Annually on May 1 in dozens
of countries worldwide, labor commemorates International Workers Day.
It's now called May Day.
Since the 1880s in America and Canada, Labor Day is a national holiday
on the first Monday in September. It once had meaning. It no longer
Years of organizing, taking to the streets, going on strike, holding
boycotts, battling police and National Guard forces, as well as paying
with blood and lives won real gains. Now they're lost.
Bargaining collectively with management on equal terms no longer exists.
Grassroots energy waned. Corrupted union bosses and politicians sold
out to management for personal gain. Global activism wants lost rights
restored. So do Occupy Wall Street (OWS) activists.
Direct Action striking on May Day was urged. Boycott work, school, shopping
and banking. Take to the streets in protest. OWS issued the following
"Building on the international celebration of May Day, past General
Strikes in U.S. cities like Seattle and Oakland, the recent May 1st
Day Without An Immigrant demonstrations, the national general strikes
in Spain this year, and the ongoing student strike in Quebec, the Occupy
Movement has called for A Day Without the 99% on May 1st, 2012."
"This in and of itself is a tremendous victory. For the first time,
workers, students, immigrants, and the unemployed from over 125 U.S.
cities will stand together for economic justice."
Global actions joined them. European cities participated. Britain, France,
Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Russia, and other countries
saw large demonstrations. So did other cities worldwide.
The European Trade Unions Confederation (ETUC) calls May 1 a day of
youth employment and social justice. General secretary Bernadette Segot
"Making jobs unsure, and especially jobs for young people, is not a
solution to" today's economic crisis. Force-fed austerity compounds
Asian nations participated. Thousands took to the streets in the Philippines,
Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. Common themes
were stressed. They include higher wages as well as better working and
Workers everywhere are left out. Achieving rights requires disruptive
social protests. Governments and business yield nothing. Direct action
is needed. The only solution is world revolution.
This year's May Day is symbolic. In that respect, it's important. One
day's strike alone achieves nothing. Going out and staying out has possibilities.
Shut down the system. Keep it down.
Winning rights takes sacrifice. Mobilize, don't compromise. Resolve
to strike indefinitely. Stay the course. Attack the beast and slay it.
Fight for what's right. No more austerity. Elevate living standards.
Except nothing less. Don't rest until get it. Keeping it counts most.
For now, battles lie ahead. Victories won't come easily or quickly.
A protracted struggle remains. Nothing was ever gained the easy way.
It takes sacrifice, understanding the enemy, and knowing it fights dirty.
The Enemy Strikes Back
Here we go again. We've seen this one before. It was a scam then. It
is again now. On April 30, The New York Times headlined "Envelopes With
White Powder Sent to Mayor and 6 Banks," saying:
Ahead of May Day protests, "envelopes containing white powder were sent
to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and six banks in Manhattan, officials
This time, The Times admitted they were "harmless." Nonetheless, the
damage was done. Evacuations and shutdowns followed. Police and Fire
Departments came out. No one claimed responsibility. National headlines
alerted people. Two letters heightened fear, saying:
"This is a reminder that you are not in control. Just in case you needed
some incentive to stop working. We have a little surprise for you. Think
fast....Happy May Day."
The incident likely tried taking an edge off protests. It reminded people
of the post-9/11 anthrax attacks. Two senators and several media offices
were targeted. Five died. Another 17 were infected.
People across America were scared. Bogus charges followed. So did passage
of the USA Patriot Act, other police state legislation, and imperial
It was a staged state-sponsored incident. Francis Boyle said "the trail
of genetic evidence would have led directly back to a secret but officially-sponsored
US government biowarfare program that was illegal and criminal."
US laws and biological weapons conventions were violated. Boyle added:
"I believe the FBI knows exactly who was behind these terrorist anthrax
attacks upon the United States Congress in the Fall of 2001, and that
the culprits were US government-related scientists involved in a criminal
US government biowarfare program."
A whitewashed investigation followed. Those involved were sworn to secrecy.
Boyle's an international law and bioweapons expert. Clarity Press published
his book, titled "Biowarfare and Terrorism."
Look no further than Washington for responsibility. State-sponsored
terrorism lay behind it, the 9/11 attacks, imperial lawlessness that
followed, and police state crackdowns on dissenters.
Origins of May Day
Its roots lie in Chicago. The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor
Unions chose May 1, 1886 to strike. At issue was an eight-hour work
day. National rallies were held. Around half a million participated.
Chicago was its epicenter. Thousands turned out. Estimates ranged up
Two days later, police responded violently. Unarmed strikers were attacked.
On May 4, the landmark Haymarket Square protest followed. Eight organizers
led it - Albert Parsons, August Spies, Samuel Fielden, Eugene Schwab,
Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Louis Ling and Oscar Neebe.
Someone threw a bomb. Police opened fire indiscriminately. Deaths and
injuries resulted. Organizers were called anarchists. Seven were charged.
Unjust convictions followed.
Four were executed for murders they didn't commit. Another committed
suicide. An international campaign won commuted sentences for two others.
Three who remained alive were eventually freed.
What became known as the Haymarket massacre resonated globally. At its
founding 1889 congress, the Second (Socialist) International chose May
1 as a worker solidarity international day.
Issues broadened to include better working conditions, improved living
standards, international solidarity, and opposition to militarism and
Leon Trotsky said May Day's purpose "was, by means of a simultaneous
demonstration by workers of all countries on that day, to prepare the
ground for drawing them together into a single international proletarian
organization of revolutionary action having one world centre and one
world political orientation."
US Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs argued for continuing the May
Day tradition, saying:
"This is the first and only International Labor Day. It belongs to the
working-class and is dedicated to the revolution."
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) commemorates it the same way,
"Labor Day has completely lost its class character. The very fact that
'Labor Day' was legally, formally and officially established by the
capitalist class itself, through its organized government, took the
'starch' out of it: destroyed its class character."
"The first of May has not been disgraced, contaminated and blasphemed
by capital's official sanction and approval, as has Labor Day. The capitalist
class can never be a friend of May Day; it will ever be its enemy."
On May 1, Socialist Equality Party's presidential candidate, Jerry White,
expressed "solidarity with workers throughout the world on May Day."
He said earlier struggles take on "special relevance this year."
Worker struggles require unity. They're also about staying free
"from the political parties, trade unions, and organizations of the
upper middle class, which subordinate it to the profit interests of
the capitalist class."
He and running mate Phyllis Scherrer aren't running so much to win.
There campaign is about "building a new revolutionary leadership to
give voice to the masses of working people who are ignored by this corporate-controlled
"(S)ocial equality, peace and the democratic control of the economy"
is only possible through global worker unity against the profit driven
system. It's predatory, corrupt and destructive.
May Day advances that core theme. Confronting America's ruling class
is central. Words engraved on Chicago's Haymarket Monument read:
"The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices
you are throttling today."
Haymarket Square protest organizers are heros. Those who died then are
martyrs. Reviving their radicalism is vital. May Day sounds the call.
Perhaps this year's will be loudest.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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