Hurrah for Anarchy: Mayday as Celebrated by the Anarchists
Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, May 1, 2017
Mayday, to the anarchists, is a holiday of remembrance. Perhaps you’ve heard the communists and liberals say that it’s a celebration of the eight-hour workday. I suppose it’s that too. But for me, it’s a holiday to remember when the State put anarchism itself on trial. In 1886, the line was drawn and the US radicals lost their innocence; the illusion of “free speech” and free association was shattered. Let that illusion never re-form.
Mayday is our holiday. Mayday is a celebration of anarchism, of our history of defiance. It has a lot to do with labor, but Mayday has nothing to do with electoral politics, with the American flag. “Labor day” was invented and implemented to distract people from the radical history of labor.
Mayday is also, of course, the celebration of Beltane — a religious and spiritual holiday that celebrates springtime. And for the past decade at least, it’s the day of protest and action in response to the US treatment of immigrants. It’s a big enough holiday to share, and anarchists are present in those movements as well.
Myself, on Mayday, I remember five people who were killed for being anarchists.