Home > Uncategorized > Protest of the century

Protest of the century

David Ruccio

During the past couple of weeks, the only real India economic news in the Western press was the decision by “the Ranbir Kapoor of banking,” Raghuram G. Rajan, to step down from his position as the head of the Reserve Bank of India.

But we read almost nothing about the 2 September nationwide strike by 150 million Indian workers [ht: Magpie], which was certainly the largest strike in India’s long labor history—and may have been the largest general strike in world history.

As Vijay Prashad explained, 

Few front page stories, fewer pictures of marching workers outside their silent factories and banks, tea gardens and bus stations. The sensibility of individual journalists can only rarely break through the wall of cynicism built by the owners of the press and the culture they would like to create. For them, workers’ struggles are an inconvenience to daily life. It is far better for the corporate media to project a strike as a disturbance, as a nuisance to a citizenry that seems to live apart from the workers. It is middle-class outrage that defines the coverage of a strike, not the issues that move workers to take this heartfelt and difficult action. The strike is treated as archaic, as a holdover from another time. It is not seen as a necessary means for workers to voice their frustrations and hopes. The red flags, the slogans and the speeches — these are painted with embarrassment. It is as if turning one’s eyes from them would somehow make them disappear.


  1. September 14, 2016 at 1:05 am

    Duly noted; the coverage of the French labor protests of months just past didn’t exactly dominate the news here in the US either, but a little better coverage.

    I’ve been complaining about the AFL-CIO’s lack of a rousing, independent Labor Day’s address for years now, and this year’s was true to form – maybe worse. It was almost nauseating to see Richard Trumka give a “I’ve looked into Hillary’s eyes” and we can trust her interview – he trusts her completely. When we wonder why so many working class men move to the right, all we need ask to begin to answer the why is the lack of emotional and policy substance they’ve been getting from organized American labor.

    • robert locke
      September 14, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Trade unionism never has been and never will be, as it is constituted in the US, the voice of working class people. Trade unions are not part of the systems of governance of US firms; they are not even allowed to locate their headquarters on a company’s property. Stakeholder capitalism is not the equivalent of trade unionism. The problem is that employee respresentatives in the US including the trade unions have no institutionalized say in how capitalism is run. As President Carter’s Secretary Ray Marshall said, the unions are “unheard voices”.

  2. Guilherme da Fonseca-Statter
    September 14, 2016 at 11:02 am

    It seems to be a «universal» reaction by mainstream media everywhere… «Lets pretend it never happened»… «If it is not in the news»…

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