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Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/157

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107
Strike and Revolution

But the words "general strike" have another meaning, very precise, and at the same time very comprehensive. They mean that the most important trades, those that dominate the whole productive system, shall stop work at the same time. If, for instance, the railroad employés, the miners, dockers, and longshoremen, the employés in the weaving and spinning industries, and the building-trade employés in the great cities, were to quit work simultaneously, we might say that there was a general strike. Because to bring about a general strike it is not necessary that the whole number of trades should be in line; it is not even necessary that in the trades that are on strike every single workman should go out. It is sufficient if those trades where the power of capital is most concentrated and the power of labour best organised, and that are therefore the key-stone of the economic system, decide on a suspension of work, and it is enough if they are backed up by such a large number of workmen that the work of those trades is stopped.

It cannot be objected that a general strike, if this meaning be given to the phrase, is either chimerical or useless. In proportion to the growth of the labour movement, the possibility of this kind of concerted action is increased. And such action can exercise an enormous influence on the ruling class. It is no longer a single trade, no matter how important, that refuses to work, but a whole union of trades. The movement is