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Global Left Midweek – May Day 2024

A special gift to GLM followers

Grandjouan, 1906
  1. For May Day
  2. Campus Protests Going Global
  3. Palestine Resistance is an Array of Forces
  4. Streets of Rage in Argentina
  5. Two Takes on Coalitions of States and Imperialism  
  6. EP Elections
  7. Theory and Practice for a Feminist Future 
  8. The Sudanese Revolution in Crisis
  9. Brazil: Indigenous Wrestle with Lula
  10. Marching on April 25, Liberation Day in Italy


For May Day

From Peter LinebaughThe Incomplete, True, Authentic, and Wonderful History of May Day, 1985

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May Day Since 1886

Lucy Parsons, widowed by Chicagos “just-us, was born in Texas. She was partly Afro-American, partly native American, and partly Hispanic. She set out to tell the world the true story of one whose only crime was that he lived in advance of his time. She went to England and encouraged English workers to make May Day an international holiday for shortening the hours of work. Her friend, William Morris, wrote a poem called May Day.


They are few, we are many: and yet, O our Mother, 

Many years were wordless and nought was our deed, 

But now the word flitteth from brother to brother: 

We have furrowed the acres and scattered the seed. 


Win on then unyielding, through fair and foul weather, 

And pass not a day that your deed shall avail. 

And in hope every spring-tide come gather together 

That unto the Earth ye may tell all your tale.

Her work was not in vain. May Day, or The Day of the Chicago Martyrs as it is still called in Mexico belongs to the working class and is dedicated to the revolution, as Eugene Debs put it in his May Day editorial of 1907. The A. F. of L. declared it a holiday. Sam Gompers sent an emissary to Europe to have it proclaimed an international labor day. Both the Knights of Labor and the Second International officially adopted the day. Bismarck, on the other hand, outlawed May Day. President Grover Cleveland announced that the first Monday in September would be Labor Day in America, as he tried to divide the international working class. Huge numbers were out of work, and they began marching. Under the generalship of Jacob Coey they descended on Washington D. C. on May Day 1894, the first big march on Washington. Two years later across the world Lenin wrote an important May Day pamphlet for the Russian factory workers in 1896. The Russian Revolution of 1905 began on May Day.

With the success of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution the Red side of May Day became scarlet, crimson, for ten million people were slaughtered in World War I. The end of the war brought work stoppings, general strikes, and insurrections all over the world, from Mexico to Kenya, from China to France. In Boston on May Day 1919 the young telephone workers threatened to strike, and 20,000 workers in Lawrence went on strike again for the 8-hour day. There were fierce clashes between working people and police in Cleveland as well as in other cities on May Day of that year. A lot of socialists, anarchists, bolsheviks, wobblies and other I-Wont-Workers, ended up in jail as a result.

This didnt get them down. At Wire City, as they called the federal pen at Fort Leavenworth, there was a grand parade and no work on May Day 1919. Pictures of Lenin and Lincoln were tied to the end of broom sticks and held afloat. There were speeches and songs. The Liberator supplies us with an account of the day, but it does not tell us who won the Wobbly-Socialist horseshoe throwing contest. Nor does it tell us what happened to the soldier caught waving a red ribbon from the guards barracks. Meanwhile, one mile underground in the copper mines of Bisbee where there are no national boundaries, Spanish-speaking Americans were singing The International on May Day.

In the 1920s and 1930s the day was celebrated by union organizers, the unemployed, and determined workers. In New York City the big May Day celebration was held in Union Square. In the 1930s Lucy Parsons marched in Chicago at May Day with her young friend, Studs Terkel. May Day 1946 the Arabs began a general strike in Palestine, and the Jews of the Displaced Persons Camps in Landsberg, Germany, went on hunger strike. On May Day 1947 auto workers in Paris downed tools, an insurrection in Paraguay broke out, the Mafia killed six May Day marchers in Sicily, and the Boston Parks Commissioner said that this was the first year in living memory when neither Communist nor Socialist had applied for a permit to rally on the Common.

1968 was a good year for May Day. Allen Ginsberg was made the Lord of Misrule in Prague before the Russians got there. In London hundreds of students lobbied Parliament against a bill to stop Third World immigration into England. In Mississippi police could not prevent 350 Black students from supporting their jailed friends. At Columbia University thousands of students petitioned against armed police on campus. In Detroit with the help of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement, the first wildcat strike in fifteen years took place at the Hamtramck Assembly plant (Dodge Main), against speed-up. In Cambridge, Mass., Black leaders advocated police reforms while in New York the Mayor signed a bill providing the police with the most sweeping emergency powers known in American history. The climax to the 68 Mai was reached in France where there was a gigantic General Strike under strange slogans such as

Parlez a vos voisins!

LImagination prend le pouvoir! 

Dessous les paves cest la plage!

On May Day in 1971 President Nixon couldnt sleep. He ordered 10,000 paratroopers and marines to Washington D.C. because he was afraid that some people calling themselves the May Day Tribe might succeed in their goal of blocking access to the Department of Justice. In the Philippines four students were shot to death protesting the dictatorship. In Boston Mayor White argued against the right of municipal workers, including the police, to withdraw their services, or stop working. In May 1980 we may see Green themes in Mozambique where the workers lamented the absence of beer, or in Germany where three hundred women witches rampaged through Hamburg. Red themes may be seen in the 30,000 Brazilian auto workers who struck, or in the 5.8 million Japanese who struck against inflation.

On May Day 1980 the Green and Red themes were combined when a former Buick auto-maker from Detroit, one Mr. Toad, sat at a picnic table and penned the following lines,

The eight hour day is not enough; 

We are thinking of more and better stuff. 

So here is our prayer and here is our plan, 

We want what we want and well take what we can. 

Down with wars both small and large, 

Except for the ones where were in charge: 

Those are the wars of class against class, 

Where we get a chance to kick some ass.

For air to breathe and water to drink, 

And no more poison from the kitchen sink. 

For land thats green and life thats saved 

And less and less of the earth thats paved. 

No more women who are less than free, 

Or men who cannot learn to see 

Their power steals their humanity 

And makes us all less than we can be. 

For teachers who learn and students who teach 

And schools that are kept beyond the reach 

Of provosts and deans and chancellors and such 

And Xerox and Kodak and Shell, Royal Dutch. 

An end to shops that are dark and dingy, 

An end to Bosses whether good or stingy, 

An end to work that produces junk, 

An end to junk that produces work, 

And an end to all in charge - the jerks. 

For all who dance and sing, loud cheers, 

To the prophets of doom we send some jeers, 

To our friends and lovers we give free beers, 

And to all who are here, a day without fears. 

So, on this first of May we all should say 

That we will either make it or break it. 

Or, to put this thought another way, 

Lets take it easy, but lets take it.

Campus Protests Going Global 

Al Jazeera (Doha)

From France to Australia, university students are part of pro-Palestine protests as Columbia students continue encampments.

Palestine Resistance is an Array of Forces

Bashir Abu-Manneh / Jacobin (Brooklyn)

As Palestinians reckon with the genocide being inflicted on them and their prospects for national liberation, it does them a disservice to flatten their political diversity and complex ongoing debates.

Streets of Rage in Argentina

Mar Centenera / El País (Madrid)

The cuts to free public universities triggered mass demonstrations throughout the country, reflecting the growing social unrest surrounding President Javier Milei’s economic policy.

Two Takes on Coalitions of States and Imperialism 

EP Elections

Cornelia Hildebrandt / transform!europe (Vienna)

What is needed is a comprehensive policy that balances both economic stability and environmental protection. It would mean creating a sustainable, integral concept for the future of Europe. 

Theory and Practice for a Feminist Future

  • From Mexico   Raquel Gutiérrez AguilarOjalá (Puebla)
  • From Ukraine   Patrick Le Tréhondat / Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières (Paris)
  • From India   Priyanka Samy / The Wire (New Delhi)

The Sudanese Revolution in Crisis

Muzan Alneel / Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (Berlin)

The war that broke out in the Sudanese capital Khartoum brought an abrupt end to the over 15 months of continuous protests against the military coup, paralysed a thriving resistance movement, and, above all, inflicted suffering on millions of people living in Sudan.

Brazil: Indigenous Wrestle with Lula

Bianca Feifel / Brasil de Fato (São Paulo)

The joy of the twentieth edition of Brazil’s largest Indigenous mobilization, Acampamento Terra Livre, is haunted by the delay in demarcating Indigenous lands, and by the increase in violence against leaders, problems that are connected.

Marching on April 25, Liberation Day in Italy

Micaela Bongi, Luciana Cimino and Giuliano Santoro / il manifesto Global (Rome)

“We need to say exactly what needs to be said: that antifascism is the civil religion of this country, that it founded the Republic, that it gave freedom. And that to be antifascist today means to continue to fight for freedom and for the rights of all, not just commemorate them.”