The Real Workers’ Holiday

Late last week, President Obama issued a proclamation naming May 1st, 2016 as “Loyalty Day” in the United States. The proclamation reads, in part, “On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America and pay tribute to the heritage of American freedom.”

Loyalty Day was first celebrated in 1921, during the First Red Scare. It was originally called “Americanization Day” and was created intentionally to replace International Workers’ Day, the worldwide celebration of worker solidarity. It was enshrined into law in 1955 by the U.S. Congress during the Second Red Scare, and has been proclaimed each year by every President since Eisenhower.

Throughout history, control of the calendar has been used to set the ideological agenda. One need not look very far into the history of Catholic liturgical calendar to see this. Samhain was transformed into the Feast of All Saints. The Vernal Equinox became the Annunciation. The Summer Solstice became the Nativity of John the Baptist. The list goes on and on.

This practice has not been lost on our own ruling class.

Utah Phillips said “Yes, the long memory is the most radical idea in this country. It is the loss of that long memory which deprives our people of that connective flow of thoughts and events that clarifies our vision, not of where we’re going, but where we want to go.”

In the years of struggle to come, it is more important than ever that we cultivate the long memory. Celebration of International Workers’ Day is the foundation upon which an understanding of what it means to be a true American rests. Our heritage as fighting working class radicals must not be undermined by the false consciousness imposed on us by the One Percent.

Below are a few links, highly recommended for the occasion. For a longer read, I would also recommend Sharon Smith’s excellent history of the labor movement in America, Subterranean Fire.

Today Is Our Day – by Jonah Walters at Jacobin – This May Day, we should celebrate the historic triumphs of the labor movement and the struggles to come.

The legacy of Haymarket – by Sharon Smith at Socialist Worker – Sharon Smith chronicles the hidden history of the Haymarket Martyrs, the movement for the eight-hour day and the origins of May Day.

In celebration of May Day – by Andrea Bauer at Freedom Socialist – A reflection on Karl Marx and the struggle for a shorter workday.

solidarity-of-labor

Obama Took My Lawn-Boy

I should have heeded the warning signs
First it was my lightbulbs
Then they came after my junk food
And by the time
They got to
My Lawn-Boy
I was too blind and hungry
To fight

Now I’m tripping over this electric cord
And walking behind a puny seventeen inch deck

And not a hard working immigrant with a Weed Eater
Anywhere to be found
Deported, one and all

The lawns of Suburbia must
From time to time be refreshed
From the oil cans of patriots
And tyrants

Toward A Universal Basic Income

basic-income

Andrew Flowers writes about the movement in Switzerland to guarantee a basic income for all.

Werner posed a pair of simple questions to the crowd: What do you really want to do with your life? Are you doing what you really want to do? Whatever the answers, he suggested basic income was the means to achieve those goals. The idea is as simple as it is radical: Rather than concern itself with managing myriad social welfare and unemployment insurance programs, the government would instead regularly cut a no-strings-attached check to each citizen. No conditions. No questions. Everyone, rich or poor, employed or out of work would get the same amount of money. This arrangement would provide a path toward a new way of living: If people no longer had to worry about making ends meet, they could pursue the lives they want to live.

Read More: What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money? | FiveThirtyEight

Beyond The Campaign

What do we do next?

beyond-the-sanders-campaign

If you’re one of the millions who have been invigorated by the Bernie Sanders campaign and want to join the ongoing political revolution, this May 7th forum on movement building beyond the election is for you. We’ll discuss the significance of the Sanders campaign, the meaning of democratic socialism, and strategies for confronting exploitation and inequality at the state and national level. We’ll also offer skills training on coalition building and grassroots organizing. Together, we’ll plan ways to channel the renewed interest in democratic socialism toward a sustainable movement for political transformation. There’s never been a more exciting or vital time to work for change.

The forum is co-sponsored by the Alliance for Community Services, Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, National Nurses United, and Progressive Democrats of America.

There’s more information on this Facebook event page.

The Spirit of ’16

Easter_Proclamation_of_1916

On this 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, we remember the martyrs who lost their lives in the cause of freedom. Here are some links apropos of the day.

1916 The Irish Rebellion (Documentary from The University of Notre Dame)

Between The Risings (Special Issue of Jacobin Magazine)

The Writings of James Connolly

Our demands most moderate are – We only want the earth!

What is Neoliberalism?

George Monbiot explains.

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Read the full article: Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems | Books | The Guardian

The Religion and Socialism Podcast

The Religion and Socialism Podcast

I’m pleased to be working on a new podcast project for the Religion and Socialism Commission of the Democratic Socialists of America.

The first episode of the program is an interview with renowned theologian and ethicist Gary Dorrien of Union Theological Seminary. Professor Dorrien discusses the relationship between Christianity and socialism, and particularly focuses on issues of racial justice in the United States.

Here’s the iTunes listing. You can also find the program at Soundcloud or click on the player below to listen in your browser.

Europe Is Up All Night

If a suspected terrorist sneezes in Europe, we see security camera footage repeated day and night with endless speculation and commentary on CNN, but there has been a virtual mainstream media blackout here in the United States of news about the French working class rising up over the past two weeks.

On March 31, thousands of French activists gathered at the Place de la République to protest French President François Hollande’s labor reforms, and they’ve been staying “up all night” ever since. The “Nuit Debout” protests are now spreading to Belgium, Britain, Spain and Germany.

Read More: Sonali Kolhatkar: Two Weeks Into a Major Uprising, French Activists Still Staying ‘Up All Night’ – Truthdig