nominee for Clinton if you like. Are any of them going to withdraw from Iraq on Jan. 21?)

Do you really think that's what Bush is/would be/should be most afraid of?
posted by Poolio at 9:43 PM on September 23, 2007


Do you really think that's what Bush is/would be/should be most afraid of?

What Bush is afraid of? Fuck Bush, that's what we're afraid of! The fact that it's not going to happen. People need to quickly let go of the idea that this is a fucking party issue. Red, blue, whatever, it'll be business as usual.
posted by Roman Graves at 9:47 PM on September 23, 2007


People need to quickly let go of the idea that this is a fucking party issue. Red, blue, whatever, it'll be business as usual.

The only cure is more Joementum.
posted by Poolio at 9:50 PM on September 23, 2007


meanwhile, hard working activists will continue the hard, slow, subtle work of effecting real change.

Because we all know that making puppets and breaking windows at Starbucks is working really well.

Corporations run the country, not politicians. If you want to affect change, or at least get taken seriously, stop buying shit.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:50 PM on September 23, 2007


My office is now officially closed Nov 6th.

My economic momentum of my four employees and the absense on the world stage of our international juggernaut/design firm will bring this country to it's knees.

IT'S KNEES I TELL YOU!

MWah-haha-hahahaha-ha
posted by tkchrist at 9:54 PM on September 23, 2007


My office is now officially closed Nov 6th.

You've inspired me to close my [home] office on Nov 6th.

Freedom!
posted by Poolio at 10:08 PM on September 23, 2007


I'm not so sure about how my participation in a general strike would have any effect on anything, seeing as my superiors pay only passing attention to anything political, and see themselves as only peripherally inconvenienced by the war. They'd chalk it up as a personal day and probably assume my dog needed to go to the vet.

One personal mantra I've considered lately is the idea of voting them all out. Every incumbent. They seem to either be incapable of individual thought on the Republican side, or abject political fear and triangulation on the Democratic side. Something they might respond to, and might become somewhat catchy, is a drumbeat to get rid of them all.

Vote. Them. All. Out.

I'm astute enough to realize that one should evaluate their representative individually and we need to support those who are actually working for change, but the spirit of this FPP is in regard to dramatic action, and in that spirit this is the one I propose. Again, I think it's kind of catchy.

Vote. Them. All. Out.

Methinks if it caught on it might get their attention. Most people think this government isn't working; they aren't working. Might we light a fire under some assees if there really was a concerted all or nothing effort to get rid of all of them?
posted by MarvinTheCat at 10:29 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, I know it can't happen all at once. But a good effort the first time might scare some people straight. And by straight, I mean standing up for some principles and taking heat for said.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 10:30 PM on September 23, 2007


"Voting them all out" gives control of Congress to the Republicans. They would interpret it as a mandate to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on Canada, mandate church attendance, and shove GPS tracking devices with built-in microphones up all of our asses.

You can complain about the Democrats all you want, and you'd likely have some very valid complaints that I would, to a large degree, agree with, but I think that it's just plain crazy to think that they're as bad as Republicans.
posted by Flunkie at 10:40 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how voting everyone out would give Republicans control of Congress. And I don't think they're all as bad as "Republicans." I don't find the current crop of Republicans to be Republicans. I find the current administration to be a rogue bunch of ideologues usurping the Republican moniker, actually. And abusing the trust of the religious right in doing so.

It's more the establishment triangulating attitude in general who's feet I'd like to hold to the fire. All of them. A debate over condemning an ad? Really? Come on.

I realize I got my grammar chocolate in my sentence structure peanut butter on this one. Going to bed now. Night mefi.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 10:57 PM on September 23, 2007


I'm not sure how voting everyone out would give Republicans control of Congress.
Because Congress is currently controlled by Democrats, and unless this pie-in-the-sky fantasy also involves voting in 535 third party candidates, "voting them all out" means switching Republicans for Democrats and vice versa.
posted by Flunkie at 11:05 PM on September 23, 2007


If people are serious about doing this, then they have to think about how people are going to support themselves during the strike. That's a big deal-- how are people going to eat? Get medical care? Pay their rent? There has to be a general strike fund, mutual aid teams and so on. Without that, it won't work.
posted by wuwei at 11:07 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think MarvinTheCat's plan has the most plausibility of anything mentioned so far. I just don't see a general strike happening in the U.S. That's not what politics in the U.S. means. As a nation, we don't do strikes, just like we don't do rioting. However, people do vote, and tend to vote angrily and in broad strokes: a campaign to vote *against* all the incumbents could be quite effective.

Although a lot of people in the U.S. -- the overwhelming majority -- really dislike George Bush, only a small fraction have the combination of anger and interest that would make them passionate enough to risk their job or a day's worth of pay for it. Most people just don't do that sort of thing for politics; there's a separation between the personal sphere and the political sphere, and the separation of those hasn't really been that affected by the Iraq situation, for anybody but those who are related to servicemembers.

The only people I see being passionate enough to do anything approaching 'direct action,' whether it's a general strike or something else beyond what's normally considered political in the U.S., are people personally affected by the war, and the usual protest-followers.

Even with only those groups, it could probably still get some media attention, which might make it useful, but I don't see it having any really drastic effects. Politics in the United States is a slow, grinding machine, with huge mass. Trying to shove it quickly usually isn't very effective. (And more often than not I think this is a good thing, and over the span of decades I think it tends to move in the right direction; on a day-to-day level it can be incredibly frustrating, though.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:13 PM on September 23, 2007


MarvinTheCat:
Every incumbent. They seem to either be incapable of individual thought on the Republican side
How about Ron Paul? He's a Republican Congressman with a 20-year consistent voting record. He makes all his arguments based on law, scholarly citations, and nuanced arguments, not knee-jerk. He's against the Patriot Act, against No Child Left Behind, against Real ID, and if elected will immediately begin phased troop withdrawls.

Ron Paul 2008

And yes, he has the neocons' panties in a bunch...
posted by vsync at 11:15 PM on September 23, 2007


This is the problem with Americans. We worry too fucking much. I see a whole lot of "great idea, but it would never work". A lot of listing the reasons why it would never work. Well, no, if everyone thinks that way of course it won't.

Ya'll can call me an extremist, but I have no faith whatsoever in the American political system. We keep voting in one corporate slave after another, and something on the level of a national strike is our only option to really change things at this point. More than that, we NEED a national strike. Because we're a nation of apathetic drones that will take however much shit they feed us.

It doesn't even have to be most of us. If a third, or a fourth, of Americans didn't show up for work or go to the mall, it would send a message loud and clear. You just have to find what they care about. Everyone has had their fill of something.
posted by Roman Graves at 11:51 PM on September 23, 2007


I knew a guy named Marshall Law in school as my mother used to say ...

But the government action we're afraid Bush might implement is called Martial Law.
posted by Araucaria at 12:13 AM on September 24, 2007


Oops, sorry Flunkie, I see you made the correction already. It drove me nuts too.
posted by Araucaria at 12:15 AM on September 24, 2007


Seeing it spelled like that gives me a sense of fear and loathing ...
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:32 AM on September 24, 2007


We embraced our inner Pinkertons back in the 80's. They give us shopping and lifestyle hints now, much cheaper and easier than cracking head.
posted by maryh at 1:44 AM on September 24, 2007


Bah. votethemallout.com, votethemallout.org, votethemout.com, and votethebastardsout.com are all taken. I like Marvin's idea anyway.

Because Congress is currently controlled by Democrats, and unless this pie-in-the-sky fantasy also involves voting in 535 third party candidates, "voting them all out" means switching Republicans for Democrats and vice versa.

Well, sure. It is, as you say, a pie-in-the-sky fantasy. Why not vote in 535 independents? If nothing else, filling Congress with ideologues of every stripe will at least guarantee they won't get much done, and certainly won't manage to pull off any further adventures in the Middle East (read: Iran).
posted by enn at 1:48 AM on September 24, 2007


that was a nice piece but a one-day general strike would be totally uneffective and most certainly not totally observed by any means.

What needs to be done immediately and until Bush is gone is the shutting down of Congress. No business at all--no funding of anything, no confirmations of anyone--no nothing. If there was even one elected official of any party with balls and ethics, it would have happened already. (of course, given the spineless asses in Congress, i'll have to go with Marvin's thing about getting rid of every single one and voting all new people, but that wouldn't really change anything either)
posted by amberglow at 3:59 AM on September 24, 2007


I'm all for campaigns to buy nothing for the holidays or something like that--and already many many of us are not giving a penny to any incumbents this election cycle, but too many millions can't afford or take the chance of not going to work even for one day--that's thanks to both parties and our non-existent protections--we don't have what Europe has--they can't be fired for striking and we all can--Even union members nowadays.

It's Congress where the damage is still being allowed and it's Congress where it has to be stopped. Any ideas that will stop it before Jan 09 (because it's not going to be better even then and can't wait for any kind of "saviour" or even a "not Bush") are what's needed.
posted by amberglow at 4:07 AM on September 24, 2007


there was an interesting reference to the rescue of jews in denmark during the second world war that I checked up on wikipedia - hadn't heard about it before.
posted by amrangaye at 4:25 AM on September 24, 2007


Related reading: "The Docile American."
posted by From Bklyn at 4:49 AM on September 24, 2007


I'm down with it. Everyone can strike to her/his comfort level, even if it means just not shopping for a day.

We gotta do something. And January, 2009 is too far away.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:58 AM on September 24, 2007


On the idea of Vote Them All Out, I'm surprised and amused (in a sick sort of way) at the assumptions popping up. Like somehow, it means voting in a member of the opposite party, or independent. Huh? No, it means refusing the nominations for existing members of Congress. Like the guy that got nominated in place of Lieberman, only hopefully with more success come the actual election.

As for the strike: I think the main reason why this isn't likely to happen is a simple one, no one has mentioned: Health Insurance. No job, no insurance, for most folks. Now you know exactly why we don't get real health care reform.

Not to mention, one day is nothing. An attempt at a warning shot, but it won't accomplish much. A week, maybe. Two weeks, you'd have them sweating. Meanwhile, there would at least be the threat that the ringleaders would be hauled in for a little tasers-on-full/broken-broom-stick fun and games.

Turning your cable/sat off? Now you're at least hitting at one easily identified real enemy, the MSM. Their failure (apparently willful) to report news is why so few people are demanding impeachment, etc.
posted by Goofyy at 4:58 AM on September 24, 2007


Although a lot of people in the U.S. -- the overwhelming majority -- really dislike George Bush, only a small fraction have the combination of anger and interest that would make them passionate enough to risk their job or a day's worth of pay for it. Most people just don't do that sort of thing for politics; there's a separation between the personal sphere and the political sphere, and the separation of those hasn't really been that affected by the Iraq situation, for anybody but those who are related to servicemembers.

This is critical. General strikes in Britain, France and other countries have come from gross disenfranchisement of entire social classes, crushing, grinding poverty and a lack (perceived or actual) of any other options.

The US has none of these in sufficient quantity or intensity to provoke a general strike.

There are millions below the poverty line in the US, but it is relative poverty - most have roofs over their heads and enough food/heat etc to get by. They may be shitty, substandard roofs, and the food may be slowly killing them with high fructose corn syrup, additives and everything else, but it's simply not the case that the poor in the US have nothing to lose - they have just enough to lose to create a sense of incredible inertia. The higher up the income scale you go, the stronger that inertia is.

There is also the appearance of democratic rule of law. People have representation (even if agendas seem to be set by non-state actors such as corporations). Apathy and disengagement has compounded this situation.

The people paying the majority of the taxes in the US have tolerable lives, and in some cases are doing very well. The people who are most disenfranchised from politics, and also worst affected by the war and the economy, also have (barely) tolerable lives. There's too much to lose to risk saying words which don't come naturally to a country built on an individualist, immigrant-inspired and fuelled work ethic.

The only thing that will change this is a drastic change in American society that deeply affects everyone, across the US. Whether that is an economic crash, a draft or something else remains to be seen. Political action on the scale of a general strike will not come from a country where 90% of the population are 'getting by' and are afraid of losing their jobs.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:08 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is essentially the same as a boycott in principle, and you can't even organize an effective boycott in this country.

The difference between a general strike and a boycott is that a boycott is far less intrusive on one's lifestyle while a strike constitutes a major change.

Hardly anyone would do it. The few far-lefties that would try wouldn't even be noticed.
posted by Doohickie at 6:52 AM on September 24, 2007


I know it sounds trite, but black armbands. With the number of U.S. and Iraqi dead and wounded written on them. People need to know they're not alone.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:48 AM on September 24, 2007


So, let's just say we weren't sure this would fail. What would be the next step in getting it to work?
posted by salvia at 7:56 AM on September 24, 2007


Reading tkchrist's comments over time has caused me to envision him as a cross between Anthony Bourdain and Hannibal from the A-Team. Why can't you organize the strike, tkchrist? I'll even buy you a cigar for the "I love it when a plan comes together" tagline at the end of the day...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:22 AM on September 24, 2007


In Italy we used to have the general strike like once every year or so. Even with the 2 mio people going on the march, the special trains to Rome and so on.

Never changed anything at all. Problem is the leadership *is* the mirror of the nations. That means the Italians got Berlusconi, the commies, you name it because they mirrored society at the given point in time. Same for Bush in America.

Remembers me when the Iranian voted Ahmadinejad, all the blogs in Teheran predicted a moderate will win, and then the peasants, the poors and basically *the people* voted for him.

So as long the Italians, Americans, whatsover don't take the Bastille as the french did, that means they are happy with their lot. With the duly execptions for dictators, tyrants etc.
posted by elcapitano at 8:26 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I like this article, but I don't like general strikes.

Here's why: the concept of a general strike depends on the fantasy of consensus: "I'll stay home from work if you do." One of the things Keizer ignores is scale: sure, Paris can agree on something, Seattle can, but not 300 million people. So because we can't convince 299,999,999 other people to go along with an idea, we figure it's not worth doing ourselves.

But look at his best example:

In 1943 the Danes managed to save 7,200 of their 7,800 Jewish neighbors from the Gestapo. They had no blogs, no television, no text messaging—and very little time to prepare. They passed their apartment keys to the hunted on the streets. They formed convoys to the coast. An ambulance driver set out with a phone book, stopping at any address with a Jewish-sounding name. No GPS for directions. No excuse not to try.

Do you have to deliberate about the phone book? Do you have to organize a mass-key-exchange? Or do you get off you ass, walk outside, and start helping? What can you do, right now, to make your neighbors safer? What can you do to help the guy on the corner? Why do we always have to help people half way around the world? Why can't we just help the people on the other side of the train tracks?
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:09 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


ahem.
Kang: The politics of failure have failed. We need to make them work again. Tomorrow, when you are sealed in the voting cubicle, vote for me, Senator Ka... Bob Dole.
[applause]
Kodos: I am looking forward to an orderly election tomorrow, which will eliminate the need for a violent blood bath.
[applause]
Homer: America, take a good look at your beloved candidates. They're nothing but hideous space reptiles. [unmasks them]
[audience gasps in terror]
Kodos: It's true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about it? It's a two-party system; you have to vote for one of us.
[murmurs]
Man1: He's right, this is a two-party system.
Man2: Well, I believe I'll vote for a third-party candidate.
Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away.

The next day, Kodos announces the result: "All hail, President Kang!" The field in front of the Capitol has now become a working ground where humans are whipped by aliens and used to carry materials. The Simpsons family is working too, with Homer and the kids carrying wood, and Marge pushing a wheelbarrow of cinderblocks -- with Maggie on top.

Marge: I don't understand why we have to build a ray gun to aim at a planet I never even heard of.
Homer: Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.
-- "Treehouse of Horror VII"
posted by blue_beetle at 10:25 AM on September 24, 2007


and with perfect timing, UAW goes on nationwide strike against GM over health care costs (the first time since the mid-70s)
posted by amberglow at 11:30 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd take part in anything even superficially similar on a national level. But I also don't really give a shit.

To my educated, intelligent and very employable friends, the US is already dying. The forces of indolence, incompetence and illogic are perceived as far too strong to oppose, indeed they feel more like tidal shifts in societal behavior than any rationally planned political movement. So we've pretty much given up on the whole place. Sure, if the massive structural flaws were rectified, perhaps by an administration with a backbone we might countenance staying and even helping, but that doesn't seem likely. Frankly, we're not too attached to the USA as a permanent home. When you can easily get a decent job anywhere in the world (modulus your language skills), the draws of patriotism pull ever more faintly.

We've already taken on the mantle of surfers, measuring the moods and motions of currents infinitely larger than ourselves. We judge the winds and if they turn bad, we will leave. If the conditions improve, we'll return. It's tempting to wax eloquent on the death of the nation state as a compelling world actor (and I believe that's true) but fundamentally it's simply too easy to head to fairer (and saner) climes.
posted by Skorgu at 12:01 PM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


As a nation, we don't do strikes, just like we don't do rioting.

hahahahahahahahahahahaha
posted by blacklite at 4:40 PM on September 24, 2007


Skorgu: Fred Thompson is hardly a "compelling world actor." He has no range at all. Most of his roles are re-hashes of his character from The Hunt for Red October.
posted by Slap Factory at 6:26 PM on September 24, 2007


USA
RIP
died of neglect
and apathy
posted by stinkycheese at 7:41 PM on September 24, 2007


On the idea of Vote Them All Out, I'm surprised and amused (in a sick sort of way) at the assumptions popping up. Like somehow, it means voting in a member of the opposite party, or independent. Huh? No, it means refusing the nominations for existing members of Congress.

How do I do that on my ballot?

On the idea of "Vote Them All Out," (which honestly seems as inane and naive as "None of the Above") I'm surprised and amused how people expect it to work? So who are we voting FOR?

Oh, you mean like how I vote for losing third-party candidates who get no attention or respect? Well, I've been trying it since I could vote (~18 years), and to be honest, it hasn't accomplished much.

Promoting quality politicians is really the only way to "fix" the system. Breaking it is a more attractive solution, but perhaps just as difficult or more.

As for the "general strike," I would be a lot more interested in getting involved if it were more than "hypothetical," i.e. half-baked. If an anti-war organization or individual (even this dude) put their nuts on the line and said "here's what we're doing," instead of "what if we did this," I'd be more interested...

If someone were to suggest, for example, that we begin a general strike on Election Day ...

WFH! (What a fascinating hypothetical!)
posted by mrgrimm at 8:52 PM on September 24, 2007


I was recently rebuked for suggesting that Americans are apathetic about the present, shall we say, unpleasant political situation. This thread makes me feel so much better!

Now, I can quit using the term 'apathetic' and replace it with more apt 'cowardly'.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:37 AM on September 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yes, chuckdarwin, and you should also now see that those Americans who revel in their right to bear arms, to prevent a tyrannical government, should either start shooting, or admit their culpability for the deaths presently being caused in the ME.
posted by pompomtom at 7:26 AM on September 25, 2007


i say it's time to throw down at least one unequivocal ultimatum: if all the chamberlains and liebermans in the democratic party allow the administration to get its way and take some kind of preemptive military action in iran, we should immediately begin the most massive and sustained general strike the nation has ever seen, spanning all segments of the population and all geographic regions--ending only once the action is ended and all our troops are finally brought back home.

arguably, it may already be too late by then to preserve much of our nations future prosperity, but let's face it, for all the future america's got ahead of it at that point, we might as well all just drop everything and give the powers-that-be a serious, meaningful display of democracy in action for once.

and if enough americans seriously commit to such a plan in advance, then maybe even the administration hawks would be forced to stop and seriously consider other alternatives before proceeding with the insanity of yet another military action against a sovereign nation.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:31 PM on September 26, 2007


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