Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day: Workers of the World, Hang in There

In a proclamation printed just before May 1, 1886, one publisher appealed to working people with this plea:
•Workingmen to Arms!

•War to the Palace, Peace to the Cottage, and Death to LUXURIOUS IDLENESS.

•The wage system is the only cause of the World's misery. It is supported by the rich classes, and to destroy it, they must be either made to work or DIE.

•One pound of DYNAMITE is better than a bushel of BALLOTS!

•MAKE YOUR DEMAND FOR EIGHT HOURS with weapons in your hands to meet the capitalistic bloodhounds, police, and militia in proper manner. 
       IWW, The Brief Origins of May Day         

Okay, so that's the kind of thing that gives Socialists a bad name.  In the name of civility and good manners we've moved on to less violent (but probably less effective) ways of getting our message across.  The larger point here, though, is that since the 19th century, workers of the world have embraced May Day as the day to honor the sacrifices of the laboring classes.

In 1958, despite Joe McCarthy's earlier best efforts,  the Cold War Commies and Socialists were still purportedly climbing out from under every rock in every little burg in the US.  The VFW saw trouble in those May Day celebrations and foiled those plotters by renaming it "Loyalty Day".  Congress made it official and Ike actually signed it into law, but now, apart from a few VFW chapters and a few small towns, Loyalty Day is pretty much forgotten. (Not that loyalty isn't important, mind you. It is.  My loyalty to labor knows no bounds.)

But despite their best efforts, May Day demonstrations in America are still going strong.  Much of it centers on the controversial Arizona  "Show your Papers" law today, as hundreds of thousands in cities and towns all across the country are scheduled to march in solidarity against immigration and worker abuses. 

But even as I write this James Dobson, formerly of Focus on the Family, is leading  May Day, a Cry to God for a Nation in Distress on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  Dobson and others, including Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association,  are calling it a "day of repentance and remembrance",  addressing "The greatest moral crisis since the Civil War", which seems to include abortion, Obamacare, Obama in general, and the scary notion that there are more "Socialists" than Republicans running Congress these days.

The Liberty Council will be there, as well.  They wouldn't want to pass up a chance to sell  their membership cards:

Oy. . .

May Day means different things to different people.  On the islands of Hawaii, May Day is Lei Day, a refreshingly apolitical approach to that first day in May.  Here's a little respite from the cares of the day:

So.  May our efforts this May Day and every day forward bring peace and equity to those who break their backs struggling to build this nation.  Solidarity until the sun ceases to shine or until worker equity is a reality.  Whichever comes first.




  1. Happy May Day, Ramona. I didn't know the history you presented, so that was very cool to read.
    Enjoy the day. :)

  2. Hi Stan, Happy May Day to you,too. About an hour left so it's legit. . .

  3. Hi, I especially liked this commentary Ramona as it struck to the heart of this Recession and the situation the American Worker finds itself with fewer jobs, fewer opportunities and fewer areas of recourse when there are abuses to labor. We work harder in this country only to have the Corporations move the business abroad in the name of Globalization. To make the Almighty Dollar and when did we cease to have a relationship that actually built this country. May your voice always be strong for the rights of these people and hopefully a change in attitude is coming in the name of reform and for worker parity and benefit.
    Best Nedra

  4. Hi Ramona,
    In the Spirit of Leis, and as I live in Arizona we could have Cactus Thorn Day...
    Ouch... Nedra


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