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(en) Poland, INICJATYWA PRACOWNICZA - WORKERS' INITIATIVE: Climate strikes and social strike: working-class ecology and social reproduction

Date Wed, 25 Sep 2019 08:58:48 +0300


Ostroleka Power Station (source: Wikimedia Commons) ---- Are climate strikes "real" strikes? The answer to this question depends on our definition of what a strike is, which is in turn determined by our political goals. In the text below, I argue that climate strikes, like the women's strike, are part of a wider process that we call a social strike. ---- This thesis is based on two assumptions: ---- - a broader understanding of the work and composition of the working class ---- - the concept of working-class interests, which covers both production (production of goods) and reproduction (production of life)[1] ---- A strike occurs when employees refrain from working to push private entrepreneurs or the state to make concessions. If we understand work only as wage labor, then the strike only occurs when employees and wage workers hold back production in the workplace. However, if we adopt a broader definition of work, covering all activities - paid and unpaid, productive and reproductive - which are obviously or implicitly subordinated to the logic of capital accumulation by generating profits, then work is not limited only to the workplace, but is distributed throughout the society . It takes place in households and local communities (think for a moment about cooking, cleaning and caring, which we call reproductive work); by means of communication (data production, emotions, entertainment, ideas that are captured and sold for profit by internet giants); in schools (creating a workforce adequate to the needs of the economy); etc. Social strike means withdrawing all kinds of work, including work in the most socially dispersed forms.

A common mistake in talking about a social strike is the accusation that by giving the unpaid and reproductive labor force the same "dignity" that is traditionally attributed to employees and wage workers, all aspirations for class struggle in the workplace are abandoned. On the contrary, there is no reason why we should not seek a social strike that covers the entire spectrum of work. Disputes about the primacy of this or that form of work for many of us seem pointless, and their only effect is a further division of the working class. After all, work in capitalism is not a matter of dignity but of forced profit generation and social control, and as such is a disgrace. Dignity is maintained by employees through open or hidden resistance against life-destroying work.

Another accusation sometimes raised against the theory of social reproduction is that it seeks to transfer Marxist categories to a world they no longer adhere to, by attempting to relate non-class entities and struggles to class analysis. The first answer to this criticism can be simple - "Look around you!", Look how our lives are shaped by huge social inequalities, economic crises and restructuring, and more importantly, the very amount of time we spend working; not only as employees and employees, but also in many other areas. Moreover, although from our perspective, reproductive work should be seen as based on exploitative relationships, we can gain a lot by expanding the understanding of the working class, not only outside of wage labor, but also beyond exploitation. This can be done in a meaningful way, basing our understanding of class relations on the notion of expropriation, not exploitation. At that time, employees are all and all who have been deprived of ownership and control over a significant amount of capital. As Simon Clarke wrote, "all expropriated are potential employees of capital and in this sense they are members of the working class"[2]. The threshold of this expropriation is of course practically impossible to determine in a strict way and leaves room for an extensive "gray area", a middle class, for which class relations are at the individual level. Quantification, however, is not a problem here. At that time, employees are all and all who have been deprived of ownership and control over a significant amount of capital. As Simon Clarke wrote, "all expropriated are potential employees of capital and in this sense they are members of the working class"[2]. The threshold of this expropriation is of course practically impossible to determine in a strict way and leaves room for an extensive "gray area", a middle class, for which class relations are at the individual level. Quantification, however, is not a problem here. At that time, employees are all and all who have been deprived of ownership and control over a significant amount of capital. As Simon Clarke wrote, "all expropriated are potential employees of capital and in this sense they are members of the working class"[2]. The threshold of this expropriation is of course practically impossible to determine in a strict way and leaves room for an extensive "gray area", a middle class, for which class relations are at the individual level. Quantification, however, is not a problem here. The threshold of this expropriation is of course practically impossible to determine in a strict way and leaves room for an extensive "gray area", a middle class, for which class relations are at the individual level. Quantification, however, is not a problem here. The threshold of this expropriation is of course practically impossible to determine in a strict way and leaves room for an extensive "gray area", a middle class, for which class relations are at the individual level. Quantification, however, is not a problem here.

A class can be defined in many ways and these definitions cannot be proved or challenged through empirical data. Therefore, different class concepts should be judged on the basis of their political effectiveness, and for this purpose the fetishism of the factory and pay are of little use, because the social relations based on them do not deserve their splendor. A useful class definition must point to a set of potentially common interests that can result in a specific political strategy. The expropriation condition common to all employees indicates the potential interest in democratizing ownership and control over the means of production[3]. This does not mean that the interests of all employees can be reduced to their expropriation, there is of course a wide range of interests, which applies to the entire class based on gender and racial hierarchies, and the different levels of exploitation. It only means that even if the expropriated and expropriated are divided and divided in many respects, they can find common ground in overcoming their expropriation, and the key condition for this to happen is the empowerment of employees and employees who are lowest in the hierarchy, which is determined by paid employment , race and sex[4].

The basic argument for a class definition based on exploitative influence is the bargaining power of exploited workers. By striking, they can stop the valorisation of capital. This is not controversial. However, employees around the world have proved that they are able to stop the creation of value also outside the formal workplace, e.g. through road blocks and other forms of disturbance. We will lose a lot by excluding these forms of struggle from our concept of class struggle. Class struggle is therefore a much broader phenomenon than the collective mobilization of class-conscious workers and manual workers in their factories. It applies to all disputed activities - individual or collective, in and out of the workplace, class conscious or not.

When it comes to work and the environment, the stereotypical view driven by the media is that ecologically regressive employees defend the polluting industry against middle class activists and activists who and who can afford to protest for clean air because they no longer have more reasons to worry. In this sense, social protest is treated as completely unrelated to class issues, as if members of the community affected by ecological injustice mysteriously did not have to work to survive. This kind of discourse is usually based on a narrow definition of the working class as employees or industrial employees - and an even narrower concept of working class interests based solely on wages and working conditions. It is assumed, therefore, that employees and employees somehow disappear after leaving the factory gates, do not have homes and communities to which they could return, do not enjoy free time enjoying the surrounding nature, and finally that they do not breathe air outside the walls of the plants work.

If we consider the interests of the working class only those directly related to the workplace of employees and employees, then it is difficult for us to avoid the dilemma between the rights of employees and employees and the ecology and the idea of "blackmail" which employees face before choosing between resignation from the protection of health and the environment of which they are part or loss of income. On the contrary, employees' interests relate not only to production conditions, but also to reproduction conditions. As Stefania Barca and Emanuel Leonardi argue, "working-class ecology is a form of activism that combines production with reproduction"[5]. Class struggle is not only in the sphere of production, but also reproduction, and our strategic goal should be to combine these two elements to destroy the system,

One can imagine that my suggestion is that climate strikes, like women's strikes, are the most real strikes. Until now, however, climate strikes were treated mainly as withdrawal of work by the "labor force during formation", ie students and people (often their parents) who, due to working conditions, can take a day off without the support of a trade union. The fact that such people are mostly white due to the racist division of labor is probably not without significance, since the composition of the climate strikes has hitherto been dominated by the white population. However, these restrictions have already been recognized by the environmental movement and are one of the main reasons

Environmental degradation in our society is systemic in nature, because the current system subordinates the production of value in use to the production of exchange value, and the reproduction of life to the production of profit. The costs of such environmental destruction are unevenly distributed because we are differently deprived of ownership and control of the means of production, and therefore we cannot make democratic decisions about what and how it is produced in a way that will meet our needs and the needs of the environment in which we live and on which our reproduction depends. Therefore, climate struggles do not have to be reconciled with class struggles, because in fact climate struggles are already class struggles and vice versa. What we need is politics,

Lorenzo Feltrin (collective Plan C)

Translation: Pawel Nowozycki / Factory Commission of the Museum of Modern Art

footnotes:

[1]- More specifically, production refers to the direct production of goods that have both use and exchange value in capitalism. It covers employment in commercial agriculture, industry and services. Reproduction refers to the production of life, which in capitalism is also a labor force. The most important examples are raising children, homework, public health, education, etc.

[2]- Simon Clarke; "Class Struggle and the Working Class: The Problem of Commodity Fetishism";[in:]ed. Ana C. Dinerstein, Michael Neary; "The Labor Debate: An Investigation into the Theory and Reality of Capitalist Work"; Ashgate Publishing Company; 2002.

[3]- The very notion of what is in the interest of someone, as opposed to the actually expressed preferences, is not an empirical description but a political proposition and, when considered as such, is an attempt to convince, not an accusation of false consciousness.

[4]- In addition, I agree with those who are very skeptical that such overcoming of class will necessarily be accompanied by the automatic abolition of other forms of oppression that must be resolved on their own terms and in relation to the class.

[5]- Stefania Barca, Emanuel Leonardi; "Working-class ecology and union politics: a conceptual topology"; Globalizations; 15 (4); pp. 487-503.

[6]- See John Halloway; We Are the Crisis of Capital, PM Press, 2019.

http://ozzip.pl/teksty/publicystyka/strategie-zwiazkowe/item/2516-strajki-klimatyczne-i-strajk-spoleczny-ekologizm-klasy-pracujacej-i-reprodukcja-spoleczna
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