Saturday (May 1st) was International Workers’ Day otherwise known as May Day. I wanted to make a post, but I was lucky to have a day off with my partner so we spent our time reading, painting, watching Netflix, and periodically napping. Our loved ones and general passions tend to be neglected in our pursuit of money and stability so, in my humble opinion, there’s no better way to spend your May Day. I’m well-rested and I regret nothing. Anywho, I didn’t want to write a simple history of International Worker’s Day piece (not discounting the importance of such posts), but rather I wanted to compose something more personal. Like a last minute high school essay, I want to talk about what May Day means to me.
May Day is a time of solidarity with all who are exploited by and crushed under the boots of capitalists, State soldiers, and blustering politicians. Every worker who has sacrificed a day off, made choices between meals, prioritized certain bills over others, suffered through abusive bosses and customers, or just generally missed out on their short lives for a paycheque can attest to the importance of May Day. We remember the workers who fought for an 8 hour day and fair wages, those who went on strike, those who went without, and those who died in the pursuit of just labour practices and social reform. I also take May 1st to remember comrades who cannot work, ones who face great barriers to employment, or the men, women, and non-binary comrades who slave away in prisons. I am speaking of the unhoused and those suffering from addictions that keep them from “contributing” in a way that’s acceptable in a capitalist society. I argue for the disabled and the neurodiverse who face scrutiny in the workplace for their accessibility needs. I also try to think of our friends and neighbours in prison who work for free or practically nothing and then leave their incarceration only to find it near impossible to obtain fulfilling work. They all matter here too and should be remembered and commended for their part in our collective struggle.
Pyotr Kropotkin in The Conquest of Bread wrote “The most important economy, the only reasonable one, is to make life pleasant for all, because the man who is satisfied with his life produces infinitely more than the man who curses his surroundings.” I have spent many a morning trying to internalize that statement. We spend so much of our lives making what little money we can, fearing punishments from our bosses/landlords, blaming those “not working” as hard as we are, regretting our days of relaxation and for what? Is our purpose to die at 82 with nothing but debts and lost time? Life’s too short to not strive for a better and more equitable world. Not to mention that our valuable and coerced labour is wasted if it’s just buying some shithead another yacht and barely keeping our heads above water. May 1st is a reminder that the working class is a force to be reckoned with. We can do wonders once we stop fighting amongst ourselves, stop pointing fingers at those struggling and learn to acknowledge our importance in the system. Capitalism needs US. We don’t need it. I salute you and every other worker this May (and every month after) because you have always deserved a long and pleasant life regardless of your job or title. We just need to remind the world of that fact. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you again. Solidarity, my friends.