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General Strikes

The Strike Weapon

The original basic idea of the strike was for the workers in a single factory to stop production and thus bring pressure to bear on the employer to make concessions on wages and working conditions or see his profits turned into losses. Later, as unions became organized nationally, the aim was to hold up a whole industry or several industries simultaneously. A further development was to organize a strike covering several essential industries as a means to force the government to alter its policies or even to force it to resign, the so-called General Strike. Britain had its “general strike” in 1926. Others had already taken place in various European countries, and in recent years there have been dozens, in Italy, France, Japan and elsewhere.

The Strike

The largest battle in English industrial history is over and the wounded are being carried off the field.

The first point that strikes one, after making the necessary allowance for the intimidation of the nervous, is the amazing solidarity of the workers on this occasion. The consciousness, dim though it may have been in the main, that they must make common cause and stand together, though only one section was being immediately attacked.

The next point was the demonstration of where the power really lies in modern affairs. The control of the governmental machinery gave the masters the key to the situation.

Letter: What Kind of Revolution?

Dear Editors

Your article on the General Strike weapon (May Socialist Standard) whilst informative and useful is quite faulty on a few key points. First, you grossly underestimate and demean the importance of workers’ class consciousness growing, which set the basis of the workers’ advances from mere legal/truncated trade/craft union actions. General strikes tend to move affected parts of the class and allies to more militant, anti-capitalist wider fightback and their own demands and build socialist clarity.

The General Strike of 1926

London's Piccadilly was jammed with traffic. So was the Thames Embankment. Vehicles of all shapes and sizes—cars, vans, bicycles, horses and carts, almost anything on wheels— had been pressed into service.

This traffic chaos was news, but there were no newspapers. Out of Fleet Street came only a few bundles of single-sided cyclostyled sheets with a very brief digest of news snippets.

The railway stations were quiet except for the murmur of voices of bewildered people who had turned up with the hope of getting a train.

The docks were still and silent. Only at the gates, where groups of dock workers stood around, was there any sign of life.

The same pattern prevailed in towns and cities all over the country.

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