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Philosophical Topics

Volume 48, Issue 2, Fall 2020

The Political Philosophy of Socialism

Alex Gourevitch
Pages 105-129

Themselves Must Strike the Blow
The Socialist Argument for Strikes and Self-Emancipation

Socialists know that they ought to defend strikes, but why? The best argument is that strikes are acts of self-emancipation. The ideal of self-emancipation lies at the heart of socialist political theory. It is up to workers to emancipate themselves, not just because it takes class power to overthrow capitalism, but because there is an intrinsic connection between class struggle and socialist freedom. Workers can only possess and exercise the freedoms they are denied, but ought to enjoy, if they demand that freedom for themselves, through their own, collective activity. Strikes are an essential way of both winning and exercising those denied freedoms. They are therefore a path to, and partial realization of, the ideal of self-emancipation to which socialists are, or ought to be, committed.