Saturday, May 03, 2008

May Day and More...

It's kinna weird, but it's a fact: May Day, that is as a day dedicated to workers' and class struggle originated in the United State of Arrogance.

In 1886, in Chicago, there was a three day general strike by laborers, artisans, merchants and immigrants. During the strike, four people were shot and killed by police at the McCormick factory.

The next day there was a large, peaceful demonstration at Haymarket Square.

In the afternoon the police entered the crowd in a phalanx. A bomb was thrown by "somebody" and a policeman was killed. In the ensuing chaos, twelve people died, half of them policemen.

The eight people who had organized the demonstration were arrested and charged with murder. They were all found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. Four were hanged and one committed suicide in jail. The remaining were pardoned by the new Illinois governor. Who threw the bomb was never proven, but a strong suspicion points to the goons of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

Both the trials and the hangings were public. The defendants were tried more for their political beliefs than involvement in the bombing. The case awoke anger and indignation across the globe and the 1st of May became a day celebrating the struggle of workers for such ridiculous things as an eight hour work day and honest wages for honest work.

A number of steps were taken to defuse the effect of May Day in the USA. In 1921, the 1st of May became "Loyalty Day" where people affirmed their loyalty to Arrogance. In 1958, Congress confirmed the day as a nat'l "Loyalty Day" -- not as a holiday, but as a commemoration day.

In the USA, "Labor Day" is the first Monday in September and not the 1st of May. You might think that this was a sop to divert attention from May Day. This is a truth with a lot of footnotes. The first September Labor Day was celebrated by the Knights of Labor in 1882 and became a nat'l holiday in 1892 by act of Congress. Originally, it was a day to awaken the consciousness of the working people. Today, with the emasculated unions in the USA which have but 12% of the working force organized, the fight for worker rights and the very idea of worker solidarity is little more than an Arrogant fairy tale.

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