Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality advocate, writer.
Next Tuesday Occupy, and movements around the world, will mark May Day. As was said early on about OWS, “This is not a protest, it’s a process.” The latest phase of that process, the Spring Offensive, moves into a General Strike on May Day, the “Day Without the 99%.”
The May Day Directory provides a “General Resources” list, a partial list of participating cities in the U.S., and a list of cities around the world with May Day actions “organized by Occupy-related groups in direct solidarity with #OWS.” Other actions will occur in the over 80 nations which recognize the holiday.
While American corporate media has focused on yet another stale election between Wall Street-financed candidates, Occupy has been organizing … the first truly nationwide General Strike in U.S. history. Building on the international celebration of May Day, past General Strikes in U.S. cities like Seattle and Oakland, the (2006) May 1st Day Without An Immigrant demonstrations, the national general strikes in Spain this year, and the on-going student strike in Quebec, the Occupy Movement has called for A Day Without the 99% on May 1st, 2012. … For the first time, workers, students, immigrants, and the unemployed from over 115 U.S. cities will stand together for economic justice.
More about the coalition building for this General Strike, and to me, this is one of the most important parts. From OWS:
May 1st Coalition: UNIONIZE, LEGALIZE, ORGANIZE
This May Day, Occupy Wall Street is rising up in solidarity with the immigrant rights movement. Years before #OWS, May Day was revitalized in the U.S. as a day of mass mobilization against the unjust, racist U.S. immigration system. …
via the May 1st Coalition:
‘… On this May 1st 2012, there will a unified celebration. We immigrants have united with the most important unions of New York, the working class along with Occupy Wall Street. This has come about after long and intense debates, at which point we concluded an agreement to realize a single act on May 1st in historic Unión Square.
… given the incapacity of Congress … , the White House and the corrupt political system of the United States, we propose on May 1st to transform our multifaceted forms of organization and struggle into one center of PEOPLE’S POWER, consisting of union power, of social power, including those from the countryside, in the sweatshop factories, and throughout the poor neighborhoods, all as an alternative to capitalist and imperialist power.
Why a May Day General Strike? One response comes from Chris Hedges, who references presidential politics in the U.S. and in France. Via OpEdNews:
The Globalization of Hollow Politics
The emptying of content in political discourse in an age as precarious and volatile as ours will have very dangerous consequences. The longer the political elite – whether in Washington or Paris, whether socialist or right-wing, whether Democrat or Republican – ignore the breakdown of globalization, refuse to respond rationally to the climate crisis and continue to serve the iron tyranny of global finance, the more it will shred the possibility of political consensus, erode the effectiveness of our political institutions and empower right-wing extremists. The discontent sweeping the planet is born out of the paralysis of traditional political institutions. …
Every election cycle, our self-identified left dutifully lines up like sheep to vote for the corporate wolves who control the Democratic Party. It bleats the tired, false mantra about Ralph Nader being responsible for the 2000 election of George W. Bush and warns us that the corporate technocrat Mitt Romney is … an extremist.
The extremists, of course, are already in power. … They write our legislation … pick the candidates and fund their campaigns … dominate the courts … gut regulations and environmental controls … suck down billions in government subsidies … pay no taxes … determine our energy policy … loot the U.S. treasury … control public debate and information … wage useless and costly imperial wars for profit … are behind the stripping away of our most cherished civil liberties … are implementing government programs to gouge out any money left in the carcass of America. And they know that Romney or Barack Obama, along with the Democratic and the Republican parties, will not stop them. …
Hedges is just getting started.
Politicians such as Obama … who carry out corporate agendas while speaking in the language of populism become enemies of liberal democracies. Labor unions, environmentalists, anti-war activists and civil libertarians, blinded by the images and lies disseminated by public relations offices, stop watching what these politicians do. They mute their criticism … . The result accelerates our disempowerment. … The longer the liberal class does not vigorously denounce expanded oil drilling, our corporate health insurance bill and the National Defense Authorization Act, simply because these initiatives have been pushed through by the Democrats, the more marginal the left becomes. … The hypocrisy of the American left is too blatant to ignore. And it has effectively left us disempowered as a political force. …
Hedges argues that “the left” is “disempowering” itself, thereby “empower(ing) right-wing extremists.” Or to put it another way, the more the left ignores the continuing shift to the right, the less power it has as anything close to what “left” once meant.
If the May Day General Strike elicits any comments from the Romney and Obama campaigns, and from Republican and Democratic Electeds, here’s one guess: Romney and Co. will scapegoat it, Obama and Co. will co-opt it.
So, can the “Day Without the 99%” include a day without presidential politics? No, if only because our presidential politics are the Two Party Front for the Oligarchy manifestation of the 1%. And that’s what this May Day is about: one more of many, long, arduous steps in a process that challenges that arrangement. As Zinn might put it, one more step in civil disobedience.