The Civil War Was Won Because Of A General Strike [FFON 217]

Strikes and the labor movement were on a decline in the second half of the 20th century, but in the last few years the power of labor has been growing. In 2018, we saw more strikes happen than in the last 3 decades. Teachers went on wildcat strikes for better pay all across the country in states like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, in what was known as the “Red State Revolt”. Which I’m pretty sure was an attempt to propagandize these strikes but just made sound super badass! This led to a bunch of solidarity strikes with hotel workers and even healthcare workers! 

All the way back in 2006, on May 1st Latino activists fought back against a harsh immigration bill with “A Day Without Immigrants”, which led to tens of thousands of immigrant workers not showing up to work which then caused Tyson and Cargill foods to shut down. Many suburbanites were left without their frozen meals and had to the unthinkable…cook for themselves! The streets were flooded with white folks wandering around in yoga pants holding a frying pan, lost, confused and asking for a ‘Consuela’. 

So what is it going to take make a General Strike happen in our society. One of the first things to have utilize the power of strong established labor unions. But since unions have lost power in the last few decades, it falls down to labor activists, mutual aids, the Democratic Socialist movements and we the people. Unions are too used to loosing and will bend to the will the bosses because of lack of morale. BUT we can bring up the morale in the rank & file with people that deliver & prepare food, take care of medicine, have conflict resolution, use art for positive & educational means, trust in collection and allocation of money. This all revolves around the people trusting & caring for each other. 

Mix this with ‘broad class anger’ and the stage set for a General Strike. Right now, with the BLM protests and the lack of any health, safety or economic measure from the those in the establishment or donor class the class anger is here to stay. The working class are pretty much saying “We’re here, we’re mad and we will burn this shit down if you’re not willing to listen and get the fuck out of our way!”

The next step is to permeate the public with the idea of the General Strike. Talking about strikes and what they are consistently so people know the truth instead of what corporate media propagandizes them to be. Networks like CNN, MSNBC & Fox News perpetuate anti-Strike propaganda because that means the owners of the network will lose money to the make up person that makes Rachel Maddow look less clinically insane.   

The other challenge involves bridging the divides between the ranks. There is divide between white collar, blue collar, middle or lower class. This exists in the way we treat each other. Classism exists in America based on the type of job we have. Think about it, we don’t treat the fast food employee the same as the civil engineer. 

Every time I’ve stepped into a McDonalds’ – which for me is 3 times and those all the regrets I have in my life, and I’ve had Crystal Pepsi on purpose – I always hear someone screaming at the kid behind the counter. “How fucking hard is it to make a goddam burger!” But we don’t do that civil engineer that has to design bridges. We don’t yell “How hard is it to prop up the infrastructure of a growing economy!”   

We’re divided in the levels of the jobs too. Entry level, managers, senior manager, project manager, whatever the fuck that is? Managers are part of the working class. The story of Henry Frick proves that. Andrew Carnegie put Henry Frick in charge of the Homestead Steel Mill in Pittsburgh. Frick was the face of slashed wages and worker turmoil, despite him following Carnegie’s orders. When a giant wooden fence went up around the mill they nicknamed it Fort Frick, not Fort Carnegie. Frick also hired the Pinkertons to attack to the striking workers. 

Carnegie used his position of power to coerce the Governor to call the National Guard into Homestead, but Frick was the face of it. By the end when the Guard attacked the strikers and the townspeople, it was seen as an attack by Frick, who was the manager of the Mill. Publicly Carnegie was pro-Union but behind the scenes he wanted them all killed. Frick is seen as such a terrible person that we use his name as a child’s substitute curse word. Frick instead fuck! 

I’m not defending Frick, but I am saying that the man should’ve sided with the strikers because Andrew Carnegie sold him out. And Carnegie was delusional to his wealth, that on his death bed he said he wishes his friend Henry Frick was there. Frick responded by saying “Tell Mr. Carnegie I’ll see him soon enough…in Hell…where we are both going”. 

Some Union leaders fear that the General Strike would only fuel Trump’s campaign and the focus should on his immorality. But that statement is looking at a tiny part of a universal calamity. That’s like finding out you have cancer, but you really want to remove this wart on your finger. Organizers want to use the power of the courts to push back against Trump. So if workers are ordered to go back to work before this crisis is over, Unions can take to the courts as a health & safety issue. 

Chris Smalls did this with Amazon and was fired for it. Chris Smalls led a strike when Amazon executives told his warehouse workers to keep working after there was an employee that tested positive for COVID-19. They deliberately put the lives of their employees, their families AND THEIR CUSTOMERS in danger.  After firing Smalls, Amazon spun the narrative claiming it was he who had a health & safety violation. Amazon used the tight defense of “I’m rubber & you glue, what you say bounces off me and sticks to you” defense. The courts mostly on the side with the corporations, so this doesn’t particularly move us forward. 

General Strikes have shaped and defined America at this very core. According to W.E.B. Dubois Black Slaves freed themselves by using the tactic of a General Strike. The way Dubois saw it was that slaves were just exploited workers who were in the constant struggle not just to control the means of production but also the means to themselves! So in order to achieve this goal, they took up arms against their masters, escaped the plantation and disrupted the global production of cotton from the South. 

Dubois also claims that the Union was able to clinch their victory because of these slave rebellion as General Strikes. The uprisings in the farms and escaped slaves that became Union Soldiers turned the tide of the war. “They wanted to stop the economy of the plantation system and to do that they left the plantations”. This is a huge statement! This basically says that the General Strike is a way to collapse the Capitalist economy to create and revolutionize a new economy. The first major General Strike in American history was created by Black Slaves who created their own freedom. They used the General Strike to become a Bald Eagle soaring through the sky absorbing Liberty for All!