What is May Day?

The day, and its significance is subjective.  Let’s ask Professor Chomsky…

“Yesterday was May Day.  I happened to get a letter in the morning.  A ton of email comes in–one of them was from a friend in Brazil who told me she wouldn’t be going to work that day because it’s a holiday, a labor holiday.  In fact, it’s a labor holiday all over the world, except in the United States where nobody knows what it is.  I happened to be giving a talk at Harvard in the afternoon and this came up.  I asked the big audience of Harvard graduate students, “What do you think May Day is?”  And some people said. “You mean dance around the May pole,” or something like that.  It’s not only a labor holiday.  It’s a labor holiday that was initiated in support of American workers who were struggling for an eight-hour day and who were among the most oppressed in the industrial world.”

“So here’s this holiday–you know, big demonstrations everywhere, and all kinds of celebrations and so on, and here nobody know what it is.  That’s a sign of extremely effective indoctrination.  It’s the kind of thing that we just have to work our way out of.  Here there are small celebrations.  Maybe Occupy might have a May Day march or something.  And it’s kind of interesting that way the press treated it.  Usually they just ignore it.  But if you look at the New York Times the next day, it had an article that said demonstrations were in support of labor or something.  But it was datelined “Havana,” and there was a picture of a huge mob of Cubans marching and some commentary.  It was clear what the implication is: This holiday is some kind of commie business; it’s got nothing to do with us.  I don’t know if it’s conscious of if it’s just so internalized that the journalists don’t even see what they’re doing.  But the message was, “Forget it, it’s some alien thing.””  -Noam Chomsky, May 2, 2013, Cambridge, Massachusetts



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