My Mother made a point of not being political, but she did always say Happy May Day on the first of May. The day itself seemed to carry connotations of rebellion, and revolution, the way she said it, as if the proletariat were only just a few slogans from rising up. There was also a huge dislike of authority hidden, I thought, in the intonation she put into the words. May Day. Happy May Day. One day, comrade, we’ll beat them.
I think she remembered what it meant, you see. May Day is the day for the labour movement, for the fight then and now for workers’ rights. It is about not just looking up at our betters but at looking at those that made the betters succeed. The slide against slavery is one that has to be fought against for each geneneration.
Don’t believe me? Try being a worker in a developing nation, where you have no rights, not even the rights of survival. Try being a worker in the US, where the corruption of Libor and of things like this remove the currency of rights that is money, and where there is no hope for safety for the little person except through the power of combining under a common purpose.
There’s no reason to believe that workers’ rights should be removed or lessened. According to Elizabeth Warren, if minimum wage had kept pace with productivity in the States, it would now be €22 per hour. I don’t know if that is true, but I do know that the majority of the poor in the modern world, are working poor, made that way by a collection of policies that remove power and autonomy, while others grow rich on their work. They earn enough to live, but not to breath, and so are always two steps behind, four steps below.
And so today I remember my Mother’s hinted-at rebellion, remember to fight the good fight for those who can’t, and say out loud, “Happy May Day”.