The PIGS are to go on strike

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

                                   George Orwell, Animal Farm

The true meaning of a strike is the refusal of alienated labour and of the commodities that it produces and which produce this labour.

                                   Ratgeb, De la grève sauvage à l’autogestion généralisée

Stop making capitalism.

                                   John Holloway, Crack Capitalism


Errico Malatesta could write in 1920 that, “General strikes of protest no longer upset anybody; neither those who take part in them nor those against whom they are directed.  If only the the police had the intelligence to avoid being provocative, they would pass off as any public holiday”.  There have been indeed many such holidays since then.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and its affiliated members have called for a european wide day of protests/strikes (November 14) against EU and european national government austerity measures and in support of the ETUC Social Compact for Europe.  While criticising what is described as excessive austerity, ETUC supports “the objective of sound accounts”.  However, other methods are available, ones more consistent with “sustainable economic growth, and social cohesion, and respecting the values enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights”. (ETUC Executive Committee Declaration October 17, 2012).

In a number of European countries – most notably the PIGS and cyprus – the day is to be marked by general strikes.  But even here, the strike is understood by the large labour unions as essentially a day of protest.  The secretary general of the CCOO of spain speaks of the strike as motivated by the need to bailout out the people, rather than the banks, while the secretary general of the spanish UGT describes the strike as constitutional and motivated by a concern with solidarity, a demand for a change of direction.  The italian strike, led by the example of the CGIL, will limit itself to a four hour work stoppage, under the slogan “For work and solidarity, against austerity”.

One might be forgiven for thinking that another holiday is in the making.

A recent post on the website (rooieravotr’s blog) raises some of the basic doubts that surround the event.

Union federations do not launch these kinds of strikes because they want serious resistance to austerity. Rather, they want these strikes as a show of force to strengthen their own position as mediators of the class struggle, as managers of discontent. They want to show governments and bosses: hey, there is a lot of discontent amongst workers. We will try to hold it in check for you; it is our (rather well-paid) job. But you have to give some concessions, you have to soften your stance on austerity a bit. Only that will enable us to play our role, only then we can say to our members: trust us, don't rock the boat, we will bring about some improvements. To show governments that the trade union leaders have to be taken into account, trade union leaders call their members to strike, as if to say to government: do you see all these angry workers? Do you feel the disruption they cause, for just one day? Now, do you appreciate our trouble to keep them quiet? Please help us doing so, by giving us concessions to increase our credibility among these workers. Or would you rather have these workers pushing us aside and fighting on their own terms? Would you rather have strikes without fixed duration, wildcat strikes, all-out class confrontation?

These strikes, then, are entirely bureaucratic in their motivation, as far as trade union functionaries are concerned.

This is not however a justification for arrogantly ignoring them.  Protests they will be, protests by thousands of workers, along with many who are not unionized or unemployed, who are being subject to ever more intense forms of exploitation and oppression.

For radicals, that makes them relevant. The more a strike call is supported, in as militant a fashion as possible, the stronger workers will feel, the stronger ties of solidarity will be built. In itself, this does not stop governments or austerity policies. But it builds working class strength and confidence needed for a serious struggle. Trade union leaders use these kinds of strikes to parade workers as their stage army. Radical workers, anarchists among them, want to see the soldiers of that army starting to fight on their own account, turning the stage army in an independent force fighting from below. That is why libertarian communists should, in my view, take these strike calls seriously. Not because we trust the trade unions, but on the contrary, because we do not trust them, and refuse to leave the struggle in their iron grip.

What is called for then is a radicalisation of the strike, not with the conviction that it will bring the politics of austerity/theft to an end, but rather as part of a broader movement to contest Capitalism.

In spain, so called minority labour unions, groups affiliated with 15M, and other organizations have to varying degrees such an understanding of the strike.

The CNT strike call states (a selection) …


We assume the challenge to go beyond isolated, 24 hour work stoppages, beyond the momentary paralisation of activity in traditional areas and industries, to find ways of interrupting the whole process of production and consumption, to integrate into the mobilisation all of the working class, however precarious and divided it is.  To gain the capacity to inflict as much damage as possible to the economic interests of the financial and business elite is the principal objective of the general strike.

We call upon all labour organisations and anticapitalist social movements to work for the continuity and expansion of the strike of 14N.  The task for now is to take the streets and the companies, and not abandon them.

Our objective is that the general strike has to be more than a slogan, to become a real tool of struggle, and on the 14N we must take the next step to make it real, with all of our strength which we believe is great.


Tenemos el reto de ser capaces de ir más allá de paros de 24 horas aislados en el tiempo, más allá de la paralización de la actividad puntual en las industrias y sectores tradicionales, de encontrar formas de interrumpir todo el proceso de producción y consumo, de incorporar a la movilización al conjunto de la clase trabajadora, por precarizada y dividida que esté. Ganar la capacidad de hacer el mayor daño posible a los intereses económicos de la élite empresarial y financiera es el objetivo principal de la huelga general.

Llamamos a organizaciones sindicales y movimientos sociales anticapitalistas a trabajar desde ya por desbordar y dar continuidad la huelga del 14N. A tomar desde ya la calle y las empresas para no abandonarlas.

Hacer que la huelga general deje de ser poco más que un lema, para convertirse en una herramienta real de lucha es nuestro objetivo, y el 14N tenemos que dar el próximo paso para hacerlo realidad, con todas nuestras fuerzas por que nos jugamos mucho.

And for the Toma la Huelga group (with affinities to 15M), an equally radical vision of 14N is evident …


We occupy the strike to say that it is ours.  From the people evicted, unemployed, without papers, who have no contract but produce wealth without compensation.  From the women who support the work of citizens, from the persons swindled by the banks, from the students who see how their access to knowledge is privatized.  From the people who have seen how their right to health has been commercialized. We who have organized ourselves into different forms of work and production, we also occupy the strike.  From the false liberal professionals and the whole galaxy of new kinds of work that no longer fit into the strict traditional limits of the strike.

We occupy it because it is ours.

The strike of the next 14th of November is a special strike.  It is a strike called for in various places in Europe.  The first strike not directly tied exclusively to a labour reform and the Spanish state.  A political strike, that points to the power of the Troika and of indebtedness as the principal causes of misery in all of Europe and the government of Mariano Rajoy as representative of the interests of the European central Bank and the Debt-Europe in the sspanish state.

We therefore want to occupy the strike to short circuit the ruling power of the government.  To stop the production and the reproduction of the system.

We want to occupy the strike as a strike against debt, to continue to say that we should not and we will not pay it, that want we want is to continue a process of destitution against the government and a constituent process for a democracy that breaks with the politics of austerity, at the level of Europe.

We call for a stoppage not only in the centres of work, but for a complete stoppage of the city.  To extend the strike to the field of consumption and communication and health.  To imagine forms of striking and extend them to all territories and networks.

We call for the convergence of all atypical and alternative unions, the associations of neighbours, the collectivities of neighbourhoods, assemblies, commissions of 15M, strike groups, unemployed and social rights organizations, feminist and immigrant organizations, student organizations, networks in defense of health and public services, etc.

Occupy the strike has returned.

Occupy the strike is a tool for anyone who cares to use it.

Occupy the strike.


Tomamos la huelga para decir que es nuestra. De las personas deshauciadas, en paro, sin papeles, de quienes no tenemos contrato y quienes producimos riqueza pero jamás cobramos. De las mujeres que sostienen el trabajo de cuidados, de las personas estafadas por la banca, de los y las estudiantes que ven como se privatiza su posibilidad de acceso al conocimiento. De las personas que han visto como su derecho a la salud ha sido mercantilizado. Tomamos la huelga también quienes nos hemos organizado en otras formas de trabajo y producción. Desde los falsos autónomos y toda la galaxia de figuras laborales de nuevo tipo que ya no caben en los estrechos márgenes de las concepción tradicional de la Huelga.

La tomamos porque es nuestra.

La Huelga del próximo 14 de Noviembre es una huelga especial. Una huelga convocada en diversos lugares de Europa. La primera huelga no vinculada directamente a una reforma laboral y al estado español en exclusiva. Una huelga en clave destituyente, que apunta al poder de la Troika y el endeudamiento y la huelga como principales motores de la miseria en toda Europa y al gobierno de Mariano Rajoy como representante de los intereses del Banco Central Europeo y la Europa-Deuda en el Estado Español.

Queremos, por tanto, tomar esta huelga para cortocircuitar el poder de mando del gobierno. Para para las producción y la reproduccción del sistema.

Queremos tomar la huelga como huelga contra la deuda, para seguir diciendo que no debemos y no vamos a pagar, que lo que queremos es profundizar en el proceso destituyente contra el gobierno y el proceso constituyente por una democracia que quiebre las políticas de austeridad a nivel Europeo.

Llamamos a no parar solo en los centros de trabajo, sino a bloquear a la ciudad al completo. Extender la huelga al campo del consumo y al campo comunicativo y de cuidados. Imaginar formas de huelga y extenderlas a todos los territorios y las redes.

Llamamos a la convergencia con todas las formas sindicales atípicas y alternativas, las asociaciones de vecinos y vecinas, los colectivos de barrio, asambleas, comisiones del 15M, agrupaciones de huelga, organizaciones de parados/as y por los derechos sociales, las organizaciones migrantes y feministas, las organizaciones estudiantiles, las redes en defensa de la sanidad y los servicios públicos, etc.

Toma la Huelga ha vuelto

Toma la huelga es una herramienta para cualquiera que quiera usarla.

Toma la Huelga.

(See also in spain: Bloque Unitario, CGT, Solidaridade Obrera)

(For further news from spain: Periodico Diagonal)


The CNT and Toma la Huelga point first in the direction of a much wider understanding of a general strike.  The one day work stoppage is extended in time.  And the formerly privileged space of the factory is not ignored, but it seen as part of a much larger reality, a complex network of human activities which all play a role in the production and reproduction of capitalist society; a strike can and should effect as many of these spheres as possible.  Indeed, no one area can be placed above the others as central, and therefore a strike must spread through contagion and resonances.

A further and possibly deeper matter is also unveiled.  Writing at the beginning of the 20th century, George Sorel, in Reflections on Violence, would make the distinction between the political general strike and the proletarian strike.  The former is, as the name suggests, a strike which serves political purposes; a strike in which working class rebellion is instrumentalised for bringing about political reforms and serving political interests (whatever benefits accrue to the striking workers are then the compensation for their courage).  Such rebellion is then in the end no rebellion at all, for it is domesticated protest, centered on the state, with the aim of extracting something from it.  And when the task is accomplished, or even when it is not, the workers are called back to work.

Sorel’s proletarian strike is a very different kind of event.  It is not motivated by jealousy of wealth and power and the subsequent vindictiveness against those who possess them. It is not born of a plan, it is not a means to an end, it seeks no reform.  The proletarian strike is rather born of passion, the passion of self affirmation, driven of the intuition of one’s righteousness.  And in the strike, the enemy is clear and all is at stake – revolution or death is its’ motto.

The proletarian strike is of the order of sublime myth, unpredictable, total, catastrophic.  It is violent, but thereby terrifying.  But it is violence, and not force, that is, it is a violence which rebels against authority and not a force which imposes it.  Having no end, shattering the normative social consensus of institutions and practices of power, it destroys order through the self-affirmation of a different way of being, a socialist ethics.  Force, by contrast, working within the logic of social order, imposes regimes of power.  And an oppositional politics of force remains trapped within the game of power/conquest of power.

Walter Benjamin once spoke of a pure or divine violence which neither established nor defended law; it was rather the expression of creativity beyond sovereignty.  Giorgio Agamben in parallel would speak of gesture as a form of doing beyond acting as a means to an end and acting as an end in-itself; gesture is but the display of a means as a means, it is doing as an ethical action.

What can be ultimately at stake in a general strike is the emergence of a way of life in opposition to utilitarian rule, sustained like a seductive dancers poise, for as long as possible.


In the beginning was the scream.  We scream. …Our scream is the refusal to accept.

                                               John Holloway, Change the world without taking power

CGT: Respira …


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