May Day's Radical History: What Occupy Is Fighting for This May 1st

Samantha 2012/04/29 02:30:10
On May Day, I'll contribute my small part to the efforts of fighting for collective bargaining rights and fighting income inequality. Among the many causes they supported, my parents were dedicated to the struggle for collective bargaining rights and economic justice. Although they died when I was six years old, I know they'll be with me in spirit.

Occupy actions planned on May Day are tied to the generations-long movement for the eight-hour day, to immigrant workers, to police brutality and repression of the labor movement.

American general strikes—or rather, American calls for general strikes, like the one Occupy Los Angeles issued last December that has been endorsed by over 150 general assemblies—are tinged with nostalgia.

The last real general strike in this country, which is to say, the last general strike that shut down a city, was in Oakland, California in 1946—though journalist John Nichols has suggested that what we saw in Madison, Wisconsin last year was a sort of general strike. When we call a general strike, or talk of one, we refer not to a current mode of organizing; we refer back, implicitly or explicitly, to some of the most militant moments in American working-class history. People posting on the Occupy strike blog How I Strike have suggested that next week’s May Day is highly symbolic. As we think about and develop new ways of “general striking,” we also reconnect with a past we've mostly forgotten.

So it makes sense that this year’s call for an Occupy general strike—whatever ends up happening on Tuesday—falls on May 1. May Day is a beautifully American holiday, one created by American workers, crushed by the American government, incubated abroad, and returned to the United States by immigrant workers.

The history of May 1 as a workers’ holiday is intimately tied to the generations-long movement for the eight-hour day, to immigrant workers, to police brutality and repression of the labor movement, and to the long tradition of American anarchism.

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  • Primitive Christian 2012/04/29 02:37:44
    Primitive Christian
    So long as it's peaceful and legal I support your right to protest. If you break the law then I support your right to remain silent.
  • Samantha Primiti... 2012/04/29 03:01:05
    I have no intention of remaining silent on any issue important to me.
  • Primiti... Samantha 2012/04/29 03:05:20
    Primitive Christian
    I'm not sure you understood the reference. Let's make it a little simpler. So long as your protest is non-violent and legal I support your right to protest. Should you become violent or break the law then I support your right to remain silent when you are justifiably arrested. I don't claim you have to utilize that right only that I support that you have it.
  • Samantha Primiti... 2012/04/29 03:06:51 (edited)
    I understood your post; I chose to respond in a positive way.

    I could only hope you would be as outraged by the illegalities and atrocities committed by U.S. corporations.
  • Primiti... Samantha 2012/04/29 03:16:58
    Primitive Christian
    I am as opposed to illegal activity by corporations as much as I am by individuals. However I recognize that much of what some OWS protesters believe to be illegal, isn't. For example making a profit isn't illegal. Paying CEO's whatever the elected BOD's contracts with them is not illegal. Many OWS protesters seem to believe that each of those are crimes.
  • Samantha Primiti... 2012/04/29 14:58:10
    No one said making a profit is illegal. When corporate CEOs in the U.S. make hundreds, if not thousands, more than that average worker something is terribly wrong with American capitalism.
  • Primiti... Samantha 2012/04/29 15:21:57
    Primitive Christian
    Yes I have heard OWS (at OWS Columbus as a matter of fact) claim that making a profit is criminal. As for what a CEO makes that is between him and the shareholders of the company, you know those people who own the company and employ the CEO's. Employees have the right to leave their jobs and look elsewhere if they believe they are being treated unfairly. You have the right to not like it, you don't have the right to tell the owners of a company what to pay their employees.
  • Samantha Primiti... 2012/04/29 15:25:00
    Your first statement cannot be verified unless, of course, you provide a link to a person making that statement.
  • Primiti... Samantha 2012/04/29 15:53:02
    Primitive Christian
    Nope it was while I was at the gathering. I realize that it is an unsubstantiated claim, I stand by it nonetheless as I know it to be true. You are free to accept or reject it as you see fit.
  • Samantha Primiti... 2012/05/01 23:13:14
    Since I've taken part in OWS protests and in May Day protests today, I reject your claim. There's nothing to substantiate it.
  • Primiti... Samantha 2012/05/04 01:26:32
    Primitive Christian
    Feel free to reject whatever you wish.

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