FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Support the Mayday 2014 Fight for Fifteen

by JOHN HALLE

(Note: The proposal here develops ideas advanced by Socialist Alternative’s Alan Akrivos at the Brecht Forum event, Socialism at the Ballot Box. Video here.)

Most on the left are at least dimly aware that Labor Day was originally celebrated on May 1 to commemorate the framing and execution of the Haymarket strikers and that Mayday, at its peak, attracted tens of thousands of marchers in cities across the country.  The combination of the iron fist of state repression and the velvet glove of the New Deal ultimately crushed radical labor movements of which Mayday was an integral part, resulting in only traces of it remaining by the end of the last century.

But its spirit could not be entirely extinguished: the largest mass arrest in U.S. history took place on Mayday anti-war protest of 1971, demonstrators brutally apprehended and held Pinochet style in Washington’s RFK stadium.

In 2006, millions of undocumented workers shut down the streets of several cities demanding changes in that draconian and repressive Sensenbrenner Bill, H.R. 4437.

Most recently, in the waning days of the Occupy movement, Mayday again rose from the dead attracting 30 to 40,000 to New York City’s Union Square capping it with a march to Wall Street where over 30 were arrested.

Unfortunately, following the demise of OWS, only a few hard-core activists celebrated in 2013.

Was 2012 a fluke or did it represent an initial, albeit stumbling, attempt to re-attach the future of working class politics to its illustrious past?

This decision is up to us.  We can choose to make Mayday again the centerpiece of a new anti-capitalist politics and with the widespread hopelessness now turning to rage at the 1%, 2014 is the year to do it.

The way to do it is by using Mayday to put forward a single demand on the owners and operators of the economy: a 15 dollar an hour minimum wage.  The necessary teeth will be provided by our committing ourselves to begin the demonstration at 4 PM, making May 1, 2014 a seven hour work day re-initiating, albeit on a reduced scale, the long standing Mayday tradition of a day without work, or, to put it in political terms, a general strike.

Should 5/1 for 15 not succeed, it should be expanded it to a full day, possibly on election day 2014. A second day could be added on 2015 scaling up to a full week in 2016 with the explicit intention of bringing capital, and capitalism, to its knees, where it belongs.

Just as the eight hour working day was a unifying demand which brought together the strands of a balkanized left leading to the formation of a Socialist Party, so too can the 15 dollar wage provide the foundation for a resurgence of organized, working class political power.

It is no surprise that Kshama Sawant was able to ride the Fight for 15 to victory in November becoming the first elected socialist in a century.  And she has made it her top priority now that she is in office.  She, and other national leaders and all self-described supporters of “working families”, should be in the forefront of planning to insure that Mayday is returned to its rightful place as a celebration of the beginnings of a long awaited American spring.

JOHN HALLE is Director of Studies in Music Theory and Practice at Bard College. He can be reached at: halle@bard.edu.

John Halle blogs at Outrages and Interludes. He tweets at: jghalle.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail