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Why Are We Striking?

Or to put it another way – what’s wrong with the world?

DANIEL GOODMAN

Why are we striking? Or to put it another way – what’s wrong with the world?

Of course, most of us know what’s wrong with the world. We know about the poverty, war, violence and disease. We’re conscious of the injustice, but not fully conscious of it, because frankly, we have enough to worry about in our own lives. As such, we’ve come to accept these injustices as simple facts of life – prepackaged side effects of the human condition, as natural and intertwined with our existence as water to a stream, beyond our capacity to effect in any significant way. This collective sense of powerlessness and default apathy is why we’re striking.

Our growing sense of isolation and disconnection, whether from ourselves, from those next door to us, or from those producing our food and products halfway across the globe, is why we’re striking. Our forced support of perpetual war waged for and by the 1% - whether explicitly with speech, or implicitly with inaction and tax dollars - without ever paying mind to the true causes and motives behind it, is why we’re striking. Our failure uptil now to connect the dots and realize that the benefits of a cheap iPod, lovely as it may be, would be far outweighed by the benefits of a truly just world free of exploitation, is why we’re striking.

The fact that most of us are too busy being exploited to realize we’re being exploited – too busy greasing the cogs of our economic system to notice how the fruits of our labor never fail to float up and out of our reach - is why we’re striking, as is the fact that most aren’t able to do anything about this exploitation even when we do notice it. While some of us are lucky enough to have jobs and careers that give real meaning to our lives, allowing us to take full advantage of our talents and fulfill our destiny, most of us have jobs devoid of meaning and dignity, yet full of the feeling that we are fulfilling someone else’s destiny. Our recognition that the ruling class’s seat at the top of the pyramid is prepared and propped up by the working class is why we’re striking. Our knowledge that it’s actually the CEO who is the most dependent among us, and that the ones truly indispensable to our society are not bankers, lobbyists and politicians, but workers, teachers and engineers, is why we’re striking.

Indeed, the fact that we have an economic system which functions in the same manner as a virus is why we’re striking. Just as a virus’s only reason for existence is to expand, without regard or awareness of the effect of its expansion on its host body, our economic system pursues its infinite expansion without regard or awareness of its effect on human welfare or the environment. Though the earth is finite, it is sustainable, so we reject, in the words of Michael Nagler, “the inherent contradiction of an economy based on indefinitely increasing wants – instead of on human needs that the planet has ample resources to fulfill.”

We’re striking because we also reject the notion that selfishness must be the driving force in our world. We believe, contrary to propaganda, that most people in our world are not selfish, and would rather work together than constantly compete against each other. We believe that the only people who really care about things like power, corporate monopolies and global dominance only make up, say, 1% of the population, making it seem only logical that we should have an economic system which reflects the values of the 99% of us who don’t care about such things. The fact that most of the decisions which have a profound impact on how we go about our daily lives are made by folks in Washington or Wall Street, rather than in our communities by the people actually affected by those decisions, is why we’re striking. The fact that power rests only with those who lust after it is why we’re striking.

We’re striking because another notion we don’t buy into is the presumption that the profit motive can have no outcome other than the best possible one. We understand that the success of McDonald’s has nothing to do with having the best burger, and everything to do with having the most cutthroat business plan. We understand that building prisons, waging wars, polluting the environment, and paying employees inadequate wages are actually quite profitable. Sustainability, economic justice and true equality? Not so much. We understand that being ruthless and unscrupulous is an economic advantage, and being truthful and virtuous is an economic disadvantage. We understand that money is treated as more natural and inviolable as nature itself, and that too often our place and perceived value in society is determined solely by how much of it we make, or how much of it we make for someone else. We understand that, whether or not you believe in climate change, our ability to adequately address it or any other pressing issue is greatly compromised when our shortsighted need for profit skews our vision of the whole. We’re striking to suggest new motives and new values going forward.

The fact that you might not have known why we’re striking, and you didn’t get and maybe still don’t get what Occupy Wall Street is about, is why we’re striking. And who can blame you? Just like you don’t have the time or energy to really do anything about the world’s problems, you probably don’t have the time or energy to do the deep digging required to get your news from any source other than the corporate outlets conveniently floating on the surface. It’s understandable that you wouldn’t see the inherent conflict of interest of a handful of for-profit corporations with their own interests telling the world’s story to the majority of people in this country. The fact that it’s so hard to be truly informed, and that it’s in the 1%’s interest for the majority of us to be uninformed, is why we’re striking. The fact that it’s entirely possible you could go about your day today and not hear a thing about the general strike, is why we’re striking.

To counter the charge that it’s unrealistic, and overly idealistic, to want to bring about real change in our world, as well as the trusty “life isn’t fair” rationale always used to justify injustice, is why we’re striking. We didn’t accept that line of reasoning during the civil rights movement, and we don’t accept it now. We think it’s far more unrealistic to think that a small cadre of elites will be able to keep up their never-ending pursuit of power consolidation and mass manipulation without waking us up in the process. We think it’s far more unlikely that in 1000 years, humanity will still be playing this game of perpetual one-upmanship, instead of picking up the far more efficient and beneficial manner of interacting with each other in honesty, cooperation and genuine respect.

Perhaps the biggest reason we’re striking is to simply exercise that ever-cherished American value of freedom. Just as our business leaders are free to use every means at their disposal to maximize profit, we are free to use every means at our disposal to maximize the realization of whatever objective we feel is worth pursuing. And by the way, even if you don’t support the Occupy movement, whatever you think the Occupy movement is about, we respect your view, because another reason we’re striking has to do with our political system – the way it thrives and prospers by pitting us against ourselves, encouraging us to demonize each other while discouraging us from disagreeing civilly.

The fact that this post is completely and utterly inadequate in expressing why we’re striking, is why we’re striking. But that’s OK, because like May 1st, this post is just the beginning.

Happy striking!

Mike David is an occupier in San Francisco. He blogs at www.primitivetimes.com.

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129 comments on the article “Why Are We Striking?”

Displaying 11 - 20 of 129

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Anonymous

In the land of the free and the home of the brave, you lose the right to a passport and the right to vote when you're convicted of an indictable offense. Trapped and disenfranchised but, under the Second Amendment, armed to the teeth, convicts are America's underclass.

In America, which has the world's highest incarceration rate and 25% of the prisoners on the planet, inmate labour is often employed as a replacement for unionized labour. The American government provides subsidies and tax incentives as well as facilities, utilities, and free space to private prison operators who sell the labour of nearly a million inmates for between 93 cents and $4.73 per day to Fortune 500 companies like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, and IBM.

Stop whining. You're getting paid more than we are.

Anonymous

Yes, troll. They do not pay for the lost labor, but that is only a small part of the grand scheme. Demonstrations and protests will ring out all day to raise awareness and (hopefully) there will be a huge decline in profits for corporations as few people will be spending money tomorrow on things or investing in banks.

Anonymous

I'm not a troll simply because I do not go to the same stinking church as you. Since production has already moved away from the first world, a general strike will not seriously hamper production. Since much of your complaint is the frustrated consumerism of excess labour in post-industrial society, you will not be able to seriously choke off consumption unless you can organize and motivate a wider cross-section of society. We could discuss how you might achieve that. I don't think everyone will simply want to hang out with because you're so cool. It hasn't worked yet.

Anonymous

IF it looks like shit and it smells like shit ,... it's shit.... and you stink like a shitty troll.

You offering nothing but contempt and supporting the one percent who are cannibals. Go hang out with then but you best cover you fat padded ass while you're doing it

Anonymous

And how do you suggest we motivate a wider cross section of society? It is virtually impossible in this media-run society. A huge number of people don't even realize they are being fed propaganda by their news "programs", kept hypnotized by the Kardashians, and forcibly, subconsciously nullified into indentured servitude for themselves and their children. The middle class should not go gentle into the night, but they don't even realize they are on the way out--that is until they lose their job, house, etc. The platforms of communication with these sections of society are controlled. How do we reach them? Since you slide to knowing that answer.

Anonymous

"And how do you suggest we motivate a wider cross section of society? It is virtually impossible..."

You won't accomplish anything by stating at the outset that it cannot be done. Organize among the poor, the homeless, those convicted of crimes and rendered into non-citizens and other disenfranchised members of your community. But before you start, figure out what you can do to help rather than simply complaining.

Anonymous

MAY DAY!. MAY DAY!. MAY DAY!

Had a quick read of "Why are we striking", and there does not appear to be any direct mention of May Day. While left-wing style actions are planned, you do not mention left-wing ideas. How can anyone talk about strikes - without commenting on international workers day?

P.S. Perhaps Adbusters might produce A Stort History of May Day?

All power to the people! All power to the 99%!

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