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May Day: A Festival of Solidarity

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Posted on May 4, 2011
Scott Tucker

The stage is set: May Day marchers commemorate the occasion in downtown Los Angeles.

By Scott Tucker

(Page 2)

The Democratic Party offers hope and change in every big election—and then takes over the management of war and empire if it happens to gain a majority in Congress. Just as the public has no true accounting of the numbers of unemployed, so we have no true accounting of the total military budget. Lawyers, lobbyists and legislators have made the military budget one of the more difficult state secrets to break open to public view. Until the labor unions in the United States make a radical break with what President Dwight D. Eisenhower called “the military-industrial complex,” working people will bear the brunt of sacrifice in lost jobs, broken health and imperial wars.

The real power of workers comes from below, not from union bureaucrats and career politicians. Labor unions and the Democratic Party have had a bad marriage for decades, but the leaders of the big unions have never dared to advise workers to seek an open divorce. Even so, there are notable voices of dissent even in the upper echelons of the union bureaucracy. Harold A. Schaitberger, head of the 300,000 members of the International Association of Fire Fighters, recently announced that this union would suspend donations to federal candidates out of deep disillusion with congressional Democrats. Schaitberger was quoted in The New York Times on April 27:

“We’re tired that our friends have not been willing to stand up and fight back on our behalf with the same ferocity, the same commitment that our enemies have in trying to destroy our members’ rights. Quite frankly, our enemies are trying to kill us as a labor movement and union trying to represent workers and help the middle class.”

In Los Angeles, every class-conscious worker cannot help but be aware of the sharpening attacks on workers, designed to fracture the whole labor movement along lines of race, sex, wage scales and disparate benefits. When those fractures follow the lines drawn upon maps of the world, then the great beast of nationalism comes round once again to devour our hearts and minds. Nationalism is bloody idol worship, a cult of the state and the military demanding regular theft of treasure beyond our borders, and regular human sacrifice of soldiers and civilians.

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We who live in the country’s southwestern region know well that the United States ships loads of weapons south of the border, and that Mexico ships loads of drugs north of the border. This is one consequence of the hemispheric hurricane that bore the innocent-sounding title of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. This regional economic calamity was bound to cross borders, and so it did. When we fight the corporate state, then we also create the beginning of working-class justice on both sides of the border.

We know our financial system is a den of thieves, and President Barack Obama has filled his Cabinet and inner circle with Wall Street insiders and recycled Clintonistas. When we are likewise willing to acknowledge that our whole political system is broken—or rather, is expertly designed to maintain a corporate ruling class in the style to which it has grown accustomed—then we will find the strength to fight for democracy. This must begin with wide reformation of our rigged electoral system, which was designed to lock out all challengers of “the two-party system.” We can have “the two-party system” in this country or we can have democracy, but we cannot have both.

A journalist should strive to find the truth and tell it plainly, without favor or prejudice. But a democratic socialist doing any honest work whatsoever—whether as a writer, a plumber, a nurse, a firefighter—must go further than refusing to tell lies, or telling the truth in small doses likely to go down sweetly. The truth must be told plainly even and especially against our own failures in labor unions and in the socialist movement.

Free councils of workers are the foundation of democratic socialism. Start small and start now. Make each May Day a festival of solidarity, and a general strike against war and empire.

Click here to see a gallery of photos from May Day 2011 in Los Angeles.


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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, May 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

This year, the May Day march in Los Angeles was notably smaller than in recent years, but still lively and militant.

Using militant as a positive discriptor is completely hypocritical and its also stupid.

Hypocritical because it would never be used as a positive discription of, lets say, a pro-life rally. If conservatives were ever ‘militant’ at a rally, you would decry how it was a danger signal against democracy.

Stupid, because any militancy on any side erodes democracy. To cheer for militancy is about as stupid as it gets.

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By wg2k1, May 6, 2011 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Will Schaitberger be giving campaign money to the Green and Peace & Freedom parties?

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, May 5, 2011 at 10:13 pm Link to this comment

WE, THE SHEEPLE

ST: In 2008, the Longshore and Warehouse Union called for a May Day strike, refusing to move cargo in West Coast ports as a protest against the Iraq War and the diversion of public funds away from social needs and services.

This is good stuff. It shows that we, the sheeple, are not totally and absolutely fat, dumb and complacent.

I live in France were nary a week goes by that there is not a strike that makes the nightly news. Why, when barely 7% of the French workforce are union members - whilst in the US that number is about is about 12.4%.

Unions in France know how to leverage public sentiment for their cause. Though not union members, unions are sacred cows in France. And they know how to get media attention by marching in the streets. Not only, union heads are often on TV interviewed regarding economic matters.  Which means they have Media Presence and are able to get their message across.

France has Labor Laws that has tied the country into a knot. Which is why much un- and semi-skilled work has skedaddled to Eastern Europe or the Far East. The social impact has been enormous, which is what a country deserves when it fools around with the law of Supply & Demand for labor input.

But from there to Wholesale Exploitation seen in the US is an entire paradigm shift. France’s Gini Coefficient of Income Distribution is more fair than the US by about 10/15 points - see for yourself here.

MY POINT: INCOME UNFAIRNESS

The countries colored purple (in the link given above) are the worst on this planet in terms of Income Unfairness. And why the difference between the two?

Because the Income and Capital Gains taxation schemes are entirely different. How so? Consider here the breakdown between Income and Corporate Taxation around the world here.

Income tax in the US is about 28% of the take between the two, whereas in France it is closer to 35%. Better yet, consider total tax revenues whereby the French take is 46.1% of the GDP whilst in the US it is 28%.

The US has one of the lowest Total Taxation rates in the world. (See them all here.) And the bleeding hearts in LaLaLand on the Potomac keep saying that American Tax Rates are “oppressive”?

Who’s kidding who? Income Fairness is creating great sociological discrepancies between the classes in America. This is a menace to democracy, as we have seen, by those who - having taken the lion’s share of the economic pie - manipulate Congress to assure that that fact never changes.

We, the sheeple ... let’s wake up. Without higher taxation for redistribution, you are being left to wander in the wilderness. No better education system. No Public Option for Health Care. No better transportation system. No nothing.

POST SCRIPTUM

Yeah, all that above is pinko-Socialist bunkum, right? Wrong.

The answer is at the ballot box. Chose wisely those Talking Heads in Washington who represent you.

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