Sunday, May 01, 2011

May Day 2011

"Proletarians of All Countries, Unite! First of May, the Holiday of the Victory of Labor" reads this card from the early days of the Soviet Union in Russian and, I think, Turkish. It's really a shame that seventy years of Stalinism masquerading as socialism ruined the language of socialism, because even though words like that cause most people's eyes to blink and glaze over, it's really an admirable sentiment.

The point of May Day, the real labor day holiday, set to the date that was in Europe once reserved for a joyous spring holiday, was for regular people to celebrate their connections to other regular people across the borders of states and nations. The theory was that kings and princes and big businesses divided the world into countries jealously trying to get what the others have, pitting the working people of one country against the working people of another, usually in the end benefitting only the rulers and the war profiteers. But working people in all countries have more in common with each other than they do the parasites at the top of society, so why not put down the national colors and extend the hand of friendship, unity and equality? Socialist internationalism is really that simple. People just want to live their lives in peace. That would be a whole lot easier if the governments and politicians of the world were made to stop trying to control the population and made, to coin a phrase, to serve the people. That's what rational government is for: not to protect the profits of rich people.

The propaganda ideologues of capitalism have tried hard to turn words like "labor," or "workers" into scary-sounding special interests. But that's because there are more of us than there are of them. It's only by believing in their ideological prison that we give them power over us. It's the American dream, right? One day even you or I could be as rich as...Donald Trump? Or one day you or I could be eating catfood out of a garbage can too. It's a fucked up system that benefits the people at the top at the expense of the people at the bottom by design.

We, the American people, are not the ones bombing and invading countries. That would be They the government, doing so not in our interests but the interests of big business and their rules, their needs. We should be extending our hands in friendship with the sisters and brothers — just like us! — who just want to celebrate life.


  1. When I was in sixth grade - and that would have been 62 years ago - May first was May Day, celebrated at school with dancing around a Maypole with long colorful strips of fabric, that would end up, if done properly, in a beautiful basket weave encased flag pole. Each grade performed a dance on the front lawn of the school, arches were bedecked in fresh flowers for the May queen and princesses to walk under. (I was a May princess) It was a fun day and one all the school children looked forward to each year.

    Some year after that, I don't remember when exactly this May Day celebration was dropped in the public schools. We were told it was a Communist Celebration, a day symbolizing war, power and strength, and it would no longer be a day honored in the United States.

    I never did quite understand then how the Communists got to own a day, especially a day we children enjoyed so much.

    As I look back on it now with a little more experience under my belt I see it was just another example of America's over reaction when others are not in lock-step with our values.

    Rather than to continue to keep May Day a happy spring celebration for the children, snatch it away and put it under lock and key. What a wonderful way to help paint Communists with broad brush of hatred.

  2. What a great story Annie.

    I didn't know kids got to do maypoles...I never did one til I was an adult,