Q: What Can We Do to Meet Our Most Challenging Threats?


ASTRA TAYLOR, filmmaker and writer

The single most potent weapon regular people have to fight for their rights is the strike--the strategic refusal to engage in an activity, typically the refusal to work. In a labor context, strikes make it clear that it is not the "job creating" owners and investors who produce value and make society run, but the workers in the factories, classrooms, fields, and retail floors.

While there has been a steep decline in work stoppages since the 1970s, strikes are again in ascension. Public school teachers, Silicon Valley techies, and grocery store cashiers have all led the charge in recent months. But we could still use lots more of them, as well as different kinds of strikes. Movements are already innovating on this front: Students around the world are skipping school to strike for the climate. Women are striking for gender equity. The Debt Collective, a movement I'm involved with, launched the first-ever student debt strike in 2015 and has since won more than $1 billion of debt relief.

A modern general strike would not focus on a single workplace or sector, but could set its sights on more general, democracy-enhancing demands, like pushing for a Green New Deal or publicly financed elections.

NATHAN SCHNEIDER, author and assistant professor, University of Colorado Boulder

The prognosis for democracy is not looking good. Countries around the world are electing leaders with authoritarian instincts. Global polls suggest that many people don't see democracy as a good way to run a country. Advocates for civil liberties find themselves on the defensive even in countries where democracy was thought to be strongest.

If the idea of democracy is to survive, it must advance. That means demonstrating that democracy is a better way to allocate resources and respond to crises. This has happened before, such as when U.S. farmers of a century ago built a formidable...

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