General strike

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Vorwarts announcing a general strike in Germany on 9 November 1918, at the beginning of the November Revolution. Ausgabe des Vorwarts vom 9. November 1918.jpg
Vorwärts announcing a general strike in Germany on 9 November 1918, at the beginning of the November Revolution.

A general strike (or mass strike) is a strike action in which a substantial proportion of the total labour force in a city, region, or country participates. General strikes are characterised by the participation of workers in a multitude of workplaces, and tend to involve entire communities. General strikes first occurred in the mid-19th century, and have characterised many historically important strikes.

Strike action Work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work

Strike action, also called labor strike, labour strike, or simply strike, is a work stoppage, caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became common during the Industrial Revolution, when mass labor became important in factories and mines. In most countries, strike actions were quickly made illegal, as factory owners had far more power than workers. Most Western countries partially legalized striking in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.




An early predecessor of the general strike may have been the secessio plebis in ancient Rome. In the Outline Of History, H.G. Wells recorded "the general strike of the plebeians; the plebeians seem to have invented the strike, which now makes its first appearance in history." [1] Their first strike occurred because they "saw with indignation their friends, who had often served the state bravely in the legions, thrown into chains and reduced to slavery at the demand of patrician creditors." [1]

Secessio plebis was an informal exercise of power by Rome's plebeian citizens, similar to a general strike taken to the extreme. During a secessio plebis, the plebs would abandon the city en masse and leave the patrician order to themselves. Therefore, a secessio meant that all shops and workshops would shut down and commercial transactions would largely cease. This was an effective strategy in the Conflict of the Orders due to strength in numbers; plebeian citizens made up the vast majority of Rome's populace and produced most of its food and resources, while a patrician citizen was a member of the minority upper class, the equivalent of the landed gentry of later times. Authors report different numbers for how many secessions there were. Cary & Scullard state there were five between 494 BC and 287 BC.

The patricians were originally a group of ruling class families in ancient Rome. The distinction was highly significant in the Roman Kingdom, and the early Republic, but its relevance waned after the Conflict of the Orders, and by the time of the late Republic and Empire, membership in the patriciate was of only nominal significance.

Wells noted that "[t]he patricians made a mean use of their political advantages to grow rich through the national conquests at the expense not only of the defeated enemy, but of the poorer plebeian..." [1] The plebeians, who were expected to obey the laws, but were not allowed to know the laws (which patricians were able to recite from memory), [2] were successful, winning the right to appeal any injustice to the general assembly. [1] In 450 BC., in a concession resulting from the rebellion of the plebeians, the laws of Rome were written for all to peruse. [2]

Modern era

The general strike action only became a feature of the political landscape with the onset of the Industrial Revolution. For the first time in history, large numbers of people were members of the industrial working class; they lived in cities and exchanged their labour for payment. By the 1830s, when the Chartist movement was at its peak, a true and widespread 'workers' consciousness' was beginning to awaken in England.

Industrial Revolution Transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the 18th-19th centuries

The Industrial Revolution, now also known as the First Industrial Revolution, was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, the increasing use of steam power and water power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the mechanized factory system. The Industrial Revolution also led to an unprecedented rise in the rate of population growth.

Chartism British democratic movement (1838-1857)

Chartism was a working-class movement for political reform in Britain that existed from 1838 to 1857. It took its name from the People's Charter of 1838 and was a national protest movement, with particular strongholds of support in Northern England, the East Midlands, the Staffordshire Potteries, the Black Country, and the South Wales Valleys. Support for the movement was at its highest in 1839, 1842, and 1848, when petitions signed by millions of working people were presented to the House of Commons. The strategy employed was to use the scale of support which these petitions and the accompanying mass meetings demonstrated to put pressure on politicians to concede manhood suffrage. Chartism thus relied on constitutional methods to secure its aims, though there were some who became involved in insurrectionary activities, notably in South Wales and in Yorkshire.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

William Benbow pictured in Punch in 1848. William benbow punch.JPG
William Benbow pictured in Punch in 1848.

The first theorist to formulate and popularise the idea of a general strike for the purpose of political reform was the radical pamphleteer William Benbow. [3] Closely involved with planning the attempted Blanketeers protest march by Lancashire weavers in March 1817, [4] he became an associate of William Cobbett and passed his time "agitating the labouring classes at their trades meetings and club-houses." [4]

The term "Radical", during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, identified proponents of democratic reform, in what subsequently became the parliamentary Radical Movement.

Pamphlet unbound booklet containing text

A pamphlet is an unbound book. Pamphlets may consist of a single sheet of paper that is printed on both sides and folded in half, in thirds, or in fourths, called a leaflet or it may consist of a few pages that are folded in half and saddle stapled at the crease to make a simple book.

William Benbow English nonconformist preacher and publisher

William Benbow was a nonconformist preacher, pamphleteer, pornographer and publisher, and a prominent figure of the Reform Movement in Manchester and London. He worked with William Cobbett on the radical newspaper Political Register, and spent time in prison as a consequence of his writing, publishing and campaigning activities. He has been credited with formulating and popularising the idea of a general strike for the purpose of political reform.

On 28 January 1832 Benbow published a pamphlet entitled Grand National Holiday and Congress of the Productive Classes. [5] Benbow began to advocate direct and even violent action for political reform, in particular he advanced his idea for a "national holiday" and "national convention". By this he meant an extended period of general strike by the working classes, which would be a sacred or holy action (hence "holy-day"), during which time local committees would keep the peace and elect delegates to a national convention or congress, which would agree the future direction of the nation. The striking workers were to support themselves with savings and confiscated parish funds, and by demanding contributions from rich people. [6]

Benbow's idea of a Grand National Holiday was adopted by the Chartist Congress of 1839, Benbow having spent time in Manchester during 1838-9 promoting the cause and his pamphlet. [7]

In 1842 the demands for fairer wages and conditions across many different industries finally exploded into the first modern general strike (the 1842 General Strike). After the second Chartist Petition was presented to Parliament in April 1842 and rejected, the strike began in the coal mines of Staffordshire, England, and soon spread through Britain affecting factories, mills in Lancashire and coal mines from Dundee to South Wales and Cornwall. [8] Instead of being a spontaneous uprising of the mutinous masses, the strike was politically motivated and was driven by a hard-headed agenda to win concessions. Probably as much as half of the then industrial workforce were on strike at its peak – over 500,000 men. The local leadership marshaled a growing working-class tradition to politically organise their followers to mount an articulate challenge to the capitalist, political establishment.

The mass abandonment of plantations by black slaves and poor whites during the American Civil War has, controversially, been considered a general strike. In his classic history Black Reconstruction in America , W. E. B. Du Bois describes this mass abandonment in precisely these terms:

Transforming itself suddenly from a problem of abandoned plantations and slaves captured while being used by the [Southern] enemy for military purposes, the movement became a general strike against the slave system on the part of all who could find opportunity. The trickling streams of fugitives swelled to a flood. Once begun, the general strike of black and white went madly and relentlessly on like some great saga. [9]

The next large scale general strike took place over half a century later in Belgium, in an effort to force the government to grant universal suffrage to the people. [10] However, there were periodical strikes throughout the 19th century that could loosely be considered as 'general strikes'. In the United States, the Philadelphia General Strike of 1835 lasted for three weeks, after which the striking workers won their goal of a ten-hour workday and an increase in wages. [11] Later general strikes include the 1877 Saint Louis general strike, which grew out of the events of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 across the United States and the 1892 New Orleans general strike. The year of 1919 saw a cascade of general strikes around the world as a result of the political convulsions caused by the First World War – in Germany, Belfast, Seattle and Winnipeg.

The Russian Revolution of 1905 saw a massive wave of social unrest across the Russian Empire, characterised by large scale general strikes on the part of the industrial workers. The 1926 United Kingdom general strike started in the coal industry and rapidly escalated; the unions called out 1,750,000 workers, mainly in the transport and steel sectors, although the strike was successfully suppressed by the government. [12] [13]

Rosa Luxemburg

At the turn of the 20th century, Belgium was particularly prone to large scale strike actions, with at least four mass strikes occurring in 1886, 1887, 1891, and 1893. [14] [15] In 1886, there was the Walloon Jacquerie of 1886, but without an actual leading political organisation. The final strike was the Belgian general strike of 1893 mentioned above. [16]

In 1902 the Belgian Labour Party launched another strike, which failed. Many German social democrats thought such an experiment was absurd. Drachkovitch observed that German socialists were against the general strike because "under the Kaiser, supporting it was not very safe." [17]

Rosa Luxemburg, in her 1906 book The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions had a different view, criticizing the Belgian Labour Party for perceived tactical incompetence: A general strike forged in advance within the fetters of legality is like a war demonstration with cannons dumped into a river within the very sight of the enemy. [18]

Carl E. Schorske wrote about the same Belgian phenomenon studied by Luxemburg as well as the German opposition to it:

In German Social Democratic circles, the general strike suffered from the hereditary taint of its anarchist origins (...) Rosa Luxemburg, who studied the Belgian strike, was particularly impressed with its success in activating the political consciousness of the backward portions of the population. She was not yet however, prepared to give it European-wide significance. Luxemburg felt it to be appropriate only in countries in which industry was geographically concentrated. [19]


General strikes have been done in order to seek "democracy, political representation and the provision of basic education and healthcare". [20] In Europe, general strikes were very common in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

In Portugal, a general strike has been called by the federation of public labour unions to avert austerity measures. [21]

In Honduras, a general strike was called in 2011 by Union workers, farmers and other organisations demanding better education, an increase in the minimum wage and against fuel price hikes. [22]

In Yemen, thousands of people took the streets in a general strike in 2011 to protest President Ali Abdullah Saleh. [23]

In Algeria, public sector workers have mounted a general strike for higher wages and improved working conditions. [24]

In February, 1947, General Douglas MacArthur, as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Japan, banned a planned general strike of 2,400,000 government workers, stating that "so deadly a social weapon" as the general strike should not be used in the impoverished and emaciated condition of Japan so soon after World War II. Japan's labour leaders complied with his ban. [25]


Ralph Chaplin, editor of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) newspaper Solidarity and later, of the Industrial Worker , identified four levels of general strike,

  • A General Strike in a community.
  • A General Strike in an Industry.
  • A national General Strike.
  • A revolutionary or class strike—the General Strike. [26]

In the 1905 pamphlet The Social General Strike, published in Chicago in 1905, Stephen Naft had previously acknowledged the same four levels of the general strike:

[The name "General Strike"] is often used to designate the strike of all branches in one trade; for instance the general strike of the miners; when helpers and hoisting engineers, etc. are all out. Then it is used as: General Strike of a city, i.e., "General Strike in Florence", or a General Strike in a whole country or province, for the purpose of gaining political rights, i.e., the right to vote; as in Belgium, or Sweden. [27]

The profoundest conception of the General Strike, however, [is] the one pointing to a thorough change of the present system: a social revolution of the world; an entire new reorganisation; a demolition of the entire old system of all governments... [27]

Strike (1910) by Stanislaw Lentz, National Museum in Warsaw. Stanislaw Lentz, Strajk.jpg
Strike (1910) by Stanisław Lentz, National Museum in Warsaw.

Naft's 1905 pamphlet (translated from the German language) traced existing sentiment for this goal of the general strike to proletarians of Spain and Italy. [28]

The premise of The Social General Strike is that no matter how powerfully the working class organises itself, it still has no significant power over a congress, or the executive (which has military force at its beck and call). Therefore, a general strike called by an "energetic and enthusiastic" minority of workers, may be embraced by the mass of workers who remain unorganised. [28] Thus it may be possible, completely interrupt production in the whole country, and stop communication and consumption for the ruling classes, and that for a time long enough to totally disorganise the capitalistic society; so that after the complete annihilation of the old system, the working people can take possession through its labour unions of all the means of production... [29]

The Social General Strike noted the complexity of modern industry, identifying the many stages in the manufacturing process and geographic dispersal of related manufacturing locations as weaknesses of the industrial process during any labour dispute. [29] The pamphlet notes the problem of hunger during a general strike, and recommends where warehouses are available for the purpose, that proletarians, the same thing as the ruling classes have done uninterruptedly for thousands of years: that is, "consume without producing." This deportment of the ruling classes the working class calls exploitation, and if the proletarians do it, the possessing classes call it plundering—and socialism calls it expropriation. [30]

However, the pamphlet asserts that,

The immense advantage of the general strike is that it begins entirely lawfully and without any danger for the workers, and for this reason thousands will take part... [31]

Socialists, anarchists differ on tactics

In 1966, in a study of revolutionary socialism, Milorad M. Drachkovitch of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace (a conservative/libertarian think tank), noted two tactical options which divided late 19th century and early 20th century anarchists from socialists: electoral politics, which the socialists embraced, but anarchists generally opposed; and, the general strike as a mechanism to prevent war, which anarchists supported, but socialists refused to endorse. [32]

As a group, the Socialists of the period repeatedly rejected the general strike as a tactic; [33] however, a number of Socialist leaders advocated its use for one reason or another. [34] Socialist leaders who embraced the general strike tended to see it as an instrument for obtaining political concessions. [33]

Drachkovitch identified five types of general strikes:

Drachkovitch perceived the first two concepts, the socialist-friendly general strike for political rights within the system, and the general strike as a revolutionary mechanism to overthrow the existing order—which he associated with a "rising anarcho-syndicalist movement"—as in conflict. [35] Drachkovitch believed that the difficulty arose from the fact that the general strike was "one instrument", but was frequently considered "without distinction of underlying motives." [36]

Milorad M. Drachkovitch also observed the variable success of the general strike in actual use:

In Belgium a general strike movement, broken off in one instance without damage to the organizing forces, eventually led to universal suffrage; in Holland a general strike collapsed with disastrous consequences; in Sweden, a general strike was conducted and terminated with disciplined order but did not attain the desired results. In Italy, general strikes had been both socially effective and politically unproductive. On the other hand, the events of January 1905 in Russia once more seemed to underscore the suitability of the general strike as a decisively revolutionary action. [36]

Syndicalism and the general strike

Orthodox labour unions typically act as a representative from the workers to employers. They bargain over wages, hours, and working conditions.

Other labour organisations typically bargain for the same wage, hour, and conditions improvements, but embrace a critique of capital as establishing and maintaining a permanent working class and an elite ruling class. These unions therefore advocate a permanent solution to the circumstances of strikes, injunctions, and crossing other workers' picket lines. [37] [38] [39] Given the hierarchical relationships of the existing economic system, these other unions perceive the necessity of a radical change in the social order. In brief, these unions are radical in their orientation, and may accurately be described as revolutionary.

One labour movement philosophy of "peaceful revolution" is known as syndicalism. Its tactical method is the strike—the regular strike for protecting the material welfare of the workers, and the general strike as a means to accomplish the desired permanent solution to industrial strife. [40] Syndicalism has been a common union organizing principle in a number of European countries, including France, Spain, and Italy.

One variation of syndicalism is anarcho-syndicalism, which (in comparison to syndicalism) develops rank and file power with democratic traditions to maintain worker control over union leadership.

Industrial Workers of the World

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The hand that will rule the world.jpg

In the United States, Britain, and (to a lesser extent) Australia, the trend toward revolutionary unionism culminated in the growth of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Technically, the IWW is described as a union that practices revolutionary industrial unionism . Some consider the revolutionary industrial unionism of the IWW to be a form of anarcho-syndicalism. [41] Others point out differences; for example, Ralph Chaplin has written,

...the I.W.W. concept of the General Strike differs almost as much from that of the anarcho-syndicalist as from that of the political or craft unionist. In form, structure and objective, the I.W.W. is more all-sufficient, more mature and more modern than any of its anarcho-syndicalist predecessors. [26]

The IWW began to fully embrace the general strike in 1910-1911. [42] The ultimate goal of the general strike, according to Industrial Workers of the World theory, is to displace capitalists and give control over the means of production to workers. [42] [43] In a 1911 speech in New York City, IWW organiser Haywood explained his view of the economic situation, and why he believed a general strike was justified,

The capitalists have wealth; they have money. They invest the money in machinery, in the resources of the earth. They operate a factory, a mine, a railroad, a mill. They will keep that factory running just as long as there are profits coming in. When anything happens to disturb the profits, what do the capitalists do? They go on strike, don't they? They withdraw their finances from that particular mill. They close it down because there are no profits to be made there. They don't care what becomes of the working class. But the working class, on the other hand, has always been taught to take care of the capitalist's interest in the property. [44]

Bill Haywood believed that industrial unionism made possible the general strike, and the general strike made possible industrial democracy. [44] According to Wobbly theory, the conventional strike is an important (but not the only) weapon for improving wages, hours, and working conditions for working people. These strikes are also good training to help workers educate themselves about the class struggle, and about what it will take to execute an eventual general strike for the purpose of achieving industrial democracy. [45] During the final general strike, workers would not walk out of their shops, factories, mines, and mills, but would rather occupy their workplaces and take them over. [45] Prior to taking action to initiate industrial democracy, workers would need to educate themselves with technical and managerial knowledge in order to operate industry. [45]

According to labour historian Philip S. Foner, the Wobbly conception of industrial democracy is intentionally not presented in detail by IWW theorists; in that sense, the details are left to the "future development of society". [46] However, certain concepts are implicit. Industrial democracy will be "a new society [built] within the shell of the old." [47] Members of the industrial union educate themselves to operate industry according to democratic principles, and without the current hierarchical ownership/management structure. Issues such as production and distribution would be managed by the workers themselves. [47]

In 1927 the IWW called for a three-day nationwide walkout—in essence, a demonstration general strike—to protest the execution of anarchists Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. [48] The most notable response to the call was in the Walsenburg coal district of Colorado, where 1,132 miners stayed off the job, and only 35 went to work, [49] a participation rate which led directly to the Colorado coal strike of 1927.

On March 18, 2011, the Industrial Workers of the World website ( supported an endorsement of a general strike as a followup to protests against Governor Scott Walker's proposed labour legislation in Wisconsin, following a motion passed by the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL) of Wisconsin endorsing a statewide general strike as a response to those legislative proposals. [50] [51] The SCFL website states,

At SCFL’s monthly meeting Monday, Feb. 21, delegates endorsed the following: "The SCFL endorses a general strike, possibly for the day Walker signs his 'budget repair bill.'" An ad hoc committee was formed to explore the details. SCFL did not CALL for a general strike because it does not have that authority. [51]

Reaction of orthodox labour

The year 1919 saw a number of general strikes throughout North America, including two that were considered significant—the Seattle General Strike, and the Winnipeg General Strike. While the IWW participated in the Seattle General Strike, that action was called by the Seattle Central Labor Union, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL, predecessor of the AFL-CIO). [52]

In June, 1919, the AFL national organisation, in session in Atlantic City, New Jersey, passed resolutions in opposition to the general strike. The official report of these proceedings described the convention as the "largest and in all probability the most important Convention ever held" by the organisation, in part for having engineered the "overwhelming defeat of the so-called Radical element" via crushing a "One Big Union proposition", and also for defeating a proposal for a nationwide general strike, both "by a vote of more than 20 to 1." [53] The AFL amended its constitution to disallow any central labour union (i.e., regional labour councils) from "taking a strike vote without prior authorization of the national officers of the union concerned". [53] The change was intended to "check the spread of general strike sentiment and prevent recurrences of what happened at Seattle and is now going on at Winnipeg." [53] The penalty for any unauthorised strike vote was revocation of that body's charter. [53]

Notable general strikes

General strike in Catalonia, 21 February 2019 Vaga 21 febrer 2019 10.jpg
General strike in Catalonia, 21 February 2019

The largest general strike that ever stopped the economy of an advanced industrial country – and the first general wildcat strike in history – was May 1968 in France. [54] The prolonged strike involved eleven million workers for two weeks in a row, [54] and its impact was such that it almost caused the collapse of the de Gaulle government. Other notable general strikes include:

(Note: "plebeian secession" was a tactic used by the Roman plebs of vacating a city entirely and leaving its ruling elite to fend for itself, thus an even more radical action than a "general strike", yet unlike the latter term, it does not pertain to withholding labour within a wage-system. General strikes in the current sense of the term only begin to take place in a context where in which labour is treated as a commodity, and wage workers collectively organise to halt production.)

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 H.G. Wells, Outline Of History, Waverly Book Company, 1920, page 225
  2. 1 2 H.G. Wells, Outline Of History, Waverly Book Company, 1920, pages 225-226
  3. Carpenter, Niles. William Benbow and the Origin of the General Strike. The Quarterly Journal of Economics , Vol. 35, No. 3 (May, 1921), pp. 491-499. Oxford University Press
  4. 1 2 Bamford, Samuel (1843). Passages in the Life of a Radical.
  5. "Institution of the Working Classes". UCL Bloomsbury Project. University College London. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
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  7. Beer, M (1921). A History of British Socialism. London: G. Bell & Son. OL   23304301M.
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  10. "What do we mean by a General Strike?".
  11. Philip S. Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States, Vol. 1, From Colonial Times to the Founding of The American Federation of Labor, International Publishers, 1975, pages 116–118
  12. G A. Phillips, The General Strike: The Politics of Industrial Conflict (1976)
  13. Keith Laybourn, The General Strike of 1926 (1993)
  14. 1 2 Milorad M. Drachkovitch, The revolutionary internationals, 1864–1943, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University Press, 1966, pages 99–100
  15. Carl Strikwerda (1997). A house divided: Catholics, Socialists, and Flemish nationalists in nineteenth-century Belgium. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 109. ISBN   978-0-8476-8527-1 . Retrieved 23 September 2010.
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  27. 1 2 Stephen Naft, The Social General Strike, Debating Club No. 1, Chicago, June 1905, pages 5–6, translated from the German language pamphlet of the same name by Arnold Roller
  28. 1 2 Stephen Naft, The Social General Strike, Debating Club No. 1, Chicago, June 1905, page 6, translated from the German language pamphlet of the same name by Arnold Roller
  29. 1 2 Stephen Naft, The Social General Strike, Debating Club No. 1, Chicago, June 1905, page 7, translated from the German language pamphlet of the same name by Arnold Roller
  30. Stephen Naft, The Social General Strike, Debating Club No. 1, Chicago, June 1905, page 8, translated from the German language pamphlet of the same name by Arnold Roller
  31. Stephen Naft, The Social General Strike, Debating Club No. 1, Chicago, June 1905, page 9, translated from the German language pamphlet of the same name by Arnold Roller
  32. Milorad M. Drachkovitch, The revolutionary internationals, 1864-1943, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University Press, 1966, page 81
  33. 1 2 Milorad M. Drachkovitch, The revolutionary internationals, 1864-1943, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University Press, 1966, page 83
  34. Milorad M. Drachkovitch, The revolutionary internationals, 1864-1943, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University Press, 1966, pages 82–83
  35. Milorad M. Drachkovitch, The revolutionary internationals, 1864–1943, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University Press, 1966, page 99. His actual term was "mutually exclusive."
  36. 1 2 Milorad M. Drachkovitch, The revolutionary internationals, 1864-1943, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University Press, 1966, page 100
  37. Melvyn Dubofsky, We Shall Be All, A History of the Industrial Workers of the World, University of Illinois Press Abridged, 2000, page 88
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  41. Paul Frederick Brissenden, The I.W.W. A Study of American Syndicalism, Columbia University, 1919, page 45
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  43. Melvyn Dubofsky, We Shall Be All, A History of the Industrial Workers of the World, University of Illinois Press Abridged, 2000, page 90
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  45. 1 2 3 Philip S. Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States, Vol. 4, The Industrial Workers of the World 1905-1917, International Publishers, 1997, page 141
  46. Philip S. Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States, Vol. 4, The Industrial Workers of the World 1905-1917, International Publishers, 1997, pages 141–142
  47. 1 2 Philip S. Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States, Vol. 4, The Industrial Workers of the World 1905-1917, International Publishers, 1997, page 142
  48. Donald J. McClurg, The Colorado Coal Strike of 1927—Tactical Leadership of the IWW, Labor History, Vol. 4, No. 1, Winter, 1963, page 71
  49. Donald J. McClurg, The Colorado Coal Strike of 1927: Tactical Leadership of the IWW, Labor History, Vol. 4, No. 1, Winter, 1963, page 72
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  51. 1 2 retrieved 9 April 2011
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  53. 1 2 3 4 Sheet Metal Workers' Journal, Amalgamated Sheet Metal Workers' International Alliance, Volumes 24-25, Chicago, Illinois, 1919, pages 265-267
  54. 1 2 The Beginning of an Era , from Situationist International No 12 (September 1969). Translated by Ken Knabb.
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Further reading

Related Research Articles

Syndicalism proposed type of economic system, considered a replacement for capitalism

Syndicalism is a radical current in the labor movement and was most active in the early 20th century. Its main idea is worker-based local organization and advancement through strikes. According to the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, it predominated in the revolutionary left in the decade preceding World War I as Marxism was mostly reformist at that time. Major syndicalist organizations included the General Confederation of Labor in France, the National Confederation of Labor in Spain, the Italian Syndicalist Union, the Free Workers' Union of Germany, and the Argentine Regional Workers' Federation. The Industrial Workers of the World, the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union and the Canadian One Big Union, though they did not regard themselves as syndicalists, are considered by most historians to belong to this current. A number of syndicalist organizations were and still are to this day linked in the International Workers' Association, but some of its member organizations left for the International Confederation of Labor, formed in 2018.

Industrial Workers of the World International labor union

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), members of which are commonly termed "Wobblies", is an international labor union that was founded in 1905 in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. The union combines general unionism with industrial unionism, as it is a general union whose members are further organized within the industry of their employment. The philosophy and tactics of the IWW are described as "revolutionary industrial unionism", with ties to both socialist and anarchist labor movements.

Anarcho-syndicalism branch of anarchism

Anarcho-syndicalism, also referred to as revolutionary syndicalism, is a theory of anarchism that views revolutionary industrial unionism or syndicalism as a method for workers in capitalist society to gain control of an economy and thus control influence in broader society. Syndicalists consider their economic theories a strategy for facilitating worker self-activity and as an alternative co-operative economic system with democratic values and production centered on meeting human needs.

Industrial unionism labor union organizing method in which all workers in the same industry are organized into the same union

Industrial unionism is a labour union organizing method through which all workers in the same industry are organized into the same union—regardless of skill or trade—thus giving workers in one industry, or in all industries, more leverage in bargaining and in strike situations. Advocates of industrial unionism value its contributions to building unity and solidarity, many suggesting the slogans, "an injury to one is an injury to all" and "the longer the picket line, the shorter the strike."

One Big Union (concept)

The One Big Union was an idea in the late 19th and early 20th centuries amongst trade unionists to unite the interests of workers and offer solutions to all labour problems.

Seattle General Strike

The Seattle General Strike of 1919 was a five-day general work stoppage by more than 65,000 workers in the city of Seattle, Washington, which lasted from February 6 to February 11 of that year. Dissatisfied workers in several unions began the strike to gain higher wages after two years of World War I wage controls. Most other local unions, including members of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), joined the walkout. Although the strike was non-violent and lasted less than a week, government officials, the press, and much of the public viewed the strike as a radical attempt to subvert American institutions.

Labor aristocracy or labour aristocracy has at least four meanings: (1) as a term with Marxist theoretical underpinnings; (2) as a specific type of trade unionism; (3) as a shorthand description by revolutionary industrial unions for the bureaucracy of craft-based business unionism; and (4) in the 19th and early 20th centuries was also a phrase used to define better-off members of the working class.

Anarchism in South Africa dates to the 1880s, and played a major role in the labour and socialist movements from the turn of the twentieth century through to the 1920s. The early South African anarchist movement was strongly syndicalist. The ascendance of Marxism–Leninism following the Russian Revolution, along with state repression, resulted in most of the movement going over to the Comintern line, with the remainder consigned to irrelevance. There were slight traces of anarchist or revolutionary syndicalist influence in some of the independent left-wing groups which resisted the apartheid government from the 1970s onward, but anarchism and revolutionary syndicalism as a distinct movement only began re-emerging in South Africa in the early 1990s. It remains a minority current in South African politics.

Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance

The Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance - commonly abbreviated STLA or ST&LA - was a revolutionary socialist labor union in the United States closely linked to the Socialist Labor Party (SLP), which existed from 1895 until becoming a part of the Industrial Workers of the World at its founding in 1905.

Workers International Industrial Union

The Workers' International Industrial Union (WIIU) was a Revolutionary Industrial Union headquartered in Detroit in 1908 by radical trade unionists closely associated with the Socialist Labor Party of America, headed by Daniel DeLeon. The organization was formed when it broke with the main faction of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) over the question of political action.

Wobbly lingo is a collection of technical language, jargon, and historic slang used by the Industrial Workers of the World, known as the Wobblies, for more than a century. Many Wobbly terms derive from or are coextensive with hobo expressions used through the 1940s.

Industrial Workers of the World philosophy and tactics

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is a union of wage workers which was formed in Chicago in 1905 by militant unionists and their supporters due to anger over the conservatism, philosophy, and craft-based structure of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Throughout the early part of the 20th century, the philosophy and tactics of the IWW were frequently in direct conflict with those of the AFL concerning the best ways to organize workers, and how to best improve the society in which they toiled. The AFL had one guiding principle—"pure and simple trade unionism", often summarized with the slogan "a fair day's pay for a fair day's work." The IWW embraced two guiding principles, fighting like the AFL for better wages, hours, and conditions, but also promoting an eventual, permanent solution to the problems of strikes, injunctions, bull pens, and union scabbing.

The Industrial and Commercial Union (ICU) was a trade union and mass based popular political movement in southern Africa. It was influenced by the syndicalist politics of the Industrial Workers of the World, as well as by Garveyism, Christianity, communism and liberalism.

Industrial Workers of Great Britain

The Industrial Workers of Great Britain was a group which promoted industrial unionism in the early 20th century.

The Agricultural Workers Organization (AWO), an organization of farm workers throughout the United States and Canada, was formed on April 15, 1915, in Kansas City. It was supported by, and a subsidiary organization of, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Although the IWW had advocated the abolition of the wage system as an ultimate goal since its own formation ten years earlier, the AWO's founding convention sought rather to address immediate needs, and championed a ten-hour work day, premium pay for overtime, a minimum wage, good food and bedding for workers. In 1917 the organization changed names to the Agricultural Workers Industrial Union (AWIU) as part of a broader reorganization of IWW industrial unions.

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is a union of wage workers which was formed in Chicago in 1905. The IWW experienced a number of divisions and splits during its early history.

Solidarity was a newspaper published by the Industrial Workers of the World from 1909 to 1917. It was the official periodical of the organization in its early years. It was born as part of the McKees Rocks strike in 1909, initially by the IWW's Pittsburgh-New Castle Industrial Council. During the IWW's involvement in the local steel industry in New Castle and in Butler, Pennsylvania, the entire editorial and production staff of Solidarity was jailed.

A. S. Embree, a former minister, was an experienced American union organizer and, briefly, a leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Embree served as the secretary-treasurer pro tem of the national IWW for a period of two months after the national office was raided by federal agents.

The International Socialist League of South Africa was the earliest major Marxist party in South Africa, and a predecessor of the South African Communist Party. The ISL was founded around the syndicalist politics of the Industrial Workers of the World and Daniel De Leon.

De Leonism

De Leonism, occasionally known as Marxism–De Leonism, is a libertarian Marxist current developed by the American activist Daniel De Leon. De Leon was an early leader of the first United States socialist political party, the Socialist Labor Party of America (SLP). De Leon combined the rising theories of revolutionary syndicalism in his time with orthodox Marxism. According to De Leonist theory, militant industrial unions are the vehicle of class struggle. Industrial unions serving the interests of the proletariat will bring about the change needed to establish a socialist system. While sharing some characteristics of anarcho-syndicalism and with the SLP being a member of the predominantly anarcho-syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), De Leonism actually differs from it in that he and the modern SLP still believe in the necessity of a central government to coordinate production as well as in the use of a revolutionary political party in addition to union action to achieve its goals.