06 May 2008

May Day 2008

May Day this year produced some interesting, and I would say significant, intersections of militant social movements here in the US. First, we had the immigrant rights demonstrations, which have been a sizeable part of May Day in the US for the past couple years. While the marches this year weren't as big as previous years, according to some reports, they nevertheless showed that many thousands of people actively support the struggles of immigrants and undocumented workers in the US. In particular, I found the feeder march I participated in to be particularly heartening.

The Socialist Party contingent in the New York City May Day march started in Chinatown with a feeder march associated with the Chinese Staff and Workers Association, a quasi-union/quasi-community group based in Chinatown. The pre-march rally they held was very well put together, with petitioners milling through the audience, and a podium with speeches given (practically simultaneously) in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. The feeder march started more or less on time, and while there was some hassle regarding the planned route, we all made it up okay to Union Square Park for the main march.

Unfortunately, the main march seemed less organised. I'm not sure if the speaker rotation started late, or if they were just inviting anyone who wanted to speak up to the platform, but the pre-march speakers dragged on for a long time, and the Socialist Party folks left before the march had even begun, since we needed to set up for a screening of Wobblies! at the Muste Institute. However, I heard from a few people that there were so many speakers that the march ran past its street permit, so once they actually got on the road, they were marching on the side walks and in between cars. So that's a good lesson for anyone on the planning committee of a large demonstration that includes a march: speakers are good, but don't overrun your street permit!

Anyway, the demonstrations seemed well attended overall; maybe smaller than 2007, but still rather large, with a very broad range of groups. The Latin American community was out in force, there was a large Asian community with the CSWA, and of course the left/far left was out and active. At the feeder march, the only organised left presences that were there were the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party, and as per usual, all the SWP was doing was selling books and newspapers. There were also one or two people selling Workers Vanguard, the newspaper of the Sparticist League. Interestingly, there was someone there working with the CSWA who claimed to be affiliated with Lutte Ouvrière, a semi-clandestine Trotskyist group based in France. At the main march, I saw tables, papers, and signs for the Workers World Party, Freedom Socialist Party, Internationalist Group, Democratic Socialists of America (kind of), and probably some others that I'm currently forgetting. There was also an anarchist contingent that marched with the CSWA feeder march, whose main chant seemed to be "Anarchy? Fuck yeah!" They more or less summed up everything I dislike about some wings of the anarchist movement in their contingent.

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