Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy May Day, 2011

Today's May Day.

If you're curious about the origins of May Day, read here. It may well be the most ancient religious festival worldwide - primarily a homage to fertility goddesses as well as the renewal of life that we see in the spring time.

In more modern times, May Day is significant as the original labor day, and is tied with the struggle by organized labor movements to get the 8-hour work day that many of us take for granted recognized.

A few years ago, I read John Ross' book Murdered By Capitalism, in which the author discussed the labor movement in US history. In that book, I was reminded that by the middle of the 20th century May 1 was officially designated "Law Day" - making us unique in that we're supposed to celebrate those who smashed organized efforts to improve labor conditions. That's not even getting into Bush II's attempt last decade to dub May 1 as "Loyalty Day" (let's celebrate the displacement of workers around the globe thanks to US-hatched 'free trade' policies). Last year, I pointed to a column by Brendan Barber that highlighted the economic uncertainty faced by workers across the world as economic conditions continued to stagnate. We would do well to remember that fact, and to remember that conditions are not likely to improve for us unless we're willing to stand up and demand better conditions.

This is a day usually marked by organized protests. This year's May Day will be no different, as protests are planned in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the US as American workers continue to push back against corporatists endeavoring to do to public employees' unions what the Reagan era did to private-sector labor unions. If there's something in your area, wherever you happen to live, check it out. If not, surely there is something you can do to educate those around you - if nothing else you might have kids, grandkids, etc. who would be willing to learn something about the historical significance of this particular calendar day.

Also should mention that today marks the fifth anniversary of the blog The Unapologetic Mexican. Keep on doing your thang, Nezua.

Note: images nicked from and Media Re:public, respectively to capture both ancient and modern meanings of May Day.

Finally, some videos to mark the occasion:

The last video's via The Coalition to Save Workers.

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