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9-11-07 General Strike: Analysis of diverging viewpoints

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

Display:
Do you think this will actually happen? That there will be enough people participating? Somehow I have a hard time believing that Americans would actually strike.
by Fran on Thu Aug 16th, 2007 at 04:03:57 PM EST
I am sadly of the opinion that not enough "regular" Americans would participate for it to be anything more than a footnote on the news. "Regular" is kind of hard to define, but I just can't see terribly many people out of urban areas caring and most in urban areas too. Most people (including me!) are just living their lives and while they may be outraged by one or the other thing that has happened, they likely aren't enough for this.

The other issue is that America just doesn't have the same perception on strikes. While strikes are still okay in the minds of many for labor issues (as in a single company's workers striking), the idea of a general strike as a means of change isn't even on my radar having grown up in Iowa. I think that likely true for many. It's just not how it's done. And sadly even now, labor strikes are often seen as obstructionist and "whiny".

The closest thing I can think of to a general strike recently was the one in protest of the pending immigration bill (was that a year ago already?) But even in California, there was a lot of negative opinion of it -- it not being the "right way" to change things.

by R343L (reverse qw/ten.cinos@l343r/) on Thu Aug 16th, 2007 at 08:12:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
went postal on the (illegal?) immigrant protesters?

I guess we haven't found the right venue to have our grievances addressed by the Democrats or the Republicans. A general strike movement - even growing publicity of holding strikes - might succeed in calling more legislators to action.

by Monsieur le Prof (top notch records [all one word] at gmail dot com) on Fri Aug 17th, 2007 at 10:34:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Lasthorseman on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 09:54:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
after the election on Nov 7 the complete let down was evident in a "Thank you" form letter from Nancy Pelosi in which she outlined the Democratic party's agenda.  This included the "recommendation" of the 911 commission.  The 911 Commission was a complete whitewash and part of the coverup, in mine and a growing number of American opinions.
Impeach was not on the agenda

I have ceased to argue about what specifically happened on 911 as it pales in comparision to the deliberate and calculated destruction of America done by this government every day since 911.

Since impeach was not on the agenda I feel safe in saying both Dem and Rethug American political parties are both owned fully by their corporate/Illuminati masters.  And now that I have uttered the "I" word here is a link about them hats.
http://people.csail.mit.edu/rahimi/helmet/

by Lasthorseman on Thu Aug 16th, 2007 at 06:05:22 PM EST
that the details about the attacks may ultimately be left up to individual researchers, scientists and historians. I think the government in general would regain some of its credibility on the issue if the investigation were reopened to address the hundreds of unanwsered questions.
by Monsieur le Prof (top notch records [all one word] at gmail dot com) on Fri Aug 17th, 2007 at 10:37:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
September 11th should remain as a solemn day of remembrance for the people who were murdered that day in what was the single worst terror attack in history. This day for the foreseeable future should be reserved for the families and friends of those victims to mourn their loved ones. This is not a day that anyone should use to advance any kind of personal political agenda. It has only been six years and I can assure you that any groups that attempt to use this day for personal gain will find their cause severely blemished. That has nothing to do with freedom of speech - just common sense.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 17th, 2007 at 06:13:20 AM EST
Doesn't seem to have done Bush and company any harm to use that day for personal and partisan gain.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 17th, 2007 at 06:22:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two (or more) wrongs don't make it right.
I would agree that whomever the President is must always say or do something but on that day it should remain non-political. Obviously my comment has nothing to do with the day before or the day after or any other day. People are free to do what they wish.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 17th, 2007 at 07:14:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two (or more) wrongs don't make it right.

Of course, but it speaks to your wider point: exploitation of 9/11 is not automatically a losing proposition.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Aug 17th, 2007 at 07:37:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As with any event it is always political fodder for either side, just not on the day of 9/11. That's a day when this should all take a day off and allow the families of these victims a day to themselves.

Regarding the politicization of 9/11 I think Republicans took it too far and now are paying a price for over-exploitation, such as the lack of action on the 9/11 Commission recommendations and the fact that the tall bearded skinny guy is still hanging around.

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 17th, 2007 at 09:13:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Same comment I made on Kos Diary:

The Bush admin has been the first to capitalize on the victims for a preset political agenda.

Saying activism cannot be acheived because it dishonors the victims is, sorry to say, not entirely honest, because the victims of the attacks would most certainly not want their deaths to be exploited to usurp our rights as citizens, and justify more wars at our expense.

Addendum: Victims' families, firefighters and ill ground zero workers are all clamoring for health care, continued declassification and new investigations into unanswered questions.

by Monsieur le Prof (top notch records [all one word] at gmail dot com) on Fri Aug 17th, 2007 at 10:31:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The Bush admin has been the first to capitalize on the victims for a preset political agenda."

I agree and don't condone. But if you go back to events of subsequent anniversaries even they maintain that day as a solemn occasion.

"Saying activism cannot be acheived because it dishonors the victims is, sorry to say, not entirely honest . . . "

Exactly how many victims did you know that you can make that claim?

" . . .  because the victims of the attacks would most certainly not want their deaths to be exploited to usurp our rights as citizens, and justify more wars at our expense."

Regarding "our rights as citizens" that should be up to U.S.citizens. As far as the rest of the diatribe, there are 364 other days to make that case by citizens of the U.S. Making that case on September 11 inappropriate to say the very least. If you don't understand that then I would suggest you check your own moral compass.

"Addendum: Victims' families, firefighters and ill ground zero workers are all clamoring for health care"

My son is part of the group that is helping first responders with their resperatory problems so I am well aware of the health care issues regarding them.

" . . . continued declassification and new investigations into unanswered questions."

Unanswered questions about what? Are you one of those sick people who are claiming that 9/11 was a U.S. government conspiracy. I think Markos characterized this better than I could.

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 17th, 2007 at 12:16:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're calling anyone who has questions about 9-11 a "sick person" ?

I think this conversation is over.

by Monsieur le Prof (top notch records [all one word] at gmail dot com) on Fri Aug 17th, 2007 at 01:55:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think any rational person would do the same.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 17th, 2007 at 02:20:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is nobody's personal agenda!  This is about the common good, for the people; the families included!  It is an honor to the victims to act against an absolutely corrupt regime.

I cannot understand this fixed thinking about what´s sacred and untouchable, or national hero worship.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Aug 18th, 2007 at 05:16:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"I cannot understand this fixed thinking about what´s sacred and untouchable, or national hero worship."

There is no "hero worship" involved in this and it is a deplorable comment to make and would be more careful in choosing your language.

The fact that you "cannot understand this fixed thinking" is your answer. Did you personally know a single person that was killed or their families, let along dozens of people? These were not martyrs or soldiers. They were all innocent people either travelling or working that morning who were slaughtered for the sake of some perverted sense of Islamic justice.

This would "not be an honor to the victims." In fact you would be trampling over the right these families have to remember them in their own way - not your way. For anyone to abuse that day for their own personal agenda is unconscionable which is why no one has done it or will do it unless they have no conscience.

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 09:27:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you won´t stretch your mind, I won´t waste my time.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 10:46:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you should re-check the morailty of the abuse of that day and not question me or many, many more on the flexibility of conscience.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 11:40:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in what was the single worst terror attack in history

?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 09:48:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, factually there was never more people killed in a single terror event.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 10:30:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well that all depends on your definiton of a "terror event" into the narrowing of definition to exclude acts by governments which took place in the 1950's

Previous to that you'll find that terror events were exclusively things comitted by governments against civilians. so it would seem that historically the 9/11 episode is quite minor, if you want to go for a real historical high point you would probably choose the invasions of Saxony during the 30 years war where in the region of 70% of the countries population were wiped out by  war disease and religious terror from both sides.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 11:09:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True. That statement should be adjusted to reflect only modern history.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 11:41:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then you'd probably still need to cede superiority to the Rwanda massacres, or the allied air attacks on Baghdad.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 11:50:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Rwanda Massacres is plural - not one attack. That would also include ethnic cleansing attacks countries like Bosnia, Chechnya, Darfur, etc.

The bombings of Baghdad is an act of war and not a terror attack much the same way Hezbollah rockets attacks on Israel are acts of war and not terror. By your definition then any bombings during any war would be regarded as acts of terror.

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 12:45:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm interested, in what way do you classify terror attacks as being part of a seperate class? different to bombings during war?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 04:37:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Terror attacks are intended to target innocent civilians. Attacks as part of conventional warefare are intended to target strategic military targets. What tney have is common is that both are terrifying.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 05:21:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By that count the RAF and the USAF's bombing campaign against germany could be classed as terrorism, as they were at least partly aimed at destroying the Morale of the German populace

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 06:29:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you forgot the Nazi bombings of London. The the dropping of the atom bombs by the U.S. on Japan were clearly intended to terrorize the Japanese government into surrendering - those were not simply strategic military targets and unfortunate collateral damage.
by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Sun Aug 19th, 2007 at 08:45:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
not forgot, just took one example that was generally taken to be A good thing. The use of the Atom Bomb  is another good example, the Nazi bombing of London not so much, as the Nazi government is seen to be evil anyway.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Aug 20th, 2007 at 02:52:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can totally understand the point you're making, but I still think that 9/11 would be a good date for a strike, to simply remember the moment when the whole world was united against these crazy criminals - and the wrong path the US took since then.
And I think it's stupid to label some terrible acts as "terrorist" and putting it in another category than (war) crimes. To go a little further back, when the Mongols killed 1 million Arab civilians after the capture of Baghdad, in which way was that different other than it required an army?
But I can see where you're coming from. No offence.

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 06:01:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Political activists generally are real bad at public relations and don't understand the full context of their actions at times.

"the wrong path the US took since then" - - - right after 9/11 the U.S. immediately secured the country against a lot of unknown factors and then went after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The wrong path did not come until the invasion of Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. So using 9/11 as a protest against Iraq is inappropriate anyway.

There were 3,000 innocent men, women and children massacred in one day. The families and friends of those people have a right to honor and mourn those people without any distractions.

Any strikes or protests can come the day before or the day after. On that day any self-serving political demonstrations will be rebuked by many.

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 07:32:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The wrong path did not come until the invasion of Iraq
I'm not so sure about that. But I won't argue this point, it's in the details.

which had nothing to do with 9/11
At the time, the connection was being made, so the question is: would they've done it without 9/11 happening before? Your guess is as good as mine.

have a right to honor and mourn those people without any distractions
Actions designed to prevent more people getting killed are no distraction IMHO

rebuked by many
I agree on that. Faux Noise and friends will be all over the place and it could turn into a PR disaster. As an outsider, I can make no good estimate on what the American public's reaction will be like.
Maybe the only real difference in opinion between us is in what the outcome of a strike might be. If you're right and it would hurt the cause it's trying to support, it certainly isn't a bright idea.
But that would make a very sad statement about the media landscape and the formation of public opinion in the US. And in such a climate, I don't think real change is possible whoever is going to be the next president.

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 08:16:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I could see a strike happen on a symbolic day such as the day we invaded Iraq or the day Bush declared "Mission Accomplished." I could see those days be a mobilizing event. But even with those days I do not see mass protest of any kind in our future.

There was a time when people would turn out in large numbers to protest and risk harm in doing so. But then came the Internet and most protests occur this way now.

What was suggested in this post was a strike to get the U.S. government to tell the truth about the 9/11 attack and the author was claiming that it was an inside job. You will not find more than 5% of the U.S. population supporting such a notion and, in fact, such a notion will be met with immediate rebuke by all political sides.

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Wed Aug 22nd, 2007 at 04:02:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
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.
That was not a general strike, or a strike of any kind. The demonstrations on Friday March 12, 2004 were, in fact, organised by the government. The demonstrations on Thursday March 11, 2004 were more or less spontaneous but there was a tradition of holding a vigil on the evening of any ETA attack. The flash mobs on Saturday March 13, 2004 in front of the ruling PP's headquarters in Madrid and most provincial capitals... well, the jury is still out on that one.

The English Wikipedia has information about these events (here and here) but I see it omits to put them in the context of the habit of holding demonstrations and vigils after terrorist attacks.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 3rd, 2007 at 04:17:11 AM EST


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