Anna Key | 01.05.2004 09:48 | May Day 2004
the following title is now available from the Kate Sharpley Library
Mayday and Anarchism: Remembrance and Resistance from Haymarket to Now
Edited by Anna Key. Cover by Cliff Harper.
Series: Anarchist Sources # 4. A5 pamphlet, 32 pages.
Price: £3 post free from:
Kate Sharpley Library BM Hurricane, London, WC1N 3XX, UK
$3 post free from:
Kate Sharpley Library, PMB 820, 2425 Channing Way, Berkeley CA 94704, USA
WHAT IS MAYDAY?
Mayday means more than maypoles and pagan love rites. It is a remembrance of class struggle and resistance. It commemorates the Haymarket Martyrs of Chicago who were framed - and executed - for their anarchist ideas and fighting for the eight hour day. Since the 1890s workers have marked Mayday all across the world.
Anarchists have always insisted on its revolutionary meaning - in essence that we will get nothing without fighting for it. Politicians (of one sort or another) have always tried to co-opt or sanitise it: "Follow your leaders!" "That was then, this is now."
The world has changed since the 1880s - but the more things change, the more they stay the same. We still live in a world where exploitation rules, and where the police and media are tools in the hands of the rich and powerful.
This pamphlet shows the origins and history of Mayday, and the differing ways in which Anarchists have responded to its call. It includes pieces on:
The Haymarket affair and its aftermath
The idea of Mayday in the 1890s
Responses and appeals from America, Italy, Spain...
Mayday and Latin American Anarchism
Reclaiming Mayday in recent times...
"...warmly recommended not just for its historical value but also as part of the on-going debate as to the nature of 'celebrating' May Day as a day of struggle."
MAYDAY QUOTES from "Mayday and Anarchism"
I repeat that I am the enemy of the 'order' of today, and I repeat that, with all my powers, so long as breath remains in me, I shall combat it. I declare again, frankly and openly, that I am in favor of using force. I say to you: 'I despise you. I despise your order; your laws; your force-propped authority.' Hang me for it!
Louis Lingg [Haymarket martyr]
But the political hacks have nothing to say about their having been Anarchist Fighters. Our comrades Parsons, Lingg, Fischer, Spies and Engels were not hanged for the 8-hour day that all the world's workers now enjoy. NO! They were murdered for their revolutionary consciousness, for believing in and spreading the ideas of Human Liberation. ... They wanted a society of Free men, with neither exploited nor exploiters. That was what they sought and that is what the Chicago Martyrs died for. They wanted the Earth to be man's homeland, with no borders or tyrants, no bosses or butchers.
Anarchist Groups of Chile
The First of May 'consecrated to the dignity of labor!' As if slavery could be dignified by anything save revolutionary action. As long as labor remains mere prostitution, selling its producing power for money, and as long as the majority of mankind are excluded from the blessings of civilization, the First of May must remain the revolutionary battle cry of labor's economic emancipation.
'Hang these men and you kill Anarchy in this country!' shouted Grinnell in his closing speech to the jury. When the capitalistic conspiracy had reached its climax the daily press took up the refrain and cried 'Anarchy is dead.' But the judicial murder of our comrades neither 'killed' anarchy nor abated in the least the revolutionary sentiment. On the contrary, the feeling which theretofore had concentered mainly in Chicago was by that act diffused more broadly throughout the land, nay, throughout the world.
The First of May was a symbol of the international proletariat's struggle for its emancipation. Neither military parades nor the 'good little boy' marches of the reformist union federations can blind us to the deep-seated international solidarity of the struggle.
Worker autonomy, direct action - with no chiefs, guides, Great Leaders or Grand Helmsmen, but organised into our own rank-and-file agencies - will turn the revolutionary movement into a tool for liberation.
CLLA - Libertarian Latin American Coordination
Please copy and circulate.
Mayday and Anarchism: Remembrance and Resistance from Haymarket to Now. Edited by Anna Key
Kate Sharpley Library
BM Hurricane, London, WC1N 3XX, UK
Kate Sharpley Library
PMB 820, 2425 Channing Way, Berkeley CA 94704, USA