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No Mayday on May Day for American Politics

May DayAnother May Day gone by… 2013 this time!  And as usual, our beloved local politicians, business leaders, peace-enforcers (cops), corporate journalists, and citizenry busy in making the proverbial buck, made sure that the protests taking place were pictured as smallish and un-American as that foreign-sounding International Workers’ Day. And if any incidents occurred – other than having folks peacefully walking the streets collared with a permit – it was the anarchist thugs that need to be blamed; idiots and ingrates who fail to appreciate our freedoms, or the greatness in America’s capitalist way of life.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we had our share of mini gentle-marches protesting this, that and the other thing. Portland and Seattle, showing their larger-cities’ colors, did their progressive bits, with the Emerald City trying to emulate May Day 2012… and its brief chaotic upsurge of demonstrators in Black Bloc clothes doing their anarchist thing. This time the arrests were kept at just 17… and there were millions spent by the FBI and other fed-agencies in prepping for the symbolic-vandalizing of a few store windows.

It’s both interesting and pathetic how we in America have been brainwashed into willy-nilly hating, repudiating May Day as truly Labor Day. Never mind that the US has a proud history to commemorate such a day. Americans, other than perhaps scholars and a small number of progressive activists, haven’t the slightest clue as to what happened in the 1886 Chicago protest – the Haymarket Affair – which brought about the standard eight-hour workday. Never mind the labor-heroes who died during the “unpermitted” protest march as police opened fire on them; or those who were later hanged as a result of this protest, justice be damned. Our power-elite has always reserved the right to tell Americans those we should claim and venerate as heroes, who unsurprisingly turn out to be those who defend their elitist interests, usually at the point of a gun while wearing an “accredited” uniform.  It was true in 1886… and it’s just as true in 2013.

When American political fervor makes an attempt to venture outside of the Republican-Democrat same-old, same-old playground of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the chaos of ignorami starts to take place… a socialist, a communist, a syndicalist, an anarchist… aren’t all these folks one and the same thing?  Aren’t they really the anti-Christ of good old American politics? Well, there is strength in numbers… so the ignorami win the day excommunicating any people or ideas which might appear foreign to them. You know, crazy foreign ideas filtered from that enclave in Turtle Bay to the sacred soil of all New York City boroughs and far beyond. 

People in the world may think of the United Nations compound in NY as sort of an international Guantanamo of the opposite kind: a place to advocate world peace and human rights. Five years ago, during Barack Obama’s first campaign for the presidency, when he promised his first action as president would be to close Guantanamo, I was told by a Spanish friend-journalist and correspondent writing from Afghanistan that such likelihood [as he put it, “Obama being allowed by Congress and the Pentagon to close the base-prison”] was as far-fetched as the UN moving out of NY. Another fulfilled prediction added to the many others he expressed to me for all the American failures he observed during his three stints in Afghanistan.

My distracted issue here, however, is neither Guantanamo nor the UN headquarters, but the total disregard and disdain that Americans have been taught about civics and even the most rudimentary knowledge of political philosophies. All the names seem to have acquired negative connotations, and clarification of terms or explanation of ideas seldom, if ever, receive a lending ear; or, perhaps even worse, any enlightenment in good faith is likely to be interpreted as that of a messenger from unholy lands and creeds… and a potential ideological enemy combatant when dealing with people who don’t know you well: A revisit of Jr. Bush’s inquisitorial patriotism.

May Day in the United States is not a holiday. It only serves to remind us, via pyrrhic, non-explanatory news on TV, that there are a few crazies out there with little to do but to protest; among them, a contingent of window-smashers who call themselves anarchists and are there solely to cause mayhem.

How do you explain to a politically-sedated – some would say poisoned – population that the advocacy and intent of anarchism is participatory democracy? And that anarchists are proponents of the least government, or no government, their greatest barriers found to be lawyers and guns?

Group decision-making and horizontally organized tactics and strategies for people to govern themselves are for now too idealistic… at least in a nation where guns and prisons rule the day. Yes, we must admit, the concept of anarchism is antithetical to the predatory instincts of American capitalism.

So we’ll just wait for May Day 2014… and the incredible cost associated with a few windows not being smashed; and job security and growth for the FBI staff.

© 2013 Ben Tanosborn

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