May 1, generally held as an International Workers Holiday, has a bit of a different flavor here in the United States. While our movements for a shorter work day put the larger labor movement in motion, the domestic reception has failed to match that of nations worldwide. That, however, may change on Tuesday.
Occupy Wall Street, after going into a sort of hibernation over the winter, is putting itself back on the map with what they’re calling the May Day General Strike – “no work, no school, no house work, no banking, no buying.” Staying true to the spirit of the OWS movement we know and love, the message again seems to be “do less, expect more.” While we can be momentarily impressed here by the breadth and organization demonstrated here by OWS, they do not seem to be bringing anything new or inspired to the table.
Granted, this protest is not something to scoff at: Rallies are planned in Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago, and many other major cities in the U.S. and abroad. Occupy Denver even put together a nifty – if patently unprofessional – advertisement of their own:
The main event, however, is in Wall Street’s home: New York City. Among other events, they plan to found a one-day Free University of New York City, start a Guitarmy (led by Tom Morello!), and end the day with a massive after-party – a “People’s Assembly."
All of this is well and good: In many ways, it is OWS’ attempt at a spring revival. Yet one cannot help but ask the same questions that came to mind last year: Play music, hold a one-day university, close off bridges, stand behind immigrant workers (even if you aren’t sure why), and throw your fists in the air for Rage Against the Machine – all of that sounds like a perfectly fun day out. So long as someone keeps the young anarchists on a leash, everything will probably go off without a hitch.
But even with all of the fun, there are still serious things to consider:One cannot simply drag down capitalism – as if its nose was not already in the dirt – by calling others “brothers, sisters, and comrades.” Much less can we subvert the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution simply because we think we “deserve” something. All of that is childish and far too easy.
On Tuesday, there are going to be arrests, injuries, and property damage; and OWS will still not have given us any answers.