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Vorwärts announcing a general strike in Germany on 9 November 1918, at the beginning of the November Revolution.

In the United States, Britain, and (to a lesser extent) Australia, the trend toward revolutionary unionism culminated in the growth of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Technically, the IWW is described as a union that practices revolutionary industrial unionism. Some consider the revolutionary industrial unionism of the IWW to be a form of anarcho-syndicalism.[41] Others point out differences; for example, Ralph Chaplin has written,

...the I.W.W. concept of the General Strike differs almost as much from that of the anarcho-syndicalist as from that of the political or craft unionist. In form, structure and objective, the I.W.W. is more all-sufficient, more mature and more modern than any of its anarcho-syndicalist predecessors.[26]

The IWW began to fully embrace the general strike in 1910–1911.[42] The ultimate goal of the general strike, according to Industrial Workers of the World theory, is to displace capitalists and give control over the means of production to workers.[42][43] In a 1911 speech in New York City, IWW organiser Haywood explained his view of the economic situation, and why he believed a general strike was justified,

The capitalists have wealth; they have money. They invest the money in machinery, in the resources of the earth. They operate a factory, a mine, a railroad, a mill. They will keep that factory running just as long as there are profits coming in. When anything happens to disturb the profits, what do the capitalists do? They go on strike, don't they? They withdraw their finances from that particular mill. They close it down because there are no profits to be made there. They don't care what becomes of the working class. But the working class, on the other hand, has always been taught to take care of the capitalist's interest in the property.[44]

Bill Haywood believed that industrial unionism made possible the general strike, and the general strike made possible industrial democracy.[44] According to Wobbly theory, the conventional strike is an important (but not the only) weapon for improving wages, hours, and working conditions for working people. These strikes are also good training to help workers educate themselves about the class struggle, and about what it will take to execute an eventual general strike for the purpose of achieving industrial democracy.[45] During the final general strike, workers would not walk out of their shops, factories, mines, and mills, but would rather occupy their workplaces and take them over.[45] Prior to taking action to initiate industrial democracy, workers would need to educate themselves with technical and managerial knowledge in order to operate industry.[45]

According to labour historian Philip S. Foner, the Wobbly conception of industrial democracy is intentionally not presented in detail by IWW theorists; in that sense, the details are left to the "future development of society".[46] However, certain concepts are implicit. Industrial democracy will be "a new society [built] within the shell of the old."[47] Members of the industrial union educate themselves to operate industry according to democratic principles, and without the current hierarchical ownership/management structure. Issues such as production and distribution would be managed by the workers themselves.[47]

In 1927 the IWW called for a three-day nationwide walkout—in essence, a demonstration general strike—to protest the execution of anarchists Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.[48] The most notable response to the call was in the Walsenburg coal district of Colorado, where 1,132 miners stayed off the job, and only 35 went to work,[49] a participation rate which led directly to the Colorado coal strike of 1927.

On March 18, 2011, the Industrial Workers of the World website (www.iww.org) supported an endorsement of a general strike as a followup to protests against Governor Scott Walker's proposed labour legislation in Wisconsin, following a motion passed by the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL) of Wisconsin endorsing a statewide general strike as a response to those legislative proposals.[50][51] The SCFL website states,

At SCFL’s monthly meeting Monday, Feb. 21, delegates endorsed the following: "The SCFL endorses a general strike, possibly for the day Walker signs his 'budget repair bill.'" An ad hoc committee was formed to explore the details. SCFL did not CALL for a general strike because it does not have that authority.[51]

Reaction of orthodox labour

The year 1919 saw a number of general strikes throughout North America, including two that were considered significant—the Seattle General Strike, and the Winnipeg General Strike. While the IWW participated in the Seattle General Strike, that action was called by the Seattle Central Labor Union, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL, predecessor of the AFL-CIO).[52]

In June, 1919, the AFL national organisation, in session in Atlantic City, New Jersey, passed resolutions in opposition to the general strike. The official report of these proceedings described the convention as the "largest and in all probability the most important Convention ever held" by the organisation, in part for having engineered the "overwhelming defeat of the so-called Radical element" via crushing a "One Big Union proposition", and also for defeating a proposal for a nationwide general strike, both "by a vote of more than 20 to 1."[53] The AFL amended its constitution to disallow any central labour union (i.e., regional labour councils) from "taking a strike vote without prior authorization of the national officers of the union concerned".[53] The change was intended to "check the spread of general strike sentiment and prevent recurrences of what happened at Seattle and is now going on at Winnipeg."[53] The penalty for any unauthorised strike vote was revocation of that body's charter.[53]

Notable general strikes

General strike in Catalonia, 21 February 2019

The largest general strike that ever stopped the economy of an advanced industrial country – and the first general wildcat strike in history – was May 1968 in France.[54] The prolonged strike involved eleven million workers for two weeks in a row,[54] and its impact was such that it almost caused the collapse of the de Gaulle government. Other notable general strikes include:

  1. ^ a b c "plebeian secession" was a tactic used by the Roman plebs of vacating a city entirely and leaving its ruling elite to fend for itself, thus an even more radical action than a "general strike", yet unlike the latter term, it does not pertain to withholding labour within a wage-system. General strikes in the current sense of the term only begin to take place in a context where in which labour is treated as a commodity, and wage workers collectively organise to halt production.
  • 1835: Philadelphia General Strike, Pennsylvania
  • 1842: General strike, Great Britain
  • 1862–1865: The plantation general strike in the Confederate States of the U.S.
  • 1877: St. Louis general strike, St. Louis, Missouri, an outgrowth of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 in the United States
  • 1886: Walloon jacquerie of 1886 Wallonia
  • 1892: New Orleans General Strike, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
  • 1893: Belgian general strike, Belgium
  • 1902: Geneva general strike, Switzerland
  • 1905: The Great October Strike, Russia; see 1905 Russian Revolution. World's largest general strike.
  • 1907: Geneva general strike, Switzerland
  • 1907: New Orleans Levee General Strike, United States
  • 1909: A general strike coupled with a major uprising in Barcelona
  • 1909: Swedish general strike of 1909
  • 1912: Brisbane General Strike, Australia
  • 1912: Zurich general strike, Switzerland
  • 1917: Australian general strike
  • 1917: Brazilian general strike
  • 1917: Spanish General Strike
  • 1918: Irish General Strike against Conscription
  • 1918: Swiss general strike
  • 1919: Barcelona General Strike, Spain
  • 1919: Winnipeg General Strike, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • 1919: Seattle General Strike, Seattle, Washington, U.S.
  • 1919: General Strike in Basel and Zurich 1919, Switzerland
  • 1920: General strike in Germany to stop Kapp Putsch.
  • 1920: Romanian general strike
  • 1922: 1922 Italian general strike
  • 1920: German passive resistance strikes at the Ruhr
  • 1926: United Kingdom general strike
  • 1933: French general strike
  • 1932: Geneva general strike, Switzerland
  • 1934: West Coast waterfront strike, US
  • 1934: Minneapolis general strike, US
  • 1934: Toledo Auto-Lite Strike, US
  • 1936: Palestinian general strike
  • 1936: French general strike
  • 1936: Spanish general strike
  • 1936: Syrian general strike
  • 1938: French general strike
  • 1941: February strike, Netherlands
  • 1942: Luxembourgish general strike
  • 1946: India Indian general strike
  • 1946: Oakland general strike, Oakland, California
  • 1950: Austrian general strikes
  • 1950: General strike against Leopold III of Belgium
  • 1953: Ceylonese Hartal, Ceylon
  • 1954: Honduras general strike
  • 1956: Finland Finnish general strike
  • 1958: Bahamas general strike[citation needed]
  • 1960: 1960-1961 Winter General Strike in Belgium
  • 1968: French General Strike
  • 1972: Quebec general strike[55]
  • 1973: Uruguay[33] however, a number of Socialist leaders advocated its use for one reason or another.[34] Socialist leaders who embraced the general strike tended to see it as an instrument for obtaining political concessions.[33]

    Drachkovitch identified five types of general strikes:

    Drachkovitch perceived the first two concepts, the socialist-friendly general strike for political rights within the system, and the general strike as a revolutionary mechanism to overthrow the existing order—which he associated with a "rising anarcho-syndicalist movement"—as in conflict.[a][35] Drachkovitch believed that the difficulty arose from the fact that the general strike was "one instrument", but was frequently considered "without distinction of underlying motives."[36]

    Milorad M. Drachkovitch also observed the variable success of the general strike in actual use:

    In Belgium a general strike movement, broken off in one instance without damage to the organizing forces, eventually led to universal suffrage; in Holland a general strike collapsed with disastrous consequences; in Sweden, a general strike was conducted and terminated with disciplined order but did not attain the desired results. In Italy, general strikes had been both socially effective and politically unproductive. On the other hand, the events of January 1905 in Russia onc

    Milorad M. Drachkovitch also observed the variable success of the general strike in actual use:

    In Belgium a general strike movement, broken off in one instance without damage to the organizing forces, eventually led to universal suffrage; in Holland a general strike collapsed with disastrous consequences; in Sweden, a general strike was conducted and terminated with disciplined order but did not attain the desired results. In Italy, general strikes had been both socially effective and politically unproductive. On the other hand, the events of January 1905 in Russia once more seemed to underscore the suitability of the general strike as a decisively revolutionary action.[36]

      [37][38][39] Given the hierarchical relationships of the existing economic system, these other unions perceive t

      Other labour organisations typically bargain for the same wage, hour, and conditions improvements, but embrace a critique of capital as establishing and maintaining a permanent working class and an elite ruling class. These unions, therefore, advocate a permanent solution to the circumstances of strikes, injunctions, and crossing other workers' picket lines.[37][38][39] Given the hierarchical relationships of the existing economic system, these other unions perceive the necessity of a radical change in the social order. In brief, these unions are radical in their orientation, and may accurately be described as revolutionary.

      One labour movement philosophy of "peaceful revolution" is known as syndicalism. Its tactical method is the strike—the regular strike for protecting the material welfare of the workers, and the general strike as a means to accomplish the desired permanent solution to industrial strife.[40] Syndicalism has been a common union organizing principle in a number of European countries, including France, Spain, and Italy.

      One variation of syndicalism is anarcho-syndicalism, which (in comparison to syndicalism) develops rank and file power with democratic traditions to maintain worker control over union leadership.

      In the United States, Britain, and (to a lesser extent) Australia, the trend toward revolutionary unionism culminated in the growth of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Technically, the IWW is described as a union that practices revolutionary industrial unionism. Some consider the revolutionary industrial unionism of the IWW to be a form of anarcho-syndicalism.[41] Others point out differences; for example, Ralph Chaplin has written,

      ...the I.W.W. concept of the General Strike differs almost as much from that of the anarcho-syndicalist as from that of the political or craft unionist. In form, structure and objective, the I.W.W. is more all-sufficient, more mature and more modern than any of its anarcho-syndicalist predecessors.[26]

      The IWW began to fully embrace the general strike in 1910–1911.[42] The ultimate goal of the general strike, according to Industrial Workers of the World theory, is to displace capitalists and give control over the means of production to workers.[42][43] In a 1911 speech in New York City, IWW organiser Haywood explained his view of the economic situation, and why he believed a general strike was justified,

      The capitalists have wealth; they have money. They invest the money in machinery, in the resources of the earth. They operate a factory, a mine, a railroad, a mill. They will keep that factory running just as long as there are profits coming in. When anything happens to disturb the profits, what do the capitalists do? They go on strike, don't they? They withdraw their finances from that particular mill. They close it down because there are no profits to be made there. They don't care what becomes of the working class. But the working class, on the other hand, has always been taught to take care of the capitalist's interest in the property.[44]

      Bill Haywood believed that industrial unionism made possible the general strike, and the general strike made possible industrial democracy.[44] According to Wobbly theory, the conventional strike is an important (but not the only) weapon for improving wages, hours, and working conditions for working people. These strikes are also good training to help workers educate themselves about the class struggle, and about what it will take to execute an eventual general strike for the purpose of achieving industrial democracy.[45] During the final general strike, workers would not walk out of their shops, factories, mines, and mills, but would rather occupy their workplaces and take them over.[45] Prior to taking action to initiate industrial democracy, workers would need to educate themselves with technical and managerial knowledge in order to operate industry.[45]

      According to labour historian Philip S. Foner, the Wobbly conception of industrial democracy is intentionally not presented in detail by IWW theorists; in that sense, the details are left to the "future development of society".[46] However, certain concepts are implicit. Industrial democracy will be "a new society [built] within the shell of the old."[47] Members of the industrial union educate themselves to operate industry according to democratic principles, and without the current hierarchical ownership/management structure. Issues such as production and distribution would be managed by the workers themselves.[47]

      In 1927 the IWW called for a three-day nationwide walkout—in essence, a demonstration general strike—to protest the execution of anarchists Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.[48] The most notable response to the call was in the Walsenburg coal district of Colorado, where 1,132 miners stayed off the job, and only 35 went to work,[49] a participation rate which led directly to the Colorado coal strike of 1927.

      On March 18, 2011, the Industrial Workers of the World website (www.iww.org) supported an endorsement of a general strike as a followup to protests against Governor Scott Walker's proposed labour legislation in Wisconsin, following a motion passed by the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL) of Wisconsin endorsing a statewide general strike as a response to those legislative proposals.[50][51] The SCFL website states,

      At SCFL’s monthly meeting Monday, Feb. 21, delegates endorsed the following: "The SCFL endorses a general strike, possibly for the day Walker signs his 'budget repair bill.'" An ad hoc committee was formed to explore the details. SCFL did not CALL for a general strike because it does not have that authority.[51]

      Reaction of orthodox labour

      The year 1919 saw a number of general strikes throughout North America, including two that were considered significant—the Seattle General Strike, and the Winnipeg General Strike. While the IWW participated in the Seattle General Strike, that action was called by the Seattle Central Labor Union, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL, predecessor of the AFL-CIO).[52]

      In June, 1919, the AFL national organisation, in session in Atlantic City, New Jersey, passed resolutions in opposition to the general strike. The official report of these proceedings described the convention as the "largest and in all probability the most important Convention ever held" by the organisation, in part for having engineered the "overwhelming defeat of the so-called Radical element" via crushing a "One Big Union proposition", and also for defeating a proposal for a nationwide general strike, both "by a vote of more than 20 to 1."[53] The AFL amended its constitution to disallow any central labour union (i.e., regional labour councils) from "taking a strike vote without prior authorization of the national officers of the union concerned".[53] The change was intended to "check the spread of general strike sentiment and prevent recurrences of what happened at Seattle and is now going on at Winnipeg."[53] The penalty for any unauthorised strike vote was revocation of that body's charter.[53]

      Notable general strikes

      General strike in Catalonia, 21 February 2019

      The largest general strike that ever stopped the economy of an advanced industrial country – and the first general wildcat strike in history – was May 1968 in France.[54] The prolonged strike involved eleven million workers for two weeks in a row,[54]<

      ...the I.W.W. concept of the General Strike differs almost as much from that of the anarcho-syndicalist as from that of the political or craft unionist. In form, structure and objective, the I.W.W. is more all-sufficient, more mature and more modern than any of its anarcho-syndicalist predecessors.[26]

    The IWW began to fully embrace the general strike in 1910–1911.[42] The ultimate goal of the general strike, according to Industrial Workers of the World theory, is to displace capitalists and give control over the means of production to workers.[42][43] In a 1911 speech in New York City, IWW organiser Haywood explained his view of the economic situation, and why he believed a general strike was justified,

    [44]

    Bill Haywood believed that Bill Haywood believed that industrial unionism made possible the general strike, and the general strike made possible industrial democracy.[44] According to Wobbly theory, the conventional strike is an important (but not the only) weapon for improving wages, hours, and working conditions for working people. These strikes are also good training to help workers educate themselves about the class struggle, and about what it will take to execute an eventual general strike for the purpose of achieving industrial democracy.[45] During the final general strike, workers would not walk out of their shops, factories, mines, and mills, but would rather occupy their workplaces and take them over.[45] Prior to taking action to initiate industrial democracy, workers would need to educate themselves with technical and managerial knowledge in order to operate industry.[45]

    According t

    According to labour historian Philip S. Foner, the Wobbly conception of industrial democracy is intentionally not presented in detail by IWW theorists; in that sense, the details are left to the "future development of society".[46] However, certain concepts are implicit. Industrial democracy will be "a new society [built] within the shell of the old."[47] Members of the industrial union educate themselves to operate industry according to democratic principles, and without the current hierarchical ownership/management structure. Issues such as production and distribution would be managed by the workers themselves.[47]

    In 1927 the IWW called for a three-day nationwide walkout—in essence, a demonstration general strike—to protest the execution of anarchists Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.[48] The most notable response to the call was in the Walsenburg coal district of Colorado, where 1,132 miners stayed off the job, and only 35 went to work,[49] a participation rate which led directly to the Colorado coal strike of 1927.

    On March 18, 2011, the Industrial Workers of the World website (www.iww.org) supported an endorsement of a general strike as a followup to protests against Governor Scott Walker's proposed labour legislation in Wisconsin, following a motion passed by the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL) of Wisconsin endorsing a statewide general strike as a response to those legislative proposals.[50][51] The SCFL website states,

    At SCFL’s monthly meeting Monday, Feb. 21, delegates endorsed the following: "The SCFL endorses a general strike, possibly for the day Walker signs his 'budget repair bill.'" An ad hoc committee was formed to explore the details. SCFL did not CALL for a general strike because it does not have that authority.[51]

Seattle General Strike, and the Winnipeg General Strike. While the IWW participated in the Seattle General Strike, that action was called by the Seattle Central Labor Union, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL, predecessor of the AFL-CIO).[52]

In June, 1919, the AFL national organisation, in session in Atlantic City, New Jersey, passed resolutions in opposition to the general strike. The official report of these proceedings described the convention as the "largest and in all probability the most important Convention ever held" by the organisation, in part for having engineered the "overwhelming de

In June, 1919, the AFL national organisation, in session in Atlantic City, New Jersey, passed resolutions in opposition to the general strike. The official report of these proceedings described the convention as the "largest and in all probability the most important Convention ever held" by the organisation, in part for having engineered the "overwhelming defeat of the so-called Radical element" via crushing a "One Big Union proposition", and also for defeating a proposal for a nationwide general strike, both "by a vote of more than 20 to 1."[53] The AFL amended its constitution to disallow any central labour union (i.e., regional labour councils) from "taking a strike vote without prior authorization of the national officers of the union concerned".[53] The change was intended to "check the spread of general strike sentiment and prevent recurrences of what happened at Seattle and is now going on at Winnipeg."[53] The penalty for any unauthorised strike vote was revocation of that body's charter.[53]

The largest general strike that ever stopped the economy of an advanced industrial country – and the first general wildcat strike in history – was May 1968 in France.[54] The prolonged strike involved eleven million workers for two weeks in a row,[54] and its impact was such that it almost caused the collapse of the de Gaulle government. Other notable general strikes include: