Today is May Day, or as it’s also commonly known, International Workers’ Day. Supposedly it’s a day to celebrate the proletariat and help build their dictatorship commonly referred to as socialism. There are protests occurring all over Europe (ironically many of these protests are occurring in more socialist countries such as Greece, Spain, and France) and some are even happening here in the United States. Along with protests, marches, and other forms of rabble rousing there are also calls for a general strike. What’s a general strike you ask? It’s basically a day when everybody refuses to go to work, do any banking, or shop. It’s the most meaningless form of mass protests I can think of.
I’m sure some advocate of socialism is probably demanding I explain my last sentence so I will (never let it be said that I don’t fulfill reader requests). Let’s say you decided not to go to work, perform any banking, or shop today, what’s the result? In the case of work you may have a vacation or sick day docked. In the case of the banks and shops they will just wait idly for you to do your banking and shopping tomorrow. Many Occupiers are calling today a “day without the 99%.” What they fail to see is that it’s only one day, everybody knows they will return to business as usually tomorrow.
When you see workers striking they don’t do it for a single day and the reason for this is obvious, if they just walked out for one day only to return the next they won’t have much of an impact. Protests don’t work when they last a single day, especially when that day is well known. If businesses know a large chunk of the population isn’t going to be shopping tomorrow than business will likely have fewer staff come in that day (ironically this causes the staff who aren’t there to receive no pay in most cases). The banks? They’ll only have one teller working instead of four. Basically they will treat it like any other holiday.
Things suck right now but taking a single day off of work and refusing to bank or shop isn’t going to change anything. In order for things to change you must sustain any boycotts. Do you know why those “don’t buy gas today” events never work? Because gas companies aren’t stupid, they know you’ll be filling your tank tomorrow. I don’t oppose those who protest or strike, that’s your right as an individual (likewise I don’t oppose those who fire employees who go on strike, that’s their right as employers) but doing it for a single day accomplishing nothing more than making yourself feel good about fighting for a cause. It’s not different than the people who texted $10.00 to help the people of Haiti without actually looking into the organization they were sending money to (here’s a hint, that money didn’t reach Haiti). They feel good about themselves and can brag to their friends about how altruistic they are but nothing of value is actually accomplished.
If you want to celebrate workers go ahead. As a worker I feel I’m pretty awesome and deserve to be celebrated by the masses, but don’t delude yourself with the idea that a single day action is going to change anything.
Also, if the change you’re seeking involves increasing the size or power of the state you’re doing it wrong.