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What If This Had Been A General Strike?

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Peter Barus
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I've been through a general strike. It was in another country. But everyone did stop work and stay home. At the time, nobody had thought through what it would be like to just drop everything and leave the electric power plant without first shutting it down, and the sewage treatment plants, and the hospitals. Everything just kind of descended, like the sound of a bagpipe when the piper runs out of wind. Most people had a little water from wells and streams, since the country had not yet gotten around to a central water supply. But restarting the world was hard.

Although it's superficially just like a real general strike, it's a lot different to have this shutdown imposed on us, than to have called a labor action in the name of some worthy aspiration. I would have hoped for demands under the headings of Environmental Justice, Universal Human Rights and Solidarity Economy.

The Virus has done a much more efficient job of organizing and implementing this work stoppage. As the impacts of such an unprecedented walk-out emerge, we're entering the second month or so (depending on where you were at the freeze-frame moment). Food is something to think about. In Detroit, water, which was already a severe and deadly issue, is now an apocalyptic issue. Thousands of homes have been disconnected by the local government. Why? I can't think of an answer that would satisfy anyone, anywhere.

As for the target of the action, if it had been an action, the owner-class, or the one-percent, or whatever we call the people whose wealth is now of such staggering scale as to make them immune (although not to the Virus), it's hard to tell if they've even noticed.

The squeals from Wall Street went quiet pretty quick, followed by munching, snorting trough sounds as No. 45 slopped those ravenous hogs. Boris Johnson has reappeared after his stint in the ICU. Looked like he'd been out yachting for the weekend.

So, we now know how the Corpocracy would deal with such an action: they would just skip the middlemen (in this case, the whole economy) and take their profits directly out of the Treasury, as they have just done. Then what? Wait for "herd immunity," as flat, low Hart Island gains another few feet, rising with the encroaching waters of Long Island Sound by about the thickness of another layer of freshly-covered cardboard coffins, row on row?

And there you are. Your carbon molecules silhouetting you on the wall next to where you stood when the blast-wave hit.

There is no longer even the pretense of a functioning connection between the wants and needs of Americans, and what their government does. The Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches don't work for us anymore. The media cashed in while they could, until the whole idea of "in-depth reporting" went the way of "facts," and "one person, one vote."

I hear the P.O. is about to go bankrupt, as No. 45 imposes his newly-usurped authority on the purse-strings of the multi-trillion-dollar purse just tossed into his lap by the People's Representatives. There goes the fledgeling vote-by-mail plan.

The possibility of a just and equitable society has been check-mated. Pre-empted, superseded, privatized. Sold out.

This is far from over. The electronic networks that now form the sole channel for human relationships have been in private hands since they were invented. We are allowed to function on these gossamer webs of fiber-optics and satellite links, probably because they are, even now, so wildly profitable. Especially the vampire and zombie flicks.

But what else is working? We're all marooned, huddling together on this vast, virtual island in "the cloud."

I have a bad feeling about this...

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I'm an old Pogo fan. For some unknown reason I persist in outrage at Feudalism, as if human beings can do much better than this. Our old ways of life are obsolete and are killing us. Will the human race wake up in time? Stay (more...)

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