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Announcing: FARE STRIKE! San Francisco 2005: First-Hand Accounts

category north america / mexico | community struggles | other libertarian press author Monday April 16, 2007 14:25author by Insane Dialectical Posse - Insane Dialectical Editions Report this post to the editors

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.

Announcing: FARE STRIKE! San Francisco 2005: First-Hand Accounts
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: 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:
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


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author by Kevin Keatingpublication date Mon Apr 23, 2007 08:38author email proletaire2003 at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

FARE STRIKE! San Francisco 2005: First-Hand ideological truth-in-packaging law should apply here...

1. This prolix leftists' memoir of failure pamphlet is clearly intended for the consumption of people who were safely far away from San Francisco in the summer and fall of 2005, and who might be hoodwinked into believeing its wildly innacurate depiction of the fare strike fiasco; mass spontaneous resistance on a class basis, and other I-stiil-believe-in-the-Easter-Bunny versions of reality;

2. The people behind it, Gifford (GH), etc, intervened from the right against an already existing radical effort, and did all they could to turn it into a typical, Bay Area leftist single-issue complaint phenomenon,

3. They were successful in this. They were able to make the effort a product of their "vision," or more accurately lack of vision.

Subsequently the effort was a flop. All the Muni operators, bus drivers and streetcar operators, I spoke to afterward, several dozen of them, were unanimous in saying this, and they were in a better position to judge than anyone else.

4. Now GH, consistent with his Warner-Brothers-cartoon-character comical pattern of dishonesty in all things, tries to paper over the abject failure of his politics in action by claiming that this clear and obvious failure was somehow really a great-moment-in-proletarian-history,

5. And after doing all they could to turn a potential mass transit self-reduction effort on SF's Muni into a typical SF Bay Area, left-wing-of-capital load of crap, we get an airbrushed history book version -- garlanded with quotes from Guy Debord!

These guys did all they could to denude the effort of any actual anti-capitalist content. All the pro-Situ references afterward can't reverse that.

There is a big disconnect between the fact that the Potemkin-Village group "Insane Dialectical Posse," posting here, and his buddies, acted in every way like conventional leftists of the Trotskyist, social democratic or idealistic left-wing of the Democratic party stripe during the failed effort to foment a transit system fare strike in San Francisco in 2005. In the one mass action that most of them have engaged in they were the most rightward-pointing faction of the effort

Revolutionary consciousness is what it does; if what the person or people in question do in the larger world is the same old left-wing of capital crap, then that's what their politics are. All the references to Mattick, Pannekoek and the Situationists can't redeem that.

I suppose these leftists offer a good example of what results when a gaggle of nominally "Marxist" college town slackers in early middle age attempt, in the case of almost all of them, for the very first time in their lives, to engage in some kind of substantial radical collective action -- nothing happens. The haven't honed their communications skills enough to effectively communicate any message they might have to convey to contemporary working people.

" the performance their interests prove to be uninteresting and their potency impotence...the democrat comes out of the most disgraceful defeat just as innocent as he was when he went into it."

Karl Marx, in 'The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon,' quoted here from

'Muni Social Strikeout -- the Failed Transit System Fare Strike in San Francisco in 2005,' is available on the 'Love and Treason' web page at the Mid-Atlantic Anarchist Infoshop:

'The Failed Transit System Fare Strike' article is also available on, and in numerous other places on the internet.

Kevin Keating

author by Tom Wetzel - WSA (personal capacity)publication date Tue Apr 24, 2007 01:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Several thousand people did participate in the fare strike. The fare strike was a failure in that it did not gain enough support to force the Muni bureaucrats or city politicians to back off on the fare hike and service cuts. The people who put out "Fare Strike" were in the Muni Fare Strike group, which kevin criticizes as being to the right of the Muni Social Strike group, which he participated in. But the Muni Fare Strike group was more successful than Social Strike in its outreach efforts to other community groups, and this resulted in the one major extension of the strike, through the participation of the day laborers' organization in organizing among Spanish-speaking immigrants. Kevin's own interventions in Social Strike were a cause of that group's lack of outreach since Kevin denounced just about any other group due its not passing Kevin's ideological litmus test. I've also written a piece on the fare strike at:

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