Thursday, 1 May 2008

May Day!

It's that time of the year again! It's May Day!!

Knowing full well that workers in other countries don't even enjoy the luxury of celebrating this day, I wandered down to the the local May Day parade/march/spectacle to watch events unfold. A strangely diverse number of groups came together to celebrate. Some of it was predictable, by-the-numbers street theatre but the anarchist marching band was a real improvement over previous musical efforts.

I might as well give in and celebrate the seductive allure of the REAL working class holiday [as opposed to so-called Labour Day, which sold out to the miltary-industrial complex ages ago] and add a few of the classic hymns of the European proletariat to my blog.


The Internationale
Eugene Pottier and Pierre Degeyter [1871]

Arise ye pris’ners of starvation
Arise ye wretched of the earth.
For justice thunders condemnation
A better world’s in birth.
No more tradition’s chains shall bind us,
Arise ye slaves no more in thrall.
The earth shall rise on new foundations
We have been naught, we shall be all.

‘Tis the final conflict
let each stand in their place
The Internationale shall be the human race.
‘Tis the final conflict
let each stand in their place
The Internationale shall be the human race.

The law oppresses us and tricks us,
The wage slave system drains our blood,
The rich are free from obligations,
The poor the laws delude.
Too long we’ve languished in subjugation,
Equality has other laws;
‘No rights,’ says she, ‘without their duties.
No claims on equals without cause.’

Behold them seated in their glory,
The kings of mine and rail and soil.
What have you read in all their story,
but how they plundered toil.
Fruits of the workers' toil are buried
in strongholds of the idle few;
In working for our restitution
We claim our rightful due.


Solidarity Forever
Ralph Chaplin [1915]

When the union’s inspiration through the worker’s blood shall run,
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
But the union makes us strong.

Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
For the union makes us strong.

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
For the union makes us strong.

It is we who ploughed the prairies; built the cities where they trade;
Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroads laid;
Now we stand outcast and starving midst the wonders we have made;
But the union makes us strong.

All the world that’s owned by idle drones is ours and ours alone.
We have laid the wide foundations; built it skyward stone by stone.
It is ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own.
While the union makes us strong.

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled earned to earn,
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.
We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn
That the union makes us strong.

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold.
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old
For the union makes us strong.

We’re the women of the union in
the forefront of the fight,
We know of women’s issues, we
know of women’s rights,
We’re prepared to fight for freedom,
we’re prepared to stand our ground,
Women make the union makes the union strong.


Or, as the late Abbie Hoffman observed in his 1982 book Soon to be a Major Motion Picture:

'Morality seems to enter the picture only when individuals interact with each other. It's universally wrong to steal from your neighbor but once you get beyond the one-to-one level and pit the individual against the multinational conglomerate, the federal bureaucracy, the modern plantation agro-business, or the utility company, it becomes strictly a value judgment to decide who exactly is stealing from whom. One person's crime is another person's profit. Capitalism is a license to steal; the government simply regulates who steals and how much.'

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