Happy May Day

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Here we are at May Day, or International Workers’ Day, or Law Day, or Loyalty Day, depending on where you are and what your sympathies are. The 1st of May has long been celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere, even in pre-christian times. Now, it is generally celebrated as a labor holiday worldwide. The history in America is interesting and shows just a slice of your State Propaganda at work.

In 1886, in Chicago, there were May Day riots that have come to be known as the “Haymarket Affair” Workers gathered in Chicago to strike for an 8 hour workday, something many take for granted today. The police fired into the crowd, killing and wounding several strikers. Ironically enough, the killings by the police happened at the McCormick Reaper Works, a factory that produced mechanical reapers for use on the farm.

The next evening, a group of anarchists and workers gathered, police came, and someone tossed a bomb into the police. Terrible idea to be sure; Gandhi and MLK had not yet shown the power of non-violent civil resistance. No one actually saw who tossed the bomb, but that didn’t stop the government. Several hangings were carried out and one man imprisoned for 15 years, hard labor. The trial was a joke. The library of Congress noted “..potential jurors [were chosen] based on recommendations of business managers and company supervisors, amounting to a conspiracy against the defense. Judge Joseph Gary refused to dismiss these obviously biased jurors, forcing the defense to exhaust all of its 160 peremptory challenges and still face a jury composed largely of middle-class, native-born salesmen, small businessmen, and clerks.”

In 1921, the Government started “Loyalty Day” celebrations of May 1st, in an effort to counteract the communist-leaning of May Day labor celebrations. Who wouldn’t just love to grab the family on a nice spring day and swear loyalty to the State? Maybe we could help the deficit and split the costs of such a heady State Love-fest with North Korea?

In 1958, good-old cold war time in the US, May 1st became known as “Law Day”. See proclamation 3221

So, instead of celebrating labor, on May 1st, we can choose to celebrate Loyalty Day or Law Day. Bad propaganda can be funny, if you look at it right.

I expect that we may see it renamed to “Goldman Sachs Day”..or “Just-Be-Scared-and-Do-What-We-Say Day”…or “Privatise-Everything-But-Expenses-Day”…

So, countries around the world are celebrating Labor.

Our headlines look more like this.

Corporations can move globally to get the cheapest labor in the most unregulated, most unsafe places. Unions are not generally international, and so, workers don’t have global protection. This is an assault on labor in this country, driving wages and conditions through the floor.

So, instead of having shirts made in, say, Camden New Jersey, which used to be full of manufacturing jobs & now is empty of nearly all jobs, and paying a higher price, we are awash in Bangladeshi garments, and the workers there pay the price.

Thinking globally is great…if you carry it out all of the way. If you think globally, and protect other humans from unsafe work places, that would be great. If you prevented corporations from making the environments of small, less regulated places man-made hells, that would also be great. If you only allow manufacturing jobs here to disappear in favor of corporate profits and 3rd world wages & conditions, you just create really cheap shirts for newly unemployed people to wear.

On our last “Law Day”, on May 1st, 2012, President Obama declared the theme to be:

No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom,”.

On the same day as that noble proclamation, May 1, 2012, the House passed (and Obama eventually signed) the NDAA, allowing for the lifetime imprisonment without trial or court of any kind for American citizens who are deemed by the Executive Branch, in complete secrecy, to fit into certain criteria.

You could not make this stuff up.

Happy May Day!

6 thoughts on “Happy May Day

  1. Henry Jekyll

    Great article Glenn. Globalization appears to have been a ruse to circumvent the advancements made by organized labor that were paid for in blood. After listening to Eric Holder articulate the justifications for execution of American citizens sans trial, the NDAA becoming law seems like just a formality. Anyway, keep fighting the good fight and I certainly look forward to reading more of your writing.

    Reply
  2. Tanya Kiesha Thompson

    Hi! Thanks for educating us about what May Day really is. It seems American society still hasn’t learned from our past mistakes and injustices. I guess the only thing that can be done is to educate as many people as possible about history so that enough people will see that some past events should never be repeated.

    Reply
  3. Glenn Dukes at civilrightskiosk.com Post author

    Hi Tanya. I am glad you stopped in. Thanks.

    I agree with you on trying to keep some of these older issues in our collective memory. I am amazed at how many counter-cultural nuggets of important history are just left out of our national discussion. There is a book along these lines by James Loewen from my state, Vermont, called “Lies My Teachers Told Me”. It really helped open my eyes as to how much white-washing is done. Guys like Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky are the secular patron saints of the people in this regard.

    Take it easy and thanks again for stopping by.

    Reply

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