Winnipeg General Strike – Ours?

April 2024 Forums General discussion Winnipeg General Strike – Ours?

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #81571
    jondwhite
    Participant

    The Winnipeg General Strike, is this something the “impossibilists” can point to as an achievement?

    #90012
    DJP
    Participant

    No

    #90013
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    What is quite interesting about this event, which was probably the largest General Strike ever to occur in North America thus far, was that the Royal Commission which investigated the strike concluded that it was not a “criminal conspiracy by foreigners” and suggested that “if Capital does not provide enough to assure Labour a contented existence … then the Government might find it necessary to step in and let the state do these things at the expense of Capital.”http://1919winnipeggeneralstrike.blogspot.co.uk/

    #90014
    jondwhite
    Participant

    Why? Weren’t some of the Strike Committee members of the Socialist Party of Canada?

    #90015
    DJP
    Participant

    I’m no expert but for a start the SPC was not formed until 1931.There’s some histories on this page:http://www.worldsocialism.org/canada/about.htmGeneral Strike is not an ‘Impossibilist’ tactic anyhow is it.

    #90016
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    DJP wrote:
    I’m no expert but for a start the SPC was not formed until 1931.There’s some histories on this page:http://www.worldsocialism.org/canada/about.htmGeneral Strike is not an ‘Impossibilist’ tactic anyhow is it.

     That’s not quite correct as the first SPC was founded in 1905 and as your link suggests that “although sometimes unsound in its policies, was the home of some sound socialists”.However, according to the piece below’ the SPC “failed to lead” and “as a party played little or no role” in the strike (quite rightly of course).http://www.socialisthistory.ca/Docs/History/WinnipegStrike.htmInterestingly this article appeared 50 years later, in the Western Socialist authored by one W.A.Pritchard.http://www.worldsocialism.org/canada/winnipeg.general.strike.1969.v36n269.htm

    #90017
    jondwhite
    Participant

    Thank you gnome. From what I have read, I regard the two Socialist Parties of Canada as seperate, but many members of the WSM one claim continuity with the first, on the basis of the majority of impossibilists in contrast to a minority of reformists (in effect the reverse of the situation in the Social Democratic Federation in Britain). Hence the original question.As for general strike not being an impossibilist tactic, sure the Winnipeg General Strike wasn’t revolutionary, but impossibilists support the class struggle and the principle of workers organising collectively to better their working conditions under capitalism.

    #90018
    ALB
    Keymaster
    jondwhite wrote:
    As for general strike not being an impossibilist tactic, sure the Winnipeg General Strike wasn't revolutionary, but impossibilists support the class struggle and the principle of workers organising collectively to better their working conditions under capitalism.

    I think that's right. While we are against the syndicalist idea of a general strike to try to overthrow capitalism, we are not necessarily against a general strike as a trade-union tactic. In fact, we supported the holding of a general strike in Britain in the 1920s.There was a reply to that article criticising of the SPC members on the strike committee for "not taking a lead" which of course, as Gnome pointed out, was really a compliment. A reply was published in the May 2005 issue of the SPC journal Imagine under the title "Bolshevik bullshit: What Leninists failed to learn from the Winnipeg General Strike".  All copies of Imagine are on the SPC site here, but the article can be accessed more easily here:http://www.socialisthistory.ca/Publications/Reviews/Bolshevik_Bullshit.htmWhile there was no organisational continuity between the old SPC (which virtually died out in the 1920s) and the reconstituted SPC that was formed in 1931 on the basis of the same declaration of principles as us, there was a continuity of membership including some involved in the Winnipeg General Strike. In fact for a long time the new SPC's headquarters were in Winnipeg.It don't think we should run down or reject the old SPC. For all its faults, it was the biggest "impossibilist" party there's ever been yet and it did heavily influence those who founded the SPGB,Some of their pamphlets and leaflets can be found on that Canadian Socialist History site at:http://www.socialisthistory.ca/Docs/docs.htm#PreComPeople here can read them and judge for themselves.

    #90019
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    The establishment of the One Big Union [see my short post here] was also a consequence of the Winnipeg General Strike which,as been pointed,  out was not for political objectives but a union solidarity strike. It is perhaps little known to a large majority of Canadian workers is the fact that what is now accepted without question – the principle of collective bargaining resulted from the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike.On May 1, construction and metalworkers walked off the job, demanding higher wages; on May 15, after employers refused to negotiate with two umbrella unions, the women who worked the city's telephones walked off their shift; nobody came to replace them. Within hours, almost the entire work-force of the city had joined the strike. The city police would have also participated but were asked not to by the strike committee, but regardless most policemen were sacked for supporting the strikers.The "anarchist/syndicalist"(?) Larry Gambone writes in his pamphlet the Impossiblists "The OBU was a child of Impossibilism, most of the important leaders were members of the SPC and the rival Social Democrats had few representatives of importance. The Preamble and Constitution were written by Socialists as were other influential documents of the movement. They created a distinctly Western-Canadian form of syndicalism, strongly influenced by its SPC origins. The OBU grew like a mushroom overnight taking in most of organized labour west of Ontario……Sneered at as “out of date” by the snottily superior Bolshevik fellow-travelers and dismissed as simple-minded millenarians by labor bureaucrats, (and their academic apologists) the Impossibilist’s often libertarian message is more likely to be welcomed today than leftist demands for nationalization and state control. "  I often refer to the OBU when rebutting the claims that Impossibilism was not involved in day to day class struggles and were aloof to union organising. It is one reason i objected a month or so ago to the very miserly book purchase of the history of the SPC by our EC. I do think we should emphasise the involvement of early members of the SPC in the fights of our class. I think it would be worthwhile project to compile the experiences of the many individual members involvements in the unions eg the London bus drivers breakaway union before they too are lost in the mists of time. 

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.