May 1. Occupy is calling for a general strike of all commercial transactions and work by the 99%. As I understand it, May Day, or Beltane, Walpurgis Day is an ancient pagan and Celtic holiday celebrating the return of spring, fertility, and the abundance of life. It later became the date Karl Marx called for a strike to promulgate and demand the eight hour work day. I found (sorry) on Wikipedia a quote:
"In the United States of America, any sort of independent labor movement was paralyzed so long as slavery disfigured a part of the republic. Labor with a white skin cannot emancipate itself where labor with a black skin is branded. But out of the death of slavery a new vigorous life sprang. The first fruit of the Civil War was an agitation for the 8-hour day – a movement which ran with express speed from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from New England to California."
The need for an eight hour work day seemed to blossom all at once across the globe in the mid-19th century not to mention child labor laws. The May Day strikes by newly formed labor unions began in the United States and later in the Soviet Union to celebrate the worker. I just finished John Farrell's Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned. The first case to bring Darrow to the attention of the world was the defense of the Hay Market protestors. Mr. Darrow would be in the thick of it today, just as he was then.
I find it ironic that we now either have a job that requires us to be on 24/7 call to a boss via our electronic devices or only part time low wage work. The idea of leisure time to contemplate and be with kids and family, fix up ones little castle, invent, create, read or commune with nature was the purview of the wealthy. The ability to be in connection to something other than the mechanistic cogs of commerce is important to civilization.
To strike is "illegal", and Occupy speaks of proxy protests, strike by representation of supporters, the We vs. the royal we; thus the shutting down of the ports, blocking Bank lobbies, protesting shareholder meetings. Occupy has attracted under one banner the vestiges of the battered unions, civil rights and the social institutions of environment and human rights stuck or trapped in a perpetual wrestling match with government and corporate corruption. The recent ideology by free market corporatists that all must serve the almighty dollar is strangling the best of society. It is believed on the part of the Friedmanite/Randyites that if one is starving and oppressed you will work harder, longer and the stress of being under threat of survival will make you succeed. It is the "tooth and claw" approach to life. Eat or be eaten and then pat yourself on the back for being a bigger, badder meaner animal in the game of markets thus superior in every way, not to mention sanctioned by God. I feel we are lambs to the slaughter for thirty years now, just like the Jews of Europe before WWII.; swinging between, anger and depression and hitting helpless in between. Watching in horror as our nascent democracy and our fragile planet are plundered and bastardized.
How much do these self-appointed kings of the universe think the rest of us can take? How much whip cracking of the business model till we are all trained to salivate to the clink of coin? MAY DAY MAY DAY MAY DAY. venez m'aider. Come help me! Is the cry from every corner of the globe, the cry for dignity of soul, not just of race, religion, gender but of soul. Our collective souls are crying out and in our personal screams of agony we are finally able to hear the chorus about us. Occupy is calling us to join forces against the raping and pillaging by these neo robber barons, pirates and vampires. Yes, it has been a class war; classism is the root of all schisms. We are not crying for equality with the greedy, we are saying "you are no better than the rest of us" what makes you think you are? When did you earn it except off the backs of others? Many who gladly gave loyalty to good ideas and charisma, now find themselves betrayed, thrown aside, worn out, sucked dry and then called losers for believing in the greater good. Losers, anarchists, communists, socialists for demanding that those who cheat, rape and pillage in their legal, extra-legal and passive aggressive way be held accountable in this world not the next.
I plan to stay home; I cannot strike my family as that is my work. NO pay. I am valued by them, but not by society. My low wage personal care job I will not strike as the gentleman I help is one of us. But I will copy the story in the Nation this week regarding the organizing of caregivers unions. A Campaign of Caring by Laura Flanders and give it to my boss. An 84 billion dollar industry that pays on average below minimum wage, part time, no health care or anything else considered creating a good job. Caring for other human beings whether it be children or elderly is a low priority in this world of capital demographics. It is the hardest job and the basis of survival whether bonobo monkeys or humans. How can we make a buck off the sick and dying is the driving factor with the rose colored rationalization of doing good. Many home service provider companies get 3-8 dollars for every dollar a worker earns. The profits are enormous, off the public tax payer going straight into the pockets of the one percent and a token given to those who need service. They take the whole loaf, promise to share it equally and then call the end piece our equal part. It reminds me of the Lucy and Linus cartoon where Linus asks Lucy for a glass of orange juice and she says yes if he will share. She returns in the next panel, drinks the entire glass and when Linus complains she announces; "my half was on the bottom".
I am a counselor and have found the most exploited sector of the population is the disabled, sick and elderly. I remember my Mothers attitude about growing older was "just put me on an ice floe". The sense of being useless ( as a consumer) and now an asset class to be exploited is truly uncivilized. Ageism that last stage of classism has become a trillion dollar business, between big Pharma, hospital and health Inc. Much has been said about the young college student and the lack of jobs, no mention of those over 50. Ever! Talk about wasting brain power. It is as if we reach an age when we realize we are in the matrix and wake up only to be "shat" out into space as dangerous to the body economic. If you realized it earlier you had little chance of making any difference except to huddle with your fellows, find comfort in the collective misery and try not to be noticed.
MAY DAY from pagan celebration of life to a cry against wage slavery and soul killing labor. I am grateful to the grave yard shift in the pharmacy, but they better get paid well to be there when someone needs them not to mention the harm it does their body. I am grateful for all those people on Dirty Jobs who do those awful things, often with a joke and a smile most of us cringe at. But they need to be paid well instead of treated like "untouchables" by the corporations they work for who rake in the lions share. Even the male lion knows better than to eat more than a fair share or the females turn on him. Even a chimpanzee who bullies its peers knows there is a line to be drawn if they want to remain with the troop. That is evolution, not the crawl in a hole and die attitude of the market when it can't get any more money out of you, evolution says bullies end up dead. Haven't we seen this in history? This countries inability to deal with the bullies in our midst who perpetrate upon the rest of the world is coming home to roost. Our very wars are for profit only, not even the resources we might gain, or the moral high ground. Wars unending to keep us all frightened and off kilter; wars to terrorize a world into doing what we are told as an excuse to shred human rights, democracy and the environment. War machine corporations sucking and taking at gun point all of my life, cold wars, Vietnam War, axis of evil, holy wars, oil wars, war on terror, drone wars, shadow wars war on drugs, class war.
If we are to survive to become that collective vision of utopia we must exorcise the bullies. It's going "to be a bumpy ride" as the lady said.
It will take decades to unseat the ruling oppressors and as their way of life dies they will scramble and fight even harder to hold on as they scheme to create a new hierarchy that keeps them in power; as the wannabe oppressors and greedy try to take their place. Our planet cannot afford for us to be in a chicken yard feudalism. We must hear the MAYDAY call. Our planet, our country, our souls are all at risk.