Engels on strikes

“It will be asked, ‘Why, then, do the workers strike in such cases, when the uselessness of such measures is so evident?’ Simply because they must protest against every reduction, even if dictated by necessity; because they feel bound to proclaim that they, as human beings, shall not be made to bow to social circumstances, but social conditions ought to yield to them as human beings…”

From The Conditions of the Working Class in England. Which was by Friedrich Engels, obviously.

It is actually only a small part of a much larger section on Trade Unions (very much in their infancy in 1844), but as an observation it is (aha) striking and not lacking in continued relevance. Of course some of the other things Engels wrote about strikes in that same section (i.e. that they represent in all cases a conscious attempt to eliminate competition) were perhaps less than astute, but all the same…

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