MAYPOLES & BEANSTALKS
from Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
ISSUE 255, FRIDAY 14th APRIL, 2000
"In Africa, Asia and Latin America, resistance to the attacks of the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation and World Bank is growing. No issue is isolated, whether it is rail strikes or opposition to the New Deal here, land occupations in Brazil, opposing oil companies in Nigeria or disrupting immigration controls in Germany. Our resistance is as global as capital." (Mayday 2000 leaflet)
Mayday is all about celebration, of people coming together, revelling in the diversity of struggles worldwide. That's why this year May 1st has been chosen for the next international day of action.
Mayday has had a turbulent history, hijacked and taken away from the people. Mayday is the time when Red, Green and Black come together. Here's yer very brief SchNEWS guide to Mayday:
The ancient Pagan festival of Beltane has historically been celebrated at the beginning of May, with the coming of Spring and the rebirth of life.
Along came the Christians, devouring everything in their path and replacing Beltane with a holyday, a celebration of all that is associated with the wonders of their God.
But a new religion clawed its way across the Northern hemisphere. It had no time for festivities or sentiment. Everyone was to embrace with open arms the new spirit of Capitalism. Inevitably May celebrations were abolished and replaced with a longer working week.
Longer hours brought worse conditions for the workers, less control over their work and families saw less of each other. By May 4th 1886, the workers of North America had had enough, and called a General Strike. A mass demonstration was held in Haymarket Sq, Chicago, to bring the working day down to 8 hours, to give more rights and autonomy.
Thousands turned out for the day, were charged by the police, and a stick of dynamite was thrown. Eight of the organisers were arrested, and four were eventually hanged. The judge told them at their trial, "Not because you have caused the Haymarket bomb, but because you are Anarchists, you are on trial." It was later discovered that it was actually a police officer that threw the dynamite. Shock!!
Four years later, in solidarity with the Haymarket Martyrs, workers and Trade Unions recognised May 1st as International Workers Day. Mayday was well and truly back on the calendar!!
Mayday could be a grey day for investors according to City of London Police, warning "infiltrators could place bugs in computers and learn passwords, sympathetic staff could leave doors open allowing them to storm the buildings." Meanwhile the
Sunday Mirror warns of hordes of anarchists disregarding their usual attire "armed with spades and trowels." So, anyone dressed in suits and looking like the seven dwarfs with bulges under their jackets are going to raise suspicion. Hi-ho! The police, with their usual consistency, said "We are well prepared for the threat" while being quoted "Met calls for help as anti-City mob plans fresh riot"...any takers?
In Britain, the abolition of Mayday made workers even more adamant that the day should be recognised. Strikes were a regular feature of May 1st, until 1978, when the Labour Gov't declared the day a Bank Holiday. Attempts to wipe out the history of Mayday have been common. The US has attempted to re-name Mayday as Americanism Day, as well as Loyalty Day. Thatcher wanted to rename it Trafalgar Day! Hey, why not Thatcher Day!?!
Mayday this year is being taken back by and for the people! The Peoples Global Action (PGA), a network of activists from all over the world, have called for an international day of action. Previous globally co-ordinated actions such as the mass street parties on June 18th last year (see Sch 214 & 217/8) and the November 30th demos in Seattle and elsewhere (Sch 240) were called to coincide with major meetings of global policy makers. May 1st is just as significant, as it is traditionally the day chosen by people fighting for social justice and a fulfilling life.
Loads of events are planned for the Mayday weekend in London, Bristol and around the country. But this one's for everyone...
Friday 28th - Critical Mass cycle ride. Meet 6pm, Southbank, London. Also a tour of the East End (Pankhurst, anarchists, etc) 7pm Whitechapel tube.
Sat 29th/Sun 30th - Conference-Festival of anarchist ideas Speakers include everyone from Chumbawumba to a former Black Panther. Kids space, football games, videos, discussions. 10am-6pm each day at The Resource Centre, 356 Holloway Rd, London N7, nearest tube Holloway Rd.
Also on April 30th - All this comes at a time when the government are attempting to turn us all into terrorists. Come dressed as yer favourite 'terrorist' for a mass photo shoot. Meet 2pm, Highbury Fields, London N4.
MAY 1st London: Resistance is Fertile. Come prepared for a mass gardening action: 'Armed with trowels, seeds, and imagination, the idea is to garden everywhere and anywhere. An urban adventure at the threshold of nature and culture, guerilla gardening is about taking back our own time and space from capital. Guerilla gardening is not a street party. It is an action demanding everyone's participation and preparation. An adventure beyond spectating.' Meet 11am Parliament Square, outside Parliament. More details phone 0207 281 4621, or check out www.reclaimthestreets.net
Brighton transport, meet 8.30am, Mon May 1st at St.Peters Church Tickets £6/£5 from the Peace Centre, Gardner St.
Also in London on Mayday, the TUC have hired the Dome for a 'bargain' £12.50 ticket bonanza. UNISON are not impressed with this misappropriation of Union funds to prop up Blair's pet project. Watch that space for alternative pickets and demos!
MAY 1st Bristol, contact P.O. Box 13, 82 Colston St, Bristol BS1 5BB. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and check out www.maydaysw.fsnet.co.uk
For more info on Mayday, check out www.freespeech.org/mayday2k
For the complete history of the Haymarket Martyrs go to www.midnightnotes.org/mayday