Mayor says sorry, comes out in support of general strike.

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Jean Quan

Honorable Mayor of Oakland

To the Citizens of Oakland

As mayor of Oakland it is my great relief to make this announcement to the public. First of all, I offer my sincere apology for ordering the

violent repression of the Occupy Oakland encampment in front of city hall

in the morning of Tuesday, October 25, 2011. It reached the height of

absurdity to use the rationale of public health and safety to justify

this, and I have had a change of heart.

The Occupy Oakland general assembly has called for a general strike on

Wednesday, November 2, 2011, and I heartily endorse this call. The Occupy

Oakland encampment was just the kind of experiment in mutual aid and

direct democracy that is needed. And a general strike could bring this to

a new level. In fact, I want to up the ante to show I’m on the right side

of history again.

Oakland was the last city in the U.S. to have a general strike, in 1946,

and it was known as a “work holiday.” This harks back to the first call

for a general strike in 1832: William Benbow’s pamphlet, “Grand National

Holiday,” in which he called a month-long strike. I propose we do that!

Now, I know a common objection to the strike call is, “who can afford to

take a day off work in these days?” Well, sometimes to be realistic you

have to demand the impossible. 90% of the work done in this society is

useless toil. We can do away with that, and turn most of the work that

really needs to be done into playful past-times. And there’s plenty of

wealth to go around. We just have to share it.

Many of you may be asking, “what is the point of a general strike?”

“Shouldn’t we focus on getting the banks regulated?” “How can we have a

strike without demands?” Well, I’ve been won over by the Occupy

Movement’s bold insistence on not making demands of authoritarian power

structures. All our problems are so inseparable. The system needs a

total overhaul. We need an unprecedented adventure in social

experimentation that will banish authoritarian power structures

altogether. I say ban the banks and abolish money. The people are

breaking out of their acquiescence. They can make decisions over their

own lives. The Occupy Oakland encampment prefigured a way of life that

makes the status quo obsolete. Instead of an exploitative system based on

the buying and selling of things and our time, let us create a life of

ease, gaeity and pleasure for all, as William Benbow originally suggested.

Let us not only shut the city down. Let us take it over and run it in a

wholly new way. Together we can make every day a holiday.


Jean Quan, Honorable Mayor of Oakland



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