On Thursday, November 26, India witnessed the biggest organized strike in human history. Over 250 million workers and farmers, along with their allies among students, feminists and civil society groups participated in the nationwide strike. The strike coincides with India’s Constitution Day, which commemorates the adoption of the constitution in 1949, and comes in the background of an unprecedented attack on workers’ rights and farmers’ protections by the right-wing government of prime minister Narendra Modi.
Incredible. The scale is difficult to comprehend. This is nearly the entire population of the United States. Imagine if workers across industries in the US could mobilize like this. The photos in this piece are striking.
Martha Grevatt writing for workers.org:
Government forces blocked the farmers’ paths with barricades and barbed wire, and fired tear gas and water cannons in the bitter cold. But, anticipating government-imposed obstacles, farmers packed a variety of supplies, from food and water to cell-phone chargers. These determined farmers refused to move, breaking through blockades until they were allowed to proceed to Parliament and present their demands.
It’s inspiring to see such a movement in 2020. Unfortunately, I sometimes find it difficult to imagine how we might organize a similar movement here in the US. The “rugged individualism” with which the American psyche has been held hostage for decades is a major barrier to achieving broader class consciousness. When you combine this with the rise of the GOP’s “populist fascism” (which the tech industry has profoundly facilitated) and the far-right’s stoking of extreme divisions among us (also perpetuated by the tech industry), it feels almost impossible to inspire a unified worker-led uprising.
Still, we must keep trying, and learning from movements abroad. Workers and farmers in India have shown us it can be done. And little by little, tech workers are organizing and fighting back against corporate capitalist hegemony.