And yet, an analysis of strategies and tactics is desperately needed. The unfortunate reality is that smashing a window, even many windows, does not challenge the power of capital in any fundamental way, let alone overthrow the power of capital. Profits are not impeded when insurance can cover the cost of replacing windows, and capitalism does not grind to a halt – or even turn tail and run – when specific meetings are shut down or interrupted or when the ‘symbols of capitalism’ (the windows of Starbucks and Adidas, for example) are smashed. Changing the world would be so much easier if this were the case!
Rather, the inequality inherent in capitalist production derives from the fact that the value of the work we perform is more than what we are paid in wages, and that difference (the profit) goes to the employer, not us. Disrupting this social relation means getting at the core of what makes capitalism function as an economic system. Because the profit taken from us relies on our continuing to work, effectively challenging capital would require disrupting this chain of profit acquisition through stopping work. And going from challenging capital to ultimately overthrowing capital would involve seizing control of, and paralyzing the production of profits in, these very workplaces.
This dauntingly far-reaching task of seizing control – collectively and democratically – of our workplaces and other institutions will thus obviously require large mobilizations. But it will also require large numbers of us actively working together, self-organizing – in stark contrast to more passive forms of political engagement (such as electoral politics) undertaken by isolated individuals. And this mass self-activity must be capable of disrupting the immobilization, powerlessness and cynicism that we often feel, so that we begin to experience our world in new ways – as makers of history capable of changing our world rather than bystanders watching our world make or break us. Tactics like an occupation, blockade, militant strike, or sit-in, for example, are some of the methods that better enable us to begin to take power with our own hands. These three elements – mobilizing a lot of people, in ways where we ourselves are active and not passive, and in ways that enable us to experience and wield our power collectively – are key ingredients in building our counter-power. •
The passivity of unions/leaders/activists has been quietly downgraded in the last few years, just when they need to step up. And yet we know where that leads. It was an open admission in the courts that MLK was a danger to civil society. Why? Because his philosophy of non-violence was too threatening. Yet what I bolded above won't happen because..........labour day is almost upon us and I have personally witnessed labour leaders working in tangent with the gob.