For those of you not "in the know", in all but a literal handful of nations, today is traditionally celebrated as "International Workers Day" to commemorate the struggle of working people throughout the world, and in honor of the date in 1886 when the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions declared the implementation of the eight-hour workday. This holiday is officially recognized in every country except Canada, South Africa and the United States, despite the fact that it originally began here.
Some of you might recall a little event from your U.S. History euphemistically referred to as "The Chicago Haymarket Riots", which occured on 4 May 1886, and which are usually charactized as an anarchistic melee akin to Seattle's more recent N20 anti-WTO protests. The bad rap is due primarily to the fact that what had been up to the end a peaceful protest (itself a response to a police massacre of labor activists the previous day, which left four dead and scores wounded) was marred by a bomb thrown into a crowd of Chicago's Finest, killing one and injuring nearly 70, and which resulted in a second lethal response from the CPD. Although the person or persons responsible were never clearly identified (some sources suggest the culprit might actually have been an "agent provocateur" on the police payroll), the incident provided a convenient justification to attack the entire Left and labor movement in Chicago. Anarchists in particular were harassed, and eight of the most active were charged with conspiracy. Despite a lack of evidence connecting any of them to the unknown bomb-thrower (only one was even present at the meeting, and he was on the speakers' platform at the time the bombing occured), all eight were convicted. Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolf Fischer, and George Engel were hanged on November 11, 1887. Louis Lingg committed suicide in prison, The remaining three were finally pardoned in 1893.
I suppose it's not surprising that the government, business, and the media would want to hide the true history of May Day, portraying it instead as a holiday celebrated only in Moscow's Red Square. As early as 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed into law a bill that gave us instead Labor Day - a holiday devoid of any historical significance other than its importance as a day to swill beer and sit in traffic jams. The final insult came in 1958, when then President Dwight D. Eisenhower designated May 1st to be "Law Day", thus attempting to completely erase the significance of the date from the annals of U.S. history.
For a brief lowdown on the real history of May Day, check out this link.
Thus Endeth The Lesson For Today.
on 3:54 PM