Spain 9-29: Notes from the General Strike

So it’s the twenty-ninth of September 2010, and the huelga general is finally here. Today, the workers of Spain exercise their constitutional right to strike, in protest over the economic reforms and to vent their anger at the general uselessness of President Zapatero and his administration in responding to the crisis.

I was informed that today I had two options: a) work as usual or b) go on strike, get a day’s pay discounted and no hard feelings. Faced with such extreme options, I feel a middle road is called for, so consider this post my personal strike.

The city is quiet so far, although that could change quickly. There’s much less traffic, and although many stores are open, they have the blinds half shut. The unions own the cities during a strike. Block the traffic and the public transportation, and send the pickets to cut the streets, and the city grinds to a halt.

the picket choir rehearses

Stopping the cities is the focus of the unions today, because support for the strike is not as general as the unions would have us believe. Many workers have chosen to work today, some maybe under coercion, as the unions say, but many others simply because they don’t identify with an event exclusively cut to the union’s political needs. Whether they were able to actually reach their workplace is another issue…

ahh, the smell of burning rubber... it's strike day!

While it is undeniable that the workers are the ones that make the economy run, the unions represent mostly heavy industry and public sector workers, which is hardly representative of the full economic demographic. The real struggle here is between the union workers and the government that employs them, the rest of us are just numbers to lay on the bargaining table. If they can persuade the government to somehow grant them special benefits, more power to them, but the crisis will still be there and the administration will continue to be useless. And tomorrow…

And tomorrow it’s back to work again, slave. Y’all got your day to bitch and moan. Now shut the f*ck up and keep rowing or it’s overboard with you, chum.

Let’s face it, folks: one-day limpdick strikes just won’t cut it in today’s strife-worn world. Look at the French, they’ve had five or six strikes on Sarkozy and he’s still wearing platforms. Why not storm the Bastille again? Here’s why: modern unions are just special interest groups completely integrated into the system, and they have nothing to offer in terms of change except replacing the tyranny of the capital for the tyranny of the workers. Look at what happened in France after the fall of the Bastille… le plus ça change, le plus c’est la meme chose.

More than a general strike, what we have today is a controlled release ritual to emasculate the real discontent and keep it from manifesting in ways that pose a real threat to the status quo. Even the Greeks, who seem to be the only ones taking their strikes seriously, have not been able to move a single hair on prime minister Papandreu’s (admittedly bald) noggin. Even after it was known that Germany’s bailout money came with the obligation for the Greek military to buy a bunch of German hardware they don’t need. Business as usual. Wanna go out in the streets and wave flags? Go right ahead; the riot cops need the practice anyway…

the sign says NO PICNICS!!

The real strike begins the day we realize we are not our job, our house and our bank account… the day we demand human rights, not slave charity. The day we stop working, stop paying taxes, stop using the funny money, stop feeding the banks. Let them eat cake, because everything we ever needed is right by our side, and they can’t touch it. Selah!

All photos taken in Barcelona by the intrepid photographers of EFE news agency, and published in La Vanguardia. Striking!

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