May 7, 2013

On May Day, The Haymarket Affair and Safe Liberalism

They unfurled the May Day banner…it was blue. I was awash in multi-colored t’s with union insignia and numbers, orange banners and American flags. There was a young woman in a blue UAW shirt getting out of a taxi with a Starbucks coffee. “Arch,” a 60-something Socialist, and I were two of the few in red. He commented that the place looked more like a rally for the Bears.

May 1st recalls the struggle for an eight hour workday when the first nationwide strike for it began on that date in 1886. A bomb thrown in the midst of the police called out to disperse an evening meeting on May 4th and the ensuing arrests, trial, executions, “The Haymarket Affair” as it has been called, crippled the labor movement in this country for half a century and threw a net of suspicion on the true American Left up to our own time. Organized Labor and most on the pseudo-Left have been cowed into submission by serious money protected by unwieldy government, infested by elected incompetents of the Democrat and Republican ilk.

Only flecks of red could be seen in the crowd that grew into the hundreds a little north of Randolph and Desplaines at the Haymarket Memorial this past May 1st. The color of the world’s great revolutions, the color of blood spilled defending the inalienable Rights of the human person, the scarlet banner of the Haymarket Eight’s struggle between the powerful and powerless was noticeably absent. Sadly, even the red and black flags of last year’s rally were missing: the rugged spit and fire of the Socialists and Anarchists who paraded to the Loop all during the NATO summit and relocated “Gang of 8” meeting were not there.

Very dedicated people gathered there – faithful people holding true to worker solidarity, rights and dignity; citizens standing firm with immigrants who have been relegated to the shadows because of their place of origin. But in the second decade of the 21st Century, the immigrant issue is a “safer” issue for Democrats and Republicans because they hold to their particular party lines. While they safely banter back and forth, not rocking their positions, immigrants and their children still fear the tearing apart of family because of make-shift boundary designations.

There is no real “Left” in mainstream American politics: the pseudo-Left is merely the left side of the Right, the standard bearers for the capitalistic interests that keep this economy afloat…Er, it’s the economy that serves the best interests of the banks, legislators, and the imperialistic military establishment at the expense of the poor, the working class, education and real health care reform.

A basic principle of Socialism is that it’s an international movement – there are no national boundaries. There would be no designation of rich and poor either, save for the reality of Capitalism’s and 20th Century Communism’s enslavement of the planet. Socialism’s true reply isn’t Lenin or Stalin or Mao or whatever megalomaniac happens to ascend the throne of North Korea; it’s not about the replacement of worshiping Money with State idolatry.

Socialism is the fundamental acceptance of the freedom and dignity of every human being, his or her right to pursue a living of one’s own choosing, to have leisure time for further enrichment of one’s own choosing and to live in peace. It is the ordering of society for the good of all, not simply the Elect Few who have the resources to make the rules.