Thursday, February 23, 2006

Comments on Strike

First a short translation for the non portuguese readers: Nuno's and Mariana's comments basically said with said reasoning (see last post) it never works striking against "The State" and if we don't strike now against the raise of 18 minutes, we will have to cope with a lot more minutes in a couple of years. Unions, as corrupt as they may be, at least are fighting for the right side.

Which I don't really discord. My problem with this strike and with a lot of other strikes is: it simply does not work. And that we don't know about anything else is not true. The strike right now transmits no message or the wrong message. The message I get is: Unions tell people to strike about nifty things, cannot prove their point and people will not be on the side of the workers who have to work more and in the end actually fear about loosing their job. Which I thing is a signal that striking in the sense of we just won't work fails.

I can think of a couple of things which you should do better, you might as well. What you want is tor transmit your message to the work, to your employer and to get your rights. So, why don't they use the full PR machinery? The trash removers pass every house. Why not put flyers in the letterboxes. Why not talk to people. Why not get the people on your side instead of just pissing them off? Where is the big announcments in newspapers? Where is the message you want to translate seen? I have not yet seen any consistent thing what they actually strike for and why it is necessary to whine about 18 minutes per day or about working 40 hours a week (by the way, explain why this is bad to somebody who will work something like 60 hours this week, getting paid for 18.5 hours).

Unions (and the left in general) might actually be fighting for the right cause (I never really understood what the left actually wants, if you ask two of them, you get three different answers), but they just can't get the message past. Not even between themselves. Ever talked to them? Ever tried to get a consistent picture what any left wing political party wants?

Don't get me wrong. This is ment provocative. I am actually considering myself on the left side of the political spectrum and think the workers should fight for their cause. I also think if we don't do it now, it might turn much worse and then it is too late. But: having to fight with a very well organized right, fighting against people who will use all your weaknesses, you just cannot afford being dumb. Where are the big posters from the creatives? Where are the left intellectuals we used to have? Where are the consistent movements? All of them disappeared for some leftish gibberish, trying to revive the oh-so-golden days of Soviet Russia, under their great Führer Stalin...

So, to the left: the future is ahead of us. If you want to change anything, look there. Learn from the past, but think for the future. Use whatever media you want, but use all of them and use them aggressively and consistent. Printing flyers you distribute to the masses who pass the factory gate does not work anymore. Print flyers and distribute them everywhere, get the TV, get the Radio, get the Papers. Don't be the left of Marx. Be the left of the future. No longer Viva Marx, Viva Castro. Viva our children! Viva their children!

End of polemics.


nuno said...

"Viva Marx and Castro (jr!)!". Is that OK for you?

Kryptikmo said...

"Won't somebody think of the children!"

The problem that the left has in modern times is that they are fighting battles that are already won, and they're ignoring the battles that they should be fighting. There is nothing wrong with working 40 hours a week - by protesting with strikes against that, they make themselves look greedy and stupid. Strikes should be a last resort, not a primary weapon. Very few are discriminated against through their class and society is very much more egalitarian than in the left's hey-day of the 70's when the old conservative attitudes were swept away and it started to become acceptable to lead any kind of different lifestyle, to be poor or working-class or to come from a different country.

The battles the left should be fighting for now involve all the politically correct topics that certain sections of society have determined to be "taboo" - discrimination in terms of religion, the amassed power of large multi-nationals and the erosion of privacy in modern life. Rights for the physically disabled to be treated as the intellectually equal to those who are able-bodied and given the same educative all my time in school, I never met anyone in a wheel-chair and only one person with an artificial limb - and I grew up with the thalidomide generation in Britain. I don't see any particular reason why such people can't use modern schools (with lifts and ramps) and need to be segregated, as many were (and some still are) in Britain.

Why are corporations given more rights in British and American law than individuals? Why are many poeple condemned to death in the States, whereas very few (if any) corporations are disbanded (the only one I can think of is Bell and the baby Bells...)? Why can people collect data on you and track you or sell it on to other firms without your permission, and why when they break the law is nothing done about it? Why do corporations have such tight access to lawmakers and why are media barons allowed to set the topic of debates world-wide? Why, in Britain, did we effectively consider the abolition of parliament last week with the reading of the Legislative and Parliamentary Reform Bill and no-one noticed? (FYI - under the terms of this bill, any minister in Britain can change any law in any way on a whim, with no checks, balances or public notifications, unless it it to bring in a new crime with more than 2 years imprisonment or to raise taxes...this condition can, however, be changed as part of this bill....)

The left as a champion of freedom and fairness is caught in the past, raising issues that have minimal impact, while a new generation of "the elite" slowly grasp power for themselves, all the while allowing any sensible energy to be expended on a 20-minute working day increase, animal rights and GM-modified food. These things are decoy distractions that focus all attention away from the real issues of creeping religious intolerance and fundamentalism, a plummeting education standard and the consolidation of power and authority into the hands of a very select, meritocratic, greedy few.

Doesn't bother me so much, since I plan on being one of the few, but the reason the left looks petty to you is that, broadly speaking, it is. The people have been given bread and circuses and they're satisfied. Campaigning for better bread or different circus acts will only harm the left's argument and allow them to irrelevant to every day life. It's about time that someone pointed out that the equality trip that the western world has been on is being eroded, not by an 18-minute increase in the working day, but rather by the fact that this 18-minute increase is well-publicised, whereas the other things I have mentioned are, in the public arena, incredibly under-represented to the point of non-existence.