In the months since the Occupy movement began we have seen GENERAL STRIKES called in Belgium, Egypt, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa, Syria, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom.
Today, our comrades in Spain began their general strike, one week after their neighbors directly to the south, Portugal, had a 24-hour GENERAL STRIKE.
Since 2008 we have seen the popularization of the unfortunate acronym PIGS, used to refer to Portugal, Italy (and/or Ireland), Greece, and Spain. These countries in southern Europe were the hardest hit by the financial crisis, their growing debts threatening the stability of the entire Eurozone economy. As a result Europe has had its own North-South divide, wherein the south becomes Europe’s peripheral, poor, underdeveloped, unsteady, etc. What our comrades in Spain know, as in Portugal, Greece, Italy, and elsewhere, is that the real PIGS are the bankers who caused this crisis, the bureaucrats who administrate it, and the bourgeoisie who profit off of it. The PIGS are those who initiate austerity, not those who suffer from it. The PIGS are those who enforce this apocalypse. So today Spain has their GENERAL STRIKE. AS WE WILL HAVE ON MAY 1st.
As we write, there are currently 300,000 students in Quebec striking, having begun their OPEN-ENDED GENERAL STRIKE in mid-February. Their strike, which shows no signs of stopping, is in response to planned tuition hikes, which are just the latest in a series of austerity measures passed by governments worldwide in order to appease capital in the midst of its latest international crisis.
It is during moments of crisis that capital defines itself, these moments far more representative than its fleeting impressions of selective and seeming prosperity. For during crisis capital gets to RECREATE OUR LIVES in its own image, to restructure the institutions which define how we can live, to alter the services we depend on, and thus, our expectations of what our lives can be. The state sets the terms for a new relationship with which we’re forced to engage, austerity becomes THE WORST BREAK-UP IMAGINABLE, and with it, ALL OF OUR RELATIONSHIPS CHANGE, our lives becoming something else.
REFUSAL BECOMES MOST IMPORTANT DURING CRISIS. We cannot afford to pay more, get less, and earn nothing. The only thing we get from this life is debt. We refuse not just the latest demands of austerity, not just the system of capitalist relations which necessitates this austerity, but, most importantly, WE REFUSE THE LIVES WE’RE FORCED TO LIVE.
The GENERAL STRIKE rejects not just our employers, bosses, the owners, but the conditions in which these crises are inflicted. It rejects all of the identities applied on us, the roles we are forced to fill, and, worst of all, the escapist comforts with which we indulge in order not to kill ourselves. During the GENERAL STRIKE we appear in public to confirm that WE ARE NOT unemployed, precarious, temporary, students, immigrants, women, self-employed, entrepreneurs, artists, journalists, activists, Americans, white, academics, teachers, facilitators, intellectuals, hipsters, terrorists, geeks, interns, assistants, negotiators, nerds, New Yorkers, servants, the poor. WE ARE NOT NON-UNIONIZED. We are not the unorganized. As the Internationale says, WE ARE NOTHING, LET US BE ALL. We are dispossessed by capital, and as such, we are proletarians. THIS IS CLASS WAR.
Any time a workplace, union, sector, city, country makes a call, is it not just to get the attention of their bosses, employers, governments, owners, representatives, unions. It is a call to every other worker, i.e. everyone, to say that NOW IS THE TIME TO REFUSE. It is not a matter of endorsements, meetings, strategy. Whenever anyone anywhere says strike, they mean everyone, everywhere.
THE GENERAL STRIKE IS A THREAT. Every call is an invitation to begin OPEN REVOLT, to begin THE INSURRECTION. Whether the strike is planned for 8 hours, 24, 48, each deep down hopes to become not just indefinite, but infinite – to realize the full potential of its refusal. Every strike committee formed is a potential army, every open popular assembly on the GENERAL STRIKE is also an open assembly to begin to re-organize, or de-organize, the rest of our lives.
These threats are gearing up towards the GLOBAL GENERAL STRIKE, which will be indefinite, infinite. When everyone stops, or enough stop so that everything else must stop with them, so that THE OLD WORLD CAN NO LONGER CIRCULATE around us, through us. This is when the managers and economists, both in their right and left variants, have nothing left to manage.
This is what we see hinted at in TODAY’S GENERAL STRIKE IN SPAIN. This is what we’re working towards on MAY DAY. A beginning, a preparation, in creating the solidarities needed to REFUSE THEIR VOID, and instead to create our own.
29 March 2012
El Grupo Escindido