Wilfrid Crook, The General Strike: A study of Labor's Tragic Weapon in Theory and Practice

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Malcy
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Feb 13 2009 01:21
Wilfrid Crook, The General Strike: A study of Labor's Tragic Weapon in Theory and Practice

Has anyone read this? What's his background and what did you think of the book?

Cheers

David in Atlanta
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Feb 13 2009 02:51

I've never heard of him or the book before. A quick google gives me the impression he was an academic labor historian, I can't tell if he was a radical himself. University of North Carolina Press is re-publishing it this year.

Malcy
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Feb 15 2009 00:40

I came across the reference to it in Brecher's 'Strike!', I think. It was published in 1931. It's the only book I know of that deals with the general strike as its main subject (in a historical survey type of way!). Please correct me if wrong. I'd love to know of more. It does appear that Crook is an academic labor historian but I'd be interested if anyone can tell me more about him. My public library in Dunedin, NZ, has a copy but I haven't got around to reading it yet.

David in Atlanta
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Feb 15 2009 14:21

In my own interests I wish you'd give it a read and write up a short review before I ask my favorite book seller to order me a copy. University printed books tend to be a good bit more expensive than other publishers

Anarcho
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Feb 15 2009 23:02
mdeans wrote:
I came across the reference to it in Brecher's 'Strike!', I think. It was published in 1931. It's the only book I know of that deals with the general strike as its main subject (in a historical survey type of way!). Please correct me if wrong. I'd love to know of more.

There is also this book which discusses the general strike as idea and practice: Phil H. Goodstein, The Theory of the General Strike from the French Revolution to Poland, East European Monographs, Boulder, 1984.

Downplays the anarchist contribution somewhat, but it is useful -- it does expose (for example) Engels' nonsense on the "Alliance" meeting which discussed the General Strike (as mentioned in the infamous "The Bakuninists At Work"), as discussed
here. As you would expect, Engels was less than truthful in his account of what the "Bakuninists" thought a general strike would be like -- and from Engels, Luxemburg repeated it, and so on down to this day...

Hungry56
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Feb 17 2009 15:18

Right now on amazon there is a first edition copy of Jeremy Brecher's 'Strike!' for only two fucking dollars! I can't buy it because it only ships to the US angry

Malcy
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Feb 18 2009 06:28

Try abebooks.com. I got my copy off there for a couple of bucks. Original edition. Did you know that Brecher spent some time as a research fellow in Dunedin in the 80s? Haven't been able to track down what he produced when he was here though.

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Hieronymous
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Feb 25 2009 07:42

Much better than The General Strike: A study of Labor's Tragic Weapon in Theory and Practice is Crook's 1960 book, a completely new and updated version of the earlier one, Communism and the General Strike (published by The Shoe String Press, Hamden CT). And sure it's academic, but it includes a decent account of the 1919 general strikes in Seattle and Winnipeg, 2 thorough sections about the 1926 General Strike in Britain, and a good history of the 83-day West Coast maritime strike in 1934 that led to the 4-day San Francisco (& Oakland) General Strike. It also covers most (but not all) of the 6 general strikes in the U.S. in 1946 (including the 2nd one in Oakland!). To make up for the lack of all of the latter citywide general strikes, I recommend George Lipsitz' Rainbow at Midnight. Crooks lists every general strike he could find and finishes with accounts of general strikes around the world up to 1960. I highly recommended it.

I think Communism and the General Strike is an excellent because in it you can see linkages, even if Crook only shows them tenuously, between class struggle taking place in different parts of the world. I even paid a whopping $45 for this book, but for the research I'm doing on general strikes in the U.S., it's worth it.

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Hieronymous
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Feb 24 2009 19:57
Anarcho wrote:
Downplays the anarchist contribution somewhat, but it is useful -- it does expose (for example) Engels' nonsense on the "Alliance" meeting which discussed the General Strike [...] As you would expect, Engels was less than truthful in his account of what the "Bakuninists" thought a general strike would be like -- and from Engels, Luxemburg repeated it, and so on down to this day...

Damn! Ever read Luxemburg's The Mass Strike? She totally hits the nail on the head in her critique of all sectarian ideas about leading a general strike, be they anarchist, marxist, or Social Democrat. The working class will make the general strike, not the party or political group. Her account of Russia and Poland, from 1896 to 1905, meticulously shows in great detail how these things can't be "called" by anyone. It's a total refutation of Leninist ideas about consciousness, but I'd say about anarchist ideas too. The forms the struggle takes come organically out of the content of the struggle, not vice versa. The working class invented soviets, not politicos. Anarcho, by your statement about the Alliance, I'd say you have as much faith in the working class as Engels or Lenin -- or even Bukunin -- which all sound the same to me. I think only Rosa analyzed it dialectically, hence she was the only one to get it right.

She also sums it up best (in Organization Questions of the Russian Social-Democracy):

Quote:
Historically, the errors committed by a truly revolutionary movement are infinitely more fruitful than the infallibility of the cleverest Central Committee.

And I'd include in the latter all of Bukunin's Jacobin secret societies.