Forgetting: 1 May, a day like any other?


In his Book of Embraces, Eduardo Galeano says:

Chicago is full of factories. There are even factories right in the center of the city, around the world’s tallest building. Chicago is full of factories. Chicago is full of workers.

Arriving in the Haymarket district, I ask my friends to show me the place where the workers whom the whole world salutes every May 1st were hanged in 1886.

It must be around here,’ they tell me. But nobody knows where.

No statue has been erected in memory of the martyrs of Chicago in the city of Chicago. Not a statue, not a monolith, not a bronze plaque. Nothing.

May 1st is the only truly universal day of all humanity, the only day when all histories and all geographies, all languages and all religions and cultures of the world coincide. But in the United States, May 1st is a day like any other. On that day, people work normally and no one, or almost no one, remembers that the rights of the working class did not spring whole from the ear of a goat, or from the hand of God or the boss…

To mark International Workers’ Day, May 1st, there has been a call for a general strike in the US and worldwide.

This year may not end up being a day like any other.

No work, no school, no shopping, no banking, no trading.

Just protest.

Are you in?

#M1GS

Comments

  1. ismenia says

    I’m in the UK where Mayday is a public holiday so it’s not really possible to strike. I’ll actually be showing a Swede around London and hearing lots about how nice Sweden is with all its free education.

  2. Martyn N Hughes says

    In the UK May the 1st is ‘Mayday’ so it’s a public holiday.

    What we usually do, is go our local Wetherspoon pub, which is named ‘Y Dic Penderyn’ in honour of this man. A plaque on the library wall, facing this Wetherspoon pub, describes Dic Penderyn as a martyr of the working class, having been publicly hanged for his support of the famous Merthyr Rising of 1831.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merthyr_Tydfil

    However, a general strike. No pubbing it, no shopping, etc, is somewhat more fitting. I’ll be mentioning it to my pals.

  3. smrnda says

    I read that after the Haymarket riot a statue of a policeman with his hand up – standing up for ‘law and order’ against unruly workers – was placed there, but after many attempts at vandalism it was removed. (Nothing like the US to see a conflict and decide that the heroes are the defenders of privilege and the propertied.)

    Either way, until people realize that we are workers and not “Americans” we will all lose.

      • smrnda says

        Perhaps I should say, guilty as charged, except ‘girl’ instead of son :-)

        All said, a big part of worker repression in the states happens in that labor history has been largely removed from the school curriculum. I’d be surprised if even 10% of Americans knows what the Haymarket Riot was at all.

  4. Vincenzo says

    I am from Chicago. The site of the original Haymarket is in good part where Interstate Route 94 passes west of the Downtown area. There was a statue of a Chicago policeman there for over 60 years. The statue was a memorial for the seven officers killed during the riots.

    The statue was moved twice. It was put in the old Haymarket around 1889 or 1890. In 1927, a streetcar motorman caused his streetcar to jump the tracks and hit the concrete pedestal. That the pedestal was partially broken is pretty amazing if you’ve ever seen pictures of the original; it was tall and thick. The statue got moved to Lincoln Park in a wealthier part of town until 1956. It was only back for about 9 years until vandalized several times, including being blown up with explosives twice.

    I am old enough to vaugely remember the statue when it was under 24 hour guard until it got moved to police dept. property. The statue has been at placed variously at the police HQ and the police academy since the mid-70s. I remember the pedestal being still in place until around the late 80s (I think). The pedastal was always covered with graffiti until the whole thing was removed during street reconstruction.

Leave a Reply