Saturday, April 29, 2017

May Day Comes To America

Monday, May Day, International Workers Day, 1 de Mayo, is the Marxist labor day, the day of celebrating the idea of the working class, and it's always been the biggest holiday of the year in Socialist countries. Here in tightly Capitalist controlled, conservative United States, it's been quietly observed by the small cadre of perennial Leftists and you might have seen a small march here and there, but this year there are going to be more celebrations, parades, protests and calls for general strikes taking place, by far, than in any other year in my lifetime.

May Day 2016 in Havana, Cuba - Workers World photo
May Day actually originated right here in the USA. As the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) web site explains, it was started in the late 1800s by workers who were agitating for things like the eight hour day, the struggles that began the great upsurge of the American Labor Movement that reached its peak in the middle of the 20th Century and brought you the standard of living you enjoy today.

People of Latin American background have celebrated May Day in the US for years without it being visible to the general Anglo public. Many of the May Day posters you'll see this year are in both English and Spanish or in Spanish only, an indication of the fact that, like the previous wave of American labor activity this one is being fueled by immigrants. And now, in the wake of the rapid growth of Socialist and Communist organizations and parties in the US, May Day celebrations are exploding also.

Not all of this May Day's actions are entirely or specifically about labor. This is a reflection of how splintered the American working class has become with the Democratic Party having played the role of co-opting, dividing and diverting working class energy and with the rise of identity politics associated with that, which is why the rise of a Socialist movement, and in opposition to the Democratic Party, is so important.

Marxism has the capacity to unite workers of all ethnicities, genders and nationalities under a common anti Imperialist, pro worker, economic critique of Capitalism, in a struggle that will liberate all workers at once. When that unity comes about the amount of power that movement will have will easily dwarf that of the Capitalist state, which may be able to rely on the loyalty of some of the police, but no American politician living today has the guts to order the mighty US military to attack Americans, even if it's conceivable that members of today's military would obey an order to attack their own mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, spouses and and children. Perhaps in some 1950s type era of blind nationalism, aka patriotism, but not, I don't believe, today. The military is peopled by too many people who don't buy into the founding Pilgrim narrative or who haven't shared in the country's material wealth and who know very well why not.

Following are a few of the posters different groups have made for their May Day actions. Some of these are on the web site that lists many of the actions taking place around the country and some from Telesur, the CNN (i. e. state propaganda news service) of Venezuela, which seldom misses an opportunity to remind the Gringo Imperialist state of its weaknesses.


  1. Impressive post. I can't decide if I'm the optimist or the pessimist here. I still hope that American labor unions will make a comeback naïve as that sounds. Too me racism is a big causal factor. The shift of jobs to the anti-union South clearly was a form of identity politics white v. black. To simplify all these complications I have no problem with most aspects of's Leninism that leaves me cold.

  2. I agree with Trout Birder. Impressive post. Some reason for cautious optimism.

    And now this:

  3. Thanks for those comments.

    Maybe it's the idea of Soviet Socialism that causes peoples' discomfort. Our generation was raised on propaganda designed to make us believe it was worse than the worse thing imaginable, but as scholars go through the Soviet archives, which are still in the process of being opened for scholarly research, a more accurate picture of life in the Soviet Union is emerging, and eventually we'll be able to understand what about Soviet Communism did and didn't work and go on from there.

    Even at it's imagined worst, though, the Soviets accomplished things we still haven't come close to accomplishing like universal healthcare, free college through the post graduate level and a more culturally advanced society.

    Thanks, too, Bob, for alerting me to the The Nation article about newly elected Jackson mayor Chokwe Lumumba.

    In a commentary on the election today by Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Report he's taking a more wait and see attitude.

    The people at Black Agenda Report are highly skeptical of most of the people who are held up as Black leaders, people like Obama or John Lewis, because in their view they're part of a small group of Black people who have made it to upper Middle Class status by selling out the Black working class. Apparently, according to Dixon, that tension between radicals and Liberals was at play in the short lived administration of Lumamba's father, who was elected mayor of Jackson several years ago but died after 8 months in office.

    The The Nation article mentions the Coalition for Economic Justice and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, some of whose members have been guests on Glen Ford's Black Agenda Report podcast, and they've all been very interesting and very radical. A group that's part of that Coalition for Economic Justice is Cooperation Jackson, which is doing some things as far as developing collectively owned businesses and a cooperative economy in Jackson that sound very interesting to me and advanced compared to where most people are who talk about that...i.e., a lot of people talk about it but these people are actually doing things and have physical businesses going. Their web site is: