Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 38

willie

A Stream Of Consciousness Account Of My Google Adventure To Discover


The Origins Of May Day by Kelsey Goldberg
Google images. May Day. A bunch of cartoon kids running around a may pole along side pictures of
real kids skipping around may poles. The kids in the cartoons look quaint and fun frolicking around the
painted poles with ribbons of hope and their promising futures intertwining with that of their friends.
The real life kids loo like a bunch of nerds whos mom found a Pinterest tutorial that went something
like this:

Step One: Find Broom Stick


Step Two: Paint Broom Stick
Step Three: Tie colored yarn, Streamers or Ribbon to end of broom stick.
Step Four: Put broomstick in ground. CAUTION Make sure you dont stick the side with the ribbon
in the ground
Step Five: Celebrate! Youre European now!

I had to dance around a May Pole when I was a kid, it wasnt my moms fault, it was my schools. It was
for Elizabethan day, my sister dressed up like a princess, I dressed up like a pauper- this would be good
backstory if my sister grew up to be high maintenance but Im definitely the more finicky one of the
two of us. Needlessto say this Google search has not been very helpful. OH! Theres also some posters
with a fist under the words May Day which means there must be more to this day than just flowers and
poles. I move on to Wikipedia, like the fucking legit scholar that I am.

Wikipedias picture for May Day is dumb kids running around a pole, but they are in Sussex, which is
in England, so I guess this is less lame and more tradition. Personally I wouldnt want to be mocked for
playing a fiddle on a roof so maybe I should be kinder to these children. Second paragraph In the late
19 th century, May Day was chosen as the date for International Workers Day by the Socialists and Hell
yes, finally the hot and steamy stuff. Oh wait now I have to scroll through like sixteen articles on the
Traditional May Day sorry Estonia, not that interested in Kevadpuha right now, but hell is that a fun
word to try and say. Im really just interested in the What-the- royal-Fuck! There isnt a single article on
the important May Day. Not a single one in this flower-laden smorgasbord that addresses the fuck you
capitalists day! Gross, do I actually have to read the country break down? Does nobody at Wiki-please-
just-have- the-information- I-want see the irony of requiring this much labor just to learn about labor
day? Fine Wikisucks, Ill read them.

England. Four whole sentences that can be summed up thusly: May Day is International Workers Day and
on it people march near the Marx Memorial Library to Trafalgar Square.

Nothing about modern May Day until we get to Germany where it is mentioned that it became a public
holiday in 1933. The end.

I would stop the break-down here because you get the idea this is a wiki-fail, but the rule of three says
I have to have one more example. United States. Turns out we celebrate it here in various ways based
on region but some regions unite Greet Root or pagan and Red Root or labor traditions. And The person
who wrote this spelled labor- labour because apparently they cant even let us be right about our spell-
ings in our own part of the article! Passive aggressive dick.

So an hour into my search and I dont know anything more about May Day than when I started but I do
know that the night of April 30 th is called Walpurgis Night.

I Google pictures of International Workers Day. Immediately start saving photos in a folder named tax
stuff to look at later with candles and a nice chardonnay. Marches on posters on marches on posters!
Ive found it. First lesson learned- if you want to learn about May Day do not Google May Day! Write that
down, there will be a test later.

So in lot of European countries International Workers Day is a public holiday not necessarily because
their governments are down for the cause but because of the whole, pagan, flowers, pole thing. What-
ever, better than America where its not and instead on the first Monday of September we have, what
everyone in the service industry ever refers to: Sit & Sleep/Robins Bros are having a sale day and
all my friends are at the beach and this table didnt tip day.

I then spend the period of time between 2:09 pm and 2:36 pm debating whether to continue on this ar-
ticle or click on the Haymarket Affair article. You might think that at some point my mind wandered from
this debate, that maybe I got up, went to the bathroom, made a snack. But nope, just couldnt decide on
what to do next.
I stayed on the International Workers Day Page.
I learned a lot.
Namely that its fucking bullshit that America doesnt celebrate it.

There really is a lot of interesting information here but Im just going to give you the highlights because
this is a Zine not Infinite Jest. So highlights, or hashtag fun facts as Im going to call them!

# Theres a Catholic Saint called Saint Joseph the Worker


# Bank holiday is not a holiday where citizens make bank but rather a Holiday when the banks are re-
quired to be closed.
# Canada also celebrates Labor day in September because its like Diet Britain and American influences
are the aspartame.
# A lot of countries use May Day as a day to approve a new minimum wage.
America should do this, every year.

And now what I learned about May Day in America. So America used to have one of the most fierce and
feared working classes in the world. This was shocking information because youd think thatd be the
kind of thing that was taught it school, but its not, because of course not. I havent been this mad since
I learned that a teenage girl was the one who finished the midnight ride and that Paul Revere didnt but
fell off his horse because he was a useless drunk but somehow he got the poem. (Shout out to Drunk
History for that edifying episode.)

On May 1 1886, thousands of workers from all different industries all across the country went on strike
in support of the eight-hour work day. Its going pretty well, unless youre capitalism, in which case this
strike is kicking the shit out of you. Then on May 4 th the Haymarket Massacre happened. Or as liberals
call it: The Haymarket Affair. Or as conservatives call it: The Haymarket Riot. Basically a peaceful rally
was happening and a bunch of prominent socialists, and communists, and anarchists were there. Sam-
uel Fielden, a British Socialist, spoke for 10 minutes when a bunch of police arrived en masse marching
in formation like a goddamn army and told the protesters to disperse. I imagine the conversation went
like this:

POLICE CHIEF
Disperse!

FIELDEN
Whats with the army? Were being peaceful!

ALL POLICE
We are SPARTA!

And then a bomb went off. Which is never good. Seven police and four workers were killed, which
means the state had to kill more workers, because thats what you do when police die is kill more ci-
vilians., but put them on trial first so its not technically considered killing for some reason. The police
asserted that the bomb had been thrown by an anarchist and arrested eight men were arrested despite
there being little evidence against any of the men. Then they were hung. Well technically two of them
got their executions changed to life in prison, but then one of them killed themselves by smoking a
blasting cap like a cigar. Hes not a cartoon character so this killed him.

Anyway their sentencing was bullshit and so was the fact that when their family members arrived on
the day of their execution to see them for the last time they were arrested and searched for bombs,
because apparently the day your husband is being killed by the state can indeed be worse. Workers
didnt give their struggle for the eight hour work day, and continued to use May1st the day to strike, with
the first International May Day being in 1890- it was a huge success!

At the conclusion of my Internet adventure I realized three fundamental truths, all at the exact same
time. One. May Day IS the real labor day. Two. There is zero excuse for this not to be taught in schools
and generations of Americans have let themselves be exploited due to lack of knowledge of labor histo-
ry and a base line of dignity that they should expect from their work environment. Three. When some-
one bets you that you cant sneak a Hamilton reference into a leftist Zine theyll lose. Also- sorry about
that!
Its May Day, L.A. Do you know what that means?

No, but seriously. Do you?

Although I remembered the Maypole from bizarre, Pagan-lite grade school rituals involving pastels and
streamers (I thought it was like a second Easter, or something), I didnt really get the modern context
until I was out of college yet still not a full-time worker or union member or anything like that. It was
May Day 2006 when I witnessed these massive crowds - largely chicano groups, unions, activists, and
community members - pouring through the streets of Downtown L.A. This was the largest protest in
California history, and one that couldnt be ignored, even if its only half-remembered by some now.

May Day is International Workers Day - or the


real Labor Day, according to socialists, unions,
workers, and basically anyone who respects
the working classes as the foundations of a
moral and fertile society. It began as a day
to remember the atrocities of the Haymar-
ket affair where anarchists and other leftists
were crucified in Chicago for a riot they didnt
create at a protest to condemn police killings.
That was in the 1800s but feels pretty ger-
mane, no?

But theres a reason you probably havent learned much about Labor Day in the American primary and
secondary education system: its been largely scrubbed out of the general education, just like other cri-
tiques of capitalism. Its no accident. Especially as the potential for the WGA strike looms over L.A., along
with issues of labor exploitation - from the rampant mistreatment of the freelancers and members of
the gig/sharing economy to the abuses at the hands of blue collar and white collar job creators- L.A.
lives and die by its workers. Were a megalopolis which has thrived when labor has thrived and failed
when it hasnt.

Were all workers, so this is a day for every one of us.

So back to 2006. A few months prior to May Day 2006, a bill hit Congress (H.R. 4437) which promised
to crack down on undocumented people and offer stricter criminal sentences, make it a felony to en-
able undocumented people in any way, and build a wall on the Mexican border. Again, it all feels almost
too on the nose.

Obviously, this was alarming to the chicano community. A resistance - an actual grassroots movement -
which predates feckless hashtags, mind you - was mounting against the legislation on a national scale.

They called it The Great American Boycott, where everyone (especially latin Americans) was encouraged
from checking out of capitalist culture for a day. The boycott grew into what became known as Day
Without An Immigrant, a play on and evolution of the 2004 film A Day Without A Mexican, a film that
satirically and seriously asked the question, What if all the Mexicans disappeared overnight?
The films creators - husband and wife multi-disciplinary artists Sergio Arau and Yareli Arizmendi - are
still part of the Southlands community and vocal activists. And they think its important to recognize
immigrants.

The immigrant spirit is pure gold, Arau tells me. People -- immigrants - who are willing to risk all they
knew before, to make life for them and theirs better, are people ready to work beyond hard, learn the
rules and make themselves indispensable to their new community. In this, the Golden State, the immi-
grant spirit constantly refreshes and re-polishes what we, California, aspire to become.

But the story of America isnt only the story of latino immigrants, of course. Immigrant mistreatment
has existed always, Arau insists. Ask the Germans, the Irish, the Italians, the Poles, the Russians. Latin
Americans are the last group to step into the shoes of the immigrant category. In that sense, Ameri-
ca is color blind: wherever the underclass is from is irrelevant as long as theyre the meat fed into the
machine.

Yareli recently explained that A Day Without a Mexican the film grew out of a personal need that we
later found out was shared by thousands. It gave words to express the feelings that existed, but had no
form, no structure.

The basic gist of the film is that society cant function without its working class - its documented and
undocumented chicanos. This may seem like a farcical far-fetched scenario - which it is - but is also
what a realistic, successful strike would look like for most of a given city: empty kitchens. Empty job
sites. Empty offices. Empty schools. Empty hospitals. Empty roads. A city straight out of some hack-
neyed zombie movie.
So the low budget movie inspired what
this movement became focused on, which
was A Day Without An Immigrant - a
public demonstration to see what hap-
pens when you take immigrants out of the
economy temporarily. The phrase A Day
Without a, Yareli says, became a way to
express what would life look like without
me, without you, without them, a way to
make what is taken for granted and forced
into invisibility, visible. If we are remem-
bered for one thing, let it be for making
the invisible visible.

The movements first big victory was a series


of protests around the country, including L.A.
on March 26, 2006 where a half a million
people showed up. A protest this large was
unprecedented in Californias history.

Then, a little over a month later, several hun-


dred thousand Angelenos again left work in
favor of the streets of downtown Los Ange-
les, as well as in the SFV and Long Beach, and
throughout other areas of Southern Califor-
nia.
This included massive walkouts from schools, children and teens went to school and all walked out in a
synchronized fashion. It was a statement of contempt for the do-nothing status quo of public education
in poorer neighborhoods of color and the indifferent. Immigrants were being recognized. This couldnt
be easily ignored or dismissed.

Then, lawmakers appeared to listen. The troubling bill and somewhat better bill that was proposed after
it neither were passed into law. But since Bush 2.0s xenophobic tenure, things have only gotten worse
for immigrants. Obama deported a record number of illegals during his two terms, among other fail-
ures to push a more progressive and inclusive immigration reform plan. And now we have noted slum-
lord Donald Trump, who could outpace all of his predecessors as far as deportations and other human
rights violations, and he still entertains wild, terrifying ideas about immigration prevention and policing
and surrounds himself with actual Nazi-worshippers like Steve Bannon and Seb Gorka.

But its not just immigrants. In the past decade, both labor and immigration groups have been targets of
this centurys neoliberal and neoconservative kleptocrats who make no bones about their allegiances to
corporate sugar daddies. Its open season on labor, immigrants, and basically marginalized people of all
stripes. But it kind of always has been in America, at least since I can remember.

For some, the idea of striking - maybe giving up a days wage - may seem counterintuitive. But its
a small price to pay for a long term goal that is more valuable than anyones daily wage. The worlds
problems wont be solved in a single afternoon, after all. Its an ongoing process, not a series of one-off
events or casual brunch protests. This is something wholly more substantive.

Many workers, however, may be caught in a situation where its too precarious to strike. There are other
ways to demonstrate. Boycotting all consumer goods, staying inside, generally being invisible are all
decent strategies to letting your presence be felt through your absence.

So where are we now, May Day 2017?

Movimiento Cosecha, a nonviolent organization fighting and organizing on behalf of the 11 million un-
documented immigrants living in America, is one of the groups leading the charge. Starting May 1st,
Movimiento Cosecha is promoting a series of strikes that will culminate in a week without immigrants,
including massive boycotts and mass non-cooperation.

Activists and other Angelenos are quietly hopeful of a strong turnout this year. There is a possibility the
timing of everything might be priming us for a similar scaled work stoppage. When democratic mecha-
nisms of government fail (read: right now, top to bottom), this is one of the only nonviolent methods to
get anyones attention: by having them miss and need you when youre gone.

Thats part of why we strike. Yet strikes arent just a demonstration. These are actual economic disrup-
tions, causing shareholders billions of dollars in debt and making their bottom line hurt. This is capital-
ism forced to suck on the barrel of its own gun.

Has Donald Trump and his bumbling band of crypto-fascists re-awoken the sleeping giant of actual,
bottom-up resistance?

I guess well see today.


This May Day, also known as International Workers Day, DSA-Los Angeles asks its mem-
bers and the greater Los Angeles community to join us in the streets of our city to demand
justice in our communities for all people, regardless of race, gender and gender identity, immi-
gration status, sexual orientation, religious and political beliefs, class, or age, and against forc-
es seeking to further disrupt our communities by continuing the entrenchment of wealth in the
hands of too few. We ask you to join us this Monday, May 1, even if you are scheduled to work.

Withholding your labor from the workplace or in the home is called a strike, and engag-
ing in such a collective action should not be done lightly. However, after months of week-
end and evening actions, we feel it is important for workers to disrupt the status quo in such a
way that demonstrates our solidarity and the need for our demands to be taken seriously.

The history of strike actions in the U.S. and elsewhere is one of violence and sacrifice because a
strike most potently demonstrates the power of working people in our economy, and it is there-
fore the action feared most by the economic elite in our society, who assume that they are in
control. When working peoplefrom those in kitchens, factories, and classrooms, to those driv-
ing semis, Lyfts, and the soccer team carpoolwithhold their labor, those at the top no longer
profit from it. In addition, elites fear the strike because they fear working people will recog-
nize their widespread solidarity, and they know that when we embrace that camaraderie, rath-
er than embracing the fear sowed by racism and misogyny, we will use our collective pow-
er to create communities which benefit all of us at the expense their ability to hoard wealth.

Because of this fear by the wealthiest, the choice of working people to withhold their labor has been
met with extreme hostility, from gunfire in Ludlow in 1914 and in San Francisco in 1934 to billy clubs
in Memphis in 1968. While we expect no such violence from this one-day action, asking for people
to withhold their labor on this day without recognizing the work and suffering of our predecessors
would be problematic. We must acknowledge that one day of action will not produce an immediate
restructuring of social inequalities; only years of struggle, sacrifice, and solidarity can create that.
However, we must use May Day 2017 to make a statement, both economically and symbolically, which
demonstrates the power of working people engag-
ing in collective action and organizing for a sustainable future.

How to Participate:
If you already have the day off from work or are unemployed, we hope you will join us.
If you work from home and have a flexible schedule, we hope you will clear it to join us.
If you have the ability to request off work to join us
through personal or vacation days, we hope you will do so.
If you are a stay at home parent, we know that managing children in a crowded, pub-
lic space can be a challenge, but we hope you will join us and bring your children with you.
For those without such straight-forward options, here are some other avenues to consider,
though these all have consequences of varying degrees.

Call out sick : All workers in California have the ability to accrue and take paid time off work
if they are ill. Your employer cannot request documentation of your illness for your first three
call-offs each year. If the state of our exploitative economy and the divisive nature of current
political rhetoric has made you sick, and you have available sick leave, call off and join us.
-Consequences: You will no longer have this sick leave available in case of other illnesses. (If you
are in another state, the rules for documentation of illness may vary. Avoid posting updates from
your local event on social media that could be tracked by your employer, which could lead to dis-
cipline or termination for dishonesty.)

Call off from work (unpaid) : If your employer allows you to make use of unpaid time off or
callouts without affecting your ability to return to work, we ask you to call out and join us. We
encourage you to clarify with your employer that you will only be out for one day. Consider
putting this in writing, such as in an email.
-Consequence: You will lose pay for the day which you may not be able to recover.

Coordinate a Group Call-off from work with your coworkers: Discuss the May Day actions with
your coworkers and ask them to join you. If a group of workers at the same facility decides
to participate in this action, write a short letter to your employer explaining that you will be
taking the day off work to participate in these actions, and sign it jointly. Make sure this letter
includes a clear date of when you will return to work without conditions. If enough workers are
participating in the event, employers may be willing to close the workplace altogether. In 2006,
some bosses realized they were better off accommodating the workers who were planning to
march by closing their workplaces and rescheduling the work for later in the week.
Group action in a non-union shop in most of the public and private sector: If workers in
your place of employment are not protected by a union contract, you have the legal right
to participate in group actions to improve your working conditions, including striking.
In drafting your group letter to your employer about your participation in the May Day
actions, include a request of your employer to meet related demands, such as asking
your boss to come out against deportations of undocumented immigrants or in favor
of pay equity for men and women. Note that there are some specific types of jobs that
have restrictions on the right to strike, including for workers in the fields of public safety
(firefighters, police) and healthcare.
-Consequences: It is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for participating in ac-
tions to improve your workplace, but thats why its important to include in your letter to your em-
ployer a demand for your employer to meet. You will lose pay for the day which you may not be
able to recover. (In states other than California, not all public employees have the right to strike.)
Group action in a union shop: Most, but not all, union contracts include a no strike
clause during the term of the contract agreement. This means that your local union will
not call for your participation in a strike because they could face legal repercussions for
doing so.
-Consequences: Union members under a no strike clause in a contract face possible repercus-
sions for participating in a strike against their employer, including potentially losing their jobs. You
will lose pay for the day which you may not be able to recover.

* This document includes some collective best practices which we hope will empower more people to participate in our
actions on May Day. However, nothing in this document constitutes legal advice or should be construed as legal advice.
youre co-chair of the politics committe. when
did you become politically active, and how did
you end up in DSA?
I guess Ive identified as a socialist since about 2010, and Id been something of a left liberal
previously. I was initially politicized largely by foreign policy issues, particularly the Iraq War, which was
launched during my freshman year of college back in 2003. Over time, I became more interested in the
role that capitalism played in shaping and limiting peoples lives, and I began to read more about issues
of political economy. My exposure to Marxism also had a huge impact on my thinking, and gave me the
framework I needed in order to make sense of the insane things that seemed to be happening across
the globe. Basically, my anti-imperialist politics eventually led me to an anti-capitalist politics. I also
spent many years in graduate school studying history, which enabled me to spend a great deal of time
exploring socialist ideas and the historical role of radical social movements, especially the labor
movement, in improving peoples lives through struggle. These intellectual pursuits were crucial to
opening my eyes to the possibility of an alternative to the neoliberal status quo. I decided that I should
join a socialist organization three years ago, and after learning that DSA was the largest socialist group in
the United States I reached out to DSA-LAs chair Carol Newton. Carols commitment and wisdom is
what kept me in DSA-LA during the challenging times when we only had around ten active members.

what do you see as DSAs most immediate


challenges?
Right now, it is crucial that we find ways to involve and excite new members. Our primary
concern should be maintaining peoples enthusiasm while we work out the various logistical issues that
will allow us to eventually operate in a more streamlined and organized manner. As for logistics, finding
adequate meeting spaces and organizing local dues drives will be crucial for providing DSA-LA with the
capacity we need to keep new members involved and to organize successful actions in the future. I also
believe that socialist education is crucial at the moment because many of the people who have recently
joined the LA chapter do not have a lot of background in socialist theory and history. Developing a
stronger grasp of socialist concepts will give these recent joiners the confidence and political
understandings that can make them more effective organizers going forward. Its critical that we
emphasize both theory and practice. We must inspire new members to get their hands dirty, while also
emphasizing the fact that we are all potential intellectuals.
describe the development of the politics com-
mittee. what function does it serve?
The Politics Committee was formed late last summer after Carol asked if Id be interested in
forming a committee to tackle local political issues. At that time, we agreed that the purpose of the
committee would be developing for DSA-LA an integrated approach to local electoral and social
movement work that will lead to more strategic organizing programs to support DSA-LAs candidate
list. The committee did not have any official meetings until after the influx of new members following
the November 2016 elections, but I was the contact person if LA DSAers had ideas about local political
projects DSA might be interested in. Last fall, myself and few other DSA-LA members, along with several
individuals from other likeminded lefty groups worked together to create a Left Voter Guide for all the
down-ballot legislative races in LA County, and for the 2016 California ballot measures.

Since January of this year, the Politics Committee has met four times (as of April 12, 2017). We
now have three separate working groups within the committee, which are the May Day/Direct Action
Working Group, the Political Education Working Group, and the Electoral Politics Working Group. Some
of the major actions these past few months that we helped lead in collaboration with a few other DSA-
LA committees have been the No on Measure S campaign, canvassing to elect pro-union candidates to
the LA Unified School Board and prevent the further privatization of public education in Los Angeles, and
we have also been very involved in the planning for DSA-LAs upcoming May Day actions. The
committee structure in DSA-LA will certainly be evolving, but I think that the Politics Committee provides
an excellent space for DSAers to become more educated about socialism and the Los Angeles political
landscape, and for developing a sufficiently flexible approach to political engagement that makes use of
both direct action and electoral initiatives in order to push politics to the left here in Los Angeles.

you also teach history. what does May Day


mean to you?
For me, May Day means that the vast majority of us who must work in this exploitative capitalist
system should not feel forever powerless. Workers should never forget that the moment we all cease
working the whole system comes to a screeching halt. Its an incredible thing to think about, and it
should give us all some sense of our potential power. However, we must also recognize that as
individuals we will always lack power and continue to be easily replaceable, which is why solidarity is
such a critical concept for socialists. As the old saying goes, An injury to one is an injury to all!

Whats inspiring to me when I think about May Day is the fact that historically workers have on
many occasions joined together in incredible collective struggles under some extremely difficult and life
threatening circumstances. While they have often suffered horrific setbacks, their sacrifices have
resulted in real gains that have given many of us much more dignity and freedom than we otherwise
would have had. Even though the past few decades have seen some serious reversals when it comes to
workers rights, things like the right to join a union, safety regulations at the workplace, and restrictions
on the length of the working day were not simply granted to us by the bosses or the politicians. These
victories, which too many of us take for granted, had to be fought for, and many workers, particularly in
the United States, died during these struggles.

One thing that many Americans dont know is that the US has one of the most violent labor
histories in the industrialized world. For example, the Haymarket affair, which International Workers
Day commemorates is only one of hundreds of events where workers in the United States were violently
suppressed by the forces of the state and/or vigilante groups. I think that understanding this history and
remembering the numerous instances of working-class courage is essential if we are going to carry on
this great tradition. Additionally, I would also stress, especially in light of the recent US aggression
against Syria, that May Day represents the ideal of working-class internationalism, and for us Americans
living in the heartland of imperialism we should be emphasizing our solidarity with workers in other
n a t i o n s .

the working class of 1886 is much different than


the working class of today. why do you think this
is and what does it say about our future?
This is a big question. I would say that there was a real disappearance of working-class identity
at least among many American workers after World War II for complicated reasons. Suburbanization
and the postwar consumer culture certainly contributed to that, but the purging of leftists from US labor
unions was also a critical factor in the loss of class consciousness and militancy among many American
union members. After WWII, there was something of a class compromise between the ruling class and
the union leadership. It was never kumbaya, but many workers ended up receiving higher wages and
improved benefits, while the unions agreed not question the authority of the employers to manage the
workplace. Some union leaders began to think of their relationship with management as something of a
partnership, and they were unprepared when the employers went back on the offensive beginning in
the 1970s in response to declining profits. During the 1970s, more and more employers began laying
workers off, slashing the pay and benefits of those still employed, and in some cases shutting down
factories and relocating their operations to less union friendly locales. While American unions had many
limitations from a socialist perspective, the steep decline in the percentage of unionized Americans since
the 1970s has meant that many workers have had no opportunity to learn what is like to act collectively
with their fellow workers, and have bought in to the individualistic ethos that saturates our nations
airwaves and media sphere.
On a positive note, Ive come across polling which suggests that more millennials self-identify as
working class than gen xers and baby boomers. While the American Dream was always a lie, it is
becoming less and less realizable for most Americans with each passing year. It is definitely encouraging
to see that many millennials have gotten past the national fixation with the middle class, and to see
that many young people may be developing an inkling of class consciousness. Unfortunately, the
leadership of the American labor movement seems to be incapable at the moment of coming up with an
effective strategy for organizing these young precarious workers, and instead seem to be trapped in the
same old game of spending large sums of money on politicians who ultimately sell them out. I think that
the future of the working class is going to be grim if the leadership of the AFL-CIO does not eventually
reverse course. It is important that rank and file union members take on their leadership if they prove
unwilling to support more militant actions, and that as socialists we should be doing everything we can
to assist with organizing efforts in strategic job sectors in order to help build future working class power.
It is essential that we amp up our support for those workers who are willing to be militant, and that we
strongly emphasize that the strike is still the most powerful weapon that workers have.
what are some struggles youre most excited
about in California and what vision of the future
would you like to leave us with?
Im very excited about what has been taking place in the sanctuary cities movement, and the
way that DSA-LA has helped to put local politicians under the microscope in those cases where they
have failed to take strong measures to protect immigrants. I am hopeful that the sanctuary movement
will eventually lead to a stronger alliance between radicals within the California labor movement and
activists from the immigrants rights movement. I also believe that there is a lot of potential for
successful labor organizing in the state, and that a strong statewide labor-immigrant alliance could
potentially be quite politically powerful.

As far the future goes, I would like us to live in a world where everyone is guaranteed quality
housing, healthcare, education, and a basic income. Ideally, I would also hope that we would no longer
have to waste so much of our time working meaningless and alienating jobs. In the future, we should be
using the technology we have to serve human needs rather than as means to control the working class
and maximize corporate profits.
MAY DAY 2017:
THE WORKING CLASS HAS NO NATION
May Day is a day of international working class solidarity. The tradition has its origins
in the movement for the 8-hour workday. The early socialist movement, in particular the
International Workingmens Association (1864-1876), placed great importance upon the legal
limitation of the workday. While this fight took place in a number of different countries, it is
largely due to the class struggle in the United States that May 1 is commemorated as Interna-
tional Workers Day.
While the Chicago Haymarket tragedy of 1886 discussed below is an especially import-
ant episode in this struggle, the demand for the 8-hour workday in the United States actually
arose decades earlier, in the 1860s. In Capital, Karl Marx discussed the new labor movement
arising after the end of the Civil War: In the United States of America, every independent
workers movement was paralyzed as long as slavery disfigured a part of the republic. Labor
in a white skin cannot emancipate itself where it is branded in a black skin. However, a new
life immediately arose from the death of slavery. The first fruit of the American Civil War was
the eight hours agitation, which ran from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from New England to
California, with the seven-league boots of the locomotive. The socialist emphasis on the im-
portance of uniting workers across racial or other divisions has been re-affirmed throughout
the history of May Day.
The demand for the 8-hour workday arose even more forcefully in the 1880s. The ag-
itation was branded foreign, un-American, and anarchistic by the respectable classes
due to the efforts of radical immigrant workers who threatened their rule over an increasingly
polarized society. May 1st 1886 was a day of strikes throughout the US demanding the 8-hour
day. On May 3, striking workers locked out of a factory in Chicago confronted strikebreakers as
they got off of work. Police arrived, firing into the crowd and killing four of the workers. Anar-
chists called a protest meeting for the evening of May 4th in Haymarket Square, which drew
a large crowd. Police were ordered to march on the peaceful meeting just as it was about to
end. After the police arrived and demanded that everyone disperse, a bomb was thrown by an
unknown person. The police opened fire on the crowd. Eight anarchists were brought to trial for
the bombing, not because of any evidence linking them to the bomb, but because they were
anarchists who fought for the overthrow of class society. After a farce of a trial, four of the
anarchists were hanged, one took his own life in prison (Louis Lingg), and three served long
prison sentences. Within the socialist movement, these workers have long been celebrated as
martyrs.
After Haymarket, foreign radicals were increasingly demonized. For example, in 1888, a
resolution in the House of Representatives called for the removal of dangerous aliens from the
United States. While those in power were seeking to divide workers on the basis of their na-
tional origin, distinguishing between dangerous aliens and real Americans (a theme we see
repeated today), socialists were building an international movement founded on class solidarity
and cooperation. In 1889, at the first meeting of what would become the Second International
(1889-1916), a resolution was adopted announcing May 1 as an international day of demonstra-
tion in favor of the 8 hour workday. May Day would go on to become a regular tradition of the
international workers movement, both in remembrance of those who died during the struggle
and in celebration of the new socialist world to come. In an attempt to erase the memory of the
workers movement, President Cleveland promoted an alternative Labor Day held in Septem-
ber as a patriotic holiday celebrating work. Anti-communists also tried to rename May Day as
Loyalty Day and later as Law Day.
In spite of these attempts to erase history, May Day was revived in the 21st century by
immigrant workers and their supporters with the massive 2006 demonstrations against H.R.
4437. In 2017, we must stand up to the xenophobic policies and deportations of the Trump
administration. We also remember the struggles of immigrant workers who fought for the eight
hour day and faced the repressive force of the state. One of the Haymarket martyrs, George
Engel, said: For what reasons am I accused of murder? The same that caused me to leave
Germanythe poverty, the misery of the working classes. Capitalism creates the same im-
poverishment and misery everywhere, and cannot possibly do otherwise. In the service of the
employing class, the capitalist state suppresses resistance to this state of affairs.
The divisions among workers hamper our ability to win meaningful reforms and to work
together to build a new society. It is already the case that in capitalist society, workers must
compete against each other just to survive. Only by joining together can workers hope to ex-
ercise any real power. In order to overturn the global system of capitalism, workers must make
common cause across national boundaries. Our socialist vision is one of an international end to
wage-labor through democratically planned production directed towards human needs. When
production is no longer governed by the profit motive, we will be much more capable of short-
ening the working day and directing our labor towards rational ends. Until then, we fight an
uphill battle.
-DAVID D.
A STATEMENT FROM THE SANCTUARY CITY WORKING GROUP
As democratic socialists, we stand in solidarity with undocumented immigrants in a struggle against
capitalist exploitation. Borders are inherently violent, and cannot exist without state brutality. They limit
the mobility of workers, preventing them from seeking better work and a better life while permitting
investors to seek opportunities without restraint; it is an injustice that borders are open to capital and
closed to people. Furthermore, many migrants come to the United States because capitalism and Amer-
ican imperialism have imposed poverty and violence on their countries of origin.

We oppose white supremacist attempts to divide the working class and blame people of colorpar-
ticularly Latinx and Muslim immigrantsfor poverty and crime that are in fact caused by the unjust
distribution of wealth and poverty. Employers make undocumented immigrants into a super-exploited
class, hiring them precisely because they have even less access to legal protection and union represen-
tation than other workers.

In order to ght this exploitation, we demand that local, state, and federal governments treat undocu-
mented immigrants no di erently than other Californians. We oppose the criminalization of immigrants,
and the con ation of policing and immigration enforcement. More speci cally, we oppose local and state
police sharing information on Californians with Immigration and Customs Enforcement under any cir-
cumstances. And we believe that everyone subjected to deportation proceedings deservesas a bare
minimum of civil treatmentdue process and legal representation. is will not be su cient to establish a
just legal system in California, a state where police abuse and murder people of color of all immigration
and citizenship statuses, but it will be a step towards justice.

Since Donald Trumps election, Californians have demanded that their politicians react to his threats of
increased deportation. Liberal politicians have proposed exemplary local and state legislation to protect
immigrantsthen they have revised it to protect fewer people, while continuing to claim to be progres-
sive defenders of immigrants.

These bills include State Bill 6, under which the state would pay for legal representation for those fight-
ing deportation in court, and the similar Los Angeles Justice Fund. When liberal state senators includ-
ing Kevin de Len, who represents much of Los Angeles, orginally introduced SB-6 in December, they
rightly named it the Due Process for All Act. Since then, they have barred those who have previously
been convicted of certain crimes in the fallible and racist California justice system from receiving legal
representation. Recognizing that their bill no longer enacts the constitutional ideal of Due Process for
All, theyve renamed it the Expanding Due Process Act. Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles
County Board of Supervisors have followed the state in betraying due process, revising their LA Justice
Fund bills to exclude those convicted of an even wider range of crimes.

Senator de Len and his colleagues also drafted State Bill 54, the California Values Act, as a bold
piece of legislationand then undermined it. They originally intended SB-54 to separate policing from
immigration enforcement by preventing state and local police from informing ICE when they release an
undocumented immigrant from jail or prison, e ectively turning California into a sanctuary state. Since,
though, de Len has capitulated to pressure from sheri s and other conservative forces. e current
version of the bill, which was approved by the State Senate on April 3 and is now being considered by
the State Assembly, will still protect some imprisoned immigrants from having information about them
shared with ICE, but not those convicted of a long list of crimes that the state deems violent or seri-
ous, no matter how long ago or how much time theyve served. Under the revised bill, the state must
notify ICE of when theyre releasing those Californians from jail or prison so that ICE can rearrest them.

While liberal politicians claim to oppose Republicans efforts to divide immigrants into those deserv-
ing and undeserving of staying in the United States, they are doing exactly that. We demand they
stop, and stand in solidarity with the undocumented immigrants whose civil rights they claim to de-
fend. Sanctuary for all!
MAY DAY
KIRK WAYNE

capitalism

In the 19th century, capitalism was still forming. Royalty had lost ground to a new class of landed gentry.
Merchants and aristocrats grew powerful, the invention of private property dispossessed the peasant-
ry of their means of survival. Owners of private property became the bourgeoisie and everyone else
became the proletariat, or working class, leaving homesteads for cities, trading one set of oppressive
arrangements for another. The barriers of private property, and land, and land rent were needed to en-
sure an adequate supply of exploitable wage labor for capital. Thus was the political economy of the old
world forced to reveal in its approach to the new world the secret it had long sought to conceal: that
capital is produced by denying labor access to the basic means of production,
land in particular.. That it is easier for capital to realize its objectives by imprisoning workers within in
the house of terror called the factories is also an important feature of this situation.

The labouring people should never think themselves independent of their superiors. It is extremely dan-
gerous to encourage mobs in a commercial state like ours, where, perhaps, seven parts out of eight of
the whole, are people with little or no property. The cure will not be perfect, till our manufacturing poor
are contented to labour six days for the same sum which they now earn in four days.
An Essay on Trade and Commerce (1770)

Necessary labor is the labor time thats required for the worker to subsist, to earn enough in wages
for food, clothing and shelter. Surplus labor is the amount of time the worker spends working for free
because the capitalist retains the value of that labor in the form of profit. Workers are a necessary evil
for capitalism.. Profit is the thing. By maximizing surplus labor, paying workers as little as possible for
as much work as possible, capitalists accumulate greater profit. It is this relationship the term exploita-
tion describes, and which has characterized the lives of all whove lived under capitalism. Hierarchies of
oppression are inevitable in systems of exploitation.

In the final analysis, this system of class rule is maintained by violence, however most of us acquiesce
to class domination without being held at gunpoint and even without the immediate threat of material
deprivation.

Control in modern times requires more than force, more than law. It requires that a population danger-
ously concentrated in cities and factories, whose lives are filled with cause for rebellion, be taught that
all is right as it is. And so, the schools, the churches, the popular literature taught that to be rich was a
sign of superiority, to be poor a sign of personal failure, and that the only way upward for a poor person
was to climb into the ranks of the rich by extraordinary effort and extraordinary luck.
Howard Zinn, A Peoples History of the United States

In owning the means of production capitalists are also able to control dominant social ideas. For in-
stance, working as much as 20 hours a week, imprisoned in houses of terror, or factories, and newly
relocated to poverty beset, under-developed slums, life expectancy rates plummeted, and the bourgeoi-
sie, which had previously shown little interest in how the working class lived (or died), was forced to
step in and impose their own morality upon the proletariat. At first the working class exhibited a fantas-
tic sexual fluidity, everyone was experimenting, it was like going off to college. Whats more, a system in
which individuals are able to survive independent of family units, creates the conditions for gay identity
to emerge. For the first time, people could organize their lives around sexual object choice.

Meanwhile, centuries of monarchy, and inventions like the will and marriage contract (facilitating ac-
cumulation of capital across generations) create a bourgeois morality which prohibits pre-marital
non-procreative sex. Though the working class has no wealth to perpetuate, the incentives for imposing
this morality on the proletariat are twofold. First, heteronormativity guarantees fresh stocks of labor at a
time of plummeting life expectancy. Second, sexual deviance is identified as a root cause of insolence
and defiance toward authority. In alienating the working class from their sexuality, a more docile and compli-
ant working class emerges. This dulling effect makes it possible for us to perform the repetitive, alienat-
ing labor which is our lot. Sexual repressions chief social function is to secure the existing class structure.

And so, for the first time, the family structure of the ruling class became the norm for other classes. This societal
repression helps explain disasters like our World Wars, the rise of consumerism, individualism and a suppression
of class consciousness leading us to become who are today. Where Marx notes It is not the consciousness of
men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness, Willhelm
Reich continues: Every social order creates those character forms which it needs for its preservation. In class
society, the ruling class secures its position with the aid of education and the institution of the family, by mak-
ing its ideology the ruling ideology of all members of the society it is not merely a matter of imposing ideolo-
gies, attitudes and concepts Rather it is a matter of a deep-reaching process in each new generation, of the
formation of a psychic structure which corresponds to the existing social order in all strata of the population.

These cultural processes dont occur without resistance or overnight but are the result of genera-
tions of social engineering. It takes centuries ere the free labourer, thanks to the development of cap-
italistic production, agrees, i.e., is compelled by social conditions, to sell the whole of his active life, his
very capacity for work, for the price of the necessaries of life, his birth-right for a mess of pottage.

These are just a few of the basic insights offered by Marxism, or dialectic materialism. Marx believed the
fundamental material reality of human life is the requirement that humans produce the means to meet their
needs in order to survive and continue living. Therefore, according to the materialist conception of his-
tory, the ultimately determining element in history is the production and reproduction of real life. Capital-
ists withhold the material necessities of survival, or provide the barest necessary minimum, in order to exer-
cise control over the lives of the working class and coerce us to accept and compete for alienating wage labor.

Under capitalism, class relations are lived by collective actors the two key oppositional collective ac-
tors being the bourgeois owners and the workers. Divisions and oppression also exist within the work-
ing class, and ruling bloc coalitions are subject to change; the interaction between parts is contradicto-
ry and complex, but the accumulation of profit on which capitalism depends is fundamentally based on
human exploitation. This kernel of human relationships has a determining force, making the key ac-
tors relationship one of irreconcilable antagonism and opposition, an engine of progress and upheaval.

Every right was a struggle, and on May Day we celebrate and advance our victories.

****************************
1877

Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded. But out of the
death of slavery a new life at once arose. The first fruit of the Civil War was the eight hours agita-
tion, that ran with the seven-leagued boots of the locomotive from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from
New England to California. The General Congress of labour at Baltimore (August 16th, 1866) declared:

The first and great necessity of the present, to free the labour of this country from capitalistic slavery, is
the passing of a law by which eight hours shall be the normal working-day in all States of the American
Union. We are resolved to put forth all our strength until this glorious result is attained. - Marx Capital (1867)

During the late nineteenth century, the U.S. suffered a crippling depression, and in its depths we experi-
enced what is known as the Great Upheaval. Between 1873 and 1879, 18,000 businesses, 89 of them rail-
roads, went bankrupt. Sewage ran through summer streets. Families drank infested water in rotten cellars and
as sickness spread, infant mortality skyrocketed. Prices rose dramatically. Amazing technological advance-
ments in manufacturing, agriculture and energy, changed lives and industry, allowing production to accelerate
rapidly, but at the cost of increased joblessness. Up to 3 million people, or 27% of workers were unemployed,
many of the rest only seasonally. Wages had been cut to less than a dollar a day, and these cuts continued.

The U.S. government behaved much the same as it always has and, almost exactly as Karl Marx described a
capitalist state: pretending neutrality to maintain order, but serving the interests of the rich. Democrats and
Republicans arranged that whoever won, national policy would remain unchanged in any meaningful way,
demonstrated with the election of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1877. Spontaneous strikes, civil disobedience and
destruction of property were met with violence by the state. Crowds of thousands fought police across the
country. In St. Louis, The Workingmens Party (connected with Marx and The Internationale) held a meeting.

A black man spoke for those who worked on the steamboats and levees. He asked: Will you stand to
us regardless of color? The crowd shouted back: We will! An executive committee was set up, and it
called for a general strike of all branches of industry in St. Louis.
- Howard Zinn, A Peoples History of the United States

A march, lead by four hundred black steamboat workers, and united across immigrant lines, carried a banner: No Mo-
nopoly - Workingmens Rights and ended with a rally of ten thousand people listening to Communist speakers: The
people are rising up in their might and declaring they will no longer submit to being oppressed by unproductive capital..

Railroad construction had rapidly expanded following the Civil War, with the most significant development be-
tween 1865 and 1875, when 30,000 miles of new track doubled the countries mileage. Millions were invested. In
the post Civil War boom times, tens of thousands of workers, primarily immigrants, died constructing intricate
and unnecessary railway systems, many more were injured in horrifying conditions (both natural and man made),
including attacks by Native American tribes, opposed to the invasion of their land. When Depression inevitably hit,
due to a bubble created by the financial industry, many lost their jobs and demanded nationalization of the railroad.

When the great railroad strikes of 1877 were over, a hundred people were dead, a thousand people had
gone to jail, 100,000 workers had gone on strike, and the strikes had roused into action countless unem-
ployed in the cities. More than half the freight on the nations 75,000 miles of track had stopped running
at the height of the strikes.

In 1877, the very active Workingmens Party in Chicago (several thousand members, including leaders like August Spies,
Lucy Parsons, and Philip Van Patten) also held a rally in support of nationalization. Albert Parsons gave a fiery speech
resulting in his termination at the Chicago Times, which declares him blacklisted. 6,000 people attended. Three were
killed when police attacked the crowds. An armed crowd of 5,000 fought the police the next day, 18 were killed.

****************************
1886

As with all strike waves, this one developed according to a pattern of its own, but there were similarities: the De-
pression, unemployment, oppressive and unsafe working conditions, and spontaneous railroad strikes which had
begun to take on an offensive, not simply defensive character. 1877 was still fresh in the minds of workers and
organizers by the time of May 1st, 1886, and they used what theyd learned to plan and organize on a much greater
scale. After so long isolated, divided and abused, the oppressed had found their weapon. Theyd finally struck fear.

The Wizard of Wall Street, Jay Gould was one of the most detested robber barons of his time, responsible for
dramatically increasing the exploitation and misery of railway workers, famously saying, I can hire one half
of the working class to kill the other half. In 1884, after the election of Grover Cleveland, a Democrat whod
run an anti-corporate/anti-monopoly campaign against a candidate considered to represent the wealthy,
Gould wired him: I feel.. that the vast business interests of the country will be entirely safe in your hands.

In 1887 Cleveland vetoed a relief bill (buying seed grain for farmers in Texas suffering a drought) say-
ing Federal aid in such cases .. . encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the gov-
ernment and weakens the sturdiness of our national character. That same year, he used a huge
treasury surplus to pay wealthy bondholders 45 million dollars over the value of their bonds, and signed the In-
terstate Commerce Act, creating the first independent regulatory agency in the U.S.. Presented as response to
mounting popular pressure for nationalization of the railroads, The ICC in reality acted against public interest.

The previous Spring, strikers had exacted wage raises from Jay Gould, and an agreement that no man should be
discharged without due notice and investigation. This agreement was violated in Marshall, Texas when Charles
A. Hall was fired after attending a union meeting. Over 200,000 workers went on strike, revealing and producing
a remarkable inter-racial solidarity, bringing the entire Southwest System to a halt. By the first week of March, all
10,000 miles of Goulds Southwest System had been shut down (12% of the entire U.S. railway system). The head-
line in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch read, Traffic Throttled: The Gould System at the Mercy of the Knights of Labor.

For the first time, after relentless wage cuts, brutal and deteriorating conditions, intensified suppression and domina-
tion, labor dealt on equal footing with the most powerful capitalist in the country. The pattern was, strike first and then
join the Knights of Labor. Membership exploded from 110,000 dues-paying members in 1885 to 729,000 by the next
July. This included tens of thousands of black members, many from the sugar fields Knights had begun organizing in. In-
ter-racial solidarity spread, as the Orders motto, an injury to one is the concern of all, captured the popular imagination.

The movement bore in every way the aspect of a social war. A frenzied hatred of labour for capital was
shown in every important strike Extreme bitterness toward capital manifested itself in all the actions of
the Knights of Labor, and wherever the leaders undertook to hold it within bounds they were generally
discarded by their followers, and others who would lead as directed were placed in charge.
- John Commons, History of the Labor Movement in the United States

For decades, labor had organized and fought for the eight hour day, but as long as victories were isolated to
individual companies it put them at a competitive disadvantage and the rules were rarely enforced. In 1884,
The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions called a strike, based upon the view that the work-
men in their endeavor to reform the prevailing economic conditions must rely upon themselves and their
own power exclusively. They resolved that from May 1, 1886, eight hours shall constitute a legal days work.

There were 645 8-hour strikes in 1885. The next year 200,000 U. S. workmen engi-
neered a nationwide strike for an eight-hour day, and that number increased to 1,400.

Even before May 1st, almost a quarter of a million workers throughout the country were involved in the
eight-hour movement.. At least 6,000 were on strike during the last week of April. It was estimated in
April that not less than 100,000 were prepared to resort to the strike to secure their demand.

Yet the movement in fact proved even bigger than anticipated. By the second week in May, some
340,000 workers had participated, 190,000 of them by striking. Nearly 200,000 won shorter hours.
- Jeremy Brecher, Mayday the 8-hour movement and the Knights of Labor

Chicago, where two years earlier socialists had produced the worlds first daily anarchist newspaper, as well as
several others in multiple languages with a circulation of over 26,000, remained the heart of the movement,
and May 1, 1886, 400,000 workers marched for the 8 hour day, lead again by August Spies, The Parsons and the
Chicago Workingmens Party. These national activities terrified capital (which had been organizing itself as well)
and act as context for the Haymarket Affair several days later. In both tragedy and farce, eight leading Chica-
go socialists were tried and executed, becoming the Haymarket Martyrs, symbol of International Workers Day.

****************************
WWI

On the 25th anniversary of May Day, one year before the outbreak of World War I, Rosa Luxemburg writes of the
Long Depression and the promise of socialist advance, repeatedly postponed. The transformation of populist par-
ties, to parties of the center to parties of the right had lead to a sharpening of contradictions and conflicts. In-
stead of social reformssedition bills, imprisonment bills and jailings.. Instead of the new upward development of
democracy in the State a miserable collapse of the last remnants of bourgeois liberalism and bourgeois democracy.
Everywhere the revolutionary working class today sees itself alone confronted by the compact, hostile
reaction of the ruling classes and by their energetic attacks, which are aimed at them alone. The sign
under which this whole development on the economic and political field has been carried out, the formu-
la according to which its results may be traced back is: IMPERIALISM.

The brilliant main idea of the May Day celebration is the independent action of the proletarian masses, is
the political mass action of the millions of workers, who otherwise can give expression to their own will
only through petty parliamentary action, separated by State boundaries and consisting for the most part
only in voting for representatives.

At this moment of frenzied military preparations and of war orgies it is only the resolute fighting stand
of the working masses, their ability and readiness for powerful mass action, which still maintains world
peace, which can still postpone the threatening world conflagration. And the more the May Day idea, the
idea of resolute mass action as demonstrations of international solidarity and as a fighting tactic for
peace and for Socialism, strikes root, the greater guaranty we shall have that from the world war, which
will inevitably take place sooner or later, there will result an ultimately victorious settlement between the
world of labor and that of capital.

- Rosa Luxemburg, Down With Reformist IllusionsHail the Revolutionary Class Struggle! (1913)

Many socialists opposed the war, among them Eugene Debs who was jailed under the Espionage Act,
meant to protect against spies during WWI, more recently employed against Chelsea Manning and Ed-
ward Snowden. Attorney General Palmer used militant socialist-anarchist activity as a pretense for claim-
ing vast emergency powers, curtailing civil rights and militarizing the police. Woodrow Wilson established
the Committee on Public Information to circulate pro-war propaganda, and the newly formed Bureau of In-
vestigation disrupts the work of organizers through raids, infiltration, physical harassment, fabricated con-
spiracies, illegal deportation, prosecution, unwarranted arrests, seizures and detentions, presenting what they
knew to be isolated bombings as evidence of a nationwide attempt by radicals to overthrow the government.

On May Day 1919, large peaceful demonstrations across the country are met with police violence. In Bos-
ton, officers fight for possession of Socialists red flags, one is stabbed and killed. Mobs demolished the Bos-
ton socialist headquarters; vigilantes go on rampage. 116 arrests, all socialists. Signs in New York read
Free comrade Tom Mooney and Free comrade Eugene Debs where uniformed soldiers burned print-
ed materials at the Russian Peoples House, forcing immigrants there to sing the Star-Spangled Banner.

In Cleveland, socialist Charles Ruthenberg organized the May Day parade to protest the jailing of Debs and to promote
his candidacy for mayor. Marchers refused to lower their flags for a nationalist organization which had sold war bonds,
and during the mob attack that followed, twenty socialists were injured. More than 20,000 workers continued the
parade to the public square where they were augmented by thousands more. Mobs ransacked Ruthenbergs party
headquarters. Two were killed, over 50 wounded; 106 arrested, again all socialists. Newspapers would laters report that
only 8 of the arrested socialists were born in America and argued against workers right to demonstrate, writing Free
speech has been carried to the point where it is an unrestrained menace. Red flags were legally banned by the city,
while in, Toledo immigrants were banned from picketing. Anyone on a picket line who even looked Polish was arrested.

1919 also saw some of the worse racial violence since the Civil War and is remembered as the year
black americans began responding to white violence with violence. The New York Times, quoting an un-
named government official, claims this violence is the result of an agitation, which involves the
I.W.W., Bolshevism and the worst features of other extreme radical movements, characterizing the ef-
forts as vicious and apparently well financed, under the headline: Reds Try to Stir Negroes to Revolt.

Two years after the Russian Revolution, with strikes and riots sweeping the country, Russian hysteria was at all time
high with many terrified revolution was imminent. New business owners faced closure for even attending meetings
where Russians were in attendance. Newspapers described public demonstrations as crimes against society,
conspiracies against the government, and plots to establish communism. From anti-poverty movements to black
americans fighting for civil rights, any challenge to the social ordered was inveighed as Anti-American Bolshevism.
***************************************
The Future

Subsequently, a Red Scare has occurred every thirty years, re-appearing just in time to indoctrinate the
next generation and explain away the current crises. From the post war period on, social democratic gains
have been eroded. Neoliberalism escalated this attack. While the knowledges that can address this real-
ity have been swept under the rug, we are surrounded by intensifying class war. From mass incarcera-
tion, to the assault on unions and privatization of education, weve seen our most basic liberties chipped
away at while the elite enjoy increasing corporate welfare, bonuses and growing leniency in courts.

As the gap between the rich and the poor grows, or as more wealth is removed from the economy and stored
in tax havens, as more die from increasingly dire and disparate healthcare outcomes, war and other crises, cap-
italists rely on force and distraction to avoid accountability and justify increasing austerity. As Glenn Greenwald
and others have repeatedly demonstrated, tactics used and developed in our wars and interventions abroad are
almost certain to be imported and implemented against us domestically. Weve seen this with the militariza-
tion of the police, expansion of legal authorities and ideological frameworks. Law enforcement, testing new apps
and crime fighting technology, swimming in drones provided by the increasingly powerful drone lobby, anxious
to see their products on the nations streets after spending so much time perfecting them in the Middle East.

It shouldnt be long until theyve achieved the holy grail, a solar powered drone, which can stay in the air above tar-
get at all times, eliminating those pesky blinks, when the drone must abandon its surveillance target and refuel.

Our new head of the CIA used his first public address to attack press freedoms and reinterpret the first amendment
(designed to protect people against the rise of authoritarianism within the state). Russophobia has pushed both
sides into a corner: Russia, which contributes 7% of the world GDP and is in the grips of a constitutional and economic
crisis, surrounded by failed states, ISIS, NATO and US military bases, and the U.S. which produces nearly a quarter of
global GDP and has elected a president with no expertise or formidable mental capacity. The embodiment of capital
is an imbecile. Our new cold war is quickly becoming hot, demonstrated by missile strikes on Syria and Afghanistan.

These flagrant abuses of power will be turned against the ruling blocs own people. Because we are not their
people. We belong to the International Proletariat. Now we are waking up, but demystification alone is insuf-
ficient for revolution; our work must be to establish counter-hegemony, to recapture or re-form the demo-
cratic institutions and discursive weapons which allow the recognition of our enemy, our resistance, and con-
struct alternatives. Smashing capitalism and building counter-hegemony are two parts of the same dialectic
of social transformation. A democratic movement is essential to create the necessary conditions for revolution.

We are building these parallel institutions, and in so doing we experience our own subjectivity as citizens, our autono-
my and independence as well as the power of collective action. This experience is necessary for building democratic
socialism.

Humankind, as beings of the praxis, differ from animals, which are beings of pure activity. Animals do
not consider the world; they are immersed in it. In contrast, human beings emerge from the world, objec-
tify it, and in so doing can understand it and transform it with their labor..

Lenins famous statement: Without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement
means that a revolution is achieved with neither verbalism nor activism, but rather with praxis, that is,
with reflection and action directed at the structures to be transformed.
- Marxist humanist and Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Tremendous work has been done in the field of Marxism, the study of capitalism and its potential for transfor-
mation. The histories and accounts of working class socialist and labor organizers reveal the true nature and
the weaknesses of capitalism, beast of property. Socialism and capitalism, or public ownership of the means
of production vs. private, are two ends of a spectrum representing our potential futures. How we get to one or
the other is a matter of debate, but the future in capitalism does not look bright. Automation will continue, and
would be much further along if labor werent already so cheap and docile. New industries like Facebook and
Twitter employ .5% of the population while old industries like Boeing and GM, after extorting massive tax and
labor incentives from their states for the continued gift of their presence, are rapidly downsizing, leaving com-
munities shriveled and at risk.

[Surplus labor] acts to repress wages and threaten the jobs of the employed; the figure of the jobseek-
er imposes a norm of work on everyone; and attacks on disability benefits turn even those outside the
labour force into a reserve army of potential workers. The unemployed have to fulfill an increasingly long
list of conditions in order to gain even minimal benefits: attending training, constantly applying for jobs,
listening to advice, and even working for free. The increase in surveillance and control is designed to
produce not only an obedient, skilled and flexible surplus population, but also one that exerts pressure on
the employed. It therefore makes little difference whether these schemes actually reduce unemployment
or not, since their purpose lies elsewhere.
- Nick Srnicek & Alex Williams, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work

Growing surplus populations may cause unrest, from which the elite are protected by a buffer class, specifical-
ly cultivated for this purpose (around the same time heteronormativity and bourgeois morality were imposed).
Theyre also protected by the state, easily captured, and our democratic institutions, also easily captured, as this
election eagerly demonstrated. Law and Order President Donald Trump was not elected to enforce the law. He
was elected to wield the law, to punish and dominate the poor at a time of increasing elite lawlessness.

By maintaining high rates of competition to facilitate their coercive system, capitalists exacerbate, accentuate
and compound sexual, racial and national animosities. Controlling the flow over borders, competition between
surplus populations, are essential to capitalism. In the 19th century capitalists, at least privately, encouraged
immigration in order to generate larger surplus populations (strikebreakers) at times when labor was strong.

For the surplus, migrating to countries with better job prospects is a common response to high unem-
ployment and has been the historical norm.. Yet today the option to migrate is increasingly closed off for
the developing world.

Today, we see the militarization of Americas border with Mexico and the rise of Fortress Europe in re-
sponse to mistaken fears about jobs being taken by foreigners. Yet the desperation of immigrants to find
a decent job is such that, even when faced with the threat of death, they still make the perilous trip to a
new country. The result is that the past fifteen years have seen over 22,000 migrants die trying to get
into Europe, more than 6,000 die trying to cross the MexicoUS border, and over 1,500 die trying to get
to Australia.

And inextricable from this treatment of migrants is racialized coding: these immigrants are not simply
other individuals, but other races..

Socialists believe capitalism is the enemy, targeting a system not individuals. By abolishing private prop-
erty, socialists dont seek to assume control of your personal property i.e. your home (like, say, the bank). So-
cialists seek to increase and expand your personal property many times over through the abolition of un-
productive capital, by returning private property (or, the means of production) to public ownership and
democratic control. In fact, a socialist country like Cuba (with nothing near our resources, as we have
gone out of our way to ensure), still manages to provide housing for all its citizens. Imagine that in L.A.

Marxs dialectic describes two forces acting upon each other, both subject, both object, shaped by the very system
we act upon, engineering and transforming while transformed and engineered. Humanity is a constructible hy-
pothesis developed through experimentation and struggle. This is the work we engage in as democratic socialists.
A struggle to discover both who we are and what we can become. This is why we fight for transformative reforms
which redistribute privatized wealth, from single payer and free tuition to basic income and publicly owned banks,
vast improvements in the material lives of the working class here and now, empowering further transformation.
We are socialism from below. We organize ourselves around the popular demands of the working class today,
as socialists did around the 8 hour movement, to build power. Because to smash capitalism, we must replace it.
Tell me about your early life of Chair, and one of them nominated me.
and what led you to socialism After about an hour of wrangling, I realized
and DSA. our work developing the chapter would all be for noth-
ing, and reluctantly accepted the nomination. I must say
I was born in Hollywood, CA to nice Eisenhower Repub-
I really just saw myself as a placeholder, hoping for our
licans on Jan 24th, 1940, and raised in Glendale, at a
outreach to attract someone else with stronger creden-
time of peak idealism and social democracy. I learned
tials. As a chapter we held reading groups, film series
my social values at home from parents more progres-
and did coalition work with other leftists. We established
sive than most. In a family of artists and craftsmen, talk
a good reputation especially in the climate justice com-
of civil rights at the dinner table, recollections of family
munity and co-organized an eco-socialist conference
who were abolitionists, and the House Un-American
in 2013 attended by 350 people - a surprising number
Activities Committee on TV, we learned to value people
of Leftists all in one place for the time. Massive growth
for their good works and caring for others. Too many
did not materialize, but we persevered. By 2015 we
encounters with the rightwing John Birch society on the
were so ready for meaningful engagement and Sanders
UCSB campus in the late 50s provoked my reassess-
announcement produced an opportunity to dialog with
ment in favor of an even more progressive politics. As
members as the national organization signaled support.
a family of pacifists, my brothers turn as a Navy medic
The chapter met several times trying to unite around a
further tested us and deepened my resolve to not sup-
plan, but we were divided. Those of us who were in-
port the materialism and imperialism of our capitalist
clined to work for the Sanders campaign as individuals
culture. Antiwar demonstrations did help during the
dove into phone banking and attending events. Others
Vietnam War, but were no help as he fought to recover
decided to align with the Green Party.
from obvious injuries and the deep invisible wounds of
war fought for ambiguous reasons and questionable Nevertheless, we were visible and engaged and that
goals. As a family we were deeply affected by how would pay dividends in recognition. Eventually we
changed he was. began to win over a few of our unaffiliated comrades
as the Primary season heated up. And honestly, I felt
These experiences eventually forged a socialist orga-
the tide turning even as Sanders lost, we pushed a
nizer. But it took a long time and many disappointments
spike of activity to more visibility and relevance as No-
before I finally gave up on traditional party politics
vember 8th drew near.
after a brief flirtation with the Democratic Party (my
father was horrified at first) and many years of angst So, yes Carol in 2010, wasnt expecting the acceptance
lay ahead before I finally believed socialism could be a of socialism weve seen; and in 2015, I was not expect-
viable path. I read several pieces by Noam Chomsky in ing the size of the eventual flood of members in Winter
the early 2000s, hoping for some relief for my disillu- 2016-17 - but when something feels right I want to use
sionment. I was worried for my child as he was starting my natural stubborness and keep going. The volume
to make his way in the world. Chomsky fit my politics, of growth surprised me, but I and a few other stalwart
but did not soothe my worry. I began to study socialism individuals felt it coming.
again and by 2005 I joined DSA.
What are some of the most im-
The 2016 election saw a massive portant lessons youve learned in
influx of new members, but wed your time as Chair of DSA LA, what
have nowhere to go if not for you. challenges arise in the face of
What has your work been like in such tremendous growth, and how
DSA up to this point? Would 2010 have we set about solving them?
or 2015 Carol be surprised to hear
DSA recently exceeded 20,000 Never give up, just keep working. Keep recruiting to re-
place those who grow dispirited - theyll come back
members?
as they have. Organize around the issues that all work-
In 2010 an opportunity emerged to organize with a local ing people face.
group to establish a DSA chapter in Los Angeles. When
we received our charter, an election was scheduled - Its trickier to deal with the pressures of growth than I
but none of the other organizers wanted to take the role expected, but we have so many really promising mem-
bers, new and old, who believe in the goodness of what the value of community. That stuff about the bus
we are doing. We must remind ourselves that everyone well I was there and I saw it happen, the rest was
is precious and must be encouraged as they join in, and puffery.
made to feel safe to do the work of building socialism.
We have had some stumbles, but we got back up. We International workers day is ded-
need to learn new behaviors and sensitivities that help us icated to advancing the cause of
achieve our goal - our lofty goal of dignity for everyone. world peace and dismantling co-
When you have troubles - and our size has magnified lonial, imperial power. As a dem-
interpersonal difficulties - lean on those who are able to ocratic socialist, and someone
take a particularly difficult role and keep their focus. whos seen the cost of war, how
do we best go about stopping the
When we first met with new members, we talked so of-
ten about how everyone matters. About the essential val-
current escalation of conflicts by
ue of our multi-tendency socialism, our personal choices
the U.S. across the globe?
and how we all must care for one another. We havent We are going to be challenged by the international
managed a perfect, sublime record, but we have been conflicts already underway, and we must resolve to
able to come together to work through disagreements make a peace movement for 2017. As socialists, we
and tribulations and work for a better path. To retrace know that capitalism drives the impulse to use mili-
our steps when we falter, to find our better natures, and tary solutions to accumulate advantages in the mate-
keep our values in place. We are putting new policies to rial world, to make decisions that inequitably privilege
work to meet these challenges. those with the biggest war machine or the richest
treasury. Our particular task is to advance knowledge
One thing I appreciate, in meetings of the political and economic solutions that respect
and in general, is how you stress the value of all persons as equals, socialist solu-
that we are a multi-tendency orga- tions to fair distribution of resources. DSA has a long
nization. But, what about your own record of supporting peace, and we can look forward
political tendencies? Rolling Stone to some strong leadership from the national organi-
used the word anarchist. zation on that. Some of the conflicts will challenge
our solidarity, and we must be willing to reexamine
A funny story that. The reporter from Rolling Stone and our position if it does not support the highest human
I were not able to get together until late during our big rights values.
event in January. This was a massive undertaking, weeks
of prep, many people in motion around a shared goal, What are your plans for the fu-
many wonderful moments of true solidarity. I had been ture? What are your hopes for the
rolling ideas in my head about what I could say. Then future of DSA-LA and life in post-
we sat down and I began Well you see I am basically an Trump America?
anarchist True enough of my own political development
in my 20s to late 50s. Unaffiliated, and non-militant - re- I hope we can deliver on the promise of our amazing
member that pacifism - but while I was briefly a Demo- growth and activate all of our members in endeav-
crat, I could not conscience the behavior of any of them, ors that are meaningful to them and positive for
so an anarchist. One who has lost faith in the political socialism. I am not planning to take an elected role
apparatus, community and options. in the near future; DSA has a motto Step Up and
Step Back. It applies in the short-term when we are
Just as I finished saying anarchist one of the commit- meeting; once we have spoken, we give someone else
tee leaders in charge of clean-up rushed up and sum- a turn. And it applies in service. I have had a long run,
moned me to help solve a medium-sized disaster. I never learned a ton of worthwhile lessons, and hopefully I
got back to Jennifer Swann. have left a good space for others to do the same. And
I will be there to support their efforts as they were for
If I had I would have finished my sentence: Well you
me.
see I am basically an anarchist, saved by socialism, and I
believe that socialism works, community is the stronger As for DSA-LA, you must have figured that this mat-
option. Anarchism is essentially impotent. I also believe in ters a lot to me. I want the chapter to develop political
the work and the point of view of all my comrades in DSA power in Los Angeles, to do work that makes lives
- and especially the wonderful family that is DSA-LA. better for everyone, to share the spirit of community
Anarchism was a way for me to break with the twisted with anyone who will listen and to inspire others to
politics of our party system which doesnt honor the join in service to our shared values.
The first of May demanded the introduction of the eight-hour day. But even after this goal
was reached, May Day was not given up. As long as the struggle of the workers against
the bourgeoisie and the ruling class continues, as long as all demands are not met, May
Day will be the yearly expression of these demands. And, when better days dawn, when
the working class of the world has won its deliverance then too humanity will probably
celebrate May Day in honor of the bitter struggles and the many sufferings of the past.

- Rosa Luxemburg, What Are the


Origins of May Day? (1894)

the power of collective action and solidarity are the main reasons
that i identify as a socialist and am participating in may day. ive
viewed the world through a lens of socialist theory and politics for
a long time, but without organizing, its easy to lose track of the
radical, emancipatory potential of that worldview. my day job is in
the non-profit sector, and ive had the opportunity to see individual
people pour astronomical amounts of money, time, and energy into
resolving various issues and inequities. as hopeful and inspiring as
that can be at moments, its never compared to the feeling of or-
ganizing and acting collectively under the principles of economic,
social, and political solidarity.
- Annie Orchier
I was raised in households and communities that
taught me to value the humanity of every person. As
I grew, I learned that the political and economic sys-
tems we live in do not uphold that same value. Deeply
entrenched, initially Western but now pervasive, ideas
about who deserves to have, well, anything, favor a
select class. To me, Democratic Socialism fosters the
tenets that make valuing each person possible. In a
current time when accrual of wealth trumps all else, I
see glimmers in the thoughts and ideas of my fellow
organizers that make me believe another way is possi-
ble, a future when we hold each other in higher es-
teem than commodity. Im not certain that that future
will come to complete fruition in my lifetime, but I am
committed to working for it. - Maikiko James
Socialism for me is refusing to scapegoat.

Like: I know who thickened the oceans with toxins and sent me my
most recent car-sized health insurance bill. I know who created the
sewer economy I swam into after college.

I definitely know who it wasnt. It wasnt my poor neighbor, and it


wasnt even my immigrant neighbor. It wasnt a trans kid or a black
guy or a welfare mom.

Nope. It was a capitalist, each and every time.

I wont be tricked into hating my fellow worker, or hating her


difference... Im a socialist. So instead Ill place blame upon the
wealth-hoarders and the exploiters, right smack where it belongs.
- L.E. Correia
I am Noah B. Goldman, non-binary and autistic.
Cultural Hegenomy aka the ruling classs dom-
ination over the media we consume that trans-
fers into nutrients saturating our reality, how
people unlike shining billboard idealized humans
are sick, or lazy, or idiots, according to
our minds all fed upon the ruling classs power.
Hence Democratic Socialism signifies fuck you
to masters within the master-slave dynamic
that we experience as consumers of the blighted
crumbs, chains, sprinkled upon our bodies, and
the overthrow of these masters without van-
guards and through democratic revolt, in and
beyond the ballot box. May Day is when we leave
behind our chains, hoping----fighting for the
day they will be 100% lost.

Democratic Socialists of America are devoted in


this fight to a new, not revised, society.
What is Democratic Socialism?

Democratic socialists believe that society has evolved through a number of stages, similar in
some ways to the evolution of animals, plants, and the Earth.. Socialists believe that this evolu-
tion may continue into a better society in the future.

When the wealthy have political power, such as the five billionaires in the Trump cabinet, they
always use that political power to help bring more money to their class.

We should use the democratic process to allow the public to take over some of the giant cor-
porations. This should include any industrial or financial corporations that are so big that their
death would cause an economic depression. Making the largest enterprises public would allow
the public to control the economy enough to prevent a high degree of inequality and to pre-
vent recessions including unemployment.

Under a democratic socialist government, all health care would be the right of any person to
have without being barred from treatment by lack of money. All students in a democratic so-
cialist society would have the right to as much higher education as they could usefully absorb
without any payment or debt. Everyone would have a living wage, while no one could store
away billions of dollars.

Most intermediate businesses would be workers cooperatives. In each cooperative, workers


would elect a governing board each worker would be paid according to the amount and quali-
ty of their production, while no one would receive private profit.

- Paul Sherman
May Day means continuing the multigenerational fight for
labor equality and justice. I grew up Unitarian Universalist.
Younger UU members had mentors during some years, and
one of mine was an older socialist who had been arrested
many times fighting for labor rights since the 1930s. (I think
she saw the twinkle in my eyes of a budding leftist). Many
years later, my son was middle-school-aged during the
2006 May Day protests. He and I have gone to father-son
dinners every Monday night since he was very young, and in
2006 we spent several dinners discussing immigrant labor-
ers rights. Now that my son is an adult, he continues to fight
the battles for justice and equality. Because May Day falls on
a Monday this year, he and I will miss our father-son dinner,
but we will be fighting for equality and justice instead.

My name is Jason Beecher. I am a writer and unfortunate-


ly still a corporate wage worker. I joined the DSA because
I believe: Each person has the right to be free of political
coercion ....