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Birth of our Power

Birth of our Power

Birth of our Power:

The British Columbia General Strike of 1983 and what it means for us today

by Kevin Annett, a participant, on its fortieth anniversary

It wasn’t a protest; it was a revolution. We had everything shut down. A lot of us wanted to go all the way even though we didn’t know how. The power was in our hands and we couldn’t let go of it. But we did. – Glen McCauley, General Strike picket captain

Those who make revolutions halfway merely dig their own graves. – Louis St. Just, 1793 

The rippling crowd of humanity stretched as far as I could see, adorned with hundreds of banners and the sound of a vast multitude united in one voice. Our numbers were so huge that none of us could move, just stand and shout and laugh in our triumph as we held on to strangers’ arms so we wouldn’t fall. There wasn’t a single vehicle or cop in sight.

The streets of downtown Vancouver were ours. It was October 15, 1983.

So, it’s true, I remember thinking: those immortal words of the poet Shelley,

Rise like lions after slumber, in unvanquishable number;

Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you;

You are many, they are few.

The old man who stood next to me clutching my arm must have caught my thought, for he turned and gave me a toothless grin and shouted,

“We’ve won, by God! We’ve won!”

How could it have seemed otherwise to those of us who were there that day, as we learned firsthand what it means to reclaim our world?

And how could we have known that even such a massive mobilization was insufficient if it did not seize power?

Read more in the attached article:

1. The Stage Setting

2. The General Strike: November 1-11, 1983

3. The Lessons of November: Aftermath and Prospects

a) On the nature of the system and the limits of reformism

b) Building a conscious revolutionary leadership and forming cadres

c) On Mobilizing versus Organizing

d) On Strategy and Tactics: Applying the Art of War

e) How do the Few rule the Many? Understanding and Applying Mass Psychology

4. Carrying it on

5. Footnotes

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70,000 strikers can't be wrong!