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General Strikes

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.

The Attitude of the SPGB During the Strike

Our attitude towards the General Strike was determined by the following considerations. The limits of trade union action; the determined attempts by the employers to depress wages since the great war; the evils of leadership; the lack of understanding on the part of the workers; and the fact that, in the last resort, power rested with the Government backed by a non-Socialist working class.

We pointed out at the time of the general strike that the workers should remain in complete control of the movement and not allow themselves to be hood-winked into a worse position than before the strike. And, above all, not to follow the stupid slogans of the communists to place all trust in the leaders. After the strike the communists put the blame for the failure on the very leaders they had urged the workers to trust, and advocated fresh leaders from the same group that had influenced the collapse.

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