By Mark Mason at Jul 07, 2011
We could protest the policies of the Obama administration--the direct military attack on people in the Middle East and Central Asia, and also the direct attack on the people of the US as Obama poises to cut Social Security and Medicare, all the while attacking the wallets of the poor and the middle class through his regressive taxation policy.
A general strike, a one-day walk out across the nation, would demonstrate solidarity among the people. I don't dare propose such an action without withdrawing from any supposition that I could declare one. The US does not yet have a "day of the people" symbolizing the continuing struggle against injustice and exploitation of the many by the few.
The US does not have a history of collective action in the form of general strikes, but it doesn't mean the future cannot be something new and different. Indeed, the future will be much like the recent past if we don't do "something new and different."
Stepping out of character would be stepping out of the imposed passive economic function. It's good to protest in the public square as Egyptians did in Cairo, but what struck at the core of Egyptian autocratic power was the economic standstill created by the walk-out. The protest in Tahrir Square was more than a public spectacle, it was a general strike bringing a halt to everyday life, ending business as usual. Business as usual is what constrains the population to a spectator, or an occasional spectacle role.