Friday, October 28, 2011

The General Strike: The Strike of the Future, by Lucy Parsons

From RecompositionThis is a speech given by the famous anarchist Lucy Parsons. This excerpt in particular is particularly relevant to the Occupy movement and recent discussions of a general strike:

“Nature has (…) placed in this earth all the material of wealth that is necessary to make men and women happy. (…) We simply lack the intelligence to take possession of that which we have produced. (…) My conception of the future method of taking possession of this is that of the general strike: that is my conception of it. The trouble with all the strikes in the past has been this: the workingmen like the teamsters in our cities, these hard-working teamsters, strike and go out and starve. Their children starve. Their wives get discouraged. (…) That is the way with the strikes in the past. My conception of the strike of the future is not to strike and go out and starve, but to strike and remain in and take possession of the necessary property of production.”

For Parsons, a general strike and an occupation are synonyms. 

The rest of the speech can be read here. Other elements resonate greatly with the present moment. Parsons discusses her experiences with the police and state murder of her husband, sadly relevant to recent police violence. Parsons talks about how U.S. residents drew inspiration from struggles around the world, another parallel to the present where protests around the world look to each other for ideas and motivation. Parsons also discusses gender divisions within movements of her day, issues which we still need to address today.

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