So, it’s been a while since May Day, and the excitement of having a holiday born out of the class struggle has faded a bit. May Day was born out of the struggle for an eight-hour-day, which was an attempt to assert our needs and desires against a world that ignores them, and the fact that we get a day’s holiday out of the effects of that movement is a sign that we’ve not been totally unsuccessful; but the fact that, the day after, we have to return to normal life at work or on benefits is a sign of how far we still have to go.
I was going to try and do a round-up of interesting May Day events, but there’s not much to add to Bristol AF’s excellent summary. The only thing I’d add is that, if you have the time, this report from the May Day clashes in Istanbul is worth a read. On an international note, this Bangladeshi anarchist page doesn’t have much original content on it yet, but it might be worth keeping an eye on for ongoing developments in the region. The ongoing bitter dispute on the docks on the USA’s west coast has heated up again with a lock-out in Portland, and, while the Pacific North-West Grand Jury resisters are currently all free, Jerry Koch, a New York anarchist, is currently facing another Grand Jury trying to coerce him into giving information on his comrades. The Black Scare is far from over.
Back in the UK, the big story of late has been the Brighton bin wildcat, but there’s a few other stories worth taking note of: the IWW are currently fighting for the reinstatement of sacked bus driver Oscar Alvarez (see here for some information on how you can support him), and two new worthwhile-sounding initiatives are being launched in London, South London Welfare Action and Angry Workers of the World. Finally, the case of the four dancers accused of kidnapping their boss over unpaid wages is an interesting one: just as one swallow doesn’t make a summer, one alleged bossnapping doesn’t necessarily mean the coming summer’s going to be a hot one, but it does bear noticeable similarities to a number of incidents that happened in France in the early years of this crisis. When talking about the alleged bossnapping in Cheltenham, it’s worth remembering that it’s a product of a “grey market” workplace, and so the conditions it came from don’t necessarily generalise to the rest of the economy; but on the other hand, to say that it came out of a semi-legal workplace isn’t necessarily to say that it’s irrelevant. In the coming months and years, as the formal economy continues to slump, jobs at the hyper-exploitative edges of the legal labour market are likely to expand, and so we might well see an increase in these kinds of uncontrollable conflicts taking place in areas where the old mechanisms for containing class conflict have no presence. Only time will tell.