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.

More articles by:

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

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail