While the clowns and amateurs are falling away and millions of American grown-ups are returning to the world’s oldest two-party system to defeat or re-elect centrist Barack Obama, 12,000 Wall Street Occupiers are planning to go nuclear—to hold a general strike, to get in Time Magazine again, in the sunny month of May.
Natasha Lennard reprints in Salon their “painstakingly drafted” call for national paralysis:
“May Day 2012: Occupy Wall Street stands in solidarity with the calls for a day without the 99 percent, a general strike and more!! On May Day, wherever you are, we are calling for: No Work, No School, No Housework, No Shopping, No Banking. Take the Streets!”
A general strike is a damning proposition and not something any incumbent president can abide. Lennard, of course, sees its limitations.
“There is, however, a shared desire underpinning this ambitious call to action – even among those who resist the language of general strike – to disrupt business as usual and for May Day 2012 to escalate a fiercer wave of dissent against our current socio-politico-economic context.
“Among the slogans resonating around the May Day calls is the pithy reminder that 'strike is a verb, not a noun.' The call to general strike, then, is best understood at this point as a brash and ambitious call to action. Writing in the early 20th century, French theorist Georges Sorel argued that a real general strike could only function as a myth and that the myth was all important – the idea of something unattainable, mysterious and indescribable that can drive and inspire revolution. By Sorel’s lights, there can be no successful general strike on May 1, there has never been a successful general strike and never could be one – and that is why it’s all important to call for general strike to invigorate action.”
So, finally—on May 1st—America will also experience a fierce wave of futile dissent.
Failing at being French, however, is not always an American vice. George Sorel’s fascination with violence and attraction to the radicalizing impact of futile gestures served European fascism, not the 99-percenters.
The American rallies that made positive history were made up of Americans who’d already earned national attention by personal effort and personal courage registering voters, riding buses, and various other acts of persuasive democratic law-making.
In free societies, rallies simply dramatize social change and general strikes often end up making democracies less free.