Since ancient times, and throughout the world, the time of May has been a time to mark new life and new beginnings, the spring carnival when we can break free from dreary habits, admire beauty, laugh at death, and connect with our surroundings. The pagans who danced around the maypole had no interest in working for a wage, respecting a boss, or producing for someone else’s profit.
This spirit of freedom continued when in May 1886, tens of thousands of US workers participated in a general strike, refusing to be exploited and making the modest demand that their misery at the workplace be reduced to no more than eight hours a day.
At the time, many anarchists felt that this was too petty a request (and how much more timid such a demand seems today, well over a century later!), and urged social revolution instead: “We are the birds of the coming storm!” insisted August Spies, one of several anarchists murdered by the US state as punishment for taking part in the class war that was then raging.
Strikers were shot by police, a bomb exploded in Haymarket Square in Chicago, killing police and protesters, and the government, rather than recognize the struggle against work, tried to make anarchists responsible for the social upheaval.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of the anarchist organizer Lucy Parsons, May Day became a day to remember this worldwide struggle and those who died in its course. Naturally, those states and organizations that claim to “represent” the workers quickly tried to absorb the subversive potential of such a day, to turn it into a legally sanctioned “celebration of labor,” rather than a time to reject and destroy all wage-based work.
In 1928 the anarchist Nestor Makhno reminded us that May Day is no mere celebration for workers, but rather the occasion “to gauge the measure of their strength and assess the possibilities for direct… struggle against a rotten, cowardly, slave-holding order rooted in violence and falsehood.”
In the spirit of Makhno and Spies, we from the Base will be at Union Square on May 1st to march against a world designed for work. Instead, we look forward to an economy and social relationships that stem from the communization that could only arise when each of us are able to choose our own paths.
In the US and New York City, May Day has also become a time to further the struggle of immigrants and all those who despise states and borders, and call for an end to state violence and terrorism, deportations and prison. Rooted in the historical anarchist tradition we shall continue to struggle until every prison, every border, every nation-state is abolished and every individual desire can be fulfilled in its most feral aspirations!
12pm – Table at Union Square followed by a contingent in the march
5pm – March
10pm – After Party at the Brass Bottle 1288 Myrtle Avenue