JP124: May Day

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HaymarketRiot-Harpers.jpg(The Haymarket Riot, Harper’s Weekly – http://www.chicago.org/hadc/visuals/59v0460v.jpg)

“Eight Hours for Work, Eight Hours for Rest,
Eight Hours for What We Will!”

“The Haymarket Affair”, William J. Adelman, Illinois Labor History Society

No single event has influenced the history of labor in Illinois, the United States, and even the world, more than the Chicago Haymarket Affair. It began with a rally on May 4, 1886, but the consequences are still being felt today. Although the rally is included in American history textbooks, very few present the event accurately or point out its significance”

William J. Adelman


The 124

There’s a famous curse, which Bobby Kennedy dubiously designated a “chinese curse”,  which condemns: May you live in interesting times. These are interesting times. The “elected” executive of the most powerful government in history is a buffoonish, talentless, heir and the opposition party, the Democratic Party, long in decline, is hindered by a rift between the empowered neoliberal faction and a leftist, new deal uprising. A rash and reckless Republican Party should be easily contestable, but may continue to gain power due to the Democratic Party’s inability to reconcile its contradictions.

By influence of political history scholar, Thomas Frank,  it is my view that the only way to change the reactionary tide is for an authentic people’s party to emerge — be it the Democratic Party or otherwise.

Perhaps revisiting this nation’s illustrious, but too often neglected labor history could be a source of inspiration. In honor of May Day, this month’s 124 will be dedicated to heroes of the labor movement.

Labor Hero of the Week: Lucy Gonzalez Parsons

Lucy_Parsons.1920.jpg
(Lucy Parsons 1920, wikipedia.org)

“Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth”
-Lucy Parsons (1853-1942)

“More Dangerous Thana Thousand Rioters: The Revolutionary Life of Lucy Parsons”, Kelly Gallagher, The Nation

There is one word we should all be thinking in these first days under president-elect Donald Trump. One word that we should be shouting as we begin the work of combating the racist and misogynist policies that will inevitably come. One word we should embody now more than ever: Organize. Under Trump, we will need to come together in radically new ways, ways we haven’t even envisioned yet. In moments like these, artists have an especially unique role, actively encouraging community and care, critiquing misogyny and white supremacy, and resurrecting important histories of resistance and rebellion.


Weekly Roundup

“This May Day, Don’t Go to Work, Take to the Streets and Strike”, Michelle Chen, In These Times

From the Muslim ban to the border wall, President Donald Trump’s first 100 days have unleashed a blitzkrieg of terror. But on May 1, the communities he thought he’d backed into a corner will put him on the defensive with equal and opposite force.

Bernie Sanders with investigative journalist Jane Mayer, author of ‘Dark Money’, The Bernie Sanders Show

“‘Fear City’ Explores How Donald Trump Exploited The New York Debt Crisis to Boost His Own Fortune”, Naomi Klein, The Intercept

When I published “The Shock Doctrine” a decade ago, a few people told me that it was missing a key chapter in the evolution of the tactic I was reporting on. That tactic involved using periods of crisis to impose a radical pro-corporate agenda. They said that in the United States that story doesn’t start with Reagan in the 1980s, as I had told it, but rather in New York City in the mid-1970s. That’s when the city’s very near brush with all-out bankruptcy was used to dramatically remake the metropolis. Massive and brutal austerity, sweetheart deals for the rich, privatizations. In classic Shock Doctrine style, under cover of crisis, New York changed from being a place with some of the most generous public services in the country, engaged in some cutting-edge attempts at racial and economic integration, to the temple of nonstop commerce and gentrification that we all know and still love today.

“Black Politicians are Fighting a ‘Stand Your Ground’ Resurgence”, Mike Spies, The Trace

Soon after the start of his first term as a black lawmaker in the fifth-whitest state in the country, State Representative Ras Smith brought his hoodie to work. For the eleventh year in a row, elected officials in Iowa were going to take up a “stand your ground” proposal, authorizing residents to use lethal means to protect themselves in certain situations. In other states, similar laws have disproportionately justified the fatal shootings of African-Americans.

“Which Way to the Barricades?”, Steve Fraser and Nelson Lichtenstein, Jacobin

Rise, like lions after slumber,
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many—they are few.

Shelly’s “Masque of Anarchy” has been a spectral presence for nearly two hundred years, summoned at climactic moments of civil warfare. Composed to memorialize the 1819 Peterloo massacre, the poem commemorates the sixty thousand people who gathered at the very dawn of the industrial revolution to demand a radical expansion of suffrage, especially to those laboring in England’s dark satanic mills. Dozens died, hundreds were wounded.

“Brazil on Strike”, Lucas Iberico Lozada, Dissent

As darkness fell in Rio de Janeiro’s historic center on Friday evening, the smell of tear gas hung heavy. It had been a day of mass mobilization across the country: more than a million Brazilians in at least 254 cities participated in a day-long general strike on Friday, according to organizers; more are taking to the streets today for May Day, a national holiday here. The strike, said to be the biggest in decades, was meant to rally opposition to an aggressive pension reform plan that would weaken labor laws and raise the retirement age by a decade—the centerpiece of an array of austerity measures put forth by President Michel Temer, whose approval rating sits at a dismal 4 percent.

“Why Muslims are marching for climate”, Nana Firman, CNN

From the cropless farmer to the beleaguered first responder to the person forced to evacuate their flooded home, we all have our reasons for caring about climate change. As an Indonesian-born Muslim living in California, it is my faith that compels me to protect our earth.

“Gods of War”, Siddhartha Deb, The Baffler

When the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore flew in 1932 from Calcutta to Bushehr in Iran, he made a brief stop in Baghdad. It was a long journey, and although Tagore was extremely well traveled, this was only his second time on an aircraft. Seventy-one years old, curious about the world but critical of the violence and rigidity of modernity, Tagore was mostly unimpressed by his experience of commercial aviation. It brought to mind the mythical account in the Mahabharata of the warrior Arjuna being taken up into the air, making him reflect that Arjuna had lost intimacy with the earth by flying, his physical distancing resulting inevitably in a moral distancing that would allow him to kill from the air with­out compunction.

“Basic Income in a Just Society”, Birshen Rogers, Boston Review

“Amazon needs only a minute of human labor to ship your next package,” read a CNN headline last October. The company has revolutionized its warehouse operations using an army of 45,000 robots and other technologies. Previously workers known as “pickers” would walk among shelves to find goods. Now robots bring the shelves to them; pickers select goods, scan them, and put them into bins; after robots whisk the shelves away. A network of automated conveyer belts then sends the bins to “packers,” who spend just fifteen seconds on each, sealing boxes with tape that is automatically dispensed at the perfect length. “By the time you take an Amazon delivery off your stoop, walk into your home, find a pair of scissors and open the brown box,” the story intoned, “you’ve already spent nearly as much time handling the package as Amazon’s employees.”


al-Baqia

Daniel Suhre, who writes the Unknown Minstrel section on this blarg has written some damn fine songs. No Minstrel this week, but y’all should check out the demos he has up on his bandcamp — special attention to the labor anthem, “May Day”, which has a verse for our Labor Hero of the Week Lucy Parsons.

“Ghost in the Shell”
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Cast: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Otsuka, Koichi Yamadera

No real surprise that Rupert Sanders’  yellowfaced and superficial adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell” was a dud — good riddance. Let’s use this as an excuse to revisit Mamoru Oshii’s classic:

There are some complicated ideas explored in this film, here’s a great video from wisecrack to help out


…thank you for scrolling, comrades