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

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!

A Braver, A Saner and Truer Thing

casement

Where all your rights have become only an accumulated wrong, where men must beg with bated breath for leave to subsist in their own land, to think their own thoughts, to sing their own songs, to gather the fruits of their own labours, and, even while they beg, to see things inexorably withdrawn from them – then, surely, it is a braver, a saner and truer thing to be a rebel, in act and in deed, against such circumstances as these, than to tamely accept it, as the natural lot of men.

– Sir Roger Casement

Southland Reading Group March Meeting

Tuesday Night March 15th at Feed

This month’s meeting of the Chicago Southland Jacobin Reading Group will be held at 7 PM on March 15th at Feed Arts & Cultural Center, 259 S. Schuyler in Kankakee. Come join us to talk about political realignment, radical feminism and the “small c” communism of Pete Seeger.

Find out more: Readings for March 2016 – Jacobin Reading Group – Chicago Southland

For Katharina Jacob

On this International Women’s Day 2016, we honor our departed comrade Katharina Jacob, who fought the good fight against the Nazis. Asked if the sacrifice was worth it, she said this.

The Resistance fighters put their lives on the line for humanity and peace. My husband fell on this front. I also followed my conscience and convictions. The decision was not easy. But to see wrong and do nothing about it? I had to be able to face myself and my children.

This beautiful song from David Rovics is a fitting tribute and remembrance.

DuBois on the Election of 1956

On October 20, 1956, W. E. B. DuBois wrote for The Nation on the upcoming Presidential election.

I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say.

Is the refusal to vote in this phony election a counsel of despair? No, it is dogged hope. It is hope that if twenty-five million voters refrain from voting in 1956 because of their own accord and not because of a sly wink from Khrushchev, this might make the American people ask how much longer this dumb farce can proceed without even a whimper of protest.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Read the Entire Essay: W.E.B. Dubois, I Won’t Vote

Tithi Bhattacharya on Muslim Heterogeneity

Yahya_ibn_Mahmud_alWasiti

Tithi Bhattacharya dispels the myth of a Muslim monolith.

…while ISIS can quote the hadith as it executes other Muslims, and Trump can inveigh against the “Muslims,” we need to continue to look to the multiethnic neighborhoods of Istanbul, Paris and Beirut as lived histories of our times of mutual human coexistence. And it is such lived experiences of multifaith communities that need to be both defended and extended.

Source: Adventures in Islam: The Myths and Legends of Muslim Homogeneity | Tithi Bhattacharya