by Monsieur le Prof
Thu Aug 16th, 2007 at 09:09:44 AM EST
Recently some diaries have appeared, reporting on the ongoing netroots organization of a general strike this
coming September 11, 2007. Various websites and blogs have spread the initiative informally, which urges citizens to refrain from shopping, work and school in order to show widespread opposition to the Bush administration's continuing disregard and disdain for our Constitution and civil rights.
The goal of this diary is not to promote the strike itself or any particular agenda thereof; rather, my intention here is to analyze responses on Daily Kos to this general strike movement and provide a brief overview of general strikes in a historical context. As can be observed in this diary from two days ago, if there is disagreement among our community members it comes from perceptions about the "organization" of the strike and the issues about it seeks to raise awareness.
The 9-11 Connection
Since the strike is to be held on September 11, groups that are (perhaps even quite loosely) associated with the 9-11 Truth Movement may be part of the Strike 911 coalition of participants. Indeed, it seems to be this general association which has caused disagreement among some commenters here at Daily Kos. More specifically, there seems to be a misunderstanding about the use of "tinfoil hat" labels, insofar as those who have voiced their support for a general strike have been somewhat offhandedly branded
"conspiracy theorists" for signaling their intention to participate in the general strike.
It is not controversial to say that most visitors to this website are united in the common cause of opposing the current administration, for whatever particular reason(s) that may inspire people to inform themselves and become active participants in a democratic people's opposition movement. A question arises, therefore, as to how we should best engage different opposition parties to the Bush administration in coordinating efforts against the continued abuse of power and attacks on our Constitutional rights.
Most participants here are aware of the general rules that forbid discussion of 9-11 conspiracy theories, and if not they should familiarize themselves with them now. While not all users may agree with this particular stance, citing Freedom of speech and expression, these rules are in place to reduce discussions ad nauseum about topics which are at their base speculative. This is particularly apparent regarding controversial topics such as those mentioned in the FAQ which lead to hostility between commenters, and for which it is nearly impossible to obtain any form of consensus. This does not mean these topics are unimportant, but simply that there are other forums where topics such as these can be more properly addressed.
This convergence of issues, however, poses a unique problem to Daily Kos users. September 11 is above all a date, and an important historical turning point in American history. It does not belong to any one party or group, nor is it an excuse to promote any singular viewpoint or policy initiative. As Congressional investigations continue, such as the Sibel Edmunds case which has been diaried extensively by Lukery, more details are surfacing that pertain, most often indirectly, to the terrorist attacks of 9-11. Nefarious networks that operate behind the scenes were being investigated by the FBI, CIA and other intelligence services before the attacks and these details continue to emerge through independent journalism and research (see, for example, operation Able Danger).
While these details and investigations do generally not qualify as outrageous "conspiracy theories," they likewise do not pertain in any way to the discussion of ludicrous ideas that have been advanced regarding the World Trade Center or other events of 9-11. Indeed, spurious claims or unsupported speculative theories regarding the attacks serve as a distraction from investigations and research that could truly resolve unanwsered questions that victims' families, NY firefighters and Americans in general continue to advance.
Therefore we can conclude that whether or not Daily Kos readers choose to participate and align themselves with the General Strike on September 11, 2007, it is not in our community's interest to label one another fortuitously when we have a common goal of rolling back the abuse of power that is currently occupying OUR White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Making such associations and accusations only serves to divide us when we should be standing united together.
General Strikes and their historical context
A second theme that cropped up in some comments about the planned General Strike is the question of: "Will it make any difference?" This question is of course crucial, but at the same time impossible to answer. Did it make any difference when Cindy Sheehan got arrested at the Capitol? Did it make any difference when protesters around the world descended into the streets in 2003 just before the Iraq war began? Hard to say, as it is a subjective judgement.
What is certain, is that if we do not organize, and if we do not resist, there will be no change. It has to begin somewhere, and alienating or fracturing groups that stand united against the Bush administration, regardless of their ideologies or individual beliefs, will simply allow illegal government activities to continue unfettered.
General strikes can be effective. While it's not my intention here to do a lengthy historical analysis, good examples can be seen in the May, 1968, general strikes in France, as well as the general strike in Madrid after the bombings on March 11, 2004.
In 1968, French students and workers took to the streets to protest the De Gaulle government. The movement sparked a reaction among the entire population. Transport and commerce was brought to a standstill; some people participated in the protest actions, others condemned them. But the unifying idea was acheived, in that a dialogue was established between the citizens and their government. De Gaulle resigned the Presidency shortly thereafter, and "mai 1968" remains a ubiquitous cultural and political reference in France to this day.
The Madrid bombings in 2004 also catalyzed the Spanish population to stop working and descend into the streets. Angered about their government's participation in the Iraq war, as well as the government's and the media's immediate blaming of the bombings on the ETA (a violent separatist movement in northern Spain), protesters gathered until they numbered in the millions. The images of Madrid's streets filled with people in all directions was a strong image of solidarity among the Spanish, and led directly to the shift to a Socialist government in the elections several days later.
General strikes can and do work. What is needed is simply the will of the people to change things. The United States, for as big a country as it is, can change at the behest of its citizens. September 11 does not belong to any one group. No one is required to protest or defend his rights. But we ignore the courage of convictions at our peril; our ancestors left the clues for us centuries ago:
"Live Free or Die."
"United we stand, divided we fall."
Whatever you choose to do this September 11, remember that respect of one another's beliefs is of the utmost importance. Labeling those with whom you disagree will only serve to reinforce the power of those who harbor no reservations about destroying our Republic.
While the analysis in this diary is rather general and preliminary, this issue will remain a hot button topic for the netroots, Democrats and the Daily Kos community.
Crossposted at Daily Kos