Traditionally, labor unions have leveraged the contradiction of capital’s dependence on labor to win reforms for the benefit of the working class. For a period from roughly the end of World War II until the late 1970s, unions were generally accepted by the ruling elites as a voice for workers, as long as they accepted the capitalist system itself as a parameter for existence. This has changed. In the past 40 years, labor unions across the world have been all but destroyed by a coordinated attack by the capitalist class, termed neoliberalism.
Driven into crisis, labor unions and NGOs have focused on campaigns for institutional survival, and in some cases for important but limited economic gains and reforms with a professionalized staff operating outside the workplace. These efforts have met with only limited success in winning reforms, let alone laying the basis for the systemic transformation needed by our planet and its inhabitants.
Strikecorps believes that the missing ingredient in generating large-scale systemic change is the development of a culture of organizing in the working class. This work deserves the focus, resources, and emphasis that the labor movement has traditionally reserved for unionization and political campaigns targeted at specific workplaces and issues. However, a shift in focus is not enough. Macro-scale movement building calls for micro-scale work building unity, consciousness, and confidence: a qualitatively different type of organizing than that typically practiced in the labor movement.
A look at labor’s past confirms this theory. The labor upsurges of the 20th century invariably trace their origins to the influence of small and largely uncelebrated groups of rank-and-file radicals. The landmark labor battles of the 1930s– the Minneapolis Truckers Strike, San Francisco General Strike, Toledo Auto-Lite Strike, and Detroit Sit-Down Strikes– all owed their success to the patient and deliberate work of cells of working class visionaries active inside the workplace. This tradition continued in the 1960s and 1970s, with the crucial role played by the League of Revolutionary Black Workers and militants of the New Communist Movement in the class struggles of that era. Even in the large-scale organizing campaigns of the 1990s and 2000s, launched by unions in crisis, small teams of ideologically-committed workers provided a vital spark that led to the growth and success of these initiatives. We carry on this tradition, rebuilding the labor movement from below in the 21st century.
Strikecorps focuses on developing individuals as highly-skilled and committed organizers to generate a working class culture of struggle today and lead the upsurges of the future. We believe that workers can and must develop new forms of organization that first limit the unchecked power of capital and win immediate gains for working class communities, and eventually establish workers control over the means of production. We are proliferating the skills of organizing throughout the working class, aiding in the development of a revolutionary class consciousness, and catalyzing a working class project for the reconstruction of our planet and shared humanity.