As this article originated in 2007, there is of course, no mention of coronavirus or Black Lives Matter. Kind of refreshing! Still lots of socialism/communism though.
The History Of Labor Day
Most of the world marks Labor Day on May 1 with parades and rallies. Americans celebrate it in early September, by heading to the beach or firing up the grill. Why the discrepancy? Here’s a hint: The answer would have been a great disappointment to Frederick Engels.
Engels, the co-author of The Communist Manifesto, had high hopes for May Day, which originated in the United States. When the socialist-dominated organization known as the Second International jumped on the American bandwagon and adopted May 1 as International Labor Day, Engels confidently expected the proletariats of Europe and America to merge into one mighty labor movement and sweep capitalism into the dustbin of history.
Things didn’t work out that way, of course, and the divergent Labor Day celebrations are part of the story.
May Day’s origins can be traced to Chicago, where the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, under its leader Samuel Gompers, mounted a general strike on May 1, 1886, as part of its push for an eight-hour work day. On May 4, during a related labor rally in Haymarket Square, someone threw a bomb, which killed a policeman and touched off a deadly mêlée. As a result, four radical labor leaders were eventually hanged on dubious charges.
In 1888, Gompers’s union reorganized itself as the American Federation of Labor, and revived its push for the eight-hour day. Gompers laid plans for a strike to begin on May 1, 1890–the fourth anniversary of the walkout that had led to the Haymarket affair. Meanwhile, in Paris, a group of labor leaders were meeting to establish the Second International. To these Europeans, the executed Chicago radicals were revered martyrs. In an act of solidarity, the Second International set May 1, 1890, as a day of protest.
Engels was thrilled. “As I write these lines, the proletariat of Europe and America is holding a review of its forces; it is organized for the first time as one army,” he wrote on the first May Day. “The spectacle we are now witnessing will make the capitalists and landowners of all lands realize that today the proletarians of all lands are, in very truth, united. If only Marx were with me to see it with his own eyes!”