The Strike as the Ultimate Structure Test ( )

To build a more confident, fighting, politically educated working class, no task is more pressing right now than building for successful strikes. Educators from the Acero charter school network hold signs as they protest during a strike outside Chicago Public Schools headquarters on December 5, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Joshua Lott / Getty

This article is reprinted from Catalyst: A Journal of Theory and Strategy, a publication from the Jacobin Foundation. Right now, you can subscribe to the print edition of Catalyst for just $20.

For the past two decades, there has been a lot of hand-wringing about how to rebuild working-class power. Plenty of ink and oxygen has been used in the debate over the way forward for the working class. Finally, in 2018, just as the working class and the organizations it built — unions — seemed to be gasping their last breath, education workers in West Virginia walked off the job in an all-out, 100 percent strike. They won.

The strike was so impressive, so dynamic, that suddenly workers in other states got the idea that they, too, could strike, reinforcing our understanding that workers learn to strike by watching other workers strike and win. Surely part of the reason that corporations have devoted so much effort to smashing previous high-strike periods is precisely because the employer class knows the threat posed by a good example.

While all six major walkouts in the spring of 2018 — including those in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, Arizona, and North Carolina — were exciting and important, the victories, those tangible and less tangible, were uneven. This has to do with conditions in various states, history, and other factors that are not the subject