Monday, May 1, 2017

Making May Day Great Again

In nearly each of the six years of this blog's existence, I've written a commemorative post honoring May Day, the international holiday set aside to honor the rights and accomplishments of workers.  My common theme was that although the global meaning of May Day was born out of the labor struggles which culminated in Chicago's Haymarket Massacre, the United States itself has officially ignored the occasion. Instead, our politicians designated the first Monday in September as "labor day" in order to placate nervous and predatory capitalist employers and to make the holiday all about summer's last gasp, to be celebrated with parades and barbeques and pandering political speeches.

But thanks in large part to the election of Donald Trump, the true meaning of May Day is coming back with a healthy vengeance. Americans by the tens of thousands are joining with their international brothers and sisters to fight for the rights of the working people in general, and immigrant workers in particular. Even though it is not a legal holiday, people are ditching work and school and even forgoing shopping trips in order to take to the streets in some long-overdue solidarity.

Today's actions, which happen to fall on the 150th anniversary of the first eight-hour day law ever passed in the United States, are forecast to be the biggest general strike in decades.

This is in spite of Trump's made-for-TV rally for the Rust Belt on Saturday night, when corporate-funded cable networks went along with the ratings spectacle, even as their own journalists were made the perfect scapegoats of the evening as they indulged themselves at their annual self-congratulatory dinner.

Trump simply uses the divide-and-conquer tactics beloved of robber barons throughout history. Whenever they've needed to quell civil unrest, they've diverted attention from their own greedy selves. Although an oafish novice at the give and take of national politics, Trump has long been an expert of stoking the politics of violence and resentment. Our demagogic president's shtick is not only to feel your pain, but to place himself smack dab in the middle of all the free-floating persecution. Despite his billions, there is no difference between Trump and you, his down-and-out audience. That is the only  solidarity you should believe in. He hasn't fulfilled all his promises yet, but by golly, isn't it fun to mock those liberal East Coast snobs in their gowns and their black ties? Isn't it fun to hate the clueless elites of CNN and the New York Times, and forget all about that stack of unpaid bills for at least a couple of hours? Isn't it cathartic to blame "illegals" for stealing your jobs out from under you? Isn't it satisfying to blame other countries for your dire financial straits,  rather than to aim your anger where it truly belongs: at the oligarchs and the multinational corporations, mostly headquartered in America, which have sucked up more than 90% of the wealth recovered since the 2008 financial meltdown?

Trump no doubt hoped to rile up his audience enough to form counter-protest blocs on May Day. If bloody fights again break out, as they recently have in places like Berkeley, between his supporters and opponents , then it will become all the easier for corporate media to ignore the true meaning and message of this day: demands for a living wage and equal pay for equal work, health and safety protections on job sites,critiquing the inhumanity of the gig economy, and highlighting the growing demands for universal health care and for enhanced Social Security benefits for retired workers as well as for their survivors, and for the sick, injured, and disabled.

But Trump, media tycoon that he is, knows very well that if it bleeds, it leads. And so does the rest of the plutocracy, with its pathological and historical vested interest in keeping working people down, out, and permanently oppressed. So think of his Saturday night rally as a warm-up act. He wants nothing more than to turn struggling people against one another and transform our streets into Fight Club USA. Let the little people beat each other up as the rising tide of greed elevates Trump and his fellow swamp creatures

We have to keep the solidarity alive and remember that this is not just about fighting Donald Trump. It's about fighting the whole Neoliberal Project and turning the tables in the class war.

This is not, as Trump bellows, about taking the country back for the benefit of a handful of pathocratic "job creators". This is about us, taking our entire world back while there's still barely enough time to save both it and ourselves from premature and tragic death. 


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