Finally, a collection of first-hand accounts of the Fare Strike, in which thousands of San Franciscans openly and spontaneously united along class lines and rode mass transit for free. Popular anger over service cuts, fare hikes and threatened driver layoffs on Muni (SF Municipal Railway that runs a system of buses, streetcars and cable cars) set this action in motion. The working-class was being saddled with increasing costs for declining service in a system that was already very poor. Anger at this was transformed into the joy of refusal as many people rode mass transit like any other day, yet withheld their money from the fare box. The alienated space of public transportation was briefly transformed into an arena of solidarity and radical possibilities.
This pamphlet serves to restore a critique grounded in theory and practice to a subject which has been mischaracterized as a “debacle” in one prominent but distorted account circulated on the internet. Instead, we give the views of ten participants, coming from a diverse set of radical (some being radicalized in the process of fare striking) perspectives, united by their focus on this collective action as a heightened moment of class struggle. The pamphlet presents an analysis of the organizing that led up to the Fare Strike, the various working-class community groups who participated, and the first-hand accounts of the strike as it happened on the first day and beyond.
There is also a useful section on “historical precedents” for such actions, touching on transit-based resistance in the U.S., Italy, Scandinavia and elsewhere. A focus on Bay Area resistance to urban redevelopment/gentrification, from the fight against the destruction of the I-Hotel, to the “Freeway Revolt” against the commodity-logic of car culture, provides context on the deeper meaning of the 2005 Fare Strike.
The pamphlet FARE STRIKE!: First-Hand Accounts, published by Insane Dialectical Editions, is available for $4 (postage included, send cash or checks with the payee left blank; free to prisoners and low-income people) from PO Box 3684, Oakland, CA 94609 or by e-mailing: contact@FareStrike.org
. FARE STRIKE! has contributions from IDP members, participants who were drawn into the strike, as well as other Bay Area radical authors not affiliated with IDP.
Insane Dialectical Editions has also published pamphlet versions of essays by Loren Goldner, Martin Glaberman, Jean Barrot/Gilles Dauvé, Stan Weir and Ron Rothbart (See the IDP Pamphlets 2007 Catalog at: http://flyingpicket.org/?q=taxonomy/term/8
FARE STRIKE! was introduced at the recent 12th annual San Francisco Anarchist Bookfair. IDP members gave a participatory presentation, under the workshop heading “Contemporary Anti-Capitalist Struggles: The 2005 San Francisco Transit Fare Strike,” at the BASTARD anarchist conference in Berkeley on March 18th of this year. The workshop was attended by a member of Chicago’s “Midwest Unrest” who had been part of organizing a successful fare strike in 2004, participants in the 2005 Vancouver Fare Strike, and roughly 40 others. A lively discussion indicated the level of interest in and excitement about driver/rider social strikes on transit, the successes and failures of these actions, and their implications and usefulness in future class struggle.
FARE STRIKE!: First-Hand Accounts is available on the FareStrike.org website.
–INSANE DIALECTICAL POSSE